Delhi plays Kargil tapes before talks
Torture finger pointed at Pakistan army
Troops want arms freed for war
Zimbabwe perform last rites for India
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, June 11 
On the eve of talks between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers, Delhi today released transcripts of what it claims to be conversation between the two seniormost Pakistani generals. The purported dialogue between the two discloses how the army set the agenda for the civilian administration in Islamabad.

The phone conversations between Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan?s army chief, and Lt Gen. Mohd Aziz, chief of general staff, on May 26 and May 29, also reveal their plan to unilaterally alter the Line of Control and how the Kargil operation was meticulously designed to internationalise the Kashmir issue. India claims the dialogue has been voice-authenticated.

By playing the taped conversation, India appeared to have gained the leverage to dominate tomorrow?s talks between Jaswant Singh and Sartaj Aziz.

Singh read out from the post-mortem reports of the six Indian soldiers whose mutilated bodies were handed over by Pakistan on Wednesday, detailing how they were tortured before being killed in cold blood. ??There can be only two issues for discussion in tomorrow?s agenda: the barbarity committed by Pakistan on our soldiers and restoring status quo ante on the LoC,?? an emotionally charged Singh said.

He pointed out that Aziz was arriving here in the context of the Kargil intrusion. ??The involvement and complicity of Pakistan in this misadventure is well established,?? he said. ??But even at this stage, it is not too late for Pakistan to realise its folly and undo it,?? he added.

The transcripts disclosed by the government to buttress its claim suggest that while the army was calling the shots, it did keep Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, referred to as Mian Saheb, informed. In one transcript from May 26, Gen. Musharraf told Lt Gen. Aziz that Sharif was concerned the fighting would escalate into a full-scale war.

??On this logic, we gave the suggestion that there was no such fear as the scruff of their (militants) neck is in our hands, whenever you want, we could regulate it,?? Lt Gen. Aziz says.

The dialogue also indicates that the intrusion was aimed at distorting the LoC. ??The LoC has many areas where the interpretation of either side is not what the other side believes. So comprehensive deliberation is required,?? Lt Gen. Aziz says.

In another conversation on May 29, Lt Gen. Aziz tells his boss that the foreign minister would be advised against accepting any truce in Kashmir during his talks in Delhi. ??Aziz Saheb has discussed with me and my recommendation is that dialogue option is always open. But in their first meeting, they must give no understanding or no commitment on ground situation,?? he says. ?And he should not even accept ceasefire.?

Singh said the Pakistani minister would have to make it clear during tomorrow?s negotiations ?what brief he is carrying and whose brief he is working under?.

Going by today?s expose and Delhi?s underlining of the agenda, it will be a surprise if tomorrow?s discussions yield any result. Pakistan has been insisting on a discussion on the LoC and the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. But Singh made it clear that the only meeting point was for ??Pakistan to recognise the folly of its misadventure in Kargil?? and take steps to undo it.

The minister scoffed at Islamabad?s stand that it was not involved in the flare-up. ??I?m not impressed by denials,?? he said.

Singh indicated that Delhi was in no mood to dilute its tough posture, saying it is Islamabad which has to bear the responsibility for getting involved in Kargil. Asked whether the hardline could lead to war, Singh said: ??Then it?s Pakistan?s problem.?? He, however, added that Delhi would not call off the talks and allow Islamabad to score diplomatic points.

Besides giving the government a stick to beat Pakistan with, the transcripts could salvage the reputation of intelligence agencies, under fire for the Kargil goof-up.

Aziz, accompanied by Tariq Altaf, additional secretary in the Pakistani foreign ministry, will arrive here tomorrow morning. The foreign ministers? meeting is slated to take place around mid-day. Aziz will return in the evening. Underlining the grim atmosphere, no joint press conference will be held.

Aziz, who was in Beijing today, was told by the Chinese leadership to resolve the Kashmir issue through ??peaceful means??.

Referring to his proposed trip to Beijing next week, Singh refused to open a new front with China, saying his visit was on the invitation of the government.    

New Delhi, June 11 
The Indian military establishment today brought in a representative of the Indian Red Cross to stress that its charge against Pakistan ? of having tortured six soldiers to death and mutilated their bodies ? was not without basis.

Foreign minister Jaswant Singh, his voice choked with anger, said this brutality would be part of the dialogue with Pakistani foreign minister Sartaj Aziz when he arrives here tomorrow.

India had yesterday accused Pakistan of returning six bodies that ? on preliminary examination ? seemed disfigured. The bodies were flown in from Leh to Delhi last evening. This morning, the post-mortem was carried out in the presence of the Red Cross representative and the head of the department of forensic medicine of Safdarjung hospital.

The bodies showed different marks of torture. Eyes had been gouged out in the case of a few, nose and ears had been chopped off in one or two and genitals snipped in more than one body. All the men had been bled to death.

Islamabad has denied the torture charge, saying it was an attempt to ?malign? Pakistan and its armed forces.

There was suspicion yesterday that these men had been tortured by Afghan Mujahideens. But today, the post-mortem report suggested that the men ? ambushed on May 14 ? were alive till the beginning of June. This means the soldiers had endured torture like cigarette burns for days. The real savagery could have lasted two to three days, from the end of May to early June. It is doubtful if the Mujahideens held them till then.

So, as the Indian government hints very strongly, the Pakistan army could be responsible for the ?slow and torturous killing of these prisoners of war?.

Jaswant Singh said as a former major he felt this was an ?outrage? and that he felt ?personally violated?. He demanded Islamabad take strong action against the perpetrators of this crime. He did not reveal the precise nature of the injuries, keeping in mind the sentiments of their families.

Without mentioning names, he said in the case of one, the skull had been repeatedly hammered with a blunt instrument till the brain tissues had come out. In the case of another, the left eye had been slowly eviscerated with a sharp weapon. He did not refer to the specific cases where the genitalia had been dismembered.

These six soldiers included Lieutenant Saurabh Kalia, who had led the troops into unknown territory when intelligence failed to report on the intruders having taken up vantage positions on the Indian side in early May.

India does not want to release photographs because it feels they are too ?hideous and gruesome? and might demoralise the army. But some media managers in the army feel photographs will have a greater impact in the West than Singh?s choked voice.    

The rain comes cold and hard, driven horizontal by the wind, but the weather isn?t all that is grim in these mountains. Hamstrung on the slopes of Tololing and Mashkoh and pounded by increasingly heavy shell and mortar fire, Indian troops in this sector are now faced with the possibility of a ground raid by infiltrator parties.

An alert has gone round combat units based on reports that fresh batches of infiltrators have breached the Line of Control above Drass and Kaksar in preparation for a land assault. ?They have not been able to hit our artillery positions by shellfire. So they may have plans to needle us with a ground assault,? says the commander of a Bofors battery in the Drass valley. ?We have reports of fresh infiltration and we are reorienting our defences to face an exigency.?

Already, new bunkers manned by machine gunners have been dug around his battery and two rapid-fire air-defence guns have been wheeled out for a gun roll. More sentry pickets have been erected and round-the-clock patrol mounted.

The new threat of a ground engagement has stretched soldiers. Many are not getting even an hour?s sleep a day. Drass and its flanks are taking relentless fire. Pakistan?s reply to the 155-mm Bofors is a US-made 210-mm pounder which has been shelling what used to be a charming little hamlet to tatters. ?When the 210-mm shell lands, it shakes even hardcore soldiers like me,? says an artillery unit boss.

Convoys lugging troops and guns and ammunition continue snaking into Matayen and Drass from the 13,000-feet-high Zojila Pass but they remain under constant danger of shelling; one ammunition-laden truck was blown up by splinters on Wednesday night. Drass already is a frightening battleground, its shelled-out main street a reminder of scenes from that World War II classic A Bridge Too Far. And every day, the preparations seem stepped up for a bigger, more menacing battle.

But even as he consolidates his defences for battle, the soldier on the ground is getting increasingly impatient with the tactics of this undeclared war. ?The enemy is free to violate the LoC whenever he wishes and operate behind our lines but we have to work within our side of the LoC. We are having to fight with our hands tied to our backs,? a junior artillery officer says.

He is voicing an increasingly popular sentiment among soldiers on the frontline. ?It is no use saying we are not at war because we are fighting a war. The enemy is pounding us, we are pounding him, our soldiers are dying. Why not let us fight with a free hand?? asks a rather irate field commander, who wonders why the Indian soldier was having to respect the sanctity of the LoC and international conventions when the other side was daily violating them.

Referring to the brutalised state in which the bodies of six young soldiers of the Fourth Jat Regiment were returned to Indian forces a couple of days back, he says: ?The enemy is tearing every convention and norm to shreds and we are being asked to fight them according to the rules. If we are fighting a war, let?s fight it like a war. You can?t fight a bully if you want the good boy prize.?

For about a fortnight now, the Pakistanis have been regularly sending remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) into the Kargil-Drass-Matayen belt to videograph troop movement and artillery gun positions. Indian forces have been able to do little about the repeated violations of airspace by the unmanned RPVs. ?That fellow is sending in mercenaries and regulars armed to the teeth and his spy planes are gathering information on us with impunity but we are still pulling our punches,? the commander says. ?What for? So that he can come and butcher us??

In unit after unit in the Drass sector, the soldiers? refrain is the same: Declare war so that we have more elbow room to operate and other fronts to open to engage the enemy. More than a month after flushing operations were launched in the upper reaches of the 300-mile frontier, the gains remain minimal; frustration is mounting among ground troops. For a start, they are under pressure to quickly secure safe passage for traffic along National Highway 1A so supply convoys can resume their normal sorties and deposit essential goods in Kargil and Leh before winter cuts the region off.

But the enemy has the advantage of heights in Tololing and Mashkoh ? control of which is crucial to ensuring normalcy on the highway ? and knocking him off is proving tough given the strategic constraints the soldier is facing. Failure to accomplish cleansing of the Tololing heights well in advance of the winter may mean de facto alteration of the LoC in Pakistan?s favour. For, by next summer, they would have consolidated further. ?If you want your territory freed of infiltrators, free our arms a bit,? says an officer. ?We are a much superior force but you have to let us behave like an army at war, not like a corps of diplomats.?    

Nottingham, June 11 
The World Cup hasn?t ended but a great Indian dream, fuelled by billion-buck hype, has.

Back in 1996, it was the Eden Gardens turf that left millions devastated. This time, the knockout blow came remote-controlled ? all the damage being inflicted by Pakistan?s jumbo 148-run win over Zimbabwe at The Oval.

Even victory tomorrow against New Zealand won?t do India any good. The maximum that India can garner, four points, will be of no use.

?Wouldn?t say it?s the end of the world... It?s unfortunate, it?s depressing... However, one match remains and I?ve told the boys we should sign off on a winning note even though we won?t make the semi-finals,? coach Aunshuman Gaekwad told The Telegraph.

Mohammed Azharuddin wasn?t available for comment. According to the Moat House Hotel staff, Azhar didn?t wish to be disturbed.

Having queered the World Cup pitch, Zimbabwe had few fans in the Indian dressing room. This morning, though, there was generous support for Alistair Campbell?s men.

For purely selfish reasons, as India?s progress beyond the super-six depended on Zimbabwe. But leaving it to others has become fashionable in Indian cricket.

There will be many tears, yes, but, in the immediate context, the game vs New Zealand has become irrelevant.For India, at least.

Though the scenario was nebulous till late in the day, the Indians? workout at Trent Bridge was as focussed as it has ever been.

Few players thought an upset at The Oval was possible. And everyone said they would be glued to the BBC telecast.

Though insisting ?we?re working according to plan, let?s see how things stand at the end of the day,? Gaekwad had shown much concern when someone informed Pakistan were off to a flyer. ?Oh, is it?? was his response, almost whisper-like.

Only, it was too late to show concern, rue missed chances and tear hair over conceding 51 extras to Zimbabwe at Leicester. Since then, India?s campaign had been on artificial support systems.

Gaekwad also had a few things to say about the format ? points being carried over from the league stage ? but it had that sour grapes? flavour. That?s never quite a turn-on. In any case, all teams were familiar ? or ought to have been ? with the format before the World Cup began.

Zimbabwe are sure to earn the spoilers? tag ? England will be the first to formally award them that ? but, really, it would be being bitchy.

Bottomline is you do have a hand in what destiny holds for you.    

Today?s forecast: Partly cloudy sky. Possibility of one or two spells of shower.
Temperature: Maximum 28?C (6?C below normal)
Minimum 24.9?C (2?C below normal)
Relative humidity: Maximum 100% Minimum 68%
Rainfall: 43.4 mm
Sunset: 6.18 pm Sunrise: 4.54 am    

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