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Kargil 'misadventure'

A leading daily in Pakistan calls for a judicial probe into the 1999 intrusion in Kargil by the country's armed forces.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 18:14 IST

A prominent English language daily of Pakistan has demanded a judicial probe into the 1999 intrusion in Kargil in Indian Kashmir by the country's armed forces to put an end to a fresh controversy over whether or not Gen Pervez Musharraf had duly informed the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The demand by The Nation is not new, but comes at a time when Sharif has renewed his attack on President Musharraf, and written a book giving his version of the events.

In it he has stressed that Kargil was essentially Musharraf's misadventure along with some other generals and that he (Sharif) had been kept in the dark.

Sharif said he came to know of it only from then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who chided him on phone and when the then US president Bill Clinton questioned him later, asking him to arraign the general.

The Kargil India-Pakistan armed conflict took place during May-July 1999. The Indian forces were victorious in pushing back the Pakistani forces from its side of the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

"The controversy can further divide the public and demoralise the army if things continue to be pushed under the rug on the pretext of sensitivity," the newspaper warned in an editorial.

"There is a need under the circumstances to conduct a high level and thorough judicial probe in the Kargil affair, in which all the concerned parties are summoned to testify."

"The report produced by the inquiry commission should be made public," the newspaper said.

"The conflicting versions presented by the president and the former prime minister have thickened the mystery surrounding the operation which led to huge casualties on both sides," the newspaper observed, giving a brief resume of the events and the controversy that has been renewed since Sharif, along with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, signed the Charter of Democracy and is planning to stage a political come-back.

The controversy also coincided with Musharraf's plans to seek a second term in the presidency.

The newspaper said that Musharraf "broke his silence" by joining issue with Sharief and making public four photographs where Sharif is shown being received and being briefed by Musharraf.

This has been rejected by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Sharif's party, which says that Musharraf has forged the evidence and the photographs pertained to some other briefing.

An integral part of the controversy is the tapping of a phone conversation by Indian intelligence agencies between Musharraf, who was in Beijing to seek arms and support, and Lt Gen Mohammed Aziz, one of the generals who was supposed to be part of the Kargil plans.

Sharif's camp has used the tapes, made public by India at that time, to emphasise that Sharif had indeed been deliberately kept in the dark.

The editorial recalls that Musharraf had told Sharif that the attack in Kargil was by mujahideen, the Islamist irregular militia, and not by the armed forces.

"This was against the facts, as subsequently proved by the horrendous casualties suffered by the army (Pakistan), which, according to Mian Nawaz, included 2,700 dead and several thousand injured."

Sharif has variously claimed that more Pakistani soldiers died in Kargil than the 1971 India-Pakistan conflict and the liberation of Bangladesh.