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Sharif breaks Kargil silence

Islamabad, June 25 (PTI): Describing Pervez Musharraf as a “traitor”, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had “almost” decided on a deadline to resolve the Kashmir issue, but the process was sabotaged by the Pakistan military who staged the Kargil conflict.

In his first interview on record since he was exiled to Jeddah in 2000, Sharif said he and Prime Minister Vajpayee had decided to resolve the Kashmir issue through the Lahore peace process.

“I can only say here that Vajpayee and myself had almost decided a deadline for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute,” Sharif told Pakistan’s Daily Times from his exile.

“Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore was a link in the chain. Had it not been for Kargil, whereby all our plans were sabotaged, the issue of Kashmir would have reached a historical resolution long ago,” he said.

Asked what was the real story behind Kargil which lead to a military coup, Sharif said Kargil was “a skeleton in Musharraf’s closet”, while he took the public blame to save the army. “All events in the aftermath of the Kargil episode, especially 12th October 1999, are inextricably linked. The true version of the misadventure of Kargil shall not remain a secret... The facts shall be brought before the public and all those responsible shall have to account for their deeds,” he said.

“For the time being, I can only say that I took everything on my shoulders to save our army from a major embarrassment,” he said.

Ruling out any compromise with Musharraf, Sharif said he would not return to Pakistan by working out an “arrangement” with the general.

“But who is responsible' How can one man play with the destiny of 140 million people' There is only one recourse to it now. Musharraf has to drop his legal framework order completely, give up his uniform and step down. Nothing short of it is likely to work or should work,” he said.

Sharif also ruled out a “grand national reconciliation”, saying there can be no parleys with traitors.

The former Pakistan Prime Minister said he did not believe that the armed forces as a whole was unwilling to transfer power to the civilians, but it was the top military leadership which had acquired a “lust for power and contempt for the Constitution”.

Lamenting that there was no respect for law in Pakistan today, Sharif said he was worried about the common man and his future under such an unlawful environment.

The former premier reserved his harshest comments for the ISI, which he said has forgotten its original mandate and task and was “making and breaking political parties”. Sharif was of the view that the charter of its duties must be redefined to safeguard the country from internal and external enemies.

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