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If Musharraf's phone intercepts had been understood...

September 09, 2008 20:41 IST

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Renewing an age-old turf war, a former Indian Army [Images] chief on Tuesday claimed India's external intelligence wing had failed to understand the importance of the intercepted telephone conversations between Pervez Musharraf [Images] and his army officers ahead of the Kargil [Images] conflict.

Former Army chief Gen V P Malik, who led the ground forces during the 1999 conflict, said he was shown the intercepts 'only after the (then) prime minister (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) asked about it at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security'.

"Who were the best people to understand the conversations? Is it not the Army Chief," he asked while speaking at a function after releasing a book by a former officer of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in New Delhi [Images].

Malik also claimed that R&AW had 'failed to understand the importance of the intercepted telephonic conversations between Musharraf and his army officers,' according to a release issued by the Observer Research Foundation, which brought out the book The Military Factor in Pakistan by Lt Col R S N Singh.

Malik, who heads the Foundation, narrated how the Kargil infiltration by the Pakistani Army happened soon after the 'much-hyped' Lahore [Images] Declaration between Vajpayee and then Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif.

He said inadequate knowledge often led to wrong perceptions about Pakistan and the role of its military, leading to 'miscalculated' relations between the two nations.

The former army chief also said that Indian politicians and policy-makers were not adequately aware of the role being played by the military in Pakistan.

"There have not been adequate studies on the role of Pakistan military. The knowledge among the politicians, Foreign Service and academic world is not good enough," the release quoted Malik as saying.

The intelligence wings of the armed forces and the R&AW and Intelligence Bureau have often had differences over analysis and perception of intelligence inputs.

Unlike the R&AW of the Cabinet Secretariat, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence was 'an extension of the Pakistan Army' [Images], he said.

While Pakistani leaders, including slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [Images], had understood the importance of reigning in the Pakistan army, most in India had not yet understood this, the former army chief claimed.

He also claimed that military intelligence had recorded intercepts of conversations between Pakistani army officers on the death of then President Gen Zia ul Haq in a plane crash.

Former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathi, who also spoke on the occasion, alleged Pakistan's nuclear programme was being conducted by the Chinese and there was 'no Pakistani nuclear programme'.

All speakers, according to the release, opined that the military would continue to rule Pakistan 'irrespective of (Asif Ali) Zardari or no Zardari'.

Zardari was sworn in as Pakistan's President on Tuesday.

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