With the US demanding Pakistan’s help to launch attacks on al-Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan, Musharraf recalls how Colin Powell, the then US secretary of state, had telephoned him with an ultimatum: “You are either with us or against us.”
He also writes that Richard Armitage, Powell’s deputy, warned Lieutenant-General Mehmood Ahmad, the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, that if Pakistan chose the terrorist’s side, “then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age”.
Armitage, who like Powell has left government, on Monday denied using such a threat, after Musharraf first described the exchanges during an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” last week.
Musharraf’s autobiography, In the Line of Fire, was due to be released in New York on Monday, but some bookshops in Islamabad were already selling copies.
Elaborating on how he decided to take a foreign policy U-turn by ending his support for the Taliban, Musharraf described how he first weighed the option of fighting the US.
Musharraf (R) took a foreign
“I war-gamed the United States as an adversary,” he wrote, saying he assessed whether Pakistan could withstand the onslaught.
“The answer was no, we could not, on three counts.”
Pakistan‘s military would have been wiped out, its economy could not be sustained, and the nation lacked the unity needed for such a confrontation, Musharraf wrote.
Furthermore, Musharraf was worried that if Pakistan did not accede to Washington‘s demands, the US would take up an Indian offer to provide bases.
The Pakistan president foresaw India using the opportunity to either launch a limited offensive in the disputed Kashmir region, or more probably New Delhi would work with the US and the UN to turn the present disputed ceasefire line dividing Kashmir into a permanent border.
Musharraf also predicted that the US would seek to destroy Pakistan‘s newly developed nuclear weapons. And he feared the infrastructure built since Pakistan‘s formation in 1947 would be decimated.
Finally, Musharraf said he had to answer whether it was worth Pakistan destroying itself for the sake of the Taliban, though Pakistan had supported the Islamist group’s government.
“The answer was a resounding no,” Musharraf concluded.