NEW YORK, Aug 4: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Maleeha Lodhi, in an interview with the New York Times has recollected the events which unfolded in Washington on September 12, 2001, during meetings attended by the then US deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, and ISI chief Mahmood Ahmad.
The NYT writer pointed out that Ms Lodhi recalls with slightly more texture than most accounts the “you are with us or against us” dictum that Mr Armitage issued.
“The two of them were very tense,” Ms Lodhi said of Mr Armitage and General Ahmed. “Armitage started out by saying: “This is a grave moment. History begins today for the United States. We’re asking all our friends — you’re not the only country we’re speaking to -— we’re asking people whether they’re with us or against us.”
Towards the end of the meeting, General Ahmed asked what Pakistan could do for the United States, an immediate indication of friendship, Ms Lodhi said.
The next day, General Ahmed and Ms Lodhi were summoned to see the deputy secretary again. They were handed a list of seven points, most of which were a harbinger of the coming war in Afghanistan, and some of which are still hotly debated between Washington and Islamabad in the current crisis.
As for her opinion about differences between American and British experiences, the Times says she has her own favourite personal comparison. “When I moved into the neighbourhood in Washington, people came up and asked if there was anything I needed,” she said. Someone delivered a piece of pumpkin pie, someone else flowers.
“I’ve lived in my neighbourhood in London for three and a half years, and I have no idea who the neighbours are.”
Ms Lodhi is convinced that the Pakistani community can amalgamate into British society.