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'US threatened to bomb Pakistan'

The threat had been issued to Pakistan's intelligence director, Musharraf reveals in an interview to a US TV network.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2006 18:30 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said that the US threatened to bomb Pakistan in 2001 if he did not cooperate in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In an interview scheduled to air on Sunday on the CBS television network, Musharraf said that Richard Armitage, then US deputy secretary of state, issued the threat to Musharraf's intelligence director.

"The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, "be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age," Musharraf said. "I think it was a very rude remark."

Armitage has questioned the terminology but did not deny that his message was strong, CBS reported.

Pakistan was one of only a few countries that had given diplomatic recognition to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and the US declared shortly after the 9/11 attacks that there would be consequences for Taliban supporters.

"One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation, and that's what I did," said Musharraf, who dropped recognition of the Taliban and has become a close US ally in the war on terrorism.

After Musharraf's government began cooperating with Washington, the Bush administration dropped sanctions imposed after Pakistan's first nuclear bomb test in 1998.

Musharraf was in New York to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly.

Bush had said onWednesday that he would be "absolutely" willing to send US troops into Pakistan to snatch or kill Osama bin Laden if the US had solid intelligence identifying the Al-Qaeda leader's location.

Musharraf said he would not approve of such a mission on Pakistani soil.

First Published: Sep 22, 2006 11:23 IST