No mujahideen, only soldiers in Kargil: Pak General

DD
In a candid admission that only regular troops of the Pakistan Army took part in the Kargil conflict with India in 1999 and not mujahideen fighters as claimed by Islamabad, a retired Pakistani Lieutenant General, who was then heading the analysis wing of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has written that the intrusion was an "unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions" and there was a "cover-up" later by his then chief, General Pervez Musharraf.

In an article published in Pakistan's The Nation newspaper on January 6, Lt Gen Shahid Aziz, who retired in 2005 as commander of the IV Corps in Lahore, presents an account of the Kargil war that rejects many Pakistani claims about the conflict.

"There were no mujahideen, only taped wireless messages, which fooled no one. Our soldiers were made to occupy barren ridges, with hand held weapons and ammunition," Aziz said.

Criticising Musharraf in the article, Aziz makes the point that the entire battle was ill-planned and young soldiers were used as "war fodder" for the "misadventure".

"An unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions, launched with little preparations and in total disregard to the regional and international environment, was bound to fail. That may well have been the reason for its secrecy. It was a total disaster."

"Whatever little I know, took a while to emerge, since General Musharraf had put a tight lid on Kargil. Three years later, a study commenced by GHQ to identify issues of concern at the lowest levels of command, was forcefully stopped by him. 'What is your intent?' he asked."

The intrusion was clearly intended to dominate the supply line to Siachen and cut off the glacier for an invasion by Pakistani troops.

"It certainly wasn't a defensive manoeuvre. There were no indications of an Indian attack. We didn't pre-empt anything; nothing was on the cards. I was then heading the Analysis Wing of Inter Services Intelligence and it was my job to know," he wrote.

"To say that occupying empty spaces along the Line of Control was not a violation of any agreement and came under the purview of the local commander is astounding. This area was with the Indians as a result of Shimla Agreement, and there had been no major violation of the Line of Control since 1971."

Describing how Pakistan army soldiers died after they were isolated and came under the Indian counter attack, Aziz said assumptions were made by the military leadership that the Indian Army would not be able to dislodge the fighters from the heights.

"The boys were comforted by their commander's assessment that no serious response would come. But it did — wave after wave, supported by massive air bursting artillery and repeated air attacks. The enemy still couldn't manage to capture the peaks, and instead filled in the valleys. Cut off and forsaken, our posts started collapsing one after the other, though the General (Musharraf) publicly denied it," he said.

He criticised the manner in which Pakistani leaders thought that India would have a more subdued reaction to the invasion.

"The entire planning and execution was done in a cavalier manner, in total disregard of military convention. In justification, to say that our assessment was not wrong, but there was, "unreasonably escalated Indian response" is a sorry excuse for not being able to assess Indian reaction. Assumptions were made that they would not be able to dislodge us and the world would sit back idly."

"Kargil, like every other meaningless war that we have fought, brings home lessons we continue to refuse to learn. Instead, we proudly call it our history written in the blood of our children. Indeed, our children penning down our misdeeds with their blood! Medals for some, few songs, a cross road renamed, and of course annual remembrance day and a memorial for those who sacrificed their tomorrow for our today; thus preparing more war fodder for our continuing misadventures. Since nothing went wrong, so there is nothing to learn. We shall do it again," he wrote.

'Boys were told no serious response would come'

There were no mujahideen, only taped wireless messages... our soldiers were made to occupy barren ridges

Wasn't a defensive manoeuvre. There were no indications of an Indian attack. We didn't pre-empt anything

Boys comforted by assessment that no serious response would come. But it did — wave after wave

Astounding to say occupying empty spaces along Line of Control was not a violation of any agreement

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