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Pak wanted Afghan jihadis to help

Pakistan sought the services of Afghan jihadis as possible reinforcements during the Kargil war nine years ago, a new book reveals, reports Amit Baruah.
By Amit Baruah | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 13, 2008 01:25 AM IST

Pakistan had sought the services of “20,000 to 30,000” Afghan jihadis as possible reinforcements during the Kargil conflict nine years ago, a new book by Pakistani author Shuja Nawaz reveals.

“Mullah Mohammad Rabbani, the Afghan President at the time… was asked by Pakistan to provide 20,000-30,000 ‘volunteers’ for the Kashmir jihad. He startled the Pakistanis by offering 500,000!” Shuja Nawaz, whose brother Asif Nawaz was army chief in the 1990s, says in his 585-page Crossed Swords.

This damning nugget of information is attributed to an interview with Khwaja Ziauddin, who was the ISI boss during Kargil and the man appointed to replace Pervez Musharraf as army chief on October 12, 1999, by then PM Nawaz Sharif.

According to the US-based author, there was a broader Kashmir plan at work that had been presented and discussed by Musharraf with Sharif and his key aides in 1999 though key Pakistani military officials involved in Kargil were unwilling to provide details.

For the first time, perhaps, the book lets on that Pakistan’s Kargil intrusion was called Operation Badar, named after the site of an early battle fought by Prophet Muhammad.

It shows that as Sharif was hosting PM AB Vajpayee in Lahore in February 1999, Badar was in full swing, with the Pakistani Northern Light Infantry constructing 108 bunkers to fire under heavy cover at Indian positions.

Shuja Nawaz also quotes Lt Gen Ziauddin, who was put under detention by Musharraf after the October 1999 coup, as saying that Sharif was in the loop on Kargil as the defence secretary, a former general close to him, had been briefed about what was happening.

If this account is correct, and it comes from a man who was himself the right-hand of Sharif, then it blows big holes in the PM’s denials that he was not aware of what Musharraf and his generals had plotted during Kargil.

It backs Musharraf’s contention that “everyone was on board” the Kargil misadventure.

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