|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
October 14, 1999
Fernandes was right, Sharief was innocentAmberish K Diwanji in New Delhi
Union Defence Minister George Fernandes may, after all, have been right.
When the Kargil war broke out in May 1999, Fernandes had declared that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief was not behind the intrusions. A howl of protest followed. Political opponents, the media, et al, jumped on Fernandes for absolving Sharief, forcing the defence minister to beat a hasty retreat.
After the bonhomie generated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's bus diplomacy, Indians saw the intrusions as a personal betrayal by Sharief. Few, if any, were willing to let the Pakistan premier off the hook.
Now, however, after the military coup led by General Pervez Musharraf, many in India are willing to acknowledge that Fernandes was right in blaming the Pakistan Army for the Kargil war.
Defence analysts and government sources now agree that it was not Sharief who betrayed the Lahore bus diplomacy, but he himself was betrayed by his army commanders. Intelligence information now confirms that the army carried out the operations in Kargil on its own. The civilian government was kept in the dark about the scope and depth of intrusions.
"Sharief must have had some knowledge of the goings-on. He has his own intelligence and sources. But he must never have guessed the extent of the army's involvement nor realised the game plan of occupying territory in India," said defence analysts in New Delhi.
Even external affairs ministry sources admit that Sharief was keen to foster better Indo-Pak ties after Vajpayee's journey to Lahore, which generated tremendous hope among the peoples of the two countries. In fact, even at the height of the Kargil conflict, the Lahore-Delhi bus continued to ply.
"Let us not forget that when Sharief asked the three chiefs of the armed forces to be present in Lahore to receive Vajpayee, the trio refused on the lame plea that they had to meet the Chinese army chief who was then visiting Islamabad. It was clear even then that the bus diplomacy did not got down well with the army and the more hawkish elements in Pakistan, but was pushed through by the Pakistani prime minister," the sources pointed out.
"Preparations to occupy the heights began before the bus diplomacy and carried on even after the diplomacy. Sharief was tricked by his own army commanders," said an analyst.
But after the Pakistan Army began to face serious reverses in the heights, it was left to Sharief to order the pullout to avoid an all-out war -- a decision that many now feel accelerated the military coup.
The coup, sources confirmed, was in the offing much earlier. "The Pakistan Army has been planning some move or the other since the beginning of the year. But after Sharief refused to play ball on Kargil and ordered the army out, the die was cast for his ouster," said Pakistan-watcher Sumita Kumar of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses.
The Pakistan Army is keen to continue playing a major role in the affairs of the nation and is unwilling to be sidelined, said Kumar. And after the dismissal of former army chief Jehangir Karamat, the army was just waiting to strike back.
Observers also pointed out that though Musharraf is a Mohajir who has deposed a Punjabi prime minister (Mohajirs are the migrants from India while Punjabis, the largest ethnic group in Pakistan, dominate the country's establishments), the fact is that the Punjabi-dominated army has chosen to support Musharraf.
Earlier, in the coup of 1978, Zia-ul Haq, a Punjabi army chief, had replaced a Sindhi prime minister as head of the state.
But even though it is now clear that the army was the primary player in the intrusions, neither defence analysts nor the external affairs ministry expect much trouble in Kashmir in the coming days. "The Pakistan Army is too busy setting up a government in Islamabad to try anything anywhere else," said the analysts.
In any case, the Indian army and air force chiefs have already declared that they are prepared for any eventuality.
ELECTION 99 |
SINGLES | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | MONEY
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK