An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Musharraf, Sharif or Kiani – Who is telling the truth on Kargil?

Of all the commentators on Terrorism, there is only one I trust and respect for his forthrightness and ability to assimilate a lot together. He is B. Raman.

Here he discusses the hot topic in Pakistan – Did Musharraf tell Nawaz Sharif about Kargil? There are three main versions – Musharraf’s, Nawaz Sharif’s and Lt. Gen (retd.) Jamshed Gulzar Kiani. Now, Kiani is a guy whom Musharraf used and then dumped him.

SO, Musharraf says that he had told Sharif. Sharif says that he was not told. And Kiani is midway. The truth however was carefully recorded by RAW (where Raman headed the Anti-terrorism cell) as Musharraf made several calls from his Beijing hotel to Lieutenant General Mohammad Aziz. That’s where the truth was spilled out. Here is what really happened:

The then government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to release to the media the transcripts of two of these tapes for three reasons. Firstly, the tapes showed that it was the Pakistani Army which had occupied the Kargil heights violating the Line of Control and not Kashmiri Mujahideen as claimed by Musharraf. Secondly, it was the Pakistan Army which had shot down an Indian Air Force plane and asked the Hizbul Mujahideen to claim the responsibility for it. Third, the tapes showed that Musharraf had launched his operation without the knowledge of Sharif, many of his corps commanders, the ISI, the chiefs of the air force and navy and his foreign office. He got nervous after the IAF went into action and there were reports of Indian naval ships moving from the east to the west coast.

Worried over the possibility of the conflict spreading outside Kashmir, Musharraf authorised Aziz from Beijing to brief other officers about the operation at an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Sharif on May 29, 1999. At this meeting, as reported by Aziz to Musharraf, there were objections to Musharraf’s keeping others in the dark. According to the account of the meeting as given by Aziz to Musharraf, Sharif defended Musharraf’s action in not informing others as due to the demands of operational secrecy. Sharif claimed that he and other corps commanders were informed only a week earlier. He made it appear that Musharraf’s action was understandable.

A careful examination of the tapes would indicate the following:

* Musharraf launched the operation without taking Sharif’s clearance and without the knowledge of most senior officers.
* When the Indian Army hit back and the IAF went into action, he lost his nerve and informed Sharif first and then other senior officers and the foreign office.
* Instead of rebuking Musharraf, Sharif went along with it hoping that the operation would succeed. When it did not, he flew to the US and sought assistance in bringing the fighting to a halt.
* It is clear that neither Musharraf nor Nawaz nor Kiani is telling the whole truth. Each is telling only part of the truth which, they think, would serve their purpose.

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