Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said the U.S. threatened to bomb his country back to the Stone Age if he did not assist the administration’s war on terrorism.
The threat was delivered after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of State, to Musharraf’s intelligence director, the Pakistani leader told CBS’ “60 Minutes” for Sunday’s broadcast.
Musharraf said the intelligence chief quoted Armitage as saying, “Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age.”
It was insulting, Musharraf said. “I think it was a very rude remark.”
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 delivered a tough message to Pakistan, saying the Muslim nation was either “with us or against us,” CNN reported. But he said he didn’t know how his message had been recounted so differently to Musharraf.
The White House and State Department declined to comment.
Musharraf said he reacted responsibly to Armitage’s remarks.
“One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation, and that is what I did,” he said.
In January 2002, four months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Musharraf gave a speech in which he came down on the side of reform at home and opposition to Islamic fundamentalism.
Pakistan is considered a close ally of the United States, but it has been accused of being reluctant to go after members of the Taliban, which controlled neighboring Afghanistan until 2001.
Musharraf is scheduled to meet with President Bush today at the White House. He will see Bush again next week in a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.