Kargil lessons for Pak

An editorial in Pakistan's leading daily says that the nation needs to set in motion a fact-finding process as India had done post Kargil, writes Meenakshi Iyer.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2006 14:39 IST

President Pervez Musharraf didn't exactly have any skeletons tumbling out his recently released tales of wisdom, but it has opened a can of worms in regard to the Kargil 'misadventure'.

Musharraf's autobiography In the Line of Fire, followed closely by former PM Nawaz Sharif's, has made Pakistanis realise that it is time a commission was appointed to demystify the Kargil episode.

An editorial in Pakistan's leading daily Dawn says that Pakistan needs to set in motion a fact-finding process as India had done.

"If India can follow the universally acknowledged fact-finding process and take the nation into confidence, why should our people be denied to know their side of the real story?"

Post Kargil, India had established a four-member committee headed by defence expert K Subrahmaniam to determine what went wrong and suggest ways of preventing similar mishaps in the future.

It was not an exercise in fixing blame on any one person or organisation. The scope of the review was to analyse the creation of the present situation in Jammu & Kashmir in a historical perspective.

The paper commends the democratic system in India and says that there is also a need for democracy in Pakistan, albeit indirectly.

"As part of its democratic system and institutional governance, India has always kept its armed forces and their operational command and structure under strict governmental writ and fully subservient to the Constitution.

"As a result of institutional approach in reviewing their failure and shortcomings during that crisis, the Indians have drawn up a list of 'lessons learnt'…They had a reality count in front of them…Who on our side is going to separate fact from fiction and distinguish reality from myth?" Dawn asks.

Democracy and its institutions are yet to take root in Pakistan where the polity has been battered by long spells of military rule.

Unfortunately, months before the 2007 general elections in Pakistan, President Musharraf has himself said that the nation is not ready for 'true democracy'.

"What Pakistan has consciously constructed is rule by a small elite -- "never democratic, often autocratic, usually plutocratic and lately kleptocratic -- all working with a tribal feudal mindset," the General says in his book.

Dawn slams Musharraf for calling Kargil "Pakistan Army's finest hour". The General very aptly puts in his memoir that the 'misadventure' at Kargil heights was not a setback for the Pakistan Army.

"If it (Kargil) was not a "debacle", can we also, like India, claim it to be our "military as well as diplomatic" triumph? Regrettably we cannot," says Dawn.

Reason – there is a national consensus in India on the conclusion drawn by the committee, that the outcome was a military as well as diplomatic triumph for India. But Pakistan, Dawn maintains, "does not have such a consensus".

Further, comparing the situation in India and Pakistan, the editorial remarks that In India questions were raised over intelligence failures.

"In Pakistan the situation is worse. We don't agree among ourselves even on the basics of the military operation".

Musharraf's account of Kargil is under fire from various experts who have dismissed it as a compilation of gross self-serving lies.

While former PM Nawaz Sharif in his biography Ghaddar Kaun? maintains that the Army didn't take him into confidence while planning the Kargil operation, Musharraf claims he briefed him during special meetings from May to July 1999.

Pakistan now has two "clearly delineated and mutually dismissive versions" of the Kargil conflict, which makes the need for a probe panel all the more pressing.

"…We in Pakistan have never taken history seriously…. Our younger generations have been growing up on these fabricated facts and myths with our national tragedies and debacles being depicted to them as moments of glory and "watershed" victories," the paper moans.

First Published: Oct 19, 2006 11:25 IST