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Pakistan resists capitulating to new US demands

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Message Abdus Sattar Ghazali
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In September 2006, while launching his book – In the Line of Fire – President Pervez Musharraf revealed that soon after 9/11, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage warned Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, head of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, the US would “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” if it did not accept the following seven demands:

1) Stop Al-Qaeda operations on the Pakistani border, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan and all logistical support for bin Laden.

2) Blanket over-flights and landing rights for US planes.

3) Access to Pakistan's naval bases, airbases and borders.

4) Immediate intelligence and immigration information.

5) Curb all domestic expression of support for terrorism against the United States, its friends and allies.

6) Cut off fuel supply to the Taliban and stop Pakistani volunteers going into Afghanistan to join the Taliban.

7) For Pakistan to break diplomatic relations with the Taliban and assist the US to destroy bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network.

Armitage handed over these demands to General Mahmood who happened to be in Washington at the time of 9/11 terrorist attacks. "This is not negotiable," Armitage, told Mahmood as he handed over a single sheet of paper with seven demands which Bush administration wanted him to accept. It was an ultimatum, you are with us or against us.

President Musharraf acceded to America's "wish-list" that was also formally conveyed to him in Islamabad. Obviously there was no alternative for him. Later explaining reasons for his instant acceptance, he said I took the ruthless decision for the sake of my people. “My decision was based on the wellbeing of my people and the best interests of my country.” In the Line of Fire by President Musharraf.

Tellingly, the US-sponsored Afghan Jehad against the Soviet troops in 1980s proved a boon to General Ziaul Haq, who was able to ruthlessly rule for 11 years, the US “war on terror” was a god send opportunity for General Musharraf to tighten grip on power. It was less than two years that he seized power in October 1999 by overthrowing the democratic government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his military government lacked legitimacy.

Musharraf’s post-9/11 quick policy turnaround made Pakistan a pivotal player in the US “war on terror” and gave it prominence in the international community that helped the military regime in its quest for legitimacy. It also brought huge economic and political dividends to President Musharraf's government. From a pariah state, Pakistan became the centre of focus of the international community…. Pakistan was, once again, the US's strategic partner. It was also given the status of a non-member strategic NATO ally.

President Musharraf complied with Washington’s highly unpopular demands that he has deeply angered his people, who increasingly call him a tool of the west. At the behest of US, Musharraf deployed more than 80,000 army on its border with Afghanistan and launched an unpopular war against its own Pashtun tribes in Federally Administered Tribal Area and Swat.

Not surprisingly, in February 18 elections the nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) emerged as the leading political party in the strategic North West Frontier Province, the scene of current military operations. The ANP, which is going to form the government in the province, sees the current military operations as killing of its own people. Its leaders have shown willingness to negotiate peace with the “militants.” This is in contradiction to the US position that Pakistan government is not doing enough to contain militant groups.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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