Kargil: No end to lies?

Ali Ashraf Khankargil-3-a

The Kargil episode that in 1999 involved India and Pakistan in another military adventure and ended with the humiliation of Pakistan has since then boggled the minds of not only Indians and Pakistanis but of people interested in Indo-Pak relations and world politics all over the world as to what was the actual purpose of that adventure that cost the lives of hundreds of soldiers on both sides and ended with the re-establishment of the status quo. From time to time interviews and publications of Pakistani army officers and journalists claiming to know ‘the truth about the operation’ have been published.

Lately we are witnessing another round of ‘revelations’ including the one that then Chief of Army Staff General Musharraf had spent a night on the Indian occupied side of Kashmir, before the start of the Kargil operation. Much of those ‘revelations” might not be true or even be outright lies aimed at projecting the author as a hero or blaming one or the other general or politician connected to the case. But nobody so far has tried to see the Kargil affair within the frame of world politics by connecting the dots; this attempt should be made here. The bravery of the people of Kargil, Baltistan and Gilgit is unparalleled in heroic patriotism of its people. Freedom movement by Muslims was started by Shaheed Shah Ismail and Ahmad Brothers in 1857 and achieved its fruits in 1947 throwing away the yoke of British Raj. During the British rule also local people showed gallantry on Burma front even saved the life of Gen. Maansarg from Japanese near Macteela, but MC were awarded only to the British and not to our natives who showed highest individual gallantry.

Ladakh including Kargil, Baltistan and Gilgit were given by Maharaja on lease to the British in 1935, which was returned to Maharaja in June 1947 and Political Agent Lt. Col Beacon was replaced by Brigadier Ghansara Singh by Gen Scott, commander of State army. When news arrived of partition of India people in Gilgit and Baltistan revolted against Dogra ruler and self liberated this area, strategic passes on highest altitude were captured by Balti fighters; when Skardu was threatened, Col Pasha and Aslam decided to send troops from Chilam, Deosai to Kargil, on reaching Gultari, Deosai had already received 15 feet snow, there advance still continued and Kargil was captured on 13th May 1948, while Subedar Sher Ali engaged enemy at Daras, which came in their control on 24th May ‘48.

After Daras, Col Ahsan Ali and Major Mohd Aslam brought Zojila pass under control on 6 or 7 July 1948. In January 1949 move for Padam in Zangsakar, another strategic point, move started to keep an eye on enemy, Naik Mohd Hussain Abdullah reached Hangthiang to capture Laddakh from Dogra army assisted by Indian armoured, Baltis did not have even anti-tank weapons. From January to June 1949 local fighters under Subedar Mohd Yusuf, Mohd Ali and Ali Haider with 50 jawans including 26 locals got trapped controlling an area of 160 square miles but they did kept enemy engaged and did not surrender in spite of the fact that population of Zangsakar was Buddhists, who worked as enemy informer.

On enemy request, Lt. Murtaza arrived to persuade them to return back to Skardu. Liaquat Ali Khan when visited Gilgit he donated 5,000 rupees as award to Padam Hero’s, which this gang of four never ever recognized who claim to have prepared Kargil operation, that was put successfully into operation and lost through UN Resolutions, which these erstwhile leaders have forgotten now for personal gains. Kashmir since partition is a sensitive political and military issue for both Indians and Pakistanis.

While India refuses to acknowledge partition to be rooted in the two-nation theory, a theory they now don’t recognize and therefore, claim the validity of the Maharaja of Kashmir’s accession to India regardless of the prevalent religion of the Kashmiri people, Pakistan regards Kashmir as a part of Pakistan based on the partition plan that those states where ruler of state is Hindu and majority of population Muslim or vice versa the will of the people will determine the future of that state joining India or Pakistan.  Generations of Indian and Pakistani youth have been educated in the respective spirits and both armies have made it a matter of life or death. Pakistan as always felt to have been wronged by Indian manipulations of the accession deed, of the missing implementation of the UNSC resolutions demanding a plebiscite and Indian propaganda; that is why the Pakistani army tried several times to restore justice and conquer Indian Held Kashmir. That was part of the 1965 and the 1970 warfare and finally it triggered another failed attempt in 1999 with the Kargil war after India had snatched Siachen in 1984 from Pakistan.

An attack on the mountain ridges close to Kargil overlooking the only road link between Srinagar and Leh, the Indian national highway and thus cutting Indian access to Ladakh was an old idea that had been first mentioned by General Akbar Khan who had fought the first Kashmir war in 1947 in his book published in 1975 ‘Raiders in Kashmir’. General Akbar was not able to implement it because he was court-martialed for his involvement in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case. But the idea was taken up by others: first it was offered to General Ziaul Haq during his rule; he dismissed the idea as too dangerous as it could trigger another Indo-Pakistani war.

Then Benazir Bhutto also turned down this same proposal. Interestingly, the same idea was brought forward by Major-General Javed Hassan, commander of the Pakistani troops in the Northern Areas (FCNA) who after receiving a yes nod from the group of 4, also carried the plan out. He is said to have been one of the best minds in the army and very ambitious. Interestingly though before his promotion to rank of Major General, Brigadier Javed Hassan had been Defense Attaché in Washington and this fact is going to play a decisive role in the future events. In spite of Kargil fiasco how he was promoted as Lt. General and given important position as Commandant NDC and Corps Commander at Gujranwala perhaps to be considered for elevation as next army chief by Gen. Musharraf?

As a matter of fact the US for many years had tried to get into a kind of partnership with India, which had always been refuted by the Indians; First because of their alliance with the Soviet Union and after the demise of the Soviet Union because they valued their independence and self-reliance in their military and foreign policy. It has been revealed by Nicholas Bern, that the US was desperately searching for a way to get their foot into the Indian door. It must have been the US think-tanks concerned with South Asia that gave the CIA the idea to promote this dangerous plan and sell it to the Pakistan army. So Brigadier Javed was perhaps fed the idea and given his ambition and his commitment to the Kashmir cause made him give it a try. Back to Pakistan and waiting for his promotion for general he introduced the idea to Chief of the General Staff (CGS) General Mohammad Aziz Khan and later COAS General Musharraf.

Both seem to have been taken in by the idea, General Aziz because he was a Kashmiri himself and especially committed to the Kashmir cause and General Musharraf who also had a certain strain of adventurism. The whole operation was planned and executed while in the knowledge of only four Generals Musharraf, Aziz, Mahmud Ahmad (Commander of 10th corps) and Javed Hassan who carried it actually out.

This secrecy gives validity to then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s claims that he didn’t know about the operation at least not before it was started. He has failed to answer what forced him to accept Washington Accord with the US when India was not present on that occasion an agreement for unconditional withdrawal and give up our stand on Sir Creek and Siachin.  The Pakistani trained soldiers and Mujahideen were airlifted into those Kargil heights after the Indians had withdrawn for the winter break and survived there under severe circumstances for several months until May when the Indians tried to come back to their stations and were received by gun fire from top position.

Indians suffered heavy casualties and the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee went furious about this after he had just signed the Lahore Agreement with Nawaz Sharif, he demanded the immediate retaking of the positions regardless of what it would cost or be prepared for rolling of heads responsible commanders. But the strategic position of the Pakistanis was so strong that Indian army was unable to retake the Heights. Here the US comes into play again: using the helplessness of the Indian army they promised to hand over technology that would enable the Indians to retake the positions – with one condition only, namely that India would agree to a closer political and military alliance with the US. And India agreed.

The rest is history. India pounded Pakistani positions from their newly equipped helicopters with lethal weapons at that altitude and Pakistan suffered heavy casualties. US offered mediation and Nawaz Sharif on the askance of a frightened military boss had to go to Washington and to sign an unconditional retreat from Kargil. US by cleverly manipulating Pakistan had achieved their aim to get into close alliance with India. Pakistan suffered another military and political humiliation. US involvement into South Asia has again brought death and destruction especially to Pakistan.

Despite all this our country refuses to learn its lesson: to keep off the US and instead of hoping for support from their side only get humiliation and destruction. How were we allured to fall into there plan that appears to have been hatched to win India? Kargil is another reason to leave the unholy alliance with the US that has brought heavy damage to our country even now those who are lying before the nation are harping on foreign agenda to suit the purpose of India & US. God bless Pakistan.

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