Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has for the first time said that Pakistan’s army was involved in the Kargil conflict. Pakistan has till now maintained that it’s army was not involved, even though India had insisted to the contrary.

General Musharraf claims the conflict occurred because of India’s attempts to find a casus belli (an event or political occurrence that brings about a declaration of war) by reporting ‘make-belief attacks’ from the Pakistani side.”The Indian forces have been creeping forward since and despite the Shimla Agreement and it was because of this that the Pakistan Army decided to reinforce Pakistan’s forward positions along the Line of Control,” he says in his forthcoming autobiography In Line of Fire, which will be launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York on Monday, September 25.

“Pakistani maneuvers were conducted flawlessly with the Indians being completely oblivious of Pakistan’s new strength,” he says, adding that “India’s response was a steady build-up throughout the month of May 1998.”

“In international fora, India exploited the situation, which had a demoralising effect on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” the General states. According to The Hindu newspaper, copies of the book have been leaked and that the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi has got access to excerpts of the book on chapters dealing with Kashmir, including the Kargil standoff.

Gen Musharraf has also revealed that Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities were not ready in 1999, at the time of the Kargil conflict. He describes Kargil as “a landmark in the history of the Pakistan Army” as just five units “in support of freedom fighters” compelled the Indians to employ more than four divisions.

He said the withdrawal ‘as no negotiation at all’, but a capitulation by Sharif to demands made by US President Bill Clinton.

In a startling revelation, Musharraf claims not only was then prime minister Nawaz Sharif aware of the Pakistan army’s plans and they even had a dry run before the incursions. Sharif was, in fact, involved throughout the planning and execution of the plan, adding that it was because of his (Musharraf’s) personal foresight that the ‘Indian plan of an offensive was pre-empted’. “He (Sharif) knew them much before he hosted Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lahore,” Musharraf claims in the book.

“I would like to state emphatically that whatever movement has taken place so far in the direction of finding a solution to Kashmir is owed considerably to the Kargil conflict,” Gen Musharraf claims.

AGRA SUMMIT

On the Agra Summit, Gen Musharraf squarely blames Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s advisers for the failure of the talks.

“I met Prime Minister Vajpayee at 11 o’clock that night in an extremely sombre mood. I told him very bluntly that there seemed to be someone above the two of us who had the power to overrule us. I also said that both of us had been humiliated. He just sat there speechless …” Gen Musharraf claims.

He, however, describes Vajpayee as “positive and genuine,” adding that the initial flexibility displayed by Vajpayee has diminished later. “I think the Indian establishment — the bureaucrats, diplomats and the intelligence agencies and perhaps even the military -— has had the better of him.”

In another chapter, Gen Musharraf conceded that it has become difficult for Pakistan to sustain its position on Kashmir when the Mujahideen in ‘Held Kashmir are found guilty of terrorist activities in other parts of India and around the world… My efforts towards rapprochement with India and the significant thaw in our relations have saved Pakistan to a large extent from the blame of abetting what the world calls terrorism and what we call freedom struggle in Indian-held Kashmir,” he states.

WAR ON TERROR

On lines of his claim of a US threat to bomb Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks, the military President says “had Pakistan not joined the US in the war on terrorism, it would have meant a bleak future for the country.”

Pakistan took the decision to side with the US after it ‘war-gamed the US as an adversary’. “Could Pakistan withstand a US onslaught? The answer was no, on three counts.

Firstly, it would have destroyed Pakistan militarily, thus wiping out the military parity it had achieved with India, the General argues.

Secondly, India would have exploited the standoff to gain ‘a golden opportunity vis-à-vis Kashmir. “They might be tempted to undertake a limited offensive there; or more likely, they would work with the US and the UN to turn the present situation into a permanent status quo. The US would certainly have obliged… and India needless to say would have loved to assist the US to the hilt (in destroying Pakistan’s nuclear installations).”

Thirdly, Pakistan’s unwillingness to cooperate with US would have destroyed Pakistan’s economic infrastructure.

US THREAT TO BOMB PAKISTAN

Dwelling on the post-9/11 scenario, Gen Musharraf says: “In what has to be the most undiplomatic statement ever made, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage added to what Colin Powell had said to me (“You are either with us or against us”) and told the (ISI) Director-General that not only had we to decide whether we were with America or with the terrorists, but if we chose the terrorists, then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age. It was a shockingly barefaced threat, but it was obvious that the US had made up its mind to hit back and to hit back hard,” he recalls.

In his book, divided into six sections, Gen Musharraf also dwells on the December 2003 attack on him, on the former PMs of Pakistan, his childhood, his family’s move from Delhi to Karachi and the future General’s antics as a naughty and irrepressible schoolboy. Through much of the book Gen Musharraf is strongly critical of former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. He believes that Sharif’s personality was thoroughly crushed by his autocratic father Abbaji.