Islamabad: As the US prepared to invade Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf tried to convince the Bush administration to negotiate with the Taliban, but accepted “unconditionally” in 24 hours all seven demands made by the US after his proposal was ‘bluntly’ rejected by Washington.
The demands included stopping al Qaeda at the border, providing the US with blanket landing rights to conduct operations and territorial and naval access and help in “destroying Osama bin Laden”.
According to the classified documents released by the National Security Archive of the George Washington University, two days after al Qaeda unleashed terror on the US, the demands were to stop al Qaeda at the border, provide the US with blanket landing rights to conduct operations; provide territorial and naval access, provide intelligence; publicly condemn terrorist attacks, cut off recruits and supplies to the Taliban, and break diplomatic relations with the Taliban and help the US destroy Osama bin Laden.
“In a 90-minute meeting on September 14, Musharraf said he had studied the points and discussed them in an all-day meeting with his corps commanders and other ranking military officers. He (Musharraf) said he accepted the points without conditions and that his military leadership concurred,” the Daily Times quoted the document, as saying.
Earlier, the then ISI chief, Mahmoud Ahmad, wanted the US to give Pakistan some time as he was headed for another trip to Afghanistan on September 25, 2001 to meet the top Taliban leadership in this regard.
Mahmoud Ahmad told Chamberlin that his mission was taking place in parallel with US-Pakistani military planning and that in his estimation, a negotiated solution would be preferable to military action.
“I implore you not to act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations. Mullah Omar himself is frightened. That much was clear in his last meeting,” Ahmed added.
The ISI chief told the ambassador that America’s strategic objectives of getting Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda would best be accomplished by coercing the Taliban to do it themselves.
However, the US envoy to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlin, said that it was too late to enter into dialogues with the Taliban, which controlled Afghanistan at that time.
“There is absolutely no inclination in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban,” she added.
Washington’s rejection reportedly forced Musharraf to accept all their demands unconditionally.
Events thereafter, however, showed that such an acceptance was just a “tactical move” by Musharraf as for all practical purposes, there was not much change in the policies of his government, the documents said.
Although Pakistan denied that it was a safe haven for anti-American forces, a State Department-issued paper for former vice president Dick Cheney claimed “some Taliban leaders operate with relative impunity in some Pakistani cities, and may still enjoy support from the lower echelons of the ISI”.