Bruce Riedel on Kargil — Why the PPP govt had not moved the courts to try Mian Sahiban? -by Taj Haider

1. Some excerpts from Bruce Riedels’ book on Kargil crisis are given hereunder: looking at the hue cry PML (N) is raising on the completely concocted issue of the so-called “memogate” one wonders as to what these pious accusers had been doing when they themselves came under pressure.

2. It is a standard operating procedure of Mian Sahiban to attribute the very foul acts to political opponents that they have themselves been committing with impunity. This is best described by the Punjabi phrase “Utton Rola Payeeja – Andar Andar Khai Ja”. And whenever one finds Mian Sahib accusing some one of something, in the past one does not have to go far to find Mian Sahib doing that very thing. When Mian Sahib goes out for treatment everything is as usual, but when Mr. Zardari has to go for checkups the whole Media comes in turmoil and the rumour mills start going at over speed.

American diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit at Blair House pp. 130-143

By Riedel Bruce
Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia
The Causes and Consequences of the Kargil Conflict
Edited by Peter R. Lavoy

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2009
Online Publication Date: March 2010


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On the 2nd of July the Prime Minister put in a call to the President. He appealed for American intervention immediately to stop the fighting and to resolve the Kashmir issue. The President was very clear — he could help only if Pakistan first withdrew to the LOC.

On the 3rd, Sharif was more desperate and told the President he was ready to come immediately to Washington to seek our help. The President repeated his caution —come only if you are ready to withdraw, I can’t help you if you are not ready to pull back. He urged Sharif to consider carefully the wisdom of a trip to Washington under these constraints. Sharif said he was coming and would be there on the 4th.

Bandar had a long history of helping assist key American diplomatic initiatives and also had worked with Pakistan extensively in the past during the Afghan war against the Soviets. Bandar asked for a briefing on what the President needed from Sharif. I met with him in his McLean home and gave him our sense of the crisis. Bandar promised to weigh in forcefully with Sharif on the ride from Dulles to Blair House, and he secured Crown Prince Abdallah’s support for our position.

Strobe noted the importance of being very clear with Nawaz and not letting the Prime Minister be alone with the President so that he could later claim commitments not made. A record of who said what was critical.

Bandar called and told me the results of his discussion with Sharif. The PM was distraught, deeply worried about the direction the crisis was going toward disaster, but equally worried about his own hold on power and the threat from his military chiefs who were pressing for a tough stand.

Sharif’s intentions also became clearer. He was bringing his wife and children to Washington, a possible indication that he was afraid he may not be able to go home if the Summit failed or that the military was telling him to leave. At a minimum, Sharif seemed to be hedging his bet on whether this would be a round trip.

Sharif then asked that the meeting continue just with the two leaders. Everyone left the room except Sharif, Clinton and myself. The President insisted he wanted a record of the event. Sharif asked again to be left alone, the President refused.

The Prime Minister told Clinton that he wanted desperately to find a solution that would allow Pakistan to withdraw with some cover. Without something to point to, Sharif warned ominously, the fundamentalists in Pakistan would move against him and this meeting would be his last with Clinton.

The Prime Minister told Clinton that he wanted desperately to find a solution that would allow Pakistan to withdraw with some cover. Without something to point to, Sharif warned ominously, the fundamentalists in Pakistan would move against him and this meeting would be his last with Clinton.

Sharif was getting exhausted. He denied that he had ordered the preparation of their missile force, said he was against that but he was worried for his life now back in Pakistan.

the President expressed his determination to do what he could on Kashmir. The President called Vajpayee to preview the statement.

Sharif came to the White House early the next morning for a photo op with his family and the President. His mood was glum, he was not looking forward to the
trip home.

The Prime Minister was good to his word. He ordered his army to pull back its men and its allies and they did so. India was jubilant, Pakistan morose.

The President also lived up to his word. As soon as the Pakistani forces were back across the LOC he pressed India for a cease-fire in the Kargil sector. After this occurred he privately invited Sharif to send a senior trusted official to Washington to begin discrete discussions on how to follow up on his “personal commitment” to the Lahore process.

For weeks the Prime Minister did not respond to our queries to send someone to discuss Kashmir. The only explanation offered was that it was difficult to decide whom the right person combining the PM’s trust and the background on Kashmir was.

Finally in September Sharif sent his brother, the governor of Lahore, to Washington for the long awaited discussions. Rick Inderfurth and I met with him for hours in his suite at the Willard Hotel.

We tried to get a feel for how the Prime Minister wanted to pursue the Kashmir issue. Instead, Shahbaz Sharif only wanted to discuss what the U.S. could do to
help his brother stay in power. He all but said that they knew a military coup was coming.

On October 12, 1999 it came. Ironically, it was Nawaz who provoked the coup’s timing by trying to exile Musharraf when he was on an official visit to Sri Lanka.

The President instructed the NSC to do all we could to convince the new Pakistani leadership not to execute Sharif.

The President urged Musharraf to let Sharif free. With our encouragement the Saudis pressed hard for Sharif’s freedom.

Finally, in December 2000 Sharif was exiled to the Saudi Arabian Kingdom.

The most important strategic result of the Blair House summit was its impact on Indo-U.S. relations. The clarity of the American position on Kargil and its refusal to give Pakistan any reward for its aggression had an immediate and dynamic impact on the relationship. Doors opened in New Delhi to Americans that had been shut for years. The Indian elite — including the military — and the Indian public began to shed long held negative perceptions of the U.S.

3. Quite a few people have put the question to me that with the above solid evidence in place why the PPP government had not moved the courts to try Mian Sahiban under Article 6 of the Constitution. Some of the many reasons for not doing so are:

a. The present phase is one of consolidating democracy which we are trying to bring about by uniting political forces. Conflict and division among political forces will only open doors for extra constitutional forces.

b. We have been very successfully following a policy of involving all political forces in the political process. It may be recalled that when quite a few political parties including PML (N) had decided to boycott elections we persuaded all of them to contest elections. PML (N) listened to us and participated in 2008 elections. The ones that did not are now realizing their mistake. Exclusion of any political force from the political arena will damage democracy in the long run.

c. I have also reminded those asking questions that honourable Supreme Court has not been able to fix any date for the Asghar Khan case. Disqualification of the entire IJI leadership can be the only Judgment in the said case. While Honourable Supreme Court may be treating any fresh case against the Right Wing in a similar way, our reasons for not insisting even on Asghar Khan Case remain that we want all political forces to remain in the political arena, so that they are Judged by the people in a fair elections.

d. Lastly are the Sharif brothers only one to have violated provisions of Article 6. There are so many others who have been parts and parcel of military takeovers. We shall not let our past hinder our future. We shall act with magnanimity and ensure that democracy endures.

Source: Tahseen Shaikh’s facebook



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