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Sartaj Aziz contests Musharraff's claims

Opposition to Musharraf's version of the Kargil conflict comes from former foreign minister of Pakistan.


October 3, 2006

It seems like Kargil looks like a different war to everyone who looks at it. For India, it was a strategic and tactical victory and helped get the world India firmly on India's side against the adventurist tendencies of Pakistan. Many in Pakistan too might subscribe to this view, but General Musharraf and his friends seem to believe that it was a tactical victory, and that it helped bring Kashmir issue into international focus.

Some don't agree, and now opposition to this claim has been voiced by Nawaz Sharif's foreign minister Sartaj Aziz. He said that "the conflict disrupted the Lahore peace process."

"I do not agree with Gen Musharraf's view in his book that it was Kargil which helped in bringing back the Kashmir issue into international focus," said in an interview to a BBC Hindi programme.

Did Kargil have that effect? In a way, yes. It brought Kashmir back into international focus, but not in a way that turned out well for Pakistan. Everyone started looking at Kashmir as a nuclear flashpoint, but the benefits of such a view accrued mostly to India when the world looked at Pakistan and its military as mischief-making and sabre-rattling, and inclined to upset the status quo if given a chance. That focus was pretty irritating to India too, but the country has managed to used the tensions to position itself as a stable democracy.

Sartaj Aziz said that "Kargil led to disruption of Lahore process initiated by (the then Prime Ministers) Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee. The military takeover completely destroyed the process." That is definitely true. From the average Pakistani's point of view, Lahore was all about peace at any cost and he did not want that. The military and Musharraf has made it clear that it was unacceptable. So, the destruction of the Lahore peace process was a good thing; and what is even better is Musharraf's own peace process! 

Sartaj Aziz directly contradicted Pervez Musharraf's assertion that Nawaz Sharif was in the know about the army's Kargil initiative.

"I would like to say some of the things said about Kargil in the book are not correct. I would agree with some of the things he has written about Kargil, but not all," Aziz told BBC.

Of course, politicians will be politicians. By most accounts, India emerged the stronger after the conflict due to an open acceptance of India's stance by the rest of the world, and even China washed its hands off the situation. However, Sartaj Aziz said that Nawaz Sharif... resolved the matter in a way which benefited both India and Pakistan," he said. Strange logic. Pakistan was on its way to becoming pariah country after Kargil, when unfortunately, 9/11 forced Pakistan to join hands with the US - thereby making the country take a complete U-turn and fortuitously saving it from its isolation. India is better served by a Pakistan forced to be more sober and balanced, and a Musharraf more sober and balanced, and that is what we have got it in the end, though it involved a lot of kicking and screaming by the Pakistani military to get here. As Musharraf says in his book, he even wargamed the US an adversary and realised the futility of such a track - and that led to Pakistan's current status as a member of the War on Terror.

And all is well that ends well.

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