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The making of the Kargil disaster Excerpts from Nasim Zehra's book, 'From Kargil To The Coup: Events

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The prime minister only sought his cabinet members’ opinion regarding the operation; he asked no tough questions himself. Based on whatever he understood regarding the operation, and factoring in the reservations expressed by his ministers, the elected prime minister opted to go along with the fait accompli presented to him by the military. He wanted a resolution of the Kashmir issue and appeared convinced that Op KP would advance that objective. He was perhaps also swayed by the upbeat tone of the DGMO’s ‘victoryalltheway’ presentation and partly by the notion that he was well on his way to becoming the man “whose name will go down in history in golden words as the man who liberated Kashmir.” The prime minister took well to the words of the CGS that for the PM “after the Quaid it is a unique opportunity to be remembered as the FatahiKashmir.”

Flattery was in abundance. The CGS piled on more, “Sir, you will go down in the history of Pakistan as the PM in whose tenure Kashmir was resolved.” In response to this, Nawaz responded, “But then you didn’t tell me when you will fly the flag of Pakistan in Srinagar.” Civilians present registered this as a comment made in jest. Meanwhile, flattery plus the army chief’s claim that, based on the wisdom and experience of his entire professional life, he could “guarantee the success of the operation,” had won Nawaz Sharif’s support for Op KP.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1417105/the-making-of-the-kargil-disaster

The prime minister had not factored in the clearly stated reservations of his foreign minister and minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas. He was assured of no military reverses, and he chose to believe his military commanders. Interestingly, at no point during the meeting was there any exchange between the PM and the military men signalling Sharif’s prior knowledge of the operation. There was only a passing reference made in the DGMO’s opening comments to the PM’s March approval given at the ISI-convened meeting to “upgrade the freedom movement in Kashmir.”

The most vocal critic, however, was the secretary of defence. The retired general spoke for about 20 minutes, warning that Op KP would either end in all-out war or a total military disaster for Pakistan. ... Implying that the army command had launched Op KP without clearance from the government, the defence secretary emphasised that the army was not an independent body and had to take orders from the government.

As the meeting drew to a close, the CGS proposed a joint prayer for the success of Op KP. The prime minister asked him to lead the joint prayer. With this, the meeting concluded. Most present at the meeting, including those who subsequently became the harshest critics of the operation, believed it would be a success.




Immediately after the meeting, the defense secretary, Lt. Gen (r) Iftikhar Ali Khan, followed the prime minister in his car. It was about 9pm and Sharif was entering the lift in the Prime Minister’s House when Iftikhar, hurriedly following him, said, “Sir, can I talk to you? It is important.” The nation’s chief executive asked him if he could wait till the next morning. The defence secretary persisted. He said he wanted to ask two questions. One: Did the military leadership get his permission to cross the LoC? The prime minister asked him whether the army had actually crossed the LoC. “Didn’t you note all that about ‘hundreds of posts’ and that NLI troops, not freedom fighters, have crossed the LoC?”

Gen Iftikhar continued asking his second question: “Crossing the LoC, Mian Sahib, you know has implications for war?” Late at night, the rather surprised prime minister said, “Why a war? And who has crossed the LoC?” He was told that about five to six hundred square kilometres of Indian territory and hundreds of posts had been occupied. The prime minister instructed the defence secretary to explain the situation to his minister the next morning.

Sinking in
The next morning, 12 hours after the top military command had briefed him on Op KP, the prime minister summoned key cabinet members to the PM House. Sharif chaired the meeting, which was attended by Sartaj Aziz, Gen. (r) Majeed Malik, Minister for Religious Affairs Raja Zafarul Haq, Minister for Information Mushahid Hussain and the defense secretary. The defence secretary registered his concerns, warning that escalation would be inevitable and the “Indians would not take it lying down.”

Gen Iftikhar complained that, without consulting anyone or taking any one in confidence, a “few paper tigers” had started the Kargil adventure. The foreign minister also reported that his ministry was getting panic calls from their missions abroad. Aziz complained that his ministry had no clue about this operation. Malik protested that he was Minister for Kashmir Affairs and he was shocked that he had not been taken into confidence. After hearing these outpourings, the prime minister contacted the army chief.

The army chief arrived at the PM House within an hour. There were only three people present at the time of this crucial moment of the Kargil crisis: the PM, the defence secretary, and the army chief. The PM asked Musharraf, “Did you cross the LoC?” Musharraf responded, “Yes, sir, I did.” “And on whose authority?” queried the prime minister. The army chief was quick to respond, “On my own responsibility and if you now order, sir, I will order the troops’ withdrawal.”

Nawaz Sharif turned to his defence secretary and said, “Did you see? He has accepted his responsibility!” Sharif, perhaps visualising himself as the ‘liberator’ of Kashmir, added, “Since the army is part of the government, from today onwards we will support the army.” After this rather brief meeting, the army was to get the complete support of the country’s leadership.




The public message at this stage from all stakeholders, in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and abroad, was identical: the international community must rein in India. The same day, the prime minister said Pakistan was committed to dialogue with India. On May 19, the COAS Gen Pervez Musharraf said Indian violations of the LoC would be taken seriously. On May 20, in Baku, at the Council of Ministers Conference, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Siddiq Kanju, asked the world community to help resolve Kashmir. On May 21, Pakistan’s newly-appointed ambassador to France, Shahryar Khan, assured his hosts that Pakistan was involved in “serious talks” with India.

Meanwhile, on the policy front, the prime minister, aided by his key advisers, made important decisions. After the May 17 meeting, at an informal huddle between the prime minister and his trusted men, Shahbaz Sharif, Gen Iftikhar and Chaudhry Nisar, the decision was taken to support the army. The three said that Nawaz Sharif should institutionalise the issue and bring it to the DCC. Several formal meetings were subsequently held. The informal consultations with his trusted men also continued. On May 23, a highlevel meeting was held between the prime minister, the COAS and the CGS to discuss Kargil.

In fact, once the cover blew from Op KP, the government sought regular military updates from the Kargil clique. The Kargil planners, too, were keen for a political buyin to Op KP. The GHQ organised briefings for the president, senators and parliamentarians, which included special prayer sessions for the success of the operation. At one of the prayer sessions at the ISI headquarters, led by the CGS Gen. Aziz, the Minister for the Interior Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain was also present.

Stunned at Hotel Scheherazade
The prime minister sought an assessment of the situation from his senior diplomatic team before the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) meeting scheduled for the end of May. Accordingly, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz convened a high-level meeting at the Foreign Office, formerly the grand hotel Scheherazade, to discuss the military and diplomatic developments. The participants of the May 23 meeting included senior Pakistan Muslim League leader Raja Zafarul Haq, Minister for Petroleum Chaudhry Nisar, Secretary Defence Lt. Gen. Iftikhar Ali Khan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Siddiq Kanju, Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad Khan, Additional Secretary Prime Minister’s Secretariat Tariq Fatemi, Additional Secretary UN Riaz Mohammad Khan, COAS Gen Pervez Musharraf, CGS Lt. Gen Aziz, DirectorGeneral ISI Lt. Gen Ziauddin, Commander 10 Corps Lt. Gen Mahmud, deputy Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Aliuddin, and Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza.

The briefing was given by Gen Aziz. Aziz said we did this to interdict the Siachen road, thereby forcing India to solve the Kashmir issue. Most of the civilian participants realised the scale of Op KP for the first time. They asked probing questions regarding the objectives of the operation. The army chief was asked about the objectives of Op KP and Pakistan military’s ability to retain the territory occupied across the LoC. The confident army chief’s response was, “We can defend every inch of our own territory and we are firmly entrenched in the positions we are holding in Kargil.”

There were many critics of the operation. For example, many questions came from Majeed Malik, who had himself commanded this area as a corps commander and, earlier on, as division commander. He said that, if Pakistan had to interdict this road, it could have been done from lower heights instead of taking our troops to the Kargil peaks, where the weather would be their worst enemy. Malik pointed especially to the difficulty of maintaining supply lines for the troops. The worried elderly Raja Zafarul Haq nearly reprimanded the Kargil planners for not taking others in the government into confidence if their objective were to highlight the Kashmir issue. All future action must now follow proper consultation, he emphasised.

The consensus among senior navy and air force officers was that opening of new fronts by India could not be ruled out. They asked why they had not been consulted earlier since any defence plan in case of Indian retaliation had to be an integrated armed forces defense plan. Criticism kept piling up. The deputy air chief also wondered, “After all, what will we achieve from all this?” CGS Aziz’s response was that, by applying pressure on the main supply artery NH1, India would be forced to the negotiating table on Kashmir.

Senior Foreign Office officials in the meeting warned that this operation would be indefensible on global forums. Additional Secretary UN Riaz Mohammad Khan categorically stated, “If it comes to the UNSC [UN Security Council], our position will be undercut.” The Chinese along with other UNSC members would simply ask Pakistan to respect the LoC and vacate the areas occupied across the LoC in Indian Occupied Kashmir, he told those gathered. Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad expressed concern regarding the possible expansion of the conflict and told the participants, “I cannot guarantee that India will not attack on the international borders.” The foreign secretary cautioned the army against repeating the miscalculation made prior to the 1965 Operation Gibraltar, when the key military and civilian officials had guaranteed that India would not retaliate across the international border. The confident army chief dispelled these concerns and maintained, “We can defend every inch of our territory.” Discussions bordered on being polemical rather than strategic. One of the generals asserted, “Whatever we may say here, our animosity with India is eternal.”

Those diplomats with an institutional memory of Kashmir questioned if the Op KP-related discussion could actually help to highlight Kashmir at the UN. Seasoned diplomat Riaz Mohammad Khan pointedly said, “If it is brought to the UN, our position will be undermined.” There had already been discussion within the international community about undermining the sanctity of the LoC. In 1965 and in 1971, when the Kashmir case was taken to the UNSC for discussion, the decision on both occasions was on the ceasefire and not on the Kashmir issue. In the case of Kargil too, had the matter been taken to the UNSC, it would have called for withdrawal and led to the further strengthening of the LoC. The army insisted that the line was fuzzy and in some places the Mujahideen were also involved in the fighting. When asked by one of the foreign office officials how the Mujahideen could fight so valiantly against the wellequipped Indian army, the army spokesperson Rashid Qureshi said, “Because the Indians from the plains are not acclimatised and they die!”

At the conclusion of the meeting, the three ministers — Sartaj Aziz, Majeed Malik and Raja Zafarul Haq — held a postmortem of the DCC meeting in Sartaj Aziz’s office. There prevailed a feeling among these experienced men that the operation was likely to cause serious military and diplomatic problems. Yet, sudden withdrawal, leading to high casualties, was not an option. Indeed, with the army already claiming it a success, who would bell the cat of asking the Kargil clique to withdraw? Nevertheless, Zafarul Haq believed the deficiencies in Op KP had to be addressed. The planners would interpret recommendations regarding the operation as a signal to continue. The civilian government may be held responsible in case Op KP failed. What followed could also be an army takeover.

The three senior ministers then shared their concerns and conclusions with the prime minister, who agreed with them on the need to take the navy and air force on board in all future discussions on Op KP.

Whose war is it anyway?
Around this time, Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (MI) also got active. Its Director-General, Major Gen Ehsanul Haq, invited the military attachés of Western countries to GHQ for a briefing on Op KP. The DG MI and the DGMO conducted the briefing followed by a question-and-answer session. The defence attachés left the briefing with the understanding that these senior Pakistani military officials had acknowledged that Pakistani troops were involved and it was not a Mujahideen operation. The Western military attachés, including the American and the British, reported back to their embassies and subsequently to their headquarters that fighting was actually taking place on the Indian side of the LoC. Publicly, however, Islamabad still maintained that only the Mujahideen were involved. The media, based on Western embassy backgrounders, reported that the DG MI had acknowledged that there were Pakistani troops across in the Indian side of the LoC. Interestingly at this time, Islamabad’s own diplomats, stationed even at the headquarters, were groping in the dark for information about the reported flareup along the LoC.

After the MI briefing, the US military attaché in the embassy informed his ambassador William Milam that fighting was going on on the Indian side of LoC. The American information until then was that it was a group of Mujahideen. The military attaché had attended the briefing at the GHQ given by the DG MI and the DGMO. Following the briefing, the attaches snooped around for more information. The military attaché met his counterpart while the political attaché met with retired military officers. With confirmation that Pakistani troops had crossed the LoC, the “really excited US diplomats” told Washington about it. The US State Department responded by issuing its first statement, calling upon Pakistan to withdraw its troops.

This statement prompted the Additional Secretary of the Foreign Office Tariq Altaf to call in Ambassador Milam and ask why Washington had accused Pakistan of fighting across the LoC. The US ambassador informed him that it was the Pakistan Army itself who had given them this information. Upon hearing Milam’s response, it seemed that “Altaf had been kicked and his face fell”, according to US ambassador Milam himself.

Following the AltafMilam exchange, Foreign Minister Aziz called the DG MI and complained about the faux pas he had committed. The MI chief said he had been misquoted. Nevertheless, the stories of the defense attaché regarding Pakistani troop presence remained in circulation.

Clueless cabinet
Towards the end of May, the prime minister decided to take his cabinet into confidence on Op Kp. He convened a cabinet meeting at which the DirectorGeneral ISI Lt. General Ziauddin Butt was to present a briefing. Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad and Defence Secretary Iftikhar were also present. Although in his private meetings with the prime minister the DG ISI was critical about Op KP, at this cabinet meeting he presented broad details of the operation. He talked of the freedom fighters and held that the operation was progressing satisfactorily. The intelligence chief, however, opted to not share his own assessment of the operation. Similarly, the foreign secretary, who had expressed some reservations about Op KP at earlier meetings, at this cabinet meeting opted to pick no holes. He gave no hint of the operation being a potential source of any diplomatic disadvantage for Pakistan, and, instead, indicated that some benefit could be derived from it.

A barrage of hard questions followed Butt’s briefing. The majority present, however, was pleased with the progress reported on Op KP. The Minister for Water and Power Gohar Ayub praised the army for doing a “great job” and advocated support for the operation. Minister of Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs Sheikh Rashid Ahmad also praised the army, while the minister for religious affairs said, “The time is now ripe for jihad.” There were also critics of Op KP. These included Minister for Communications Raja Nadir Pervez and Minister for Health Makhdoom Javed Hashmi.

The most vocal critic, however, was the secretary of defence. The retired general spoke for about 20 minutes, warning that Op KP would either end in all-out war or a total military disaster for Pakistan. ... Implying that the army command had launched Op KP without clearance from the government, the defence secretary emphasised that the army was not an independent body and had to take orders from the government. He was also critical of placing jihad as the central element in Pakistan’s defence structure. He wondered, “Why have we after 52 years realised the importance of jihad?” The defence secretary’s brother, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, also raised hard questions. The thrust of Nisar’s remarks was that based on his information, Pakistan was heading for a military disaster in Kargil-Drass. “Who had ordered the operation?” the minister rhetorically asked the military presenters. Nevertheless, Nisar’s caution was against an operation already underway.

Some altercation among powerful men ensued. Reacting to the defence secretary’s presentation, the visibly distraught Gohar Ayub asked why the defence secretary was opposing the plan of the army chief. Sheikh Rashid also queried why the defence secretary was revealing “secrets.” … The prime minister called the meeting to an end. He was now facing a divided house within and mounting pressures from the outside. The Kargil planners, meanwhile, saw no reason to pay heed to any concerns expressed in the cabinet meeting.

Reprinted with permission from the author

Nasim Zehra is a national security specialist and a well-known journalist

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 1st, 2018
 

holysinner

FULL MEMBER

New Recruit

Feb 8, 2010
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The prime minister only sought his cabinet members’ opinion regarding the operation; he asked no tough questions himself. Based on whatever he understood regarding the operation, and factoring in the reservations expressed by his ministers, the elected prime minister opted to go along with the fait accompli presented to him by the military. He wanted a resolution of the Kashmir issue and appeared convinced that Op KP would advance that objective. He was perhaps also swayed by the upbeat tone of the DGMO’s ‘victoryalltheway’ presentation and partly by the notion that he was well on his way to becoming the man “whose name will go down in history in golden words as the man who liberated Kashmir.” The prime minister took well to the words of the CGS that for the PM “after the Quaid it is a unique opportunity to be remembered as the FatahiKashmir.”

Flattery was in abundance. The CGS piled on more, “Sir, you will go down in the history of Pakistan as the PM in whose tenure Kashmir was resolved.” In response to this, Nawaz responded, “But then you didn’t tell me when you will fly the flag of Pakistan in Srinagar.” Civilians present registered this as a comment made in jest. Meanwhile, flattery plus the army chief’s claim that, based on the wisdom and experience of his entire professional life, he could “guarantee the success of the operation,” had won Nawaz Sharif’s support for Op KP.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1417105/the-making-of-the-kargil-disaster

The prime minister had not factored in the clearly stated reservations of his foreign minister and minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas. He was assured of no military reverses, and he chose to believe his military commanders. Interestingly, at no point during the meeting was there any exchange between the PM and the military men signalling Sharif’s prior knowledge of the operation. There was only a passing reference made in the DGMO’s opening comments to the PM’s March approval given at the ISI-convened meeting to “upgrade the freedom movement in Kashmir.”

The most vocal critic, however, was the secretary of defence. The retired general spoke for about 20 minutes, warning that Op KP would either end in all-out war or a total military disaster for Pakistan. ... Implying that the army command had launched Op KP without clearance from the government, the defence secretary emphasised that the army was not an independent body and had to take orders from the government.

As the meeting drew to a close, the CGS proposed a joint prayer for the success of Op KP. The prime minister asked him to lead the joint prayer. With this, the meeting concluded. Most present at the meeting, including those who subsequently became the harshest critics of the operation, believed it would be a success.




Immediately after the meeting, the defense secretary, Lt. Gen (r) Iftikhar Ali Khan, followed the prime minister in his car. It was about 9pm and Sharif was entering the lift in the Prime Minister’s House when Iftikhar, hurriedly following him, said, “Sir, can I talk to you? It is important.” The nation’s chief executive asked him if he could wait till the next morning. The defence secretary persisted. He said he wanted to ask two questions. One: Did the military leadership get his permission to cross the LoC? The prime minister asked him whether the army had actually crossed the LoC. “Didn’t you note all that about ‘hundreds of posts’ and that NLI troops, not freedom fighters, have crossed the LoC?”

Gen Iftikhar continued asking his second question: “Crossing the LoC, Mian Sahib, you know has implications for war?” Late at night, the rather surprised prime minister said, “Why a war? And who has crossed the LoC?” He was told that about five to six hundred square kilometres of Indian territory and hundreds of posts had been occupied. The prime minister instructed the defence secretary to explain the situation to his minister the next morning.

Sinking in
The next morning, 12 hours after the top military command had briefed him on Op KP, the prime minister summoned key cabinet members to the PM House. Sharif chaired the meeting, which was attended by Sartaj Aziz, Gen. (r) Majeed Malik, Minister for Religious Affairs Raja Zafarul Haq, Minister for Information Mushahid Hussain and the defense secretary. The defence secretary registered his concerns, warning that escalation would be inevitable and the “Indians would not take it lying down.”

Gen Iftikhar complained that, without consulting anyone or taking any one in confidence, a “few paper tigers” had started the Kargil adventure. The foreign minister also reported that his ministry was getting panic calls from their missions abroad. Aziz complained that his ministry had no clue about this operation. Malik protested that he was Minister for Kashmir Affairs and he was shocked that he had not been taken into confidence. After hearing these outpourings, the prime minister contacted the army chief.

The army chief arrived at the PM House within an hour. There were only three people present at the time of this crucial moment of the Kargil crisis: the PM, the defence secretary, and the army chief. The PM asked Musharraf, “Did you cross the LoC?” Musharraf responded, “Yes, sir, I did.” “And on whose authority?” queried the prime minister. The army chief was quick to respond, “On my own responsibility and if you now order, sir, I will order the troops’ withdrawal.”

Nawaz Sharif turned to his defence secretary and said, “Did you see? He has accepted his responsibility!” Sharif, perhaps visualising himself as the ‘liberator’ of Kashmir, added, “Since the army is part of the government, from today onwards we will support the army.” After this rather brief meeting, the army was to get the complete support of the country’s leadership.




The public message at this stage from all stakeholders, in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and abroad, was identical: the international community must rein in India. The same day, the prime minister said Pakistan was committed to dialogue with India. On May 19, the COAS Gen Pervez Musharraf said Indian violations of the LoC would be taken seriously. On May 20, in Baku, at the Council of Ministers Conference, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Siddiq Kanju, asked the world community to help resolve Kashmir. On May 21, Pakistan’s newly-appointed ambassador to France, Shahryar Khan, assured his hosts that Pakistan was involved in “serious talks” with India.

Meanwhile, on the policy front, the prime minister, aided by his key advisers, made important decisions. After the May 17 meeting, at an informal huddle between the prime minister and his trusted men, Shahbaz Sharif, Gen Iftikhar and Chaudhry Nisar, the decision was taken to support the army. The three said that Nawaz Sharif should institutionalise the issue and bring it to the DCC. Several formal meetings were subsequently held. The informal consultations with his trusted men also continued. On May 23, a highlevel meeting was held between the prime minister, the COAS and the CGS to discuss Kargil.

In fact, once the cover blew from Op KP, the government sought regular military updates from the Kargil clique. The Kargil planners, too, were keen for a political buyin to Op KP. The GHQ organised briefings for the president, senators and parliamentarians, which included special prayer sessions for the success of the operation. At one of the prayer sessions at the ISI headquarters, led by the CGS Gen. Aziz, the Minister for the Interior Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain was also present.

Stunned at Hotel Scheherazade
The prime minister sought an assessment of the situation from his senior diplomatic team before the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) meeting scheduled for the end of May. Accordingly, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz convened a high-level meeting at the Foreign Office, formerly the grand hotel Scheherazade, to discuss the military and diplomatic developments. The participants of the May 23 meeting included senior Pakistan Muslim League leader Raja Zafarul Haq, Minister for Petroleum Chaudhry Nisar, Secretary Defence Lt. Gen. Iftikhar Ali Khan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Siddiq Kanju, Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad Khan, Additional Secretary Prime Minister’s Secretariat Tariq Fatemi, Additional Secretary UN Riaz Mohammad Khan, COAS Gen Pervez Musharraf, CGS Lt. Gen Aziz, DirectorGeneral ISI Lt. Gen Ziauddin, Commander 10 Corps Lt. Gen Mahmud, deputy Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Aliuddin, and Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza.

The briefing was given by Gen Aziz. Aziz said we did this to interdict the Siachen road, thereby forcing India to solve the Kashmir issue. Most of the civilian participants realised the scale of Op KP for the first time. They asked probing questions regarding the objectives of the operation. The army chief was asked about the objectives of Op KP and Pakistan military’s ability to retain the territory occupied across the LoC. The confident army chief’s response was, “We can defend every inch of our own territory and we are firmly entrenched in the positions we are holding in Kargil.”

There were many critics of the operation. For example, many questions came from Majeed Malik, who had himself commanded this area as a corps commander and, earlier on, as division commander. He said that, if Pakistan had to interdict this road, it could have been done from lower heights instead of taking our troops to the Kargil peaks, where the weather would be their worst enemy. Malik pointed especially to the difficulty of maintaining supply lines for the troops. The worried elderly Raja Zafarul Haq nearly reprimanded the Kargil planners for not taking others in the government into confidence if their objective were to highlight the Kashmir issue. All future action must now follow proper consultation, he emphasised.

The consensus among senior navy and air force officers was that opening of new fronts by India could not be ruled out. They asked why they had not been consulted earlier since any defence plan in case of Indian retaliation had to be an integrated armed forces defense plan. Criticism kept piling up. The deputy air chief also wondered, “After all, what will we achieve from all this?” CGS Aziz’s response was that, by applying pressure on the main supply artery NH1, India would be forced to the negotiating table on Kashmir.

Senior Foreign Office officials in the meeting warned that this operation would be indefensible on global forums. Additional Secretary UN Riaz Mohammad Khan categorically stated, “If it comes to the UNSC [UN Security Council], our position will be undercut.” The Chinese along with other UNSC members would simply ask Pakistan to respect the LoC and vacate the areas occupied across the LoC in Indian Occupied Kashmir, he told those gathered. Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad expressed concern regarding the possible expansion of the conflict and told the participants, “I cannot guarantee that India will not attack on the international borders.” The foreign secretary cautioned the army against repeating the miscalculation made prior to the 1965 Operation Gibraltar, when the key military and civilian officials had guaranteed that India would not retaliate across the international border. The confident army chief dispelled these concerns and maintained, “We can defend every inch of our territory.” Discussions bordered on being polemical rather than strategic. One of the generals asserted, “Whatever we may say here, our animosity with India is eternal.”

Those diplomats with an institutional memory of Kashmir questioned if the Op KP-related discussion could actually help to highlight Kashmir at the UN. Seasoned diplomat Riaz Mohammad Khan pointedly said, “If it is brought to the UN, our position will be undermined.” There had already been discussion within the international community about undermining the sanctity of the LoC. In 1965 and in 1971, when the Kashmir case was taken to the UNSC for discussion, the decision on both occasions was on the ceasefire and not on the Kashmir issue. In the case of Kargil too, had the matter been taken to the UNSC, it would have called for withdrawal and led to the further strengthening of the LoC. The army insisted that the line was fuzzy and in some places the Mujahideen were also involved in the fighting. When asked by one of the foreign office officials how the Mujahideen could fight so valiantly against the wellequipped Indian army, the army spokesperson Rashid Qureshi said, “Because the Indians from the plains are not acclimatised and they die!”

At the conclusion of the meeting, the three ministers — Sartaj Aziz, Majeed Malik and Raja Zafarul Haq — held a postmortem of the DCC meeting in Sartaj Aziz’s office. There prevailed a feeling among these experienced men that the operation was likely to cause serious military and diplomatic problems. Yet, sudden withdrawal, leading to high casualties, was not an option. Indeed, with the army already claiming it a success, who would bell the cat of asking the Kargil clique to withdraw? Nevertheless, Zafarul Haq believed the deficiencies in Op KP had to be addressed. The planners would interpret recommendations regarding the operation as a signal to continue. The civilian government may be held responsible in case Op KP failed. What followed could also be an army takeover.

The three senior ministers then shared their concerns and conclusions with the prime minister, who agreed with them on the need to take the navy and air force on board in all future discussions on Op KP.

Whose war is it anyway?
Around this time, Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (MI) also got active. Its Director-General, Major Gen Ehsanul Haq, invited the military attachés of Western countries to GHQ for a briefing on Op KP. The DG MI and the DGMO conducted the briefing followed by a question-and-answer session. The defence attachés left the briefing with the understanding that these senior Pakistani military officials had acknowledged that Pakistani troops were involved and it was not a Mujahideen operation. The Western military attachés, including the American and the British, reported back to their embassies and subsequently to their headquarters that fighting was actually taking place on the Indian side of the LoC. Publicly, however, Islamabad still maintained that only the Mujahideen were involved. The media, based on Western embassy backgrounders, reported that the DG MI had acknowledged that there were Pakistani troops across in the Indian side of the LoC. Interestingly at this time, Islamabad’s own diplomats, stationed even at the headquarters, were groping in the dark for information about the reported flareup along the LoC.

After the MI briefing, the US military attaché in the embassy informed his ambassador William Milam that fighting was going on on the Indian side of LoC. The American information until then was that it was a group of Mujahideen. The military attaché had attended the briefing at the GHQ given by the DG MI and the DGMO. Following the briefing, the attaches snooped around for more information. The military attaché met his counterpart while the political attaché met with retired military officers. With confirmation that Pakistani troops had crossed the LoC, the “really excited US diplomats” told Washington about it. The US State Department responded by issuing its first statement, calling upon Pakistan to withdraw its troops.

This statement prompted the Additional Secretary of the Foreign Office Tariq Altaf to call in Ambassador Milam and ask why Washington had accused Pakistan of fighting across the LoC. The US ambassador informed him that it was the Pakistan Army itself who had given them this information. Upon hearing Milam’s response, it seemed that “Altaf had been kicked and his face fell”, according to US ambassador Milam himself.

Following the AltafMilam exchange, Foreign Minister Aziz called the DG MI and complained about the faux pas he had committed. The MI chief said he had been misquoted. Nevertheless, the stories of the defense attaché regarding Pakistani troop presence remained in circulation.

Clueless cabinet
Towards the end of May, the prime minister decided to take his cabinet into confidence on Op Kp. He convened a cabinet meeting at which the DirectorGeneral ISI Lt. General Ziauddin Butt was to present a briefing. Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad and Defence Secretary Iftikhar were also present. Although in his private meetings with the prime minister the DG ISI was critical about Op KP, at this cabinet meeting he presented broad details of the operation. He talked of the freedom fighters and held that the operation was progressing satisfactorily. The intelligence chief, however, opted to not share his own assessment of the operation. Similarly, the foreign secretary, who had expressed some reservations about Op KP at earlier meetings, at this cabinet meeting opted to pick no holes. He gave no hint of the operation being a potential source of any diplomatic disadvantage for Pakistan, and, instead, indicated that some benefit could be derived from it.

A barrage of hard questions followed Butt’s briefing. The majority present, however, was pleased with the progress reported on Op KP. The Minister for Water and Power Gohar Ayub praised the army for doing a “great job” and advocated support for the operation. Minister of Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs Sheikh Rashid Ahmad also praised the army, while the minister for religious affairs said, “The time is now ripe for jihad.” There were also critics of Op KP. These included Minister for Communications Raja Nadir Pervez and Minister for Health Makhdoom Javed Hashmi.

The most vocal critic, however, was the secretary of defence. The retired general spoke for about 20 minutes, warning that Op KP would either end in all-out war or a total military disaster for Pakistan. ... Implying that the army command had launched Op KP without clearance from the government, the defence secretary emphasised that the army was not an independent body and had to take orders from the government. He was also critical of placing jihad as the central element in Pakistan’s defence structure. He wondered, “Why have we after 52 years realised the importance of jihad?” The defence secretary’s brother, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, also raised hard questions. The thrust of Nisar’s remarks was that based on his information, Pakistan was heading for a military disaster in Kargil-Drass. “Who had ordered the operation?” the minister rhetorically asked the military presenters. Nevertheless, Nisar’s caution was against an operation already underway.

Some altercation among powerful men ensued. Reacting to the defence secretary’s presentation, the visibly distraught Gohar Ayub asked why the defence secretary was opposing the plan of the army chief. Sheikh Rashid also queried why the defence secretary was revealing “secrets.” … The prime minister called the meeting to an end. He was now facing a divided house within and mounting pressures from the outside. The Kargil planners, meanwhile, saw no reason to pay heed to any concerns expressed in the cabinet meeting.

Reprinted with permission from the author

Nasim Zehra is a national security specialist and a well-known journalist

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 1st, 2018
Very Interesting read.
 

jamal18

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The army cannot cross the border, and the primeminister support them after. It is actually an act of insubordination and deserves automatic punishment.
 

Maarkhoor

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The army cannot cross the border, and the primeminister support them after. It is actually an act of insubordination and deserves automatic punishment.
He was on board from the day one..later he N.S turned military success into political debacle and announced ceasefire (Unconditional) without consulting the armed forces and punished accordingly.
 
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I would love Mr Musharaf explain these points. The sob owes it to the dead soldiers -
Malik pointed especially to the difficulty of maintaining supply lines for the troops.
The consensus among senior navy and air force officers was that opening of new fronts by India could not be ruled out. They asked why they had not been consulted earlier since any defence plan in case of Indian retaliation had to be an integrated armed forces defense plan.
The deputy air chief also wondered, “After all, what will we achieve from all this?”
“If it comes to the UNSC [UN Security Council], our position will be undercut.” The Chinese along with other UNSC members would simply ask Pakistan to respect the LoC and vacate the areas occupied across the LoC in Indian Occupied Kashmir,
Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad expressed concern regarding the possible expansion of the conflict and told the participants, “I cannot guarantee that India will not attack on the international borders.” The foreign secretary cautioned the army against repeating the miscalculation made prior to the 1965 Operation Gibraltar, when the key military and civilian officials had guaranteed that India would not retaliate across the international border.
Oh really Mr Musharaf???
The confident army chief dispelled these concerns and maintained, “We can defend every inch of our territory.”

Gen Iftikhar complained that, without consulting anyone or taking any one in confidence, a “few paper tigers” had started the Kargil adventure.
Paper tigers. You bet. Roll forward to 2001. The "few paper tigers" now were ruling Pakistan. And we saw how fast Musharaf capitulated in front of US pressure. Paper tiger indeed!
 

Jackdaws

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Stupid move especially in light of Lahore bus diplomacy of Vajpayee. It had been almost 30 years since 1971 and a newer generation didn't have the same animosity toward Pakistan. Kargil changed that.
 

BATMAN

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Why are there attempts to keep army away from what's their basic task!
Kashmir is the unfinished agenda and Pakistan army should go for it again and again.
If army will not attempt than it's naturally people taking it in their hands.
Kashmir must be taken! and now after carrying out so much terrorism in Pakistan... revenge with India is also over due.
If any one is in disagreement... he/she should go and ask the kids of dead soldiers and ask the parents of APS kids.
 

Jackdaws

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Why are there attempts to keep army away from what's their basic task!
Kashmir is the unfinished agenda and Pakistan army should go for it again and again.
If army will not attempt than it's naturally people taking it in their hands.
Kashmir must be taken! and now after carrying out so much terrorism in Pakistan... revenge with India is also over due.
If any one is in disagreement... he/she should go and ask the kids of dead soldiers and ask the parents of APS kids.
Your own people have admitted APS attack was carried out by your own citizens. Simply because you want it, doesn't mean you are going to get it.
 

Laozi

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Nice Article

Now there will be a "unanimous DISAGREEMENT" :p: between the all sections of Pakistanis

Whether to own up everything that is in public domain OR label the writer as Anti-Pakistan and Unislamic :pakistan:
 

EasyNow

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A very interesting read..

A depressingly familiar picture of ego, opportunism and ambition that has launched many losing battles.

Mushy was over eager and naive, he saw a chance for glory - regardless of the cost to his country and his soldiers - as they say, fools rush in where angels dare to tread.

I believe history will show that his entire leadership of Pak was a result of self serving, converging interests of the competing powers (within and outside of Pakistan) nothing to do with his personal characteristics.
 

holysinner

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He was on board from the day one..later he N.S turned military success into political debacle and announced ceasefire (Unconditional) without consulting the armed forces and punished accordingly.
Are u serious? Do you think he could ve ordered withdrawal without the consent of military command? Besides Mushi himself admitted in an interview that withdrawal was ordered after the objectives were achieved". Bottomline is NS was a goof and indecisive. Our military generals as always displayed poor discipline and idiotic plan and lost miserably yet only NS had to take the whole blame. Its deeply saddening to think so many precious lives were lost for nothing and yet the architects of the kargle debacle are all on the lose.
 

Sine Nomine

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It had been almost 30 years since 1971 and a newer generation didn't have the same animosity toward Pakistan. Kargil changed that.
What makes you think in those last years we did forget 1971 and we weren't having animosity towards Bharat?
Stupid move especially in light of Lahore bus diplomacy of Vajpayee.
That was indeed stupid Move.
 

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