Mr. Shaheen had advised all the readers before closing down his website to save the material.
WASHINGTON, October 17: Dear Readers, this is the final piece on the South Asia Tribune, as this site is now being closed for good. I understand that it may come as a rude shock to many and may create despair and depression for all those who had started to look up to SAT as a beacon of courage and resistance, but this decision has been based on many factors, which I will explain briefly. SAT would be on line for the rest of this month, till the end of October. On November 1, 2005 it will disappear from the Internet. All those who may be interested in keeping a record of any SAT article or report can save it any time before that date. REFRENCE: The Final Word from theSouth Asia Tribune By Shaheen Sehbai WASHINGTON DC, Oct 17, 2005 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://antisystemic.org/satribune/www.satribune.com/archives/200510/P1_sat.htm
Gang-of-Four Planned Kargil, Keeping Pakistan in the Dark Special SAT Report Washington DC, July 22, 2004 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://www.satribune.com/archives/july04/P1_book.htm
WASHINGTON, July 22: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not aware of the Kargil Operation when he received Indian PM Vajpayee in Lahore on Feb 20, 1999, a new book written by a senior former police officer from Pakistan, and published by a New York Publishing house, has revealed.
The book, Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America’s War on Terror, is authored by Mr Hassan Abbas, who is currently a Research Fellow at the Harvard Law School and a PhD. candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has served in the administrations of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1994-95) and General Musharraf (1999-2000).
The book examines the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan, and analyzes its connections to Pakistan Army's policies and the fluctuating US-Pakistan relations. It includes profiles of leading Pakistani Jihadi groups with details of their origins, development, and capabilities based on interviews with Pakistani intelligence officials, and operators of the militant groups. The book contains new historical materials on Operation Gibraltar (1965 War with India), conspiracy behind General Zia-ul-Haq’s plane crash in 1988, a botched military coup by fundamentalists in army in 1993-4, the story of National Accountability Bureau (from an insider’s perspective) and lastly about how General Musharraf handled the volatile situation after the 9/11 attacks. Besides General Musharraf’s detailed profile, the book evaluates the India-Pakistan relations vis-à-vis the Kashmir conflict, and Dr AQ Khan’s nuclear proliferation crisis. The book offers predictions for Pakistan's domestic and regional prospects. Author Hassan Abbas gives a graphic description of how the Kargil disaster was planned and managed by the Army led by General Musharraf who led a “Gang of Four” and quotes Pakistan High Commissioner to UK, Maleeha Lodhi as saying: “Even corps commanders and other service chiefs were excluded from the decision-making process.”
“So much so that even the very able DGMO, Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia, was initiated into the secret after the gang of four had already taken the irrevocable decision of going ahead with the operation,” the book says. The chapter on the Kargil Episode asks “Who is to be Blamed” and gives a detailed account of what happened based on author’s interviews with many serving and retired army officers. It says:
“In May 1999, just three months after the frozen road to Indo-Pak dialogue had thawed enough to get a promise for more going, Pakistan launched its operation against the Kargil Heights in the far north of Indian-held Kashmir, just across the LOC. These heights dominated the main Indian supply route to Leh, where India had a small cantonment to house one brigade. It was the Indian routine at Kargil to descend the heights at the start of the winter snows and reoccupy them the following spring. With these heights in Pakistani hands, it meant that supplies to Leh could not be maintained.
And though India did have an alternate route, it was not an all-weather, all-season road. India would therefore have no option but to recover the heights and open the road to Leh or allow its garrison to perish. Though, of course, even if India had any number of alternative roads, its pride alone would have sufficed for them to mount an operation for the relief of Kargil. This operation had been discussed at least twice before in earlier years and turned down both times. General Zia-ul-Haq was the first army chief invited by the Military Operations (MO) directorate to see a presentation on this operation. After sitting through it, he resorted in his most chaste Urdu, which he would normally do only when he wanted to take someone to task. His ensuing conversation with the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), as narrated by a senior army officer, went somewhat like this:
Zia: When we take Kargil, what do you expect the Indians to do? . . . I mean, don’t you think they will try and recapture it?
DGMO: Yes sir, but we think that the position is impregnable and we can hold it against far superior forces.
Zia: Now that’s very good, but in that case, don’t you think the Indians will go for a limited offensive elsewhere along the line of control, take some of our territory, and use it as a bargaining chip?
DGMO: Yes sir, this is possible, but . . .
Zia: And if they are beaten back there also, don’t you think they will attack across the international frontier, which may lead to a full-scale war?
DGMO: That’s possible, sir.
Zia: So in other words, you have prepared a plan to lead us into a full-scale war with India!
This sardonic observation by Zia ul-Haq caused the demise of the first Kargil proposal. The second time the plan was mooted, it was shot down on the same grounds, that is, it was an easy tactical operation that was untenable in the long run unless Pakistan were prepared to go into a full-scale war with India, in which Kargil would be a secondary objective. The third and final operational plan for Kargil was put forward by its inspirational father, Lieutenant General Mohammad Aziz Khan, chief of the general staff (CGS). Himself a Kashmiri, he was fully committed to the cause of Kashmiri freedom, and not the sort of man who held any commitment lightly. He is very religious and not known to be a hypocrite. The tactical parents of the Kargil plan were two. The first was Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmad, the commander of 10th Corps, in whose area of operations the objective lay. He was a comparatively weaker personality than Aziz, with a romance about history. It is believed that he was convinced by the conviction of Aziz, which, combined with his own historical dream, made him a hostage to the Kargil idea.
The second parent of the plan was Major General Javed Hassan, commander of the Pakistani troops in the Northern Areas (Force Command Northern Areas, FCNA) who would actually have to carry out the operation. He had one of the best minds in the army and even more ambition. He gave his unstinting support to the operation, less through any sense of conviction and more because of the promise that such a position held of bringing him into General Pervez Musharraf’s charmed inner circle.
Musharraf was taken in by the enthusiasm of two of his closest generals, and, being eternally levitated by an irrepressible streak of unreal optimism, he became the strongest advocate of the operation. The absolute secrecy that was one of the preconditions of the success of the operation, to secure it against any possibility of leaks, also made it proof against any possibility of a second opinion, and thus against any collusion with a sense of reality. According to Maleeha Lodhi, “Even corps commanders and other service chiefs were excluded” from the decision-making process. So much so that even the very able DGMO, Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia, was initiated into the secret after the gang of four had already taken the irrevocable decision of going ahead with the operation.
The next task was to bring the prime minister on board. For this, a presentation was organized. The exact date of this presentation is a million-dollar question, as this may consequently decide how history will judge both Musharraf and Nawaz. According to Niaz A. Naik’s narration of the events to Prof. Robert Wirsing, Nawaz Sharif was given a briefing by the army on the Kashmir issue on March 27 or 28, 1999, which probably was the one where the Kargil Plan was discussed. Similarly, according to Owen Bennett Jones, the army contends that a specific briefing on the Kargil Plan was given in the second week of March 1999, where Nawaz granted formal approval of the plan. Most probably, both Naik and Jones are referring to the same meeting, and it certifies that at the time of Nawaz’s meeting with Vajpayee on February 20, 1999, he was not aware of the Kargil operation. Anyhow, Nawaz came to hear the Kargil presentation accompanied by the recently retired CGS of the army, Lieutenant General Iftikhar Ali Khan, who was Nawaz’s secretary of defense. Iftikhar knew Musharraf, Mahmood, and Aziz well and should have used his rank and influence to abort the operation, but he did not, though he certainly showed his reservations. Nawaz’s other adviser was Majid Malik, a minister in the cabinet and a retired lieutenant general who had served as DGMO and CGS during his military career a generation earlier. He had a sharp mind and asked all the right questions of the assembled generals, and pointed out all the weaknesses in their overall plan, and its immediate and larger implications.
This should have educated Nawaz Sharif adequately to put the operation on hold pending a detailed reexamination of the project, but it did not. Sharif agreed with the plan, though the operation was already in its final stages and Nawaz was not aware of that. Probably in his reverie, he was looking to the glory that would come his way when the fruits promised by operation were harvested. However, close associates of Nawaz contend that the said briefing never mentioned that regular troops would be involved in the operation, and the discussion was framed entirely in terms of “increasing the heat in Kashmir.” Interestingly, in the latest book on the Kargil issue, Shireen Mazari, a Pakistani academic known for her pro-military stance, asserts that the Kargil operation was in fact planned to counter similar moves expected by the Indians in the area, and this military move was in reality a defensive action finalized after credible intelligence reports confirmed Indian designs for incursions across the LOC! This theory is not corroborated by any other source.
In reality, the Kargil plan was for Pakistan to send in a mixture of Kashmiri fighters and regular/paramilitary troops (the Northern Light Infantry Regiment) to occupy the heights above Kargil before the Indian Army moved in to reoccupy them at the end of the snow season and cut off the supply route to Leh. The operation was to be projected as a solely Kashmiri mujahideen operation, denying absolutely any Pakistani involvement in it or that Pakistan had any control or influence over these elements. It is worth noting that until the occupation of the heights became an accomplished fact, neither any of the other service chiefs nor the rest of the corps commanders or Musharraf’s personal staff officers knew anything about the operation.
The result was that, when the Indian Air Force joined the action, the Pakistan Air Force was in no position to respond while the army’s quartermaster general and master general of ordnance, both of whose support was vital for any army operation, were also left totally in the dark. Thus if Kargil had led to general war, the army would have learned that its newest fleet of tanks, of which it was so proud, had no APDSFS antitank ammunition! The other effect of the secrecy surrounding Kargil was that no one in the Pakistani diplomatic corps was equipped to deal with the questions arising in the wake of the operation, while it also split the generals into two groups, that is, those who were “in” and those who were left “out.”
The masterminds of the operation were driven by the belief that their nuclear capability provided a protective shield to Pakistan, and that India would acquiesce to this capture just like Pakistan was compelled to swallow India’s seizure of the Siachen peaks in 1984. All the four generals involved in the Kargil project had remained instructors in different military training institutions during their careers, teaching young officers how vital it is to weigh the pros and cons of a military offensive in terms of understanding the possible ramifications and enemy reactions. It is strange that these generals forgot such a basic military lesson and seriously miscalculated Indian capabilities both in terms of military strength and political influence in the international arena. The Indians reacted in an outburst of justifiable rage, citing Pakistan’s bad faith for having welcomed their prime minister to Lahore while concurrent preparations for the Kargil operation were already under way. In Pakistan there was no widespread feeling of regret, though few knew what had really happened.
Within the army the general feeling about India was that had made its nuclear tests in the belief that this would force Pakistan to show its hand, and that if this came short, Pakistan would be pushed into the status of an Indian satellite; but when this did not happen, Vajpayee came to Lahore to restart a long suspended dialogue merely to lull a nuclear Pakistan to sleep while cooking up some other perfidious scheme against it, and any measure against such an enemy was entirely justified. Pakistan’s explanation of the events at Kargil, though, had a skeptical reception in international circles to begin with, and later their version was entirely discredited. For India, the exposure of their neighbor’s duplicity must have been satisfying, but surely not enough. After India’s first abortive attacks to reclaim the heights, it started a large military buildup by moving all its 130mm artillery regiments to the target area and picking up a substantial amount of smart munitions around the world. It is an amazing commentary on the coordination between the “mujahideen” occupying Kargil heights and those fighting inside held Kashmir that when the Indian reinforcements were snaking up the winding roads in endless convoys, there was no reported attempt at an ambush by the latter to disrupt this operation.
When the buildup was complete, India subjected the objective to air strikes and massive artillery barrages day after day, followed by determined and courageous infantry attacks in very difficult conditions. The Pakistan Army top brass had confided to various friends who had their trust that their men on the heights were adequately provisioned and well dug in to withstand the rigors of a long campaign. The truth, as it later transpired, was that the digging in was minimal because the rocky soil just did not allow this. The result was not only that the troops were exposed to harsh weather and the shrapnel of exploding shells, but also to the splinters of rocks that followed the explosions. For most, their only safety was to scramble to the comparative security of the reverse slopes during the bombardment, and then get back to the other side of the hill to meet the infantry attacks that normally followed the artillery barrages.
Pakistani reserves of supplies and ammunition were woefully inadequate to begin with, and became alarmingly low as the operation progressed, with many having to survive by eating the pitiful vegetation that braved the rocky slopes. Under these circumstances, the resistance they put up was both heroic and magnificent, and the quality of junior leadership again proved admirable. But Pakistani generals again failed miserably—as the plan and preparations were defective. Kargil left an already friendless Pakistan in almost total diplomatic isolation. Even China, whose president had counseled Pakistan as recently as late 1996 to go slow on Kashmir and concentrate instead on the economic viability of the country, felt constrained to distance itself from Islamabad’s latest adventure. Major General Javed Hassan, the commander on the spot, was being threatened by words and gestures of subordinates that could only be described as mutinous. Lieutenant General Mahmood, on whom reality started to dawn fatefully late in the day, saw his adequate jaw falling at an alarming rate. And though the conviction and inner reserves of Lieutenant General Aziz, helped by blissful ignorance, kept him as gung-ho as ever and also helped keep Musharraf’s optimism afloat, the prime minister had become a case stricken by fright. Under these circumstance, Nawaz was left to plead desperately for a meeting with President Clinton, who found that his schedule allowed him a few free hours on July 4, 1999.
It is widely believed that at this meeting Nawaz swore complete ignorance about the Kargil operation till everything terrible hit the fan. Blaming everything on his generals, he just begged to be bailed out. Clinton told him quite unequivocally that whether the “mujahideen” occupying the Kargil heights listened to Pakistan or not, the immediate step it would have to take was to evacuate Kargil. As a sop he promised the Pakistani prime minister that following this evacuation, he would treat the issue of Kashmir with active interest. In the midst of this crisis in June 1999, General Zinni, then commander in chief of the US Centcom (Central Command), had visited Pakistan accompanied by G. Lanpher, deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia, to impress upon Pakistan’s military commanders the need for de-escalation. This team also visited India during the tour.
However, according to Shireen Mazari, some senior Pakistani army officers are of the view that the United States prevented India from coming to the negotiating table with Pakistan, and in this context she also mentions the visit of Henry Kissinger to India in early June, who was “apparently carrying a message from the US government not to negotiate with Pakistan.” It is a moot point whether such was the case, but it was obvious that US sympathies were with India in this conflict. To any neutral observer of the international political scene, this was a predictable outcome as US interests were increasingly being linked with those of India in the region, but Pakistan’s military hierarchy was apparently oblivious of what was so clearly written on the wall. The evacuation of Kargil was followed by a hum of resentment all over Pakistan. The loved ones of those who had given their lives on the desolate and remote slopes there wanted to know that if unilateral withdrawal was to be the end of the whole exercise, what the point was of sacrificing the lives of their sons and brothers? The people of Pakistan had been subjected to the largest whispering campaign in history to expect a great victory. When the operation fizzled out like a wet firecracker, they were a nation left speechless in anger and disbelief. Musharraf and the planners could not give any excuses in public, but privately they let it be known that the blame for the scuttling of a brilliant operation lay on a panic-prone prime minister, who could not stand up to the US president. Nawaz Sharif too could not say anything in his defense publicly, but privately he let it be known that his generals had taken him for a ride, and that he had to bend over backward to get the US president to help Pakistan out of a very sticky situation."
The 'Officially Certified Truth' About Kargil, Told to Bail Out the Pakistan Army
By A.G. Noorani Issue No 69, Nov 30-Dec 6, 2003 ISSN:1684-2057 satribune.com http://www.satribune.com/archives/nov30_dec6_03/opinion_mazari.htm
WHY DO INDIANS and Pakistanis find it so difficult to face the truths about their past and their present misdoings? The battles in Siachin (1984) and Kargil (1999) each inspired a propaganda barrage, which was demeaning. We rightly criticize reports by "embedded" correspondents during the Iraq war. But Sankarshan Thakur and other contributors to Guns and Yellow Roses: Essays on the Kargil War recorded how the media failed the nation, official obstruction apart. Pamela Constable of The Washington Post angrily contrasted facilities she had enjoyed in other war zones. "Here, however, I was trying to cover a conflict I could neither see nor hear." She censured the press. "The country's leading newspapers and magazines embarked on an unabashedly pro-government campaign to out do each other in sensational and sentimental coverage of the war." Others recorded how stories of mutilation of corpses by Indian troops were "killed".
Daniel Lak of the BBC commented on the television's disgraceful performance. "Colleagues have even told me of TV news editorial meetings where senior people ordered the injection of more fervent nationalist points of view into correspondent's frontline reports."
As this writer recalled, former Foreign Secretary J.N. Dixit repeatedly contradicted himself on P.V. Narasimha Rao's wrecking of an accord on Siachin in November 1992. Lt. Gen. V.R. Raghavan, who served as Director-General of Military Operations until 1992, could not bring himself to acknowledge the facts available in records and even misrepresented a press release ("The Siachin impasse", Frontline, September 22, 2002).
For long we did not have a comprehensive Pakistani version of Kargil. We have one now by none other than the Director-General of Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, Shireen M. Mazari, one of Pakistan's most distinguished commentators on strategic and diplomatic affairs. While Raghavan's book covers the Siachin conflict only to end with Kargil, Shireen Mazari's discussion of the Kargil conflict begins with Siachin
Her effort is intended very largely to convince Pakistan's skeptical intelligentsia on three points. First, that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was very much "in the loop" on Kargil. He had been thoroughly briefed by the Chief of the Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf. Secondly, the Kargil operation was necessary and legitimate. Thirdly, it was not a military failure but was botched up by Sharif's panicky visit to President Bill Clinton on July 4, 1999. Shireen succeeds in the first and fails on the rest.
The last but one paragraph of the book reveals her aim. "Another damaging result of Kargil has been use of the Pakistan military as a scapegoat not only by the Indians and American analysts, but also by elements within Pakistan's political elite and civil society. There is an increasing attempt to undermine the institution of the military and place it at odds with civil society and myths about Kargil continue to be bolstered to that end."
The book has a useful chronology (March 1998-June 2003) of India-Pakistan relations, painstakingly compiled by Fahmida Ashraf, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute, and other informative appendices.
The author acknowledges: "This book would not have been possible without the help and support of many people - both professionally and emotively. To begin with, the idea would not have moved to fulfillment without the support given by President Musharraf to the idea of access to all manner of data and information. Given the tradition of secrecy within the civil and military bureaucracy of Pakistan, this approach was a tremendous breakthrough for a researcher... . The Monterey's Kargil Project people provided the initial stimulus through their bias embedded within their guise of an `objective' appraisal."
This is a reference to the Kargil Project of the Center for Contemporary Conflict, Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, which held conferences in which former officials of India and Pakistan participated. They included General V.P. Malik, COAS during the Kargil conflict, and Mushahid Hussain, Minister for Information in the Nawaz Sharif Cabinet. The second conference was held in New Delhi in September 2002. This year the Government of India refused to permit Pugwash to hold a meeting in Goa in October on security issues.
The author adds: "The military hierarchy in Pakistan conceded to my request for data and access to interviews to try and understand what Kargil was really all about... . The present access to data provided to me has been the result of consistent requests and discussions at different levels of the military hierarchy. The methodology used is premised on interviews, military documents/reports as well as open literature on the subject. The focus of the study is limited primarily to understanding the military aspects of Kargil and its political dimension. The political aspects were partially known to me since I was part of the media team working with the Minister of Information at the time of Kargil... In any case, in my view, it is the military aspects that are of prime interest and concern for this study, especially since most of the misperceptions relate to these" (emphasis added, throughout). In any case, Sharif's Cabinet was not in the know.
Mazari blames the Center for Contemporary Conflict's Kargil Project for misperceptions of Pakistan's policy. "Further misperceptions were created about Kargil when an unofficial, conjectural version of Pakistan's Kargil position was published by a retired Army official, who at the time had his own axe to grind with the military government in Pakistan." This is a reference to Brigadier Shaukat Qadir's article "An Analysis of Kargil" in RUSI Journal (April 2002). He was a participant in the Monterey Conference.
Let us begin at the beginning. "Under the Karachi Agreement it was clear (sic) that Siachin Glacier formed part of Baltistan in the Northern Areas of Pakistan." She does not, however, cite the provision of the India-Pakistan Agreement, signed in Karachi on July 27, 1949, defining the ceasefire line in Kashmir, which made this "clear". It said simply that the line would follow from the last point "thence north to the glaciers". It was never demarcated. Not even after the Suchetgarh agreement of December 11, 1972, defining the present line of control. The next day Swaran Singh, Minister for External Affairs, revealed its details. The line was to run "eastward joining the glaciers". However, the agreement itself said it must run "thence north to the glaciers".
Mazari asserts: "Even Indian writers like P.L. Lakhanpal conceded this position when he included Owen Dixon's report to the U.N. in 1950 in his book Essential Documents and Notes on the Kashmir Dispute. Dixon had, in his report, pointed out that Siachin Glacier fell within Pakistan's Northern Areas. When Pakistan signed its border agreement with China in 1963, the alignment of the ceasefire line was seen as linking NJ 9842 with the Karakoram Pass - a distance of 91.3 kilometers."
All the three assertions are belied by the record. First, if the United Nations Mediator Sir Owen Dixon's report had, indeed, treated Siachin as part of the Northern Areas, the Government of Pakistan would have proclaimed that from 1984 onwards no sooner the Siachin conflict erupted. If he did not, Lakhanpal's inclusion of the report in his compilation is no concession at all. Lakhanpal did not reproduce the report in full; only its concluding portion (paras 95 to 108; Essential Documents; International Publications, New Delhi, 1958; pages 220-224).
There are, however, two excellent compilations, both published in Pakistan, which reproduce the report in full. One is The Kashmir Question edited by K. Sarwar Hasan for the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (1966) and the other by the Government of Pakistan, which publishes all the three reports of the U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan and mediators from Gen. A.G.L. McNaughton (1949) to Gunnar Jarring (1957) and Frank Graham (1958).
There is not a line in the Dixon report to support the author's claim. Secondly, maps drawn unilaterally help little, as India realised in its boundary dispute with China. The Information Division of Pakistan Embassy in Pakistan published in 1963 a map of Kashmir, which correctly showed the ceasefire line as terminating at NJ 9842. It did not stretch 91.3 km away to the Karakoram Pass in the east.
Siachin was a no-man's land, which both sides had been reconnoitering. Lt. Gen. Jahan Dad Khan, Commander 10 Corps reproduces in his memoirs Pakistan Leadership Challenges (Oxford University Press, 1999; page 226) his assessment to the GHQ in 1983 that "next year India is most likely to pre-empt the occupation of the main passes of Baltoro Ridge". India reached there before Pakistan could. Confidence was in short supply between Indira Gandhi and Zia-ul-Haq.
Else, an accord on preservation of the status quo ante could have been reached. As Col. (retd) Pavan Nair writes: "The genesis of the Kargil intrusion lies in the Siachin or rather Saltore occupation which upped the ante and was a clear violation of the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit. Mrs. Gandhi, the architect of the agreement, would have known this but she took the decision in the national interest based on incorrect military advice." He also holds: "Let China keep the Shaksgam Valley - it was never in our possession."
Kargil was a reckless retaliation. Three factors were at work - Siachin, India's reversal in 1998 of the decade-old agreed principle of mutual withdrawal from Siachin and Pakistan's desire to punish India for blocking its road in the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, across the Kishenganga river (Neelam to them) by constant bombardment. The then Foreign Minister Sartaz Aziz, a gentleman to his fingertips, emphasized the last factor in an interview to this writer in January 2002 in Islamabad (vide the writer's article "The truth about the Lahore summit", Frontline, March 1, 2002). "What was the origin of the Kargil conflict?" He replied "nobody" knows and proceeded to cite the Neelam Valley factor.
It was a grave miscalculation. Unlike Siachin, there was a defined LoC in Kargil. The year 1999 was election year in India. The successful summit in Lahore in February 1999 invested the adventure with the element of deceit. India's response took Pakistan by surprise, as did foreign reaction. "The international attention focused on the Kargil conflict took Pakistan by surprise - especially since Pakistan saw it as yet another tactical operational exchange similar to others along the LoC, but which incrementally escalated as a result of India raising the military, political and diplomatic ante. The former happened when India introduced Bofors guns and the Indian Air Force, and the diplomatic ante was upped by India claiming that it had been betrayed in the wake of Vajpayee's visit to Lahore in February 1999. The United States and its European allies also portrayed Kargil as a dangerous `adventure' on the part of Pakistan, given the nuclearization of the region."
Shireen Mazari does a service by exposing two lies - one by Benazir Bhutto and the other by Nawaz Sharif - and an American boast. Benazir claimed, characteristically, that she had rejected such a plan by the Army when she was Prime Minister. General Jehangir Karamat, the COAS, refuted her. "In a telephonic on-the-record interview in February 2003, he emphatically declared that he had never been presented with a 'Kargil Plan'. According to him, what had happened was that in 1997, with the interdiction of the Neelam Valley Road by India, the Pakistan Army 'had looked at all the possibilities of putting pressure on India and it was felt that the best place to respond to the Neelam Valley Road interdiction was along the Dras-Kargil Road with direct and indirect fire, which we did. For the direct fire we had to move weapon systems, and so on, and make the required adjustments, which we made'." It is a sound rule never to accept even the opposite of what Benazir says to be true.
Nawaz Sharif's denial of his role in the affair, if true, reveals his own unfitness to be Prime Minister. "He received a number of briefings relating to developments along the LoC in 1999, beginning with a briefing in Skardu on January 29, and one in Kel on February 5, which specifically related to the interdiction taking place in that sector from the Indian side of the LoC.
The ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] gave him a briefing on March 12, 1999, while the Military Operations (MO) Directorate at GHQ gave him briefings on May 17, 1999, June 2, 1999, and June 22, 1999. On July 2, 1999, there was a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) where a briefing was given on Kargil by the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force. A further meeting was scheduled for July 5, 1999. So it is clear that, as Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif was very much in the decision-making loop regarding Kargil.
However, on the afternoon of July 3, 1999, Sharif and Clinton spoke on the phone and only two other people were present at the time - Cabinet member Chaudhry Nisar and Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif (the Prime Minister's brother). It is after this exchange between Clinton and Sharif that Sharif made his dash to Washington."
This brings us to an essay on "American diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit at Blair House" by Bruce Riedel, Clinton's Special Assistant for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs in the National Security Council. This shrill account of the Clinton-Sharif encounter has Riedel as an important participant but reveals him as one ignorant of South Asian realities.
He wrote of "disturbing evidence that the Pakistanis were preparing their nuclear arsenals for possible deployment" on July 3. The next day, "there was more disturbing information about Pakistan preparing its nuclear arsenal for possible use. I recommended that he (Clinton) use this only when Sharif was without his aides." Riedel would have us believe that Clinton asked Sharif whether he ordered "the Pakistani nuclear missile force to prepare for action."
If no such orders had been given, Riedel's account of the encounter would stand exposed as a figment of his imagination. Exposed as false it has been by an impeccable source, Gen. Malik. "The only canard debunked at the time of the Monterey Conference in May 2002, was the assertion central to Riedel's thesis. First, Mushahid Hussain, who had been Pakistan's Minister for Information at the time of Kargil, denied Pakistan ever having readied its nuclear-tipped missiles for action at the time of Kargil.
This was followed by the statement of General V.P. Malik, who was the Chief of the Indian Army at the time of Kargil, that there was no truth in the Riedel assertion of Pakistan readying for a nuclear fight. As he declared, if there had been any such development, the US would have informed India and that India's own intelligence would have also picked it up." Significantly, Riedel's essay was published when India-Pakistan tensions were at an all-time high.
Riedel was among those Dennis Kux interviewed for his book The United States and Pakistan 1947-2000. His account of the Clinton-Sharif talks does not mention Riedel's "nuclear arsenal" (page 353).
The core of Mazari's thesis is that since the Simla Pact India had been violating the LoC and planning something bigger still. Prime Minister Vajpayee's visit to Lahore in February 1999 was "a camouflage to military plans in the making". Even Pakistani officials never made this charge. The Kashmiri mujahideens' role is woven in.
There was in Islamabad such a steady flow of official denials of the Army's role that a noted Pakistani defence specialist could not help asking why the Director-General of the Inter-Services Press Department, the Foreign Office spokesman and the Minister for Information briefed the press since the Army was not involved in the affair but only the Kashmiri "mujahideens".
Now the Army's role, long denied, emerges to the fore. "As the intelligence assessments about the suspicious movements of the Indian military in the late 1998-early 1999 period, started looking more credible, the high command of the Pakistan Army asked FCNA (Force Command Northern Areas) to evolve a plan to deny the Indians any adventurism/incursions along the LoC... Having been alerted to intensified Indian moves in the Shaqma Sector, HQ 10 Corps, on instructions from the Military Operations (MO) Directorate, directed FCNA to carry out a realistic assessment of the situation and to take defence measures in order to forestall Indian designs and avoid being caught off-guard. FCNA planned a defensive action with integral troops... . The operation was undertaken at the end of March 1999 after confirmation of Indian designs." Why did Sharif not complain to Vajpayee about Indian troop movements?
There was no grand design, Mazari repeatedly asserts. "The use of Northern Light Infantry clearly showed that the Kargil operation was seen by the Pakistani military planners simply as a tactical operation to pre-empt further Indian adventurism in the Dras-Kargil sector. Hence the occupation by the NLI of the watershed along the LoC. However, given the nature of the terrain, the possibility of some of the NLI troops crossing the LoC, albeit at shallow depths (500-1000 meters) cannot be ruled out." The delicacy is stunning.
Pakistan evidently did not reckon with India's diplomatic and military responses as it ought to have, realistically. No Indian government could possibly have acquiesced in Pakistan's adventure. She claims that India's "raising of the military ante in Kargil created a major imbalance for India in terms of its overall position along the international border with Pakistan, which prevented India from opening an all-out war front. India also inducted air and aviation into the combat but could not get a decisive military result.
At the same time, Pakistan's intent of keeping the Kargil operation limited was reflected in the fact that Pakistan did not respond to the use of the IAF by calling in the PAF... one of the problems that worked to Pakistan's disadvantage was that it got sucked incrementally into a larger military operation by India with the latter's induction of reinforcements, the Bofors guns and use of the IAF. Pakistan had not anticipated this since its objective was simply to pre-empt suspected Indian military actions along the LoC. In any case, from the Pakistani perspective, no grand strategic Kargil plan was envisaged... ."
She realizes that "once India had amassed its forces along the LoC and because of political miscalculations, or lack of calculations by Pakistan, the whole Kargil episode was turned into a politico-diplomatic victory for India."
On one point Mazari deserves credit. She fairly recalls that on June 26, 1999, Pervez Musharraf publicly "referred to the possibility of a Nawaz-Clinton meeting on Kashmir". This was three days after he had met Gen. Zinni, Commander-in-Chief of the US CENTCOM. "According to military sources, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had, before leaving for Washington, already directly communicated to the military leadership to begin withdrawal from some of the forward posts, showing that he had already had some communication with the Clinton administration - the content of which was not revealed to any Cabinet member or military leader." Only once, on June 3, was Kargil discussed at a Cabinet meeting, Mushahid Hussain disclosed.
Mazari claims that there was a military stalemate and India was desperately looking for "a face-saving third party intervention against Pakistan". The author's conclusion is simple. Nawaz Sharif panicked though he had the upper hand. "The Cabinet was not informed of the dash to Washington - let alone be consulted. This has been verified from many sources, including Information Minister Mushahid Hussain... in discussions with some of the other members of the Cabinet at the time, it was clear that, barring one or two members of the Prime Minister's kitchen cabinet, no one was informed and certainly no one was consulted...
"In this connection, in a meeting with COAS, General Musharraf, in September 1999, I had asked him whether he had known what was going to happen in Washington and he stated that all he was told was to come to the airport as the Prime Minister was going to Washington, and so all he could say to him was to get the best deal possible. As one who had openly critiqued the Washington deal, I asked General Musharraf why he went along with it so wholeheartedly - as he seemed to do when he accepted an invitation to accompany Sharif for Umra soon after his return - as it did Pakistan's image much damage militarily and politically, with no gains at all? General Musharraf simply stated that he did not want people to start rumors of civil-military differences, given how tense and critical the situation remained."
According to the author, Sharif snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. "Had the Kargil tactical operation been allowed to sustain itself for a few more weeks (till the end of August 1999) most military analysts I spoke to felt it would have led to a Pakistan-India dialogue - if Sharif had not dashed to Washington and given in to US pressure. After that, the NLI suffered heavy losses in the withdrawal and India got a green light to commit all manner of aggression against Pakistan... ."
The Army is exonerated completely. The blame is put on Sharif exclusively. "By the end of May 1999, there was a total disconnect between the political government and the strategic planners, as a result of which no offensive formations were moved to the front which sent a clear signal to the Indians that Pakistan was in no mood to fight a war."
Her only consolation is that Kargil proved that "Pakistan could sustain a limited military encounter in conventional terms in the face of India raising the conventional ante, and still prevent India from opening an all-out war front along the international border". Were India to take steps to redress this, Pakistan would surely act to perpetuate its advantage. However, a suicidal arms race is on, any way.
Mazari has not a word about the famous Musharraf-Aziz tapes of May 26. The text of the transcript of their phone conversation is reproduced as one of the useful appendices to the collection of able essays edited by Maj. Gen. Ashok Krishna and P.R. Chari. They provide a good corrective to the Mazari thesis.
The chapter containing their conclusions rejects conventional wisdom: "Realism would also suggest that India be pragmatic and not make a fetish of bilateralism in conducting its foreign relations with Pakistan in the light of its Kargil experience. The results are important, not the modality. Not that India has been consistent about shunning mediation. It accepted the World Bank's intervention to arbitrate the Indus Waters Treaty (1960), and Soviet mediation to conclude the Tashkent Agreement (1966). India itself helped in mediating the Partial Test Ban Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1963, so its obsession with bilateralism being the cornerstone of its foreign relations with Pakistan is excessive."
They squarely pose the question whether Pokhran II deterred Pakistan from the Kargil venture and answer it in the negative. If anything, "India found itself deterred in crossing the LoC to attack Pakistan's operational bases in Skardu."
Maj. Gen. Ashok Kalyan Verma's thesis is a mirror image of Mazari's - the politicians lost at the conference table what the Army won on the battlefield. It is simplistic to the core but is widely shared by many of our journalists and former diplomats and soldiers.
Kargil was not Pakistan's fourth war on Kashmir as some of our writers claim. A fair assessment of the episode is made in Colonel Brian Cloughley's excellent book A History of the Pakistan Army (Oxford University Press, Karachi; pages 435, Rs.500). He was Deputy Chief of the U.N. Military Observers Group in Kashmir. "The illegal incursion into Indian-administered Kashmir in early 1999, undetected by Indian forces until 6 May, was an aberration on the part of Pakistan. The aim of the operation has not been enunciated, and it is doubtful if it will be ever revealed - perhaps because the whole affair just seemed a good idea at the time, and got out of hand.
"Analysis of the logistics of the incursion has drawn western observers to the conclusion that planning and preliminary operations began during winter 1998/99, with movement of mujahideen from camps in Afghanistan for further training by the Northern Light Infantry around Skardu, and considerable movement by the NLI and other Pakistan Army troops in the areas of Astore, Skardu, the Deosai Plains, and forward to the Line of Control (LoC).
"I have walked and climbed in the precise areas in which movement across the LoC took place, in the course of a two-week visit to 3 NLI, based at Gultari in the Shingo Valley... Although the line is not marked on the ground it is described fully in a document dated 11 December 1972 and soldiers would find little difficulty in establishing where it runs vis-a-vis map and ground. It is incorrect to claim that the line is indistinct. There can be no plausible claim made that the intrusion was in some manner justified because there is dubiety or confusion as to the line's location."
While Shireen Mazari's book is an extremely useful exposition of the Pakistani viewpoint, one can only regret that she allowed patriotic fervor to override the claims of objectivity.- Courtesy 'Frontline'
The Kargil Conflict 1999: Separating Fact from Fiction by Shireen M. Mazari, The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad; pages 162, Rs.350.
Ex-ISI Chief Accuses Musharraf's Team of Major Slips in Kargil Special SAT Report WASHINGTON DC, Aug 30, 2004 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://antisystemic.org/satribune/www.satribune.com/archives/august04/P1_jn.htm
A besieged Indian Army Position at Kargil
ISLAMABAD, August 30: A former ISI Chief Lt Gen (Retd) Javed Nasir has held General Musharraf's team responsible for major slips in the disastrous Kargil misadventure and has demanded that an inquiry commission of senior retired army officers be formed to determine what mistakes were made.
“Major slips in the application of methodology and the evolution, implementation and execution of the operational instructions were made,” Gen. Nasir said in a newspaper article but he regretted that unlike the Indian side, instead of sacking, some of those responsible had even been promoted.
The former ISI Chief stated that it was correct that Gen. Musharraf had given five or six detailed briefings to Nawaz Sharif but he cast doubt on the timings of these briefings. “In which month Kargil was occupied and when was the first briefing given by Gen Musharraf to Nawaz Sharif has perhaps been deliberately omitted. This is the most cardinal issue of Kargil which has not been cleared by anyone so far,” he wrote.
Following is the complete text of the article published in The Nation of Lahore, Pakistan:
“Statements by leaders and a large numbers of articles which have appeared about Kargil in the Pakistani newspapers during the last few months make it necessary to correct the resultant distorted version conveyed to the Pakistani nation.
Kargil was very much part of the Azad Kashmir and under the control of Pakistani troops up to 1972. Because of permafrost high altitude features mostly exceeding 17,000 and some even 20,000 feet ASL, logistic dumping in the area used to be carried out for scouts from May — August who used to be moved in in May and withdrawn in December each year because the position was never threatened by the Indians. Because of the humiliating surrender in East Pakistan on 17 Dec 1971, the troops even on the western front and Kashmir were highly demoralized. The Indians have always been deceitful and cunning while dealing with Pakistan.
The Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the grand victorious leader and knew that whatever she would dictate at Simla would have to be accepted by Bhutto, therefore she took the Indian Army Chief in confidence sharing with him that she would include the following term about Kashmir in the Simla agreement. That the areas captured across CFL (ceasefire line) in Kashmir would neither be vacated nor given back, instead the present line held will be termed as LoC but areas captured across the recognized international borders would be given back by both sides on the western front.
The Indian Army Chief therefore moved his troops to occupy the vacant snow line features in Kargil. Pakistan Army Chief Gen Tikka Khan did not even have a clue of what Bhutto was going to sign at Simla. He believed that once ceasefire was agreed between Indian and Pakistani Governments all the areas under adverse occupation across the CFL would be vacated and given back to each other as was done in l965.
Bhutto on the contrary wanted to put the army in such a humiliating and disgraceful position that no Chief in future would ever dare to remove the politically elected government.
After the occupation of Kargil, the Indian army opened the road along Shyok river to the mouth of Siachen and Ladakh which previously was dominated and overlooked by the Kargil heights which always had been under occupation of Pakistani scouts.
Beyond this very area the CFL. toward Siachen had been left unmarked in 1973 because of inaccessibility. The Indians neither ever claimed Siachen nor challenged Pakistan’s control over it. All the positions in Siachen being permafrost areas. Pakistan army started holding the lower features very thinly from May to November after the loss of Kargil in 1972, pulling the troops back in early December each year. Having developed the road to the mouth of Siachen glacier and Ladakh, the Indians started experimenting with adventure thinking teams in early 80s and based on their recommendations occupied the Siachen heights in April ‘84 before the Pakistani troops were to move in.
Gen Aslam Beg who could have easily occupied the seat vacated by Gen Ziaul Haq’s accidental death, because of no resistance from any quarter, took the army’s depleted image to an unimaginable height by bringing in democracy. He was the first army Chief with outstanding dual qualities of professional supremacy and field dynamics and the only one who as a student leader was a devout worker for Pakistan Movement.
He was not only my most favorite Chief Instructor and colleague but also my friend. He prepared the plans to play back Siachen on the Indians in Kargil from where the Indians like the Pakistan scouts used to pull back by end November each year and re-occupy in mid-May next year. Gen Beg had the best team at GHQ Pakistan will ever have.
Gen Shamim Alam was the CGS & Gen Jahangir Karamat was the DGMO, both of whom rose to four star ranks.
This excellent team had correctly appreciated that the occupation of vacant Kafir Pahar, Damgul, Tortuk Challunka in Kargil sector which completely overlooked and dominated the road running on the bank of Shyok river to Siachen would force the Indians to vacate Siachen failing which the Indian troops in the area with their logistics completely consumed and exhausted would be left with no option but to withdraw or surrender, unless they resorted to the most vulnerable heli-lifted supplies which too would have been limited.
The plan was presented to President Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Prime Minister Benazir in 1989. The response of the President was typically bureaucratic non-committal, but Benazir very curtly disapproved the plan. I met Gen S.R Kallue (R) the DGI, who was my best friend, who disclosed to me that during the pre–GHQ briefing he had advised Benazir that because of India’s undisputed nuclear, qualitative and quantitative overwhelming superiority and the freedom struggle by Kashmiris being in a very preliminary stage, the time was not ripe to go for such an operation for to retaliate it the Indian army will be forced to resort to major escalation, including war, which Pakistan, with its prevalent economic state and relative inferiority of strength, would not be able to endure.
I then met Gen. Beg to console him since he was highly disappointed and disheartened by Benazir’s curt rejection which according to him strongly reflected the sense of revenge about his father’s hanging by a military dictator, rather than an assessment of the prevalent situation whereby India had committed the blunder of getting three of its divisions committed in Sri Lanka and as such would not be in a position to go to war with Pakistan.
By December 1998 the power balance in the subcontinent had undergone a major change by the certification made by the pro-Indian western media that Pakistan’s three nuclear explosions in May 1998 had proved that its nuclear technology was far superior to the Indian technology.
Mujahideen’s operations in Kashmir, particularly their too frequently successful and daringly bold suicidal missions and a too frequent turnover which was making all ranks serving in Kashmir due for the next tenure within 1½ year after the completion of the running tenure, had completely sunk Indian troops morale in Kashmir.
This had forced the Indian Chief to thin the fighting strength even from armored regiments, air defence and artillery units of the defensive as well as strike formations from the main land, thus inducting major strategic and tactical imbalances rendering the formations inoperative for all type of operations on the main land should a war break out.
When Gen. Musharraf was appointed the Chief, his dynamically decision making personality was instantly reflected when within the first hour of his having taken over he issued orders for the postings of six Lieutenant Generals of his choice which included both the CGS and Chaklala Corps Commander. His choice CGS, as a brigadier, had served in FCNA as a Brigade Commander and Chief of Staff in the Chaklala Corps.
He proposed to the Chief a number of times to go ahead with the plan of occupation of Kargil. The Chief had himself while serving as DGMO minutely gone through the 1989 script of the plan which had not been approved by Benazir. From his excellent experience as instructor in the War Wing at the National Defence College he knew how to carry out the most critical analysis.
He correctly evaluated that in the event of Pakistan Army occupying Kargil as a playback on Indians what they did to Pakistan in Siachen in 1984, the Indian Army would neither be in a position to undertake hot pursuit operations nor in a position to fight even a defensive battle should the conflict be enlarged and carried over to the international borders.
After a brilliant analysis, Gen Musharraf as the Chief perhaps gave the green signal. The responsibility beyond this point was that of his team comprising the CGS, Corps Commander, DGMO, Commander FCNA. Whether correct methodology was followed to get the government approval, and the operational instruction evolved, highlighted the most salient point that the occupation of the vacant Kargil feature would not involve even the firing of a single bullet but the measures to be taken for denial thereafter of the vital tactical features would be of utmost importance.
The question is whether these were identified along with the period for which the Indians were to be denied access to these features under all circumstances – which entailed strengthening through sufficient strength and defensive measures, logistical buildup and maximum possible fire power to beat back Indian attempts to capture the features to open the road to Siachen.
This was to be done irrespective of the fact whether troops occupying Kargil positions were to be second line forces or even Mujahideen. Pakistan Army instead as a cover plan gave the credit to Mujahideen for the occupation of these positions. Somehow it skipped the vital fact that Pakistan Army was to come in by all means to thwart Indian attempts to recapture these positions. Prior approval by the PM was a must for total support as this operation would instantly become an international issue and might lead to a war between India and Pakistan if India failed to take back Kargil.
I learnt about the occupation of Kargil by Pakistani troops for the first time at the end of March ‘99 in Karachi from a civilian whose brother was an officer in NLI. When I met PM Nawaz Sharif, in connection with Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee as the Chairman ETPB, in the first week of April ‘99 when I asked him about Kargil, he had no idea. In May I met the Air Chief who told me that he and the Naval Chief learnt about the Kargil operation for the first time in April ‘99 when a presentation was made to the PM by Army Chief Gen Musharraf.
Caretaker PM Shujaat, who has been repeatedly quoted in the press as saying that Gen Musharraf had given five or six detailed briefings to Nawaz Sharif is absolutely correct, but in which month Kargil was occupied and when was the first briefing given by Gen Musharraf to Nawaz Sharif has perhaps been deliberately omitted.
This is the most cardinal issue of Kargil which has not been cleared by anyone so far.
When the Kargil operation came in the open in May ‘99 I requested Nawaz Sharif to recommend to the Army Chief to make me the in charge of logistics build-up in the Kargil area for which he should place my services at the Army Chief’s disposal for one or two months. It is most unfortunate that Nawaz Sharif had some self-oriented advisors who were best in rendering most unprofessional advice. The PM did not convey this to Gen Musharraf and thereafter avoided me.
I therefore called on Gen Musharraf who was not only one of my instructors in the War Wing of NDC whom I had always rated as one of the best, but we also had the best of relations with each other and had been meeting off and on after he was made the Chief. I offered him my services for the logistics buildup in Kargil but he thanked me very much and gave full assurance that the logistics buildup though difficult was already going on very efficiently.
After The first two attacks on Kafir Pahar by the Indian troops who were beaten back with very heavy casualties on the Indian side, I met him again and informed him that I was going to include a statement from his side in my article to the effect that while addressing the Army troops in a formation, Gen Musharraf had stated that in case India committed the blunder of undertaking any hot pursuit operations in Kashmir, Pakistan would have the option to strike at the place of its choosing across the international border where Indians holding defensive and strike formations suffer from strategic and tactical imbalances and were not in a position to fight even a defensive battle. This would prevent the initiation of total war between the two sides, and as such his DG ISPR should not comment on it. I gave this in my article which appeared in the newspapers in first week of July `99.
After the NLI troops were pulled back from Kargil and the Indian Army reoccupied the positions, the Indian Government held a court of inquiry which was published in the Indian papers. Our press also reproduced the same whereupon I met Nawaz Sharif and suggested to him to immediately order an inquiry but his advisory group had repeatedly made him commit such major blunders which had spoiled his relations with Gen Musharraf to an irretrievable depth of the dungeon of misunderstandings.
Learning about these from the third parties, I tried my best to meet Nawaz Sharif to suggest to him to remove and clear those misunderstandings between him and Musharraf but he kept avoiding me. Much later he did call me thrice during Oct 1999 but I could not meet him because of my wife who was seriously ill and left this world for eternal heavens on 14 October 1999. By then it had become too late.
Gen Musharraf had given the green light to his team after a brilliant analysis carried out personally by him but his team faulted in the correct application of the methodology and thus in achieving the most vital core objective on the success of which the Indian reaction was to be based which was the opening of LoC to Siachen which was possible only if the Indians succeeded in recapturing Kafir Pahar features which completely dominated the road running along Shyok river.
Had Pakistan retained this feature till end July, the Indian troops in Siachen would have been starved because of the non-availability of any Kerosene oil, a must to melt the ice to make even drinking water. Denial of this position till end July would have forced the Indian troops in Siachen either to abandon or to surrender.
Therefore questions arise. Was the significance of this fact highlighted in the operational instructions and was the Kafir Pahar position allocated sufficient troops and the logistics dumping to last till end August which was most difficult because it was approximately 18 kms from the LoC? Were sufficient guns and ammunition concentrated in range to beat back Indian attacks?
No features other than the ones overlooking the LoC to Siachen merited the same attention as the Kafir Pahar. Were any serving or retired officers from Infantry having served in the area and risen subsequently to the Gen’s rank like Maj. Gen. Bokhari -- who like the CGS had commanded a Brigade in FCNA, been COS of Chaklala Corps and DMO as well, and to beat all had been one of the top three Infantry Generals whom I would rate the best in the understanding and applications of operational strategy (the other two being Maj Gen Anwar and Lt Gen Usmani).
The success or failure of the entire operation depended upon the retention of these vital features -- as such their advice would have been most invaluable. Likewise Gen Rahat Latif (FF) had served in the Kargil area as a Capt in scouts when it used to be part of the liberated Azad Kashmir.
His briefing on the significance of Kafir Pahar would have been also invaluable. Based on the findings of the inquiry reports the Indian Government has sacked apart from Brigs, Lt Cols and Majors, a Maj Gen (GOC 3 Infantry Div facing FCNA who had been approved for the next rank) because of false reporting and certain command failures.
On the contrary, on the Pakistan side from the information and details available so far many major slips appear to have been made not by Gen Musharraf but by his team in the application of methodology and the evolution, implementation and execution of the operational instructions but, unlike the Indian side, instead of sacking, some have already been promoted.
What actually happened and who committed the blunder in his team? Gen Musharraf must constitute an inquiry commission comprising all retired officers to be headed by either Gen Aslam Beg or Gen Shamim Alam including Gen Bukhari (FF), Gen Anwar (AK), Gen Usmani (FF) and the author so that the entire nation comes to know the true facts and Pakistan does not miss a similar historical and golden opportunity in the manner we did at Kargil.”
Kargil Debacle: Musharraf's Time Bomb, Waiting to Explode By Rauf Klasra WASHINGTON DC, Aug 3, 2004 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://antisystemic.org/satribune/www.satribune.com/archives/august04/P1_rauf.htm
ISLAMABAD, August 3: Five years have passed since Kargil but it continues to be debated in Pakistan mainly because it led to the fall of Nawaz Sharif and the rise of General Musharraf, changing the fate of both on the same day, one going to jail and the other crowned the king. Kargil, nevertheless, established a bitter fact that Pakistan Army will continue to exercise its domination over the vulnerable civilians, both in political and militarily domains irrespective of the losses in the process to the country and its unfortunate 140 million people.
The five years since Kargil have also established the fact that the truth will not come out until the Army rules the roost. A Kargil Commission will never be set up like the Hamoodur Rehman Commission, unless a genuinely elected political government takes over.
The controversy, however, rages on. In a fresh interview, exiled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told an Indian magazine a judicial commission was inevitable to determine who was responsible for the disaster.
Nawaz Sharif sounded quite aggressive and threatening in his latest interview when he made it clear that whenever he regains power, he would not spare those who staged Kargil.
Earlier, ‘Battle Ready’, a new book by American General Anthony Zinni, who worked closely with former president Bill Clinton during the infamous Pakistan-India stand off, revived the five years old controversy in Pakistan.
Despite claims and counter claims both from the military and civilians, the situation is still blur as General Musharraf claims that Nawaz had cleared the plan and military could not be held responsible for the debacle.
In a series of political profiles of leaders of the Nawaz government who were actively involved in all Kargil decisions, this scribe tried to get to the bottom but could only go so far as leaders who know would not talk and those who talk don’t know.
Ch. Shujaat Hussain, the current Prime Minister who was leading the ruling PML-Q when I interviewed him, was the first political leader who had disclosed many inside stories leading to the Kargil crises.
His disclosures had unleashed a storm in the political and military circles. However, when this scribe met Ch. Nisar Ali Khan who had accompanied Nawaz Sharif to meet President Clinton on July 4, 1999, a different perspective of the situation emerged.
Ishaq Dar who was the then finance minister and directly pumping money for defence requirements, gave another account of these events.
But one potential witness to Kargil, Mushahid Hussain, otherwise considered to be a bold writer, had flatly refused to talk over the issue after becoming a senator on the ruling party ticket.
Despite my best efforts, I could not interview the then Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz as he had refused to come on record though he confirmed to me that he knew much about Kargil. Likewise, General (Retd) Abdul Majeed Malik, who also knew a lot also shied away from talking on the subject.
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid, also an important member of the Nawaz cabinet had simply told this scribe, without going into details of Kargil, that he endorsed the views of Ch. Shujaat Hussain.
Shujaat Hussain was interviewed in April 2003 and he was at best evasive and did neither support Musharraf nor Nawaz Sharif. He rather narrated a tale of one such meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Defence in which Kargil issue was discussed.
Shujaat said a Brigadier was briefing participants of the meeting including Sartaj Aziz, Shujaat, Nawaz and General Musharraf who was then the COAS.
Shujaat claimed that at one stage Musharraf observed that Nawaz was not following what the Brigadier was trying to convey on Kargil. So Musharraf himself sprang from his seat, took the stick from the Brigadier and started to explain.
According to Shujaat, when at one stage of the briefing by General Musharraf, the dismal picture of Kargil and its implications sank home, Nawaz Sharif almost shouted at Musharraf by saying: ‘This means an open war with India’.
Nawaz genuinely complained to Musharraf as to why was he not told earlier that this kind of military activity on Kargil could lead to a war like situation with India, Shujaat continued.
“Upon this, Musharraf produced a pocket note book and started to give details of all those meetings in which, he claimed, Nawaz was given briefings about Kargil. But this further annoyed Nawaz. At this stage a cool and diplomatic interior minister (Shujaat himself) proposed that what had happened was past now. He proposed that it was better that a press release should be issued after the meeting saying that both the military and political leadership was on board on Kargil.
Shujaat said his proposal greatly annoyed Nawaz as he refused to do so. “Nawaz was so annoyed with me for making the proposal that when he left the meeting he did not even bother to look at him or shake hands.”
When this scribe met Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, he gave a different account of events leading to the fall of Nawaz. Nisar had clearly said during the Kargil crisis that Nawaz had decided to visit the US to protect the honor of the military endangered in face of Indian threats.
Ch Nisar held important ministerial portfolios in the governments of General Ziaul Haq and Mohammad Khan Junejo and was also a leading figure in both the tenures of Nawaz government from 1991 to 1993 and 1997 to 1999.
Nisar said, "Kargil was badly conceived, badly planned and badly executed". He said the timing was so bad that when the political leadership was told about this misadventure, the PM could not reverse or stop it even if he wished to because it would have had serious fallout, both for the army and the government.
Nisar said Nawaz and his team were told by military leadership only what was needed according to their requirements and perception. The nation, he said, should be told about the reaction of the then Naval Chief Admiral Fasih Bukhari and Air Chief Pervez Mehdi when like civilian leaders they came to know about Kargil for the first time.
Declining to discuss what these reactions were, Nisar said let the nation ask that question from the former naval and air chiefs and they should tell what their comments were about the possibility of war with India.
Nisar said if Nawaz had been aware of the Kargil adventure, he was not so foolish to invite the Indian prime minister to Lahore.
About Nawaz’s mad rush to Washington, Nisar said he received a call from Nawaz who asked him to get ready to go to the US. Nisar opposed his visit saying: "Mian sahib let those people face the music who had planned all these things without taking politicians into confidence." But, Nawaz replied: "No Nisar, I cannot see my army face humiliation at the hands of India".
Nisar said Shahbaz Sharif is a witness to his opposition to Nawaz dash to the US. He recalled: "ZA Bhutto, with his political wisdom, saved 90,000 Pakistani POWs but was later hanged by the military. The same happened with Nawaz after 27 years. Nawaz went to US risking the negative fallout but saved the military honor that was under serious danger because of Indian threats". Nisar lamented that the same army rescued by Nawaz sent the man to hell.
Ishaq Dar, who was the then Finance Minister, said he knew too much about the troubling issues between military and the civilian leadership of that time. Dar demanded that a judicial commission should be set up where he would give all the inside information and details that would shock the entire country.
He said that the most important details pertain to briefing of General Pervez Musharraf to Dar and Sartaj Aziz in the Military Operation Room of the GHQ towards the end of May 1999 and the meetings of the Defence Cabinet Committee (DCC) during May and June 1999 under the chairmanship of PM Nawaz in which Majeed Malik, Raja Zafar ul Haq and Mushahid Hussain also participated in addition to permanent members of DCC.
But, Dar said before Nawaz dashed to the US for the July 4 meeting with Clinton, two important meetings were held to review the situation. Nawaz had gone to US only to bail out the Pakistan Army. Dar said General Musharraf was very keen to involve US for mediation between India and Pakistan.
Was Nawaz Sharif on board about Kargil operations from the beginning? Dar categorically denied this by saying "not at all".
Most of the Corps Commanders, Air Force and Naval Chiefs were also not aware of the operation on day one. PM Nawaz was in fact informed on May 17, he claimed.
However Ishaq Dar revealed another interesting fact that supported the point of view of General Musharraf that Nawaz Sharif was informed about Kargil, although he might have not taken it seriously.
Dar revealed that many months before the Kargil operation, a strategic briefing on different locations including Kargil was held in Skardu. But, Dar hastened to add that this causal briefing could in no way be termed as an approval from Nawaz for the Kargil Operation.
He said Kargil was launched without meeting the required formalities and a proper approval. The then political leadership was approached for immediate rescue only when operational problems started to surface at Kargil. When Musharraf briefed Nawaz about troubling development, the first abrupt question Nawaz asked from his army chief was: why he was not informed in advance about the operation, Dar claimed.
Dar said Nawaz had gone to the US not on his own but on the personal request and insistence of Musharraf who saw Nawaz off at the Airport. Dar said Nawaz had sincerely tried to save the dignity and honor of Pakistan Army and to protect the Mujahideen on Kargil front lines for whom inadequate arrangements were made by the Army.
But, Dar was not ready to speak more on Kargil though he claimed that he knew much more. He said he would tell everything to a judicial commission if formed on the issue because he believes that such revelations would not be in the national interest.
So, no one, neither the military nor the political leadership, is ready to accept the responsibility of this disaster that not only brought two neighboring countries to the brink of war but also led to the dramatic fall of Nawaz and rise of Musharraf.
The issue, however, is far from dead and sooner than later, Kargil will blow into a real crisis for the Pakistan Army.
The writer is a senior journalist working for The News, Islamabad. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pakistan Army Committed Kargil Like Disaster in 1965 War As Well Special SAT Report WASHINGTON DC, Sept. 6, 2004 ISSN: 1684-2057 www.satribune.com http://antisystemic.org/satribune/www.satribune.com/archives/sept04/P1_habook1.htm
A PAF C-130 drops paratroopers as an Indian tank burns after a direct hit
New Book Exposes the Failure of Operation Gibraltar
WASHINGTON, Sept 6: A new book on Pakistan, scheduled to be released worldwide on Sept 11, gives out a detailed account of how the Pakistan Army planned a military operation to capture Akhnur in August 1965 which ultimately led to the India-Pakistan war and how mysterious decisions led to its failure, a la the Kargil fiasco of 1999.
The book Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror, written by Hassan Abbas, a former police officer from Pakistan and currently a Research fellow at the Harvard Law School and a PhD. candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, provides a befitting backdrop to the 1965 war, the 39th anniversary of which is being observed in Pakistan today.
The book, already among the top 100 bestsellers at Barnes and Nobles, also examines the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan and analyzes its connections to Pakistan Army's policies and the fluctuating US-Pakistan relations. It includes profiles of leading Pakistani Jihadi groups and gives details of the conspiracy behind General Zia-ul-Haq’s plane crash in 1988, a botched military coup by fundamentalists in army in 1993-94 and lastly about how General Musharraf handled the volatile situation after the 9/11 attacks.
Leading writers and intellectuals including Stephen P Cohen of the Brookings Institution, Harvard University Professor Jessica Stern, Peter Bergen, Terrorism Analyst, CNN and author of The Holy War Inc and Arnaud de Borchgrave, Editor-at-Large of The Washington Times and UPI, have praised the book in glowing terms.
It raises an oft repeated but a pertinent question about the conduct of the top Pakistan Army brass in 1965 when Pakistani troops were just three miles from Akhnur and its capture was imminent, the military commander was changed and so much time was deliberately wasted that a successful war was turned into a defeat.
Following excerpt of the book throws more light on how, on this day, the Pakistan Army wrote an inglorious epitaph to a glorious plan which it failed to execute:
“When the Pakistan Army inflicted a short, sharp reverse on the Indians in the Rann of Kutch in mid-1965, Ayub’s spirits got a boost. More important, the international arbitration that followed the Kutch dispute (resulting in favor of Pakistan) put Pakistan under the assumption that if the Kashmir problem was to be solved, the Rann of Kutch route would have to be replicated - a limited clash in Kashmir leading to a threat of all-out war, and then an intervention and arbitration by the great powers.
Hence at this point there was considerable confidence among the Pakistanis about the strength of their own arms, which was bolstered by their newfound friendship with China. Utter frustration over Indian intransigence on Kashmir coupled with sympathy for the gathering hopelessness of the Kashmiris and concern over the rapid rearmament of the Indian armed forces on account of Western military aid, were factors that played a crucial role in Pakistan’s drift toward considering a military solution of the Kashmir issue.
Bhutto, in his letter to Ayub of May 12, 1965, drew his attention to increasing Western military aid to India and how fast the balance of power in the region was shifting in India’s favor as a result. He expanded on this theme and recommended that “a bold and courageous stand” would “open up greater possibility for a negotiated settlement.”
Ayub Khan was won over by the force of this logic, and he tasked the Kashmir Cell under Foreign Secretary, Aziz Ahmed, to draw up plans to stir up some trouble in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir, which could then be exploited in Pakistan’s favor by limited military involvement.
The Kashmir Cell was a nondescript body working without direction and producing no results. It laid the broad concept of Operation Gibraltar, but did not get very far beyond this in terms of coming up with anything concrete. When Ayub saw that the Kashmir Cell was making painfully little headway in translating his directions into a plan of action, he personally handed responsibility for the operation over to Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, commander of the 12th Division of the Pakistan Army. This division was responsible for the defense of the entire length of the Cease-fire Line (CFL) in the Kashmir region.
General Akhtar Malik was a man of towering presence and was known for his acuteness of mind and boldness of spirit. He was loved and admired by his subordinates, but was far too outspoken to be of any comfort to most of his superiors. His professional excellence, however, was acknowledged both in military and civilian circles.
The plan of this operation (Gibraltar) as finalized by General Malik and approved by Ayub Khan was to infiltrate a sizable armed force across the CFL into Indian Kashmir to carry out acts of sabotage in order to destabilize the government of the state and encourage the local population to rise up against Indian occupation.
In order to be able to retrieve the situation in case this operation got into trouble, to give it a new lease on life, or to fully exploit the advantage gained in the event of its success, Operation Grand Slam was planned.
This was to be a quick strike by armored and infantry forces from the southern tip of the CFL to Akhnur, a town astride the Jammu-Srinagar Road. This would cut the main Indian artery into the Kashmir valley, bottle up the Indian forces there, and so open up a number of options that could then be exploited as the situation demanded. According to some Pakistani Army officers, it was foreseen then that the value of Operation Gibraltar would be fully enchased after Grand Slam succeeded in wresting control of Akhnur.
There was not enough time to fully prepare and train the men who were to infiltrate, and the three-month deadline given was considered to be not nearly enough for this, but the 12th Division was told that, because of certain considerations, no further time could be given.
Most of the men to be trained belonged to the Azad Kashmir Regular Forces, which meant that they would have to be withdrawn from the defensive positions along the CFL. The denuded front lines therefore had to be beefed up by other elements. Having no reserves for this purpose, General Malik decided that the only option for him was to simultaneously train a force of Azad Kashmiri irregulars (mujahids) for this purpose.
But when he called the C-in-C, General Musa, to ask for weapons to equip this force, the latter refused. General Malik then made a call to Ayub, apprised him of the difficulty he was having with the C-in-C, and concluded that if the Kashmiris were not to be trusted, they were not worth fighting for. Ayub then called Musa, told him why the new Mujahid Companies needed to be armed and equipped, and ended with the same note, that is, people who cannot be trusted were not worth fighting for. Soon General Malik got a call from Musa: “Malik, people who cannot be trusted are not worth fighting for - go ahead, arm them.”
Operation Gibraltar was launched in the first week of August 1965, and all the infiltrators made it across the CFL without a single case of detection by the Indians. This was possible only because of the high standards of Pakistan’s security measures, as acknowledged by a senior Indian Army general. The pro-Pakistan elements in Kashmir had not been taken into confidence prior to this operation, and there was no help forthcoming for the infiltrators in most areas.
Overall, despite lack of support from the local population, the operation managed to cause anxiety to the Indians, at times verging on panic. On August 8 the Kashmir government recommended that martial law be imposed in Kashmir. It seemed that the right time to launch operation Grand Slam was when such anxiety was at its height. But it was General Malik’s opinion that this be delayed till the Indians had committed their reserves to seal off the infiltration routes, which he felt was certain to happen eventually.
On August 24, India concentrated its forces to launch its operations in order to seal off Haji Pir Pass, through which lay the main infiltration routes. That same day General Malik asked General Headquarters (GHQ) permission to launch Operation Grand Slam. The director of military operations, Brigadier Gul Hassan, passed on the request to General Musa, and when he failed to respond, reminded him again the following day.
But Musa could not manage to gather the confidence to give the decision himself and sent ZA Bhutto to obtain the approval from Ayub Khan, who was relaxing in Swat, 200 miles away - strange way to fight a war with the C-in-C unwilling to give decisions and the supreme commander unable to do so.
The decision finally arrived on August 29, by which time the Indians had bolstered their defenses in the sector where the operation was to be launched with the induction of three infantry units and an artillery regiment. Still a few more precious hours were wasted by the GHQ, and the operation went to the early morning of September 1, more than a week after the commander in the field had first asked for the go-ahead.
By early afternoon of the first day all the objectives were taken, the Indian forces were on the run, and Akhnur lay tantalizingly close and inadequately defended. “At this point, someone’s prayers worked” says Indian journalist, MJ Akbar: “An inexplicable change of command took place.”
What happened was that, in a surprising turn of events, General Musa landed in the theater of operations and handed the command of the 12th Division over to General Yahya Khan, whom he had brought along. General Malik was asked to get into the helicopter and was flown away by Musa.
For nearly 39 years now the Pakistan Army has been trying to cover up this untimely and fateful change of command by suppression and falsification of history.
Loss of time is inherent in any such change, but for reasons that cannot be explained but by citing the intrusion of ego, Yahya insisted on changing Malik’s plan and therefore lost even more time. Whereas Malik had basically planned to invest and bypass the strongly defended localities, subordinating everything to reaching and capturing Akhnur with the least delay, Yahya took a different route - he crossed river Tawi and went straight into Troti, in which crucial time was lost. And this was enough for the Indians to bolster the defenses of Akhnur and launch their strike against Lahore across the international frontier between the two countries.
This came on September 6 while the Pakistani forces were still three miles short of Akhnur. This was the contrived end of an operation, which had been meticulously planned and had promised a lot.
On September 6, after the Indian attack across the international border, Ayub and Bhutto tried to invoke the 1959 US-Pakistan bilateral agreement, to ask for American help against Indian aggression, but to no avail.
Instead, President Johnson suspended military aid to both India and Pakistan. Pakistan immediately turned to China for help. These efforts brought about a strong Chinese condemnation of India’s aggression against Pakistan, and this was followed by a Chinese warning against Indian intrusions into Chinese territory.
And then on September 16 they sent a note to India to say that as long as Indian aggression against Pakistan continued, it would not stop supporting Pakistan in its just struggle. On September 19, Ayub and Bhutto flew to Beijing for a top secret meeting with the Chinese leadership. China promised Pakistan all the help, but told Ayub that he should be quite prepared to withdraw his army to the hills and fight a long guerrilla war against India.
For this neither the Sandhurst-trained Ayub nor the Berkeley-educated Bhutto was quite prepared. On the international scene there was already considerable concern that any direct Chinese involvement in the conflict may escalate and broaden the war involving other countries. Pakistan was pressed by the Western ambassadors to not encourage the Chinese to step up their engagement any further.
Pakistan knew it did not have the wherewithal to break through the stalemate on the battlefront. Thus it knew this was the end. Now Pakistan was prepared to accept a cease-fire. The guns fell silent on the afternoon of September 23. As to the final outcome of the war, Dennis Kux aptly says that India “won simply by not losing.”
Immediately after the war, on the Pakistan side the major controversy that occupied the minds of many was the change in command of Operation Grand Slam. The “view both in India and even amongst ‘sensible army officers’ in Pakistan was that Malik’s sudden replacement led to the failure of Grand Slam.”
But the “sensible” Pakistani Army officers were restrained from discussing this subject. It was taboo to do so in the army messes and officers’ gatherings, though in private this was most passionately debated. It was only after General Malik’s death in 1969 that GHQ gingerly started putting together a theory to justify this change and to propagate it.
It was now claimed that the change was preplanned and that this plan laid down that General Malik would command the first phase of the operation up to the river Tawi, and thereafter the command would be assumed by General Yahya Khan. However, there is not a shred of evidence to support this. The operation itself was a set-piece attack for which the operation orders are a part of the historical record, and there is no such mention in these.
And any doubts there might have been on the issue were laid to rest by General Gul Hassan, who was Director of Military Operations during the war and the one person who would have known of such a change. He has specifically denied having any knowledge of the same.
Indeed, not a single army officer except Musa and General Yahya seem to have known about this change, which shifted the initiative from Pakistan to the Indian Army. It now seems fair to speculate that the change in command was preplanned only in the sense that it was a conspiracy between Ayub, Musa, and Yahya; that if the operation got into trouble, Malik could keep the command and also the blame that would accrue as a result, but that if it held promise of success, Yahya would be moved in to harvest it.
Lieutenant General Harbaksh Singh, one of the very respected senior Indian military commanders, was one of the few to have appreciated the full military value of Operation Gibraltar as a part of Grand Slam rather than seeing the two in isolation. According to him, “The plan of infiltration was brilliant in conception,” and as for Grand Slam, he thought it was “aptly named Grand Slam for had it succeeded, a trail of dazzling results would have followed in its wake, and the infiltration campaign would have had a fresh lease of life,” and that “it was only the last minute frantic rush of reinforcements into the sector . . . that prevented this debacle from deteriorating into major catastrophe.”
It seems therefore that but for the change of command at a critical time during Operation Grand Slam, the aim of Gibraltar was well within realization, that is, to “de freeze the Kashmir problem, weaken Indian resolve, and bring India to the conference table without provoking general war.”
It would be highly educative to read General Akhtar Malik’s views on the subject. This unpublished letter from General Malik to his younger brother, Lieutenant General Abdul Ali Malik, is a new source of information on the subject, and for this purpose is quoted here in full:
Pakistan’s Permanent Military Deputy
Embassy of Pakistan
My Dear brother,
I hope you and the family are very well. Thank you for your letter of 14 Oct. 67. The answers to your questions are as follows:
a. The de facto command changed the very first day of the ops [operations] after the fall of Chamb when Azmat Hayat broke off wireless communications with me. I personally tried to find his HQ [headquarters] by chopper and failed. In late afternoon I sent Gulzar and Vahid, my MP [military police] officers, to try and locate him, but they too failed. The next day I tore into him and he sheepishly and nervously informed me that he was ‘Yahya’s brigadier’. I had no doubt left that Yahya had reached him the previous day and instructed him not to take further orders from me, while the formal change in command had yet to take place. This was a betrayal of many dimensions.
b. I reasoned and then pleaded with Yahya that if it was credit he was looking for, he should take the overall command but let me go up to Akhnur as his subordinate, but he refused. He went a step further and even changed the plan. He kept banging his head against Troti, letting the Indian fall back to Akhnur. We lost the initiative on the very first day of the war and never recovered it. Eventually it was the desperate stand at Chawinda that prevented the Indians from cutting through.
c. At no time was I assigned any reason for being removed from command by Ayub, Musa or Yahya. They were all sheepish at best. I think the reasons will be given when I am no more.
d. Not informing pro-Pak Kashmiri elements before launching Gibraltar was a command decision and it was mine. The aim of the op was to de freeze the Kashmir issue, raise it from its moribund state, and bring it to the notice of the world. To achieve this aim the first phase of the op was vital, that is, to effect undetected infiltration of thousands across the CFL [cease-fire line]. I was not willing to compromise this in any event. And the whole op could be made stillborn by just one double agent.
e. Haji Pir [Pass] did not cause me much anxiety. Because [the] impending Grand Slam Indian concentration in Haji Pir could only help us after Akhnur, and they would have to pull out troops from there to counter the new threats and surrender their gains, and maybe more, in the process. Actually it was only after the fall of Akhnur that we would have encashed the full value of Gibraltar, but that was not to be!
f. Bhutto kept insisting that his sources had assured him that India would not attack if we did not violate the international border. I however was certain that Gibraltar would lead to war and told GHQ so. I needed no op intelligence to come to this conclusion. It was simple common sense. If I got you by the throat, it would be silly for me to expect that you will kiss me for it. Because I was certain that war would follow, my first choice as objective for Grand Slam was Jammu. From there we could have exploited our success either toward Samba or Kashmir proper as the situation demanded. In any case whether it was Jammu or Akhnur, if we had taken the objective, I do not see how the Indians could have attacked Sialkot before clearing out either of these towns.
g. I have given serious consideration to writing a book, but given up the idea. The book would be the truth. And truth and the popular reaction to it would be good for my ego. But in the long run it would be an unpatriotic act. It will destroy the morale of the army, lower its prestige among the people, be banned in Pakistan, and become a textbook for the Indians. I have little doubt that the Indians will never forgive us the slight of 65 and will avenge it at the first opportunity. I am certain they will hit us in E. Pak [East Pakistan] and we will need all we have to save the situation. The first day of Grand Slam will be fateful in many ways. The worst has still to come and we have to prepare for it. The book is therefore out.
I hope this gives you the gist of what you needed to know. And yes, Ayub was fully involved in the enterprise. As a matter of fact it was his idea. And it was he who ordered me to by-pass Musa while Gibraltar etc. was being planned. I was dealing more with him and Sher Bahadur than with the C-in-C. It is tragic that despite having a good military mind, the FM’s [Foreign Minister Z.A. Bhutto’s] heart was prone to give way. The biggest tragedy is that in this instance it gave way before the eruption of a crisis. Or were they already celebrating a final victory!!
In case you need a more exact description of events, I will need war diaries and maps, which you could send me through the diplomatic bag.
Please remember me to all the family.
Akhtar Hussain Malik
It is quite obvious what had happened. In the words of Justice Muhammad Saraf: “Had Akhtar been continued in his duty... he would have been the only General in Pakistan with a spectacular victory to his credit and it would then have been very difficult for President Ayub to ignore his claim to the office of the Commander-in-Chief, after the retirement of Musa, which was quite near.”
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, one of the main players of this game, also later argued that, “Had General Akhtar Malik not been stopped in the Chamb-Jaurian Sector, the Indian forces in Kashmir would have suffered serious reverses, but Ayub Khan wanted to make his favorite, General Yahya Khan, a hero.”
However, the very idea of Operation Gibraltar was controversial in itself. The military initiative robbed Pakistan of its moral high ground vis-à-vis the Kashmir conflict. In retrospect, it would have been better if Pakistan had focused more on continuing its efforts toward the resolution of the dispute through UN or third-party mediation. Ayub and his top generals also misread how far Kashmiris (in India) were willing to cooperate with Pakistan in this kind of adventure.
(After the war) the army also underwent major though subtle changes in personnel. Musa retired soon after the war, to be replaced by General Yahya Khan as C-in-C of the army. This was not a popular choice, but as Yahya settled in, he subtly started to gather power by promoting and placing his own loyalists in critical spots. A sick and disheartened Ayub was too careworn to notice this. And besides, he had implicit faith in Yahya’s loyalty.
He may also have been quite certain that his new choice of army chief came with the kind of baggage that would foreclose the possibility of his gaining the sort of following that could eventually threaten Ayub’s position. Ayub was wrong. He could not see that Yahya could collect any number of equally discredited officers around him. Among the first to be swept off the stage was General Akhtar Malik. He was posted out to CENTO in Ankara, Turkey.
Yahya told him that Pakistan needed a sensible and mature officer there, and Malik had replied: “Being a sensible and mature officer, I quite realize why I am needed there.” Concurrently with this, all officers considered to be Malik loyalists were sidelined. This was a major step along the road inaugurated by Ayub himself, of promoting the interests of personal loyalty over those of competence and professionalism. Professional pride progressively gave way to servile behavior.
Already the army had embarked on a crash program of making up shortages in the ranks of the officer class. To meet the target, standards were consciously and conspicuously lowered, thus making it a self-defeating exercise.
Also, in the aftermath of the war, one would have expected the army to analyze its performance. Not only was such an appraisal not carried out beyond the merest whitewash, the attempt deliberately falsified the record to save reputations, because after the war many of those were promoted whose reputations needed to be saved.
But the formality of a war analysis had to be fulfilled, and most ironically the task was entrusted to General Akhtar Malik. He did this in two parts; one dealt with the performance of junior leadership, and the other with that of the higher command.
Brigadier Mohammad Afzal Khan, who read the latter in manuscript form, and Major Qayyum, under whose supervision it was typed, both commented upon the scathing criticism to which this document subjected the prosecution of the war at higher levels. After the death of the general, no one has seen the record of this document in the army GHQ."