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'Kargil war a disaster, Musharraf tried to cover it up'

January 27, 2013 20:54 IST

Debunking Pakistan's claims about the Kargil conflict, Lieutenant General (Retired) Shahid Aziz, then head of the Inter Services Intelligence’s Analysis Wing, has said regular soldiers, not rebels fighting for Kashmir’s independence, took part in the "meaningless" 1999 war.

The former officer also accused the then Pakistan Army chief General Pervez Musharraf of a "cover-up".

"There were no mujahideen, only taped wireless messages, which fooled no one. Our soldiers were made to occupy barren ridges, with hand held weapons and ammunition," Lieutenant General Aziz wrote in his article in The Nation.

Headlined, 'Putting our children in line of fire', the Pakistani official, who retired in 2005, wrote, "The whole truth about Kargil is yet to be known. We await the stories of forgotten starved soldiers hiding behind cold desolate rocks, with empty guns still held in their hands. Such precious blood spilled without cause!"

The Pakistani officer said whatever little he knew, took a while to emerge, "since General Musharraf had put a tight lid on Kargil".

"Three years later, a study commenced by GHQ to identify issues of concern at the lowest levels of command, was forcefully stopped by him. ‘What is your intent?' he asked. His cover-up was revealed many years later, on publication of his book," Aziz said.

He said Kargil, an "unsound military plan" based on invalid assumptions, was launched with little preparation and in total disregard to the regional and international environment. It was bound to fail, said Lieutenant General Aziz.

"That may well have been the reason for its secrecy. It was a total disaster," he said and underlined that soldiers were sent as "war fodder".

Pakistan has always maintained that Kargil was fought by mujahideens.

Aziz said that the intrusion was clearly intended to dominate the supply line to Siachen and "force the Indians to pull out".

Aziz wrote, "It certainly wasn't a defensive maneuver. There were no indications of an Indian attack. We didn't pre-empt anything; nothing was on the cards. I was then heading the Analysis Wing of the Inter Services Intelligence and it was my job to know”.

"To say that occupying empty spaces along the Line of Control was not a violation of any agreement and came under the purview of the local commander is astounding. This area was with the Indians as a result of the Shimla Agreement, and there had been no major violation of the Line of Control since 1971," he said.

It was assumed that the Indian Army would not be able to "dislodge us and the world would sit back idly".

"The entire planning and execution was done in a cavalier manner, in total disregard of military convention. In justification, to say that our assessment was not wrong, but there was, 'unreasonably escalated Indian response', is a sorry excuse for not being able to assess the Indian reaction," he said.

He said the “boys” were comforted by their commander's assessment that no serious response would come.

“But it did -- wave after wave, supported by massive air bursting artillery and repeated air attacks. The enemy still couldn't manage to capture the peaks, and instead filled in the valleys. Cut off and forsaken, our posts started collapsing one after the other, though the general publicly denied it," he said.

Lieutenant General Aziz added, "We continue to indulge in bloody enterprises, under the hoax of safeguarding national interest. How many more medals will we put on coffins? How many more songs are we to sing? And how many more martyrs will our silences hide? If there is purpose to war then yes, we shall all go to the battle front. But a war where truth has to be hidden makes one wonder whose interest is it serving?" 

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