Either with us or against us: US to Pak post 9/11

The US gave Pakistan the choice of "either with us or against us" in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Updated: Sep 11, 2011, 21:24 PM IST

Washington: The US gave Pakistan the choice
of "either with us or against us" in the aftermath of the 9/11
terror attacks as Islamabad was handed out a long list of
demands to be met immediately, according to declassified
documents released on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.

A day after al Qaeda terrorist struck the twin towers in
New York with hijacked planes killing nearly 3,000 people, a
top US official told Mahmoud Ahmed, the then chief of the
Pakistani spy agency ISI, that Islamabad has no "maneuvering
choice" but to decided "either be with us or against us".

Two days later the then Pakistan President Pervez
Musharraf was handed out a long list of demands, including
blanket overflight and landing rights and cutoff all shipments
of fuel to the Taliban, according to latest set of
declassified documents released by the National Security
Archive today on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the
terrorist attacks.

One of these documents shows the communication between US
and ISI officials in which US insists that Islamabad choose
between the US or the Taliban: "This was a black-and-white
choice, with no grey."

The day after the 9/11 attacks, the then Deputy Secretary
of State Richard Armitage met with Ahmed, the documents says,
adding that the US official presented a "stark choice" in a
15-minute meeting.

"Pakistan must either stand with the United States in its
fight against terrorism or stand against us. There was no
maneuvering room."

Mahmud assures Armitage that the US "could count on
Pakistan`s `unqualified support,` that Islamabad would do
whatever was required of it by the US".

Armitage adamantly denies Pakistan has the option of a
middle road between supporting the Taliban and the US, "this
was a black-and-white choice, with no grey."

ISI chief Mahmoud in 2001 responds by commenting "that
Pakistan has always seen such matters in black-and-white. It
has in the past been accused of `being-in-bed` with those
threatening US interests. He wanted to dispel that
misconception," according to the declassified documents
released by the National Security Archive (NSA) today.

Mahmoud`s denial of longstanding historical Pakistani
support for extremists in Afghanistan directly conflicts with
US intelligence on the issue, which has documented extensive
Pakistani support for the Taliban and multiple other militant
organizations.

"It is interesting to read this document ten years after
it was initially written, as it is largely assumed that
Islamabad over the past decade has taken the `grey` approach
Armitage steadfastly denies as a potential position. Pakistan
has served as a safe haven for the Taliban insurgency, while
Islamabad simultaneously assists the US in its war against
al Qaeda and the Taliban," the NSA says in its comments.

Two days later on September 13, 2001 Armitage tells
Mahmoud the US is looking for full cooperation and partnership
from Pakistan, understanding that the decision whether or not
to fully comply with US demands would be "a difficult choice
for Pakistan."

He then presents Mahmoud with the specific requests for
immediate action and asks that he present them to President
Musharraf for approval.

These includes stop al Qaeda operatives at Pak-Afghan
border, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan and end all
logistical support for bin Ladin and provide the US with
blanket overflight and landing rights to conduct all necessary
military and intelligence operations.

Armitage also asks the then ISI boss to provide
territorial access to US and allied military intelligence, and
other personnel to conduct all necessary operations against
the perpetrators of terrorism or those that harbour them,
including use of Pakistan`s naval ports, airbases and
strategic locations on borders.

Pakistan was also asked to provide the US immediately
with intelligence, information, to help prevent and respond to
terrorist acts perpetuated against the US, its friends and
allies.

Islamabad was told to continue to publicly condemn the
terrorist acts of September 11 and any other terrorist acts
against the US or its friends and allies and cut off all
shipments of fuel to the Taliban and any other items and
recruits, including volunteers en route to Afghanistan that
can be used in a military offensive capacity or to abet the
terrorist threat.

Should the evidence strongly implicate Osama bin Laden
and the al Qaeda network in Afghanistan and should Afghanistan
and the Taliban continue to harbour him and this network,
Pakistan will break diplomatic relations with the Taliban
government, end support for the Taliban and assist us in the
formentioned ways to destroy bin Ladin, Musharraf was asked.

PTI

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