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July 12, 1999
Kargil fiasco sends Pak society into a tailspin
The Kargil fiasco has shocked and demoralised Pakistani society which was led to believe by the official media that the entire Kashmir would soon be a part of Pakistan.
A number of journalists, who were interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation's Urdu service for their response to the Nawaz Sharief government's appeal to militants to withdraw from the Indian side of the Line of Control, criticised the government for the way it handled Kargil.
Senior journalist Khaled Ahmed said the government failed to win support for its actions in Kargil even from friends like China which eventually forced it to talk peace.
He said the official media fed lies to the people and raised their expectations of settlement of the Kashmir question in Pakistan's favour through armed conflict but Sharief's announcement of withdrawal has disillusioned them and bred frustration.
Editor of the English daily, The News, Maleeha Lodhi said Sharief's credibility has suffered further. She said people are angry and demoralised by the government decision to withdraw militants from Kargil in accordance with the Clinton-Sharief joint statement signed on July 4.
Lodhi said people see the joint statement as a setback not because of what Sharief has done but how he has done it. The statement seeks no commitment from India and Clinton's assertion that he would take a personal interest in the resolution of the Kashmir tangle is weak.
''Pakistan has lost more than it has gained,'' she said.
Meanwhile, Islamic parties and Kashmiri militants in Pakistan today prepared to protest against Pakistan's decision to ask guerrillas to withdraw from Indian Kashmir, hours before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's state broadcast defending it.
Several Mujahideen groups and the opposition Jamaat-i-Islami party announced demonstrations in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, and the port city of Karachi against an agreement they see as a sellout of national interest.
The militants' umbrella organisation, the United Jihad Council, made no formal statement about last evening's announcement that Pakistan forces were starting to disengage in the Kargil sector.
Council officials were not immediately available for comment.
Spokesmen for organisations under its 15-group umbrella said they expected the Council to make a formal statement about the agreement in the days to come.
Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told a news conference last night that the Mujahideen had ''responded positively'' to a government appeal to withdraw to make good a pledge to Washington to end Pakistan's worst military stand off in nearly 30 years.
But his assertion was contradicted by several of the groups, who say they are fighting to force India agree to hold a United Nations-mandated plebiscite in the area to determine whether it should be part of India or Pakistan.
''We will not stop our struggle against India and we will not vacate the peaks in Kargil. Any agreement between India and Pakistan may apply to the Pakistani Army but not on the Mujahideen,'' Fazlur Rehman Khalil, head of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen said.
''The Mujahideen are free to take their own decisions and not bound by the agreement. Our battle will continue till the last Indian soldier is in Kashmir,'' added.
One group, Tehrek-e-Jehad, said that they would heed the government's appeal for ''help.''
''We are disengaging Indian forces in the Kargil sector. We have achieved a lot out of it, we inflicted heavy physical and material losses to the Indian troops,'' said Salim Wani, the group's chief organiser.
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