Was Nawaz Really Briefed on Kargil?

Exclusive by Daily Times, July 13, 2006
Nawaz was briefed on Kargil and he was on board: Musharraf
By Sarfaraz Ahmed, Hasan Mansoor and Farhan Sharif

KARACHI: President Pervez Musharraf has challenged former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s allegations that he (Musharraf) did not take him into confidence on the situation in Kargil by presenting pictorial evidence of Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Kel in Kashmir in the south of Kargil and his briefing there by the army high command on February 5, 1999, before the visit of the Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee to Lahore on February 19, 1999. The president was responding to allegations by Mr Sharif in a recently released book that that he (Sharif) first learnt of the Kargil ‘adventure’ from Mr Vajpayee.

In an exclusive interview with Business Plus Channel at the President’s Camp Office at Rawalpindi on Wednesday (Business Plus will be airing his wide ranging exclusive interview at 10pm Thursday July 13), General Musharraf spoke on a variety of issues but dealt also with the visual evidence which proved that the then prime minister was not only aware of the Kargil planning but that he had been briefed by the military commanders about Kargil plans in early February 1999. In his interview, General Musharraf held out four photographs showing Mr Sharif’s visit to Kel frontlines which took place on February 5, 1999, many days before the Indian prime minister’s visit to Pakistan on Feb 19 1999.

“Look at these pictures,” General Musharraf said, “In one of these pictures I am receiving him (Nawaz Sharif), in another he is being briefed by Commander Mehmood at Kel who later became DG ISI while in yet another he is addressing the troops there. All these pictures were taken the same day.”

“Why had he gone to Kel at a time when all such things were underway. During heavy snow...what was the necessity that forced him to go to Kel?...One cannot do anything if someone is telling lies so consistently,” General Musharraf said.

Giving his account of the 1999 conflict in the book: “Ghaddar Kaun? Nawaz Sharif ki Kahani unki Zubani”, Mr Sharif has reiterated his contention that General Musharraf, the then army chief, did not take him into confidence on the situation in Kargil and that he learnt the details from his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee. “As a prime minister, I was not taken into confidence on Kargil. I came to know what the army was doing from Prime Minister AB Vajpayee. Even the Air and Naval chiefs as well as many corps commanders of the army did not know about the Kargil operation,” Sharif is reported to have said.

Referring to Mr Sharif’s claim, Gen Musharraf bluntly exclaimed: “A prime minister is not worth his salt if he is being informed about Kargil operation by his Indian counterpart.”

Without calling Kargil conflict a war, Gen Musharraf said Nawaz was aware of many facts about the Kargil issue and it was Kargil and the Mujahideen’s operation which immensely internationalised the Kashmir issue.

Sounding a note of warning, he said issues relating to Kargil were extremely confidential and of paramount national importance, and these should not be publicised in the way in which the former prime minister was doing so consistently.

“I would advise him to talk economically on this issue because it is an issue of great national confidentiality,” he said.

Tariq Hassan controversy: President Musharraf also held the former SECP chairman, Tariq Hassan, responsible for the March 2005 stock market crisis on the ground that Mr Hassan’s primary responsibility was to monitor and take preventive measures to avoid the fiasco in which he failed. “I personally asked for his dismissal,” the President said about the removal of Mr Hassan.

Claiming that he personally did not “know much” about the stock market, and had never traded, he said that by analysing the graph of the stock market from 2000 one can see that our stock market followed the international and regional market trends except last year, “which indicates some abnormal developments that led to the crisis.”

“Now Tariq Hassan who is raising such hue and cry was himself heading the SECP at that time,” he said. “It was his responsibility to monitor and prevent such things from happening. It was his duty to do it and now he is the one who is responsible.”

He said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was not involved in any form of corruption in relation to the Karachi Stock Exchange. “Nobody was shouting when the stock market was going up, but when it went down many became unhappy,” he said.