WASHINGTON – President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan says the United States threatened to bomb his country back to the Stone Age after the 9/11 attacks if he did not help America’s war on terror.
Musharraf says the threat was delivered by Richard Armitage, then the deputy secretary of state, to Musharraf’s intelligence director, the Pakistani leader told CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes.
“The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, ‘Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age,’” Musharraf said in the interview to be shown Sunday on the CBS television network.
It was insulting, Musharraf said. “I think it was a very rude remark,” he said.
But, Musharraf said he reacted responsibly. “One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation and that is what I did,” he said.
Armitage told CNN on Thursday that he never threatened to bomb Pakistan, wouldn’t say such a thing and didn’t have the authority to do it. Armitage said he did have a tough message for Pakistan, saying the Muslim nation was either “with us or against us,” according to CNN. Armitage said he didn’t know how his message was recounted so differently to Musharraf.
In a speech in January 2002, four months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Musharraf gave a speech in which he clearly came down on the side of reform at home and opposition to Islamic fundamentalism.
Pakistan to this day is considered a close ally of the United States in the struggle with militant groups. Sometimes, however, Pakistan appears reluctant to go after Taliban, which controlled neighboring Afghanistan until 2001 and has intensified its insurgency in the southern part of the country in recent months.
Musharraf is scheduled to meet today at the White House with President Bush and then see Bush again next week in a three-way meeting with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
Musharraf told 60 Minutes that Armitage’s message was delivered with demands that he turn over Pakistan’s border posts and bases for the U.S. military to use in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some were “ludicrous,” such as a demand he suppress domestic expression of support for terrorism.
“If somebody is expressing views, we cannot curb the expression of views,” Musharraf said.