US 'threatened to bomb' Pakistan
The US threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone
age" unless it joined the fight against al-Qaeda, President Pervez Musharraf
has said. General Musharraf said the warning was delivered by former Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage to Pakistan's intelligence director.
"I think it was a very rude remark," Gen Musharraf told CBS television.
Pakistan agreed to side with the US, but Gen Musharraf said it did so based on his country's national interest. "One has to think and take actions in the interest of the nation, and that's what I did," he said.
The threat was alleged to have come from Richard Armitage
The extracts from the CBS show 60 Minutes, which will run on Sunday, were released on the same day that the White House praised Pakistan for its co-operation in America's "war on terror".
Gen Musharraf is due to meet US President George W Bush at the White House on Friday. The BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says that Gen Musharraf was deliberately distancing himself from the White House in the face of intense pressure within Pakistan over his close ties to Washington. He is also due to launch his autobiography next week and some analysts say the timing of the revelation may be an attempt to generate interest in the book.
The White House and US State Department declined to comment on the 60 Minutes interview. The Pakistani president said that, following the attacks of 11 September 2001, the US made some "ludicrous" demands of Pakistan. "The intelligence director told me that Mr Armitage said, 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age'," he said. The US envoy also insisted that Pakistan suppress domestic expression of support for attacks on the United States, he said. "If somebody's expressing views, we cannot curb the expression of views," Gen Musharraf said.
Mr Armitage also allegedly demanded that Pakistan allow the US to use its border posts as staging points for the war on Afghanistan. Gen Musharraf did agree to open up Pakistani airspace to the US, as well as to share intelligence after 11 September. American troops are not officially allowed to operate on Pakistani soil although they have launched air strikes from bases in Afghanistan. In January, 18 local people were killed in a US raid targeting Al Qaeda number two Ayman Al-Zawahiri in a village in Bajaur Agency on the border with Afghanistan. Five foreigners were also killed in the raid, Gen Musharraf said at the time, amid anger about the attack.
Pakistan's support was considered crucial in the defeat of Afghanistan's Taleban government, which Pakistan had helped to bring to power. President Musharraf has proved a loyal ally though many now will question the means used to extract the co-operation, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale.
"Iraq and Afghanistan
prove that US does whatever it can to protect its interests in the world."