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June 3, 1999
Govt will have to answer several questions post-Kargil: Manmohan
Congress Working Committee member Manmohan Singh today said that while the whole nation was behind the Vajpayee government in its current campaign against the Pakistan-backed intruders in the Kargil sector, the government would have to do a lot of explaining about its failures, after the action was over.
Addressing a press conference here, Dr Singh said this was not the time for post-mortem, but the government's record would be subject to scrutiny after the campaign to evict the intruders was over. He said the government was speaking in different voices which would demoralise the armed forces, whose personnel were sacrificing their lives for the nation. Defence Minister George Fernandes's statement about safe passage to the intruders, which he has since retracted as also absolving the Pakistan prime minister and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of any involvement in the Kargil intrusion, had raised a number of questions, he pointed out.
Dr Singh said the infiltration of over 1000 people into Kargil might not have been possible without long preparation. Even when Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif were meeting in Lahore February last, the preparation for the infiltration might have been underway. This explained a gross intelligence failure on the part of the Indian authorities. When a reporter pointed out that the 1962 Chinese infiltration also took place after a lot of bonhomie between the Indian and Chinese prime ministers, Dr Singh said we must learn lessons from history. Asked whether he suggested that Fernandes should step down, Dr Singh ducked the question, but said the defence minister had not covered himself with glory. He was emphatic that the current situation should not be politicised.
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