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Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

The Pakistani Army had the so-called freedom fighters by the "scruff of the neck" and could "regulate" them at will

Musharraf Drops Siachen/Kargil Bombshell

President Musharraf's book "Line of Fire" comes under fire for assorted lies and half truths.

By B G Verghese

Deccan Herald, October 24, 2006

General Musharraf providentially escaped two attempts on his life but has shot himself in the foot “In the Line of Fire”.

Writing of events in 1983, he blandly asserts that the Siachen glacier “belonged to us”. This is at complete variance with the Karachi Agreement that delineated the Cease Fire Line in July 1949 under UN auspices. This mother agreement was revalidated in December 1972 as the Line of Control.

The Karachi Agreement admits of no ambiguity. It demarcates the CFL/LOC beyond Khor up to NJ 9842, “thence north to the glaciers” and specifically rules out any no-man’s land. Three Pakistan Army maps are reproduced by the General on Pages 69, 92 and 94 of his book. These depict military positions on either side of the LOC, the 800 sq kms of “Indian occupied territory” that had been captured by May 15, 1999 across the LOC by the “freedom fighters” (read Pakistan Army units), and “the positions held by our (Pakistan) troops on July 4”. The General’s admits “we had lost some ground in the Dras, Battalik and Shyok positions” but boasts that “the Kaksar and Mushko ingresses remained untouched”.

The three maps also depict NJ 9842 but show the LOC running not north but northeast in a straight line to the Karakoram Pass. How does the General or anyone in Pakistan explain this line, drawn in flagrant violation of solemn agreements.

However, look again at the General’s three maps. NJ 9842 is clearly marked. Now ask any schoolboy to draw a line running due north, “thence north to the glaciers”, from this point. Virtually all of Siachen, also depicted on these maps, falls on the Indian side of the LOC. If anybody is to be court-martialled, it is unlikely to be somebody from Simon and Schuster. Troops may (indeed should) be withdrawn from Siachen-Saltoro and redeployed and the area demilitarised. But the LOC, established by treaty, cannot be unilaterally redefined.

Turning to Kargil, the General’s version is that the Pakistan Army decided to respond to longstanding “creeping attacks” by Indian forces across the LOC. From this he goes on to say that “freedom fighters” including “freelance sympathisers from Pakistan” decided in January 1999 to move into the forward positions annually vacated by the Indians during winter and by May had occupied 800 sq kms of Indian territory, moving into it from the Pakistan side. (This fiction was projected in 1947 and repeated in 1965 and thereafter). The Pakistan Army moved up behind to “dominate” the liberated areas and prevent any Indian hot pursuit. Complete secrecy was maintained to prevent any give-away, and information was vouchsafed on a “need to know” basis. Nawaz Sharif, then dizzy with his own climb towards absolute power, was informed that something was happening. He probably did not comprehend the true magnitude of the caper and the implications of such a gross betrayal of the peace process initiated as a result of the Lahore Agreement.

What the General leaves out is utterly self-serving. His famous taped conversations with his Chief of Staff, General Mohammad Aziz, and with Nawaz Sharif, that were intercepted by Indian Intelligence and replayed in Delhi, are revealing. The Pakistan Army had the so-called freedom fighters “by the scruff of the neck” and could “regulate” them at will. Further, in any discussion with the Indians, Pakistan must insist “we are sitting on the same LOC since long”.

Contrast this with the contents of diaries of Pakistan military officers captured by the Indian Army along the Kargil heights. Captain Hussain Ahmad of the 12 Northern Light Infantry records that elements of his unit crossed the LOC in the Mushkoh sector February 1999. He describes the intrusion as a move to establish “a new LOC” and quotes General Musharraf, who visited his sector on March 28, as saying that the operation was “a reply to India’s Siachen invasion of 1984”. Captain Ahmad adds that he was involved with “ISI pers” in making a movie of “mujahideen” victoriously overcoming Indian troop in close combat. (See Kargil Review Committee Report).

The General has high praise for the gallantry of the NLI, which took heavy casualties. Yet he disowned his own dead and the Indian Army was left to bury them with Islamic rites and full military honours. At least one body of a Pakistan officer was subsequently exhumed and sent back to his sorrowing widow. The Pakistan media recounted how military vehicles would appear at night in Northern Area villages and dump shrouded bodies unsung on the doorsteps of the bereaved. (“The Herald”, Karachi, July 2000). The General, who calls his uniform his “second skin”, sent his men into battle but turned his back on those that fell under his command. Hardly the conduct of a victorious General of a victorious Army.

However, “In the Line of Fire” portrays the General as the greatest living hero in Pakistan. So great was his popularity that he decided to “transfer” some of this to his new Party, the PML(Q) by holding a referendum to validate his Presidency. The “referendum”, he admits, was rigged (P167-168).

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