Islamabad: The US threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age” after the 9/11 terror attacks if then President General Pervez Musharraf did not cooperate with America’s war on Afghanistan.
In his memoir ‘In the Line of Fire’, Musharraf wrote that the threat was delivered by the tough-talking assistant secretary of state, Richard Armitage, in conversations with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief who was in Washington on a visit at the time of the 9/11 attack.
“In what has to be most undiplomatic statement ever made, Armitage added to what Colin Powell had said to me and told the (ISI) director general not only that we had to decide whether we were with America or with the terrorists, but that if we chose the terrorists, then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age,” Musharraf wrote, explaining the situation he faced after the twin tower attack.
He said this was a shockingly barefaced threat, but it was obvious that the United States had decided to hit back, and hit back hard.
Defending his move to join the US-led War on Terror in Afghanistan, Musharraf said that his “decision was based on the well-being of my people and the best interest of my country.” “I war-gamed the United States as an adversary. There would be violent and angry reactions if we didn’t support the United States. Thus the question was: if we do not join them, can we confront them and withstand the onslaught? The answer was no, we could not…” he wrote.
He said, however, the benefits of supporting the United States were many.
Armitage later disputed the language used, but he did not deny that Pakistan was put on notice to help America’s war effort.
Gen Musharraf wrote in his book that on September 13, 2001, the US ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlain, brought him a set of seven demands, including blanket overflight and landing rights.
Musharraf said that he balked at some of the US demands such as turning over border posts and bases to US forces.
“How could we allow the United States blanket overflight and landing rights without jeopardizing our strategic assets? I offered only a narrow flight corridor that was far from any sensitive areas,” he wrote.
Pakistan abandoned its support for the Taliban government in Kabul and allowed US overflights of Pakistan.