A New Book
on Pakistan Reveals Many Hidden Sides of Generals
Planned Kargil, Keeping Pakistan in the Dark
July 22: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not aware of the Kargil
Operation when he received Indian PM Vajpayee in Lahore on Feb
20, 1999, a new book written by a senior former police officer
from Pakistan, and published by a New York Publishing house, has
The book, Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the
Army, and America’s War on Terror, is authored by Mr
Hassan Abbas, who is currently a Research Fellow at the Harvard
Law School and a PhD. candidate at the Fletcher School of Law
and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has served in the administrations
of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1994-95) and General Musharraf
The book examines the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan,
and analyzes its connections to Pakistan Army's policies and the
fluctuating US-Pakistan relations. It includes profiles of leading
Pakistani Jihadi groups with details of their origins, development,
and capabilities based on interviews with Pakistani intelligence
officials, and operators of the militant groups.
book contains new historical materials on Operation Gibraltar
(1965 War with India), conspiracy behind General Zia-ul-Haq’s
plane crash in 1988, a botched military coup by fundamentalists
in army in 1993-4, the story of National Accountability Bureau
(from an insider’s perspective) and lastly about how General
Musharraf handled the volatile situation after the 9/11 attacks.
General Musharraf’s detailed profile, the book evaluates
the India-Pakistan relations vis-à-vis the Kashmir conflict,
and Dr AQ Khan’s nuclear proliferation crisis. The book
offers predictions for Pakistan's domestic and regional prospects.
Hassan Abbas gives a graphic description of how the Kargil disaster
was planned and managed by the Army led by General Musharraf who
led a “Gang of Four” and quotes Pakistan High Commissioner
to UK, Maleeha Lodhi as saying: “Even corps commanders and
other service chiefs were excluded from the decision-making process.”
much so that even the very able DGMO, Lieutenant General Tauqir
Zia, was initiated into the secret after the gang of four had
already taken the irrevocable decision of going ahead with the
operation,” the book says.
chapter on the Kargil Episode asks “Who is to be Blamed”
and gives a detailed account of what happened based on author’s
interviews with many serving and retired army officers. It says:
“In May 1999, just three months after the frozen road to
Indo-Pak dialogue had thawed enough to get a promise for more
going, Pakistan launched its operation against the Kargil Heights
in the far north of Indian-held Kashmir, just across the LOC.
These heights dominated the main Indian supply route to Leh, where
India had a small cantonment to house one brigade. It was the
Indian routine at Kargil to descend the heights at the start of
the winter snows and reoccupy them the following spring. With
these heights in Pakistani hands, it meant that supplies to Leh
could not be maintained.
though India did have an alternate route, it was not an all-weather,
all-season road. India would therefore have no option but to recover
the heights and open the road to Leh or allow its garrison to
perish. Though, of course, even if India had any number of alternative
roads, its pride alone would have sufficed for them to mount an
operation for the relief of Kargil.
This operation had been discussed at least twice before in earlier
years and turned down both times. General Zia-ul-Haq was the first
army chief invited by the Military Operations (MO) directorate
to see a presentation on this operation. After sitting through
it, he resorted in his most chaste Urdu, which he would normally
do only when he wanted to take someone to task. His ensuing conversation
with the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), as narrated
by a senior army officer, went somewhat like this:
When we take Kargil, what do you expect the Indians to do? . .
. I mean, don’t you think they will try and recapture it?
DGMO: Yes sir, but we think that the
position is impregnable and we can hold it against far superior
Zia: Now that’s very good, but
in that case, don’t you think the Indians will go for a
limited offensive elsewhere along the line of control, take some
of our territory, and use it as a bargaining chip?
DGMO: Yes sir, this is possible, but
. . .
Zia: And if they are beaten back there
also, don’t you think they will attack across the international
frontier, which may lead to a full-scale war?
DGMO: That’s possible, sir.
Zia: So in other words, you have prepared
a plan to lead us into a full-scale war with India!
sardonic observation by Zia ul-Haq caused the demise of the first
Kargil proposal. The second time the plan was mooted, it was shot
down on the same grounds, that is, it was an easy tactical operation
that was untenable in the long run unless Pakistan were prepared
to go into a full-scale war with India, in which Kargil would
be a secondary objective.
The third and final operational plan for Kargil was put forward
by its inspirational father, Lieutenant General Mohammad Aziz
Khan, chief of the general staff (CGS). Himself a Kashmiri, he
was fully committed to the cause of Kashmiri freedom, and not
the sort of man who held any commitment lightly. He is very religious
and not known to be a hypocrite.
The tactical parents of the Kargil plan were two. The first was
Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmad, the commander of 10th Corps,
in whose area of operations the objective lay. He was a comparatively
weaker personality than Aziz, with a romance about history. It
is believed that he was convinced by the conviction of Aziz, which,
combined with his own historical dream, made him a hostage to
the Kargil idea.
second parent of the plan was Major General Javed Hassan, commander
of the Pakistani troops in the Northern Areas (Force Command Northern
Areas, FCNA) who would actually have to carry out the operation.
He had one of the best minds in the army and even more ambition.
He gave his unstinting support to the operation, less through
any sense of conviction and more because of the promise that such
a position held of bringing him into General Pervez Musharraf’s
charmed inner circle.
was taken in by the enthusiasm of two of his closest generals,
and, being eternally levitated by an irrepressible streak of unreal
optimism, he became the strongest advocate of the operation. The
absolute secrecy that was one of the preconditions of the success
of the operation, to secure it against any possibility of leaks,
also made it proof against any possibility of a second opinion,
and thus against any collusion with a sense of reality.
to Maleeha Lodhi, “Even corps commanders and other service
chiefs were excluded” from the decision-making process.
So much so that even the very able DGMO, Lieutenant General Tauqir
Zia, was initiated into the secret after the gang of four had
already taken the irrevocable decision of going ahead with the
The next task was to bring the prime minister on board. For this,
a presentation was organized. The exact date of this presentation
is a million-dollar question, as this may consequently decide
how history will judge both Musharraf and Nawaz. According to
Niaz A. Naik’s narration of the events to Prof. Robert Wirsing,
Nawaz Sharif was given a briefing by the army on the Kashmir issue
on March 27 or 28, 1999, which probably was the one where the
Kargil Plan was discussed.
according to Owen Bennett Jones, the army contends that a specific
briefing on the Kargil Plan was given in the second week of March
1999, where Nawaz granted formal approval of the plan. Most probably,
both Naik and Jones are referring to the same meeting, and it
certifies that at the time of Nawaz’s meeting with Vajpayee
on February 20, 1999, he was not aware of the Kargil operation.
Anyhow, Nawaz came to hear the Kargil presentation accompanied
by the recently retired CGS of the army, Lieutenant General Iftikhar
Ali Khan, who was Nawaz’s secretary of defense. Iftikhar
knew Musharraf, Mahmood, and Aziz well and should have used his
rank and influence to abort the operation, but he did not, though
he certainly showed his reservations. Nawaz’s other adviser
was Majid Malik, a minister in the cabinet and a retired lieutenant
general who had served as DGMO and CGS during his military career
a generation earlier. He had a sharp mind and asked all the right
questions of the assembled generals, and pointed out all the weaknesses
in their overall plan, and its immediate and larger implications.
should have educated Nawaz Sharif adequately to put the operation
on hold pending a detailed reexamination of the project, but it
did not. Sharif agreed with the plan, though the operation was
already in its final stages and Nawaz was not aware of that. Probably
in his reverie, he was looking to the glory that would come his
way when the fruits promised by operation were harvested.
close associates of Nawaz contend that the said briefing never
mentioned that regular troops would be involved in the operation,
and the discussion was framed entirely in terms of “increasing
the heat in Kashmir.”
in the latest book on the Kargil issue, Shireen Mazari, a Pakistani
academic known for her pro-military stance, asserts that the Kargil
operation was in fact planned to counter similar moves expected
by the Indians in the area, and this military move was in reality
a defensive action finalized after credible intelligence reports
confirmed Indian designs for incursions across the LOC! This theory
is not corroborated by any other source.
In reality, the Kargil plan was for Pakistan to send in a mixture
of Kashmiri fighters and regular/paramilitary troops (the Northern
Light Infantry Regiment) to occupy the heights above Kargil before
the Indian Army moved in to reoccupy them at the end of the snow
season and cut off the supply route to Leh.
operation was to be projected as a solely Kashmiri mujahideen
operation, denying absolutely any Pakistani involvement in it
or that Pakistan had any control or influence over these elements.
It is worth noting that until the occupation of the heights became
an accomplished fact, neither any of the other service chiefs
nor the rest of the corps commanders or Musharraf’s personal
staff officers knew anything about the operation.
result was that, when the Indian Air Force joined the action,
the Pakistan Air Force was in no position to respond while the
army’s quartermaster general and master general of ordnance,
both of whose support was vital for any army operation, were also
left totally in the dark.
if Kargil had led to general war, the army would have learned
that its newest fleet of tanks, of which it was so proud, had
no APDSFS antitank ammunition! The other effect of the secrecy
surrounding Kargil was that no one in the Pakistani diplomatic
corps was equipped to deal with the questions arising in the wake
of the operation, while it also split the generals into two groups,
that is, those who were “in” and those who were left
The masterminds of the operation were driven by the belief that
their nuclear capability provided a protective shield to Pakistan,
and that India would acquiesce to this capture just like Pakistan
was compelled to swallow India’s seizure of the Siachen
peaks in 1984. All the four generals involved in the Kargil project
had remained instructors in different military training institutions
during their careers, teaching young officers how vital it is
to weigh the pros and cons of a military offensive in terms of
understanding the possible ramifications and enemy reactions.
It is strange that these generals forgot such a basic military
lesson and seriously miscalculated Indian capabilities both in
terms of military strength and political influence in the international
The Indians reacted in an outburst of justifiable rage, citing
Pakistan’s bad faith for having welcomed their prime minister
to Lahore while concurrent preparations for the Kargil operation
were already under way. In Pakistan there was no widespread feeling
of regret, though few knew what had really happened.
the army the general feeling about India was that had made its
nuclear tests in the belief that this would force Pakistan to
show its hand, and that if this came short, Pakistan would be
pushed into the status of an Indian satellite; but when this did
not happen, Vajpayee came to Lahore to restart a long suspended
dialogue merely to lull a nuclear Pakistan to sleep while cooking
up some other perfidious scheme against it, and any measure against
such an enemy was entirely justified. Pakistan’s explanation
of the events at Kargil, though, had a skeptical reception in
international circles to begin with, and later their version was
For India, the exposure of their neighbor’s duplicity must
have been satisfying, but surely not enough. After India’s
first abortive attacks to reclaim the heights, it started a large
military buildup by moving all its 130mm artillery regiments to
the target area and picking up a substantial amount of smart munitions
around the world. It is an amazing commentary on the coordination
between the “mujahideen” occupying Kargil heights
and those fighting inside held Kashmir that when the Indian reinforcements
were snaking up the winding roads in endless convoys, there was
no reported attempt at an ambush by the latter to disrupt this
the buildup was complete, India subjected the objective to air
strikes and massive artillery barrages day after day, followed
by determined and courageous infantry attacks in very difficult
conditions. The Pakistan Army top brass had confided to various
friends who had their trust that their men on the heights were
adequately provisioned and well dug in to withstand the rigors
of a long campaign. The truth, as it later transpired, was that
the digging in was minimal because the rocky soil just did not
result was not only that the troops were exposed to harsh weather
and the shrapnel of exploding shells, but also to the splinters
of rocks that followed the explosions. For most, their only safety
was to scramble to the comparative security of the reverse slopes
during the bombardment, and then get back to the other side of
the hill to meet the infantry attacks that normally followed the
reserves of supplies and ammunition were woefully inadequate to
begin with, and became alarmingly low as the operation progressed,
with many having to survive by eating the pitiful vegetation that
braved the rocky slopes. Under these circumstances, the resistance
they put up was both heroic and magnificent, and the quality of
junior leadership again proved admirable. But Pakistani generals
again failed miserably—as the plan and preparations were
Kargil left an already friendless Pakistan in almost total diplomatic
isolation. Even China, whose president had counseled Pakistan
as recently as late 1996 to go slow on Kashmir and concentrate
instead on the economic viability of the country, felt constrained
to distance itself from Islamabad’s latest adventure. Major
General Javed Hassan, the commander on the spot, was being threatened
by words and gestures of subordinates that could only be described
as mutinous. Lieutenant General Mahmood, on whom reality started
to dawn fatefully late in the day, saw his adequate jaw falling
at an alarming rate.
though the conviction and inner reserves of Lieutenant General
Aziz, helped by blissful ignorance, kept him as gung-ho as ever
and also helped keep Musharraf’s optimism afloat, the prime
minister had become a case stricken by fright. Under these circumstance,
Nawaz was left to plead desperately for a meeting with President
Clinton, who found that his schedule allowed him a few free hours
on July 4, 1999.
is widely believed that at this meeting Nawaz swore complete ignorance
about the Kargil operation till everything terrible hit the fan.
Blaming everything on his generals, he just begged to be bailed
out. Clinton told him quite unequivocally that whether the “mujahideen”
occupying the Kargil heights listened to Pakistan or not, the
immediate step it would have to take was to evacuate Kargil. As
a sop he promised the Pakistani prime minister that following
this evacuation, he would treat the issue of Kashmir with active
In the midst of this crisis in June 1999, General Zinni, then
commander in chief of the US Centcom (Central Command), had
visited Pakistan accompanied by G. Lanpher, deputy assistant secretary
of state for South Asia, to impress upon Pakistan’s military
commanders the need for de-escalation. This team also visited
India during the tour.
according to Shireen Mazari, some senior Pakistani army officers
are of the view that the United States prevented India from coming
to the negotiating table with Pakistan, and in this context she
also mentions the visit of Henry Kissinger to India in early June,
who was “apparently carrying a message from the US government
not to negotiate with Pakistan.”
is a moot point whether such was the case, but it was obvious
that US sympathies were with India in this conflict. To any
neutral observer of the international political scene, this was
a predictable outcome as US interests were increasingly being
linked with those of India in the region, but Pakistan’s
military hierarchy was apparently oblivious of what was so clearly
written on the wall.
evacuation of Kargil was followed by a hum of resentment all over
Pakistan. The loved ones of those who had given their lives on
the desolate and remote slopes there wanted to know that if unilateral
withdrawal was to be the end of the whole exercise, what the point
was of sacrificing the lives of their sons and brothers? The people
of Pakistan had been subjected to the largest whispering campaign
in history to expect a great victory.
the operation fizzled out like a wet firecracker, they were a
nation left speechless in anger and disbelief. Musharraf and the
planners could not give any excuses in public, but privately they
let it be known that the blame for the scuttling of a brilliant
operation lay on a panic-prone prime minister, who could not stand
up to the US president. Nawaz Sharif too could not say anything
in his defense publicly, but privately he let it be known that
his generals had taken him for a ride, and that he had to bend
over backward to get the US president to help Pakistan out of
a very sticky situation."
More Details about the Book, Click Here. Email contact of the