WASHINGTON - Pakistan plans to arm tens of thousands of anti-Taliban tribal fighters in hopes -- shared by the U.S. military -- that the  lashkars can replicate the tribal "Awakening" movement that proved decisive in the battle against al-Qaeda in Iraq, a leading American newspaper reported Thursday. The lashkars will receive Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles and other small arms, a purchase arranged during a visit to Beijing this month by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, The Washington Post said, citing Pakistani officials. But the newspaper said many Bush administration officials remain skeptical of Pakistan's long-term commitment to fighting the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups ensconced in the tribal areas. But, it said,  the decision to arm the lashkars, which emerged as organized fighting forces only in the past few months, is one of several recent actions that have led the Pentagon to believe that the Pakistani effort has become more aggressive. Last week, after months of Pakistani delays, about 30 U.S. military trainers were permitted to set up operations north of the region, The Post said, citing an unnamed U.S. official said, while referring to the stepped the stepped up anti-insurgent military operations by Pakistan Army, especially in Bajaur.  The trainers will provide counterinsurgency instruction to Pakistani army soldiers, who in turn will train members of the Frontier Corps, the government's paramilitary force in the FATA. "We are very encouraged by what we're seeing from the Pakistani military in the tribal regions," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell. Pakistani offensives in the FATA over the past two months are "making a difference on the other side of the border," where U.S. forces are fighting in Afghanistan, he said. Pakistani officials, according to the Post, insisted that arming the lashkars was their own idea and that they are paying for it. "The Americans are not giving us a bloody cent" for the programme," one Pakistani official was quoted as saying. "This is us, doing it ourselves." "Zardari and the government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani have been at pains to balance their support of U.S. objectives with a recognition of widespread Pakistani distrust of the United States -- among the population as well as the political class," the Post said. "Much distrust also remains on the U.S. side, particularly within intelligence agencies that have long been suspicious of ties between the Pakistani intelligence service and the Taliban. The CIA has increased its operations against resurgent extremist forces in the FATA, with at least 11 missile attacks launched by Predator unmanned aircraft against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in August and September, compared with six in the previous eight months," the newspaper added, citing knowledgeable officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence issues. "In its talks with the Bush administration, Gilani's government maintains that its counterterrorism cooperation surpasses that of retired Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was ousted from the presidency in August. Last month, Gillani and army chief of staff Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani replaced the head of the Interservices Intelligence (ISI) agency with an army general considered more responsive to civilian leaders and more palatable to the Americans." New ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha will arrive in Washington this weekend for meetings with CIA head Michael Hayden, it said.