Musharraf asked me to talk to Clinton to end Kargil war: Sharif
Sharif maintained that Musharraf by attacking India without his knowledge had initiated the war of 1999 but he (Sharif) had taken "responsibility for everything to save military's reputation and dignity".Updated: Feb 21, 2009 20:33 IST
Suggesting that Kargil war had been a debacle for Pakistan, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said the then Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf had virtually pleaded with him to talk to President Bill Clinton to "somehow" ensure an end to the conflict.
Sharif maintained that Musharraf by attacking India without his knowledge had initiated the war of 1999 but he (Sharif) had taken "responsibility for everything to save military's reputation and dignity".
"Musharraf attacked Kargil and I had no information about this military operation," the PML (N) president told a meeting of party's general council at Raiwind in Lahore.
"I came to know of it when I got a phone call from (then Prime Minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee 'saheb'. He asked me -- 'what have you done after I returned from your country with good feelings... Your army has attacked our army´," he said.
Sharif said he then called up Musharraf and the latter confirmed what Vajpayee had said.
Vajpayee had undertaken a bus ride to Lahore on February 19, 1999. The Kargil conflict began three months later.
Apparently hinting that the Pakistani military action had proved to be a disaster, Sharif said, "You all know what were the consequences of that war. Musharraf asked me to contact Clinton and somehow ensure an end to the war."
Sharif said he immediately got in touch with Clinton, whom he described as a "friend".
Sharif told Clinton he wanted to meet him the very next day, and the US president agreed to receive him in Washington.
During the course of a three-hour meeting, Clinton called Vajpayee even though it was past midnight in New Delhi, Sharif said. Clinton suggested to Vajpayee that Pakistan was ready to call a ceasefire in Kargil if India agreed to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Sharif said Vajpayee then asked Clinton if he was trying to "reward" Pakistan for the Kargil episode by setting the condition for resolving the Kashmir issue. Vajpayee also pointed out that he had told Sharif during his visit to Pakistan that he wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue in 1999 but this was before the attack in Kargil.
During his stay in Washington, Sharif also called Musharraf and questioned him about media reports that Pakistan troops had lost control of several heights in Kargil. Musharraf admitted these reports were correct.
Following this, Sharif again consulted Clinton and signed an agreement to end the Kargil conflict. When he returned to Pakistan, Musharraf said the outcome of the steps taken by Sharif was good.
Sharif criticised Musharraf for repeatedly claiming over the years that he had been aware of the army's plans to attack Kargil.
In this regard, the former premier referred to a tapped phone conversation between Musharraf and his chief of staff Lt Gen Mohammad Aziz that proved beyond doubt that the Pakistan Army was involved in the Kargil incursions.
He said Musharraf launched a coup against him when he sacked him from the post of army chief. Sharif alleged that the Musharraf regime had tried its best to get him hanged him but thankfully, the judge defied intense pressure and sentenced him to 70 years imprisonment instead.
Sharif also insisted that he had not tried any hijacking of the plane in which Musharraf was flying from Colombo to Karachi on October 12, 1999 as has been alleged by the then Army Chief.
"In fact, I had given orders that Musharraf should be escorted with respect at the airport and be told that he has been retired and that a new Chief is taking over," he said.
"What was the need for me to hijack the plane when I, as Prime Minister, had issued orders and these were being implemented," he asked.
First Published: Feb 21, 2009 20:10 IST