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|August 14, 2002
The Rediff Special/ Amir Mir
Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif feels the Kargil misadventure had caused an irreparable damage to the freedom movement in the Kashmir valley.
In an exclusive telephonic interview from Jeddah, where he has been living since December 2000 after being exiled by the Musharraf regime, Sharif reiterated that the military brass kept him completely in the dark while advancing towards the Kargil heights, where hundreds of Pakistan soldiers lost their lives simply because it was an ill-planned and ill-conceived operation. He said the Kargil operation was kept so secret that even Pakistan's corps commanders and the chiefs of navy and air force were unaware of it.
Sharif demanded the setting up of a national commission to investigate the episode to ascertain whether or not the then government was aware of the operation.
"Had the government been informed in advance, we would have at least dissuaded the Indian prime minister from coming to Lahore and there would have been no declaration. The Kargil episode sabotaged the Lahore Declaration besides derailing the process of dialogue for an amicable resolution of the Kashmir dispute," he said.
Asked about rumours of his striking yet another deal with General Musharraf, this time to return home, he said any compromise with the military regime was unthinkable and out of question. As for his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif replacing him as the new president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and the subsequent rumours about his deal with the regime, the elder Sharif said: "Shahbaz's election should not be taken as a signal for the military regime. We don't have a soft corner for them."
Sharif, who left Pakistan in December 2000 after an apparent deal with the government, insisted that no deal was signed between the Saudi and the military governments. He expressed the hope that under the umbrella of Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and the PML-N would continue the joint struggle against Musharraf's constituational reforms. "The restoration of democracy is possible only through a joint PPP-PML-N struggle. Political forces should not compromise with the military regime for petty gains."
"Those who think I will strike a deal with those who have subverted the constitution are living in a fool's paradise. If I had to agree to a deal, I would have done so on October 12, 1999 (the day Musharraf ousted Sharif in a military coup)," Sharif said in an emotional tone. "I am all out for the constitution and will voice my opposition to any misadventure aimed at subverting the constitution.One who distorts and mutilates the unanimously adopted 1973 Constitution is liable to be punished under Article 6."
He felt the military rulers had no option left but to rig the October general election. Otherwise, he said, the regime would have to defer the election because their political cronies stood no chance of winning a majority.
Amir Mir spoke to Mr Nawaz Sharif from Lahore
Design: Rajesh Karkera
Also see: The Pakistan homepage
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