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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Usman_Khalid
Full Name: Brig (R) Usman Khalid
User since: 20/Sep/2007
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Lt. Gen. Jamshed Gulzar Kiani on Kargil

 

Usman Khalid, Director London Institute of South Asia

 

 

Last night (2 November) Lieut. General Jamshed Gulzar Kiani was interviewed on Geo TV in a programme that lasted two hours.  He expressed strong opinions on many matters that have been tabooed subjects in Pakistan for many years. He asked for an inquiry into Kargil operations, which he called a "˜debacle'. He also asked an inquiry into the assault on Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) and the girls' seminary (Jamia Hafza) of Islamabad and revealed that phosphorus bombs were used in the assault. He also called for the trial of General Pervez Musharraf for repeatedly violating the law "“ not relinquishing the office of Chief Executive on the expiry of three years given to him by the by Supreme Court, not relinquishing the Office of COAS at the end of 2004, promulgating the PCO, unlawfully dismissing the Chief Justice, Promulgating the PCO on November 3, thus making dysfunctional another 60 judges, supporting the illegal invasion of Afghanistan, handing over citizens of Pakistan and many Afghans and Arabs to the USA without due process of law. All these facts are well known but the press of Pakistan has acquired the confidence to air opinions on such matters only recently.

 

Although General Jamshed was not involved in the Kargil Operation, he expressed strong opinions on that operation. The anchorperson, Dr Shahid Masood, was more interested in "˜who knew what and when' and General Jamshed Kiani eagerly "˜exonerated' Mian Nawaz Sharif by saying he was not "˜on board' and was not given a full briefing. He blamed General Musharraf for not taking the Prime Minister on board, sloppy logistics, and non-preparation for strong enemy response. Military briefings to civilian political leaders are always inadequate because civilian leaders are usually unfamiliar with the military jargon and the military are often unmindful of the political and diplomatic constraints that influence decision making by politicians. Mian Nawaz Sharif does not earn himself credit by claiming he did not know. It implies he was hoodwinked into war by a 'osy picture'. A military inquiry into the Kargil operation would be helpful. If one has not has not been carried out already, it should be ordered now so that "˜after thoughts' like the one articulated by General Jamshed does not become official history.

 

I regret to say that the programme did not shed new light on the subject. Wars never proceed according to plan. The question uppermost in the minds of the people is: "˜since Pakistan withdrew from the territory it occupied in consequence of that operation, was it Pakistan's defeat? I will try and answer that question. Fortunately, I have no personal knowledge of the Kargil operation. All I know is what everybody read in the newspapers. The question who won is decided by answers to two questions: was the objective achieved, what is the public perception of the result. Since I do not know the objective, I am using my soldierly judgement to figure out what might have been the objective.

 

Kargil Operations were carried out soon after India and Pakistan became declared nuclear powers. It was thought that a war between the two states on Kashmir was out of the question. Pakistan was advised to reconcile to the status quo. While such advice was being freely doled out by our friends, particularly the Americans, Indian troops occupying mountain tops above the Siachin Glacier was flying in the face of "˜logic' and 'ationality' on which the advice was based.  India is immune to the force of logic and rationality; it is driven by avoiding "˜loss of face'. What it declares to be its right or its objective, it persists in striving for whatever the cost. The only way India can change its objective or course is by "˜defeat'. It is important for Pakistan to be in a position to defeat India. Where its objectives are imperial and irrational, it is not hard to do so. If I was the Pakistani General or Leader, I had to drive the point home that a conventional war over Kashmir was not only possible, it could be won by Pakistan. That I consider was the "˜objective' of the Kargil Operation.

 

It is quite possible that Mian Nawaz Sharif had been told that there was little chance India responding strongly to the occupation of Kargil Heights by Pakistan. These heights had been in Pakistani hands until the 1971 War. It could be argued, what could the Pakistanis do to get the heights above the Siachin Glacier vacated? Just to make that sure, Pakistan made the classical mistake of telling a lie. Pakistan said it was just the irregular Mujahideen who were fighting the Indian Army. The Mujhideen did not have artillery support. How come it materialised? As the operation progressed it became apparent it was this "˜lie', which became the biggest constraint on the freedom of action of the Pakistani troops. India moved Bofor guns to the theatre in large number. Pakistan could not because it was sticking to the fiction it was a local skirmish. India then began to use its air force. That is where Pakistan had to decide if it should begin its climb up the escalation ladder.  It wisely decided against it. I say wisely because the objective had been achieved. A war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is not just possible, it can be won if Pakistan is ready to climb up the escalation ladder. Kargil Heights are not the only high mountains in Kashmir. Pakistan can do a Kargil on India at dozens of points in Kashmir.

 

Climbing the escalation ladder is not hard, it just a question of the objective. With the limited objective that Pakistan had during the Kargil War, it was pointless escalating. India has to learn a similar lesson. India has tried to suppress the Kashmiri freedom movement since 1989. It has failed. The next time escalation would not work; Asymmetrical War has now come of age. The non-state fighters in the region have engaged two super powers "“ Soviet Russia and now America - in battle. Pakistan has the experience of fighting alongside them in Afghanistan and Kashmir and against them in Waziristan. The point General Jamshed made very forcefully in his TV interview was: why are we fighting against them?

 

Would the exit of Musharraf bring peace to Pakistan? Perhaps not! If Asif Zardari were just as eager to please the USA as Musharraf has been, the bombers, not the politicians, would write history. The secular winners of the NWFP elections "“ the ANP "“ have learnt their lesson.  Resistance in Afghanistan is popular; verbal tirade against them may please the Americans but it would not help them win. At the same time, it is not necessary to win every battle; it is important to win the war. Kargil was one lost battle that paved the way for winning the war. The Mujahideen in Kashmir and Afghanistan have lost many battles and lives. But their victory is certain. In a long war the side that is on the right always wins. The war in Kashmir and Afghanistan are classical long wars. The length of the war cannot be predicted but the outcome is certain - victory for the side on the right. 

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