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November 18, 1999
Sharief was briefed on Kargil: Musharraf
Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf who apparently wants peace with India has no kind words for its leaders, accusing them of refusing to negotiate in good faith on Kashmir.
''They want to sidetrack it (Kashmir), sideline it, that is their strategy. Let me very clearly say that I am not playing that game,'' he said in an interview which was published in today's The New York Times.
The daily said that the general did not disavow his role as the ''architect of the Kargil operation'' but said the government and military were in agreement on the issue. He said two briefings were given to prime minister Nawaz Sharief in November or December last year and there was another meeting in February, the month in which he met Prime Minister A B Vajpayee in Lahore.
''He (Sharief) was a much more aggressive man than I was,'' said Gen Musharraf adding that the prime minister would sometimes jest about making a formidable attack on Srinagar.
Gen Musharraf rejected the idea of reducing Pakistan's military budget as suggested by international leaders. He, however, said he had no intention to compete with India in a nuclear arms race.
''We are working on a strategy of minimum deterrence,'' he said, adding that Pakistani intelligence agencies had enough knowledge about India's more ambitious plans for a nuclear arsenal.
''We are not concerned with a mathematical ratio and proportion. We understand and we have qualified our own nuclear deterrence,'' he observed.
The daily noted that he was sitting in the conference room of the army secretariat. On one wall was an enormous painting of the battle of Chawinda, with valiant Pakistani soldiers firing on Indian tanks in 1965. On another wall was a set of photographs of artillery placements in the Siachen Glacier area.
In reply to a question, Gen Musharraf said prime minister Sharief who had been detained and kept away from his family and lawyers since the coup on October 12, would be given ''an absolutely fair and transparent trial. The new governing structure is entirely civilian,'' he claimed.
The daily says he seeks a ''devolution of power'' to the grassroots and wants to make war on poverty and ignorance. But at the same time, the general said he had no idea when the nation would again be ready for democracy. His tenure as army chief is scheduled to end in October 2001. But he said he had given no thought to whether that date should be honoured.
''I will fulfil this task (of governing the nation) to the best of my ability,'' Gen Musharraf said. ''And in fulfilling this task, I will look into this aspect of whether I should retire in the year 2001.''
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