Atal apprised me of Kargil: Sharif
The former Pak PM blamed Musharraf for the misadventure for which he would like the military ruler to be tried.india Updated: May 28, 2006 12:35 IST
It was from an urgent call from his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee that he first learnt about the invasion of Kargil by Pakistani troops, the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif disclosed on Sunday.
The former Pakistan Prime Minister squarely blamed Gen Pervez Musharraf for the "misadventure" for which he would like the military ruler to be tried.
"Mr Prime Minister, what is happening" in Kargil, an indignant Vajpayee asked him over telephone in May 1999, according to the 56-year-old Pakistani leader who said that he had got to know about the Kargil operation only then.
Almost all Pakistani Corps Commanders were also unaware of the "ill-conceived, ill-planned and ill-executed misadventure" of Musharraf and "just two or three of his cronies", Sharif, who is living abroad in exile for over six years, said in an interview days after he and another former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto came together and pledged to topple Musharraf.
Through the Kargil operation Musharraf, the then Chief of the Army Staff, had "sabotaged" the understanding reached by him with Vajpayee at Lahore to resolve all Indo-Pak problems including Kashmir, Sharif said.
The Pakistani leader finds it ironic that India should be talking to Pakistan's military ruler. "You are talking to the same Musharraf (who did Kargil). I fail to understand," he said.
A 36-point Charter of Democracy signed on May 14 by Sharif and Bhutto for restoration of democracy in Pakistan includes a proposal to set up a Commission to fix responsibility for Kargil and identify causes that led to it.
Those involved would have to be brought to book, Sharif asserted, after saying that a high-level Commission, "something higher than a Judicial Commission" would be set up by a democratic government to go into the Kargil episode.
Does that mean that Musharraf could face trial? "It is very clear. The clause (in the Charter) says that the Commission will fix responsibility and then (those found guilty) would conceivably face trial", the former Pakistani Prime Minister said.
Sharif cannot forgive Musharraf for Kargil because that had brought India and Pakistan very close to a war. "The Indians could have done anything at that time because they were attacked without any rhyme or reason", he said.
Recalling his frantic July 4, 1999 meeting with President Bill Clinton in Washington, Sharif said he had sought the US leader's good offices to resolve the matter amicably. But he refused to say whether Musharraf had pleaded with him to rush to Washington as Indians were beating back the Pakistani intruders.
Sharif sees Musharraf as a "very impulsive man, erratic in his behaviour and not a very stable person".
"India should not be doing business with any usurper or a military dictator... India should condemn such (military) takeovers whether in Pakistan or elsewhere", he said.
By inviting Musharraf to the Agra Summit India had conferred legitimacy on the General. "To me it amounted to recognising a military dictator although his rule is still unconstitutional, unlawful and immoral. Why should you talk to a man like that", the Pakistani leader asked.
Nonetheless is he happy with the Indo-Pak peace process? "Well, the foundation of all these were laid when I was the Prime Minister. Mr Vajpayee was very kind to visit Pakistan and the foundation was laid then by us. Things started moving then. But, of course, the Kargil episode came in between", he replied.
A very good opportunity for resolving Indo-Pak issues was thus missed, rues Sharif, describing the Lahore Declaration signed by Vajpayee and him as a "tremendous opportunity" which was sabotaged by Musharraf's Kargil misadventure.
Asked if the General had done so because he did not support the Lahore Declaration, Sharif replied, "No. I think Musharraf and his cronies had some obsession about it (Kargil) for a long time".
Sharif dismisses as "wild ideas" Musharraf's solutions to the Kashmir issue such as demilitarisation and joint control. "Solutions are not given in Television interviews. Musharraf does not know what diplomacy means", he said.
Such ideas, he emphasised, are first discussed at proper forums. "You do not give wild ideas in the Press and say that you have given solutions and the other side is not responding", he said, adding that Musharraf was "immature".
Sharif, who claims Kashmiri ancestry, said that while the Indo-Pak Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) were welcome, Kashmir also had to be resolved, to the satisfaction of India, Pakistan and the people of the State.
Benazir Bhutto, Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), have both announced that they will go to Pakistan to participate in the next year's National Assembly elections to which Musharraf responded by declaring that they would be arrested and tried.
Dismissing these as "empty threats", Sharif said that they were not deterred or worried by what the General had stated. He described Musharraf as a "traitor" who had subverted the Constitution.
Asked about the reports that the General might get himself re-elected as the President by the current National Assembly, Sharif said that he was not eligible to contest because he was still wearing the Army uniform. If he made any such move it would be gross violation of the Constitution and political parties would launch "a very effective movement" against him.