Vajpayee call woke Sharif up to Kargil - Gunning for Pervez

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 29.05.06

London, May 28 (PTI): An urgent phone call from Atal Bihari Vajpayee in May 1999 informed Nawaz Sharif of the Kargil invasion, the former Pakistan Prime Minister disclosed today, blaming President Pervez Musharraf for the “misadventure”.

“Mr Prime Minister, what is happening” in Kargil, an indignant Vajpayee, then the Indian Prime Minister, asked over the telephone. Till then he had not know of the Kargil operation, Sharif said.

Almost all Pakistani corps commanders were also unaware of the “ill-conceived, ill-planned and ill-executed misadventure” by Musharraf and “just two or three of his cronies” knew about the plan, Sharif said, days after he and another former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, together pledged to topple Musharraf.

A 36-point charter of democracy, signed on May 14 by Sharif and Bhutto for restoration of democracy in Pakistan, includes a proposal to set up a commission to fix responsibility for Kargil and identify the causes that led to it.

Sharif has been living in exile for over six years.

Through the Kargil operation, Musharraf, then the chief of the army staff in Pakistan, had “sabotaged” the understanding reached between Sharif and Vajpayee at Lahore to resolve all Indo-Pak problems, including Kashmir, the 56-year-old leader said. And “you are talking to the same Musharraf (who did Kargil). I fail to understand”, he said.

“India should not be doing business with any usurper or a military dictator....” Sharif said that by inviting Musharraf to the Agra summit, India had conferred legitimacy on his regime. “To me, it amounted to recognising a military dictator although his rule is still unconstitutional....”

Sharif said a high-level commission, “something higher than a judicial commission”, would be set up by a democratic government to go into the Kargil episode. It will “fix responsibility and then (those found guilty) would conceivably face trial”.

He cannot forgive Musharraf for Kargil because it had brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war. “The Indians could have done anything at that time because they were attacked without any rhyme or reason,” the former Pakistan Prime Minister said.

Recalling his frantic July 4, 1999, meeting with Bill Clinton in Washington, Sharif said he had sought the US President’s good offices to resolve the matter amicably. But he refused to say if Musharraf had pleaded with him to rush to Washington as the Indians were beating back the Pakistani troops.

Sharif found Musharraf a “very impulsive man, erratic in his behaviour and not a very stable person”.

Is he happy with the Indo-Pak peace process?

“Well, the foundation of all this was laid when I was the Prime Minister. Mr Vajpayee was very kind to visit Pakistan and the foundation was laid by us then. Things started moving. But, of course, the Kargil episode came in between,” Sharif said.

A very good opportunity to resolve the Indo-Pak issues was missed, he rued, describing the Lahore declaration as a “tremendous opportunity”.

Asked if Musharraf had ordered the Kargil operation because he did not support the Lahore declaration, Sharif replied: “No. I think Musharraf and his cronies had some obsession about it (Kargil) for a long time.”

He dismissed Musharraf’s suggestions of demilitarisation and joint control as “wild ideas”. “Solutions are not given in television interviews. Musharraf does not know what diplomacy means,” Sharif said.