General Musharraf'sjust published memoirs?In the Line of Fire?are a tale of embarrassing confessions, blatant lies and unsubstantiated claims. Although the General tries to maintain, albeit unsuccessfully, the myth of ?mujahadeen?, he has confessed that the Pakistani troops were involved in the intrusion into Kargil. It is no news, as the entire world knows that Pakistani army was the aggressor and had lost a large number of its officers and men in this gamble. However, Musharraf'sadmission is important because it is for the first time that the man behind the misadventure has made a public confession. He stands exposed as a person who has no respect for international law and is guilty of promoting terrorism. He can by no stretch of imagination be perceived as a ?partner in the war against terrorism?. No one believes his belated claim that the intrusion was a pre-emptive or preventive action in view of India'soffensive designs. If that were so, what was the point in creating the myth of ?mujahadeen? intruding into Indian territory? There is irrefutable evidence to prove that regulars of Pakistan'sNorthern Light Infantry (NLI) were disguised as ?mujahdeen? to create the myth. Notings in the captured diary of Captain Hussain Ahmed of 12 NLI make interesting reading. He says the intrusion was a move to establish a new LoC in the region and quotes General Musharraf, who visited the Mashkosh sector on March 28, to say that the gambit was a ?reply to Saichin invasion of 1984?. The diarist also records that the General doled out Rs 8000 for sweets to be distributed amongst 12 NLI ?mujaheeds?. The hoax of ?mujahideen? was exposed by another entry in diary on May 19 that says Captain Ahmed flew in a copter with ISI persons and made a movie of ?mujahadeen? (in which he too was a party) to ?work inside the enemy territory?.
The General is economical with truth but doesn'trefrain from speaking out to implicate the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by mentioning that the latter was kept in the loop. He goes at some length to mention who and when briefed the then Prime Minister about the secret operation. So, it was not only the General but also the entire Pakistani establishment that was involved in the gamble that failed. It was Pakistan'stotally unscrupulous establishment that stabbed India in the back in response to our ?hand of friendship? offered by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. And it is this untrustworthy man and establishment with whom Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has entered into an agreement to set up a joint mechanism to fight terrorism. Still worse, the Prime Minister has parroted the Pak lie that the promoter of terrorism is also a victim. This one action by the UPA Government has undone the success achieved by the NDA Government in convincing the international community that Pakistan is the promoter and supporter of cross border terrorism and that proxy war is its state policy.
Former Army Chief General V P Malik has rightly described the hugely over-rated General Musharraf as ?timid?. This silver tongued General is a cool customer and a great orator but he is indeed timid. He says he joined the US war against terrorism because American officials had threatened to bomb Pakistan into rubble if it didn'tcooperate in the war against Taliban. Yet another proof of his lack of courage is his refusal to take back bodies of his soldiers killed during Kargil conflict. It was left to Indians to give a decent burial to the Pakistani soldiers whose bodies were found by advancing Indian troops in Batalik, Mushkoh and Kaksar areas. As for Musharraf'swild claim about large Indian casualties, the nation honoured every soldier who laid down his life in defending India'sterritorial integrity. We never tried to hide, nor can anyone do it in an open society like ours, the number of soldiers killed. We have openly admitted that 474 officers and men of Indian Armed Forces gave their lives in the operation to throw out Pakistani intruders from the inhospitable terrain that became a war zone because of Pakistan'srogue operation. In addition, as many as 1109 Indian military personnel were wounded. Less said the better about the Pakistani casualties. Indian intelligence agencies had put the number of Pakistani officers and men killed in the encounter between 730 and 750. However, in the aftermath of this bloody war, retired Pakistani Generals had given a much higher figure. They conceded that between 3,000 and 4,000 officers and men of Pakistan Army were killed in the fourth war in J&K.
President Musharraf'sclaim that Kargil operation was a diplomatic and military victory for Pakistan is laughable. On the contrary, it was one of the greatest diplomatic achievements for India. K. Subrahmanyam, who headed the Kargil Review Committee, says it was for the first time India found that neither China nor US was prepared to back Islamabad on its misadventure and in a sense Kargil marked a turning point in Indo-US relations. In fact, President Clinton'sfirm signal that there was no point in PM Sharif visiting Washington if he were not to withdraw troops from Kargil was a measure of India'sdiplomatic success. Although Pakistani troops were in a commanding position when India entered the conflict, the former lost more soldiers defending the fortifying positions than our army that had the tougher task of evicting the invaders from their positions. If General Musharraf thinks it was a Pakistani victory, let us not quarrel with him. Let him celebrate Islamabad'shumiliating defeat?diplomatic as well as military?as a victory. And let him claim that Pakistan won the wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971.
Musharraf was solely responsible for the collapse of the Agra Summit by describing the terrorist operating in J&K as ?freedom fighters? in his meeting with Indian editors that was telecast live. He took a similar line in his talks with the Indian delegation headed by the Prime Minister and insisted that violence in the Valley was ?people'sbattle for freedom?. This was totally unacceptable to India. He suffered a big diplomatic blow when he was kept waiting for hours till almost midnight even as India refused to sign a joint statement with him unless he relented from his offensive stand. He had to leave Agra empty handed. If he feels insulted, let him do some introspection. What else a misbehaving guest should expect? As for Vajpayee he has categorically denied anyone insulted him or the guest from across the border. Musharraf says he told Vajpayee there was someone above two of us who had sabotaged agreement. If there was someone above those two powerful Heads of Governments, it was the honour and dignity of Indian nation. There was no way Musharraf could have challenged India'ssovereignty and get away with it. He returned to Islamabad a defeated man.