Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf kept such a tight lid on intrusions by Pakistani troops into Indian territory in Kargil in 1999 that the ISI learnt of the development when it intercepted Indian Army communications, a retired general says in his new book.
Lt Gen (retired) Shahid Aziz, who headed the analysis wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence at the time, writes that when he brought “strange wireless intercepts” to the notice of then ISI chief, Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt on May 3 or 4, 1999, he asked Aziz to keep the documents with himself.
Aziz says the intercepts made it clear that troops from 10 Corps had “carried out an aggressive operation” along the Line of Control.
In his book “For How Long This Silence”, written in Urdu and released last week, Aziz says the entire operation in Kargil was planned and executed by then army chief Musharraf, Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Aziz Muhammad Khan, 10 Corps chief Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmad, and Maj Gen Javed Hassan, the chief of the Force Command Northern Areas.
Besides these four generals, “no other senior officer knew about the operation”, Aziz writes.
“Even the staff of 10 Corps headquarters was unaware of the operation in the beginning. The Military Operations directorate also knew later when everything had been done,” he says.
ISI chief Butt later acknowledged that Pakistani troops had taken control of many areas on the Indian side of the LoC that were empty or had for evacuated by Indian troops for winter.
Aziz writes that the communications intercepts showed the “nervousness” and “confused talk” on the Indian side.
“Indian forces seemed to be frightened. I said, ‘It seems that our forces have conducted a major action in Kargil’,” he writes.
At a briefing at the Military Operations directorate in early May that was also attended by Aziz, then Director General of Military Operations Maj Gen Tauqeer Zia said the Northern Light Infantry and other regular troops had “occupied empty hilltops in Kargil”.
During the briefing, Zia said the Pakistan Army had gone further into Indian territory and the Drass-Kargil road was “now in the range of our small arms. The road is closed. The supply line to Siachen is now cut off and dumping (of supplies) for winter will not be completed. They will have to leave Siachen“.
Aziz writes: “I knew it later that it was not the analysis of the Military Operations (directorate) but was from the Joint Staff Headquarters. News of Kargil was published in the newspapers the next day“.
He writes that he is making revelations about the Kargil operation to “correct some points” Musharraf had mentioned in his book “In The Line Of Fire“.
Aziz adds: “I think the blood of the youth of the nation will go waste if I did not explain facts and there would be the possibility of blindly pushing soldiers into fire and we will celebrate and say that we have taken a right decision“.
Pakistan had concealed facts about the 1971 war with India was now “pursuing the same path” about Kargil, he says.
Aziz says he tried to carry out a study about the Kargil war when he was Chief of General Staff in 2002 to highlight the weakness of the Pakistan Army.
Though he confined his studies to the battalion-level and received details from all units involved in the operation, Musharraf became angry and immediately stopped the study.
“Neither such a study has been carried out in the ISI nor could it have been done as information from all 10 corps was required for it, which the ISI could not get in the post-Kargil environment,” Aziz writes.
Aziz also explains the reason why Musharraf kept the Kargil operation under wraps.
“There could be one reason to keep it secret, that the plan was so weak in military perspective, that the level of preparation was limited, its timing was not suitable and no one would support it,” Aziz writes.
“That may be the reason that no one was informed. Then the question is why it was carried out? Were there other objectives behind it or there was just one mistake? This secret may never be revealed,” he writes.