It was a stiff threat from the then US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to "bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age" if it did not.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said in Washington, DC, last night that the threat was issued to the Pakistani intelligence director, reports The Times, London.
Musharraf's revelation comes in a week marked by discord between the two allies, with US President George Bush saying that he will not hesitate to order his troops into Pakistan if it was confirmed that fugitive Osama bin Laden was in hiding in that country and Musharraf's mute rebuttal that he would do it himself.
The disclosure about the 2001 US threat also comes just ahead of the publication of Musharraf's autobiography, In the Line of Fire.
Musharraf said on CBS's 60 Minutes on Thursday that when he was informed of Armitage's threat in 2001, he decided to "think and take action in the interest of the nation", which was what he did when he did an about-turn.
The Times' report said documents show that while Armitage disputed the language attributed to him, he did not deny the actual claim of threat, and that he did meet the then Pakistani ambassador and the visiting head of Pakistan's military intelligence service in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2001, when he asked them to take seven steps. It is a matter of record that within days of 9/11, Musharraf turned his back on the Taliban and became the West's key ally in the War on Terror.
The report also quoted Musharraf telling CBS that he found the US demands to turn over his country's border posts and bases for the American military was irksome. But the most ridiculous demand, he said, was the one to suppress expressions of support for terrorism targeting the US. "We cannot curb expression of views," he said.