Row over US threat dogs Musharraf

Musharraf had revealed that US had won Pak's cooperation in the war on terror after a threat to bomb it.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2006 12:57 IST

Controversy continued to dog Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf over his startling revelation that the US had won Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terror after a threat to bomb it back into stone age.

His attempts to wriggle out Friday by suggesting at a White House joint press meet that he was honour bound to his publisher Simon & Schuster not to speak about it before the publication of his autobiography on Sep 25 were described as 'bizarre' by the media.

CBS re-telecast a clip of an interview, to be aired on Sunday, where Musharraf confirms the 'bombing' remarks attributed to then US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage to a Pakistan's top intelligence official, adding, "And I believe my director of intelligence."

CBS itself considered the publisher's gag ploy odd, pointing out that Simon & Schuster was also owned by the channel.

Armitage denied that he spoke in such terms to Pakistan's military intelligence chief, Lt Gen Mahmoud Ahmad, or delivered any bombing threat. He told CNN that he instead conveyed a "quite strong" message that for Americans after 9/11, "it was black or white, that Pakistan was either with us fully or not."

And when the Pakistani official started to talk about the history of Pakistan's cooperation with the US, "I stopped him and told him, history begins today," Armitage said.

But Musharraf carried on regardless embellishing at George Washington University what he himself described as "a very good answer", at his White House press conference. "So you'll have to buy the book and read it," he added, taking a cue from President George W Bush's remark earlier in the day.

Taking another cue from Bush, Musharraf said, "We joined the war on terror not really for the world as much as for ourselves. That's what I believe."

"So I am doing everything, first of all, let me tell you, for Pakistan. And I took the decision for Pakistan. It happens to be in the interest of the whole world, so we are together. So we are on board with the free world to fight terrorism, whether it is Al-Qaeda or Taliban. We are totally on board," he said.

"We will keep fighting, for our own good and the good of the world and the region. We are on board on terrorism and extremism," Musharraf said.

Meanwhile, at his daily press briefing, state department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said, "Certainly there was no instruction given to Armitage and it's never been a matter of US policy to threaten military action or bombing of Pakistan."

He had gone back and looked at the official records on those conversations "and there's certainly no indication that any kind of comment like that was made," he said but declined to make the record public.

"Generally, we don't make public readouts of diplomatic exchanges. But, again, I can assure you that there's nothing in there that would indicate any kind of threat," Casey said.

As Bush had mentioned at the White House press meet, Pakistan from the very beginning, from immediately after Sep 11, has shown a willingness in word and then shown a willingness in deed to be a major friend and ally to the US in the war on terror, he added.

First Published: Sep 23, 2006 12:57 IST