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Kargil war was a ‘big success’: Musharraf
New Delhi, Jul 24 (IANS):
Published on 25 Jul. 2009 12:40 AM IST
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The Kargil operation was a ‘big success’ as it forced India to come to the negotiating table on Kashmir, says former Pakistan president and then army chief Pervez Musharraf, 10 years after the high-altitude conflict that took the neighbours to the brink of a full-scale war. ‘Yes, indeed, it was a big success because it had (an) impact even on the attitudes of the Indian side. How did we start discussing the Kashmir dispute?’ Musharraf asked interviewer Karan Thapar in the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ programme to be telecast on CNN-IBN Sunday. He said Kargil was the single event that made India come to the negotiating table on Kashmir. Though he would not comment on a query if he would ever repeat the Kargil operation, the former president said the chapter must be closed. ‘Let’s close this chapter... You cannot take Kargil alone (otherwise) I would like to take Siachen, I would like to take East Pakistan. We have to stop maligning each other. We have done enough harm to each other.’ He said both India and Pakistan should now go the entire way to the resolution of their disputes. ‘If you want to go on the course of peace, we need to resolve these disputes. And Pakistan has its own honour and dignity to be guarded. That’s what I always say. Don’t try to dominate or don’t try to affect our sovereignty.’ In his memoir ‘In the Line of Fire’, Musharraf had said the Pakistani Army’s Rawalpindi Corps and Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA) were involved in the Kargil operation, contradicting the official line that Kargil was started by Kashmiri ‘freedom fighters’. When asked about his revelation, Musharraf, however, said the Pakistan Army was only the ‘second line force’. ‘You must understand the arrangement. The Rawalpindi Corps has divisions under it and one of them is FCNA. FCNA has under it the NLI (Northern Light Infantry), a second line force,’ he asserted. As he saw it, the Kargil war came to an end with Pakistani military being in a ‘very favourable’ position. ‘It was certainly very favourable. It was not supposedly favourable. Because if you are talking about India-Pakistan, Indians had moved all their forces against Kargil and there was (as a result) weakness elsewhere. So, we knew what the Indian forces are capable (of) and what we are capable (of) ... the situation was very favourable in Kargil, in Kashmir and on the entire border. We were capable of responding to any Indian action.’ According to Musharraf, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif - subsequently overthrown in a coup later that year - had asked for his opinion on a ceasefire. But he said the decision had to be Sharif’s. ‘Those are the decisions of the prime minister. What kind of pressure he can sustain and what is the political picture. He knows it better. I only talk of the military side and I told him there’s no problem on the military side.’ Musharraf also admitted for the first time that he and assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had a secret understanding before she returned to Pakistan from her exile. ‘There was an understanding. I did talk to her, yes. I had been talking to her twice. She was not supposed to come back before the elections.’ He said Bhutto could have been alive today had she not broken that understanding. ‘I think so. I think so. Absolutely. She would have lived.’ While he said he did not regret the sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in 2007 - which led to the lawyer’s movement and ultimately his resignation - Musharraf admitted that the handling was ‘shabby’. He made it clear that he was prepared to fight any legal cases brought against him. ‘One has to face realities on (the) ground and I will face them. I am not a man who runs away from realities. Let them bring law suits and (try to) prove anything against me.’ When asked if another military takeover was likely in the light of the current fragile political situation, Musharraf refused to rule it out, stating, ‘No comment’. ‘(The) army has to ensure the integrity, territorial integrity and security, of Pakistan. So it’s entirely the army’s decision and the chief’s decision. But (so far) they go along with the government. I don’t want to comment. These are sensitive issues,’ said Musharraf.

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