Washington, May 3: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had been planning the Kargil incursion (on India) long before March-July 1999 when he actually launched it, reveals a new book in Pakistan.
During Benazir Bhutto's second stint as Pakistan premier in the mid-90s, Musharraf, as the head of military operations at Pakistan Army Headquarters, had recommended a military incursion into Srinagar. Bhutto, however, had a different view and reminded him that "Pakistan would not be able to sustain the gains and would be forced to withdraw". This has been disclosed in the book "Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the Wars Within", written by Pakistani author Shuja Nawaz, which reproduces the author's conversations at different times between Benazir and Musharraf.
The book reveals that the Kargil operation was planned well before January 1999 and well before former Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Lahore by road, reports the Daily Times.
According to the book, Musharraf told Benazir that time was running out and Pakistan should invade Srinagar to take control over it, because in his words, "with the passage of time the India-Pakistan equation, military equation and economic equation is going against us".
But, Benazir took offence to it, discloses the book.
The book quotes Musharraf as saying: "I told her that the time window for the resolution of Kashmir dispute is short. Because, with (the) passage of time, the India-Pakistan equation, military equation and economic equation is going against us ... she minded that a lot. I told her that with time, the differential is increasing and the window will close.
Therefore, if at all, we have to do anything, we should be planning to do it in a short while. Otherwise we lose the opportunity ... It was just that I had a more proactive view on what we should be doing in Kashmir and she did not like that. She held totally defensive: 'let's sideline the issue altogether. Don't bother about it.' ... So she took offense to it."
Musharraf had further told Benazir: "I personally think that time is not on our side. Time is in the favour of India.' There was no Kargil type of situation discussed ... I said only that the Mujahideen were doing something over there.
My view was if we are bringing about qualitative enhancement and quantitative is all in our hands, in the government's hands, as far as Mujahideen are concerned. You can send them arms etc. whenever you like. Qualitatively, that is all that I said, but I didn't give her ... give any kind of a plan of action, military action."
The book also quotes other Pakistani personalities over Kargil planning. According to the book, Gen Jehangir Karamat said: "Kargil came up several times. The Dras-Kargil Road was an interdiction target for indirect artillery fire. During my tenure, Indians interdicted Neelam Valley Road, cutting off AJK.
We had a major planning conference to develop a response. We decided to construct a by-pass and continue interdiction on Dras-Kargil Road. This did not work and Indians continued. In the next conference we considered physical interdiction of the road but decided the consequences would create problems for locals and hamper covert operations in Kashmir.
We decided to move heavy weapons forward and carry out interdiction with direct fire. This was enormously effective. The Indians got the message and backed (off) on Neelam Valley Road. In any case, we had decided to develop an alternative route for logistics into PoK- this was completed.""
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's foreign minister at the time of Kargil, said that the Kargil operation was planned well before January 1999 and well before the Vajpayee visit and linked it to the 1994-96 Neelam Valley artillery attack by India. "I don't think they realised the full implications of these plans."
Lt Gen. Ziauddin, whom the then Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif tried to appoint in place of Musharraf, said that Sharif was fully in the picture on Kargil from a certain point on. According to Zia, the Prime Minister had the authority to order a halt to the operation at any point if he had serious doubts. But he did not. "This is damning testimony from a man whom Sharif was later to appoint Musharraf's replacement and who was then under threat of a court martial and under house arrest for almost two years on Musharraf's orders," Shuja writes.
About withdrawal from Kargil, the author writes that Musharraf did not take a firmer position against stepping back. Uncharacteristically, if his account is to be believed, he allowed Sharif to make his decision to go to Washington and seek Clinton's help in arranging a ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from the forward lines. On his part, Sharif had taken an indirect approach yet again with yet another Army chief, while apparently harboring deep distrust about the Chief's aims.
Sharif reportedly told Clinton that he was in a 'box' and needed his help, but in turn Clinton replied: "You have put me in a box. There's no simple way out"