Bombing to Stone Age

General Musharraf's memoir is being serialised in The Times (emphasis mine);

“When I was back in Islamabad the next day, our director-general of Inter Services Intelligence, who happened to be in Washington, told me on the phone about his meeting with the US deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage. In what has to be the most undiplomatic statement ever made, Armitage added to what Colin Powell had said to me and told the director-general not only that we had to decide whether we were with America or with the terrorists, but that if we chose the terrorists, then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age.

This was a shockingly barefaced threat, but it was obvious that the United States had decided to hit back, and hit back hard.

I made a dispassionate, military-style analysis of our options, weighing the pros and cons.
My decision was based on the wellbeing of my people and the best interests of my country — Pakistan always comes first. I war-gamed the United States as an adversary. There would be a violent and angry reaction if we didn’t support the United States. Thus the question was: if we do not join them, can we confront them and withstand the onslaught? The answer was no, we could not, on three counts.

First was our military weakness as compared with the strength of the United States. Second was our economic weakness. We had no oil, and we did not have the capacity to sustain our economy in the face of an attack. Third, and worst of all, was our social weakness. We lack the homogeneity to galvanise the entire nation into an active confrontation. We could not endure a military confrontation with the United States from any point of view. The ultimate question that confronted me was whether it was in our national interest to destroy ourselves for the Taleban. Were they worth committing suicide over? The answer was a resounding no….

On the other hand, the benefits of supporting the United States were many. First, we would be able to eliminate extremism from our society and flush out the foreign terrorists in our midst. We could not do this alone; we needed the technical and financial support of the United States to be able to find and defeat these terrorists. We had been victims of terrorism by the Taleban and al-Qaeda for years. Earlier Pakistani governments had been hesitant about taking on the militant religious groups that were spreading extremism and fanaticism in our country.

Second, even though being a frontline state fighting terrorism would deter foreign investment, there were certain obvious economic advantages, like loosening the stranglehold of our debt and lifting economic sanctions. Third, after being an outcast nation following our nuclear tests, we would come to centre stage.

This was a ruthless analysis which I made for the sake of my country. Richard Armitage’s undiplomatic language, regrettable as it was, had nothing to do with my decision. The United States would do what it had to do in its national interest, and we would do what we had to in ours. Self-interest and self-preservation were the basis of this decision. Needless to say, though, I felt very frustrated by Armitage’s remarks. It goes against the grain of a soldier not to be able to tell anyone giving him an ultimatum to go forth and multiply, or words to that effect..."

For Comment; Is Musharraf's decision style good enough for a president?

'America paid us to hand over al-Qaeda suspects'


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on September 25, 2006 6:14 PM.

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