Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who was the Army Chief of Staff at the time of the Kargil conflict, has sought to rewrite history by claiming that his forces won that battle, and that it was then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who had given away the gains at the ‘negotiating table’.
This is typical of the peculiar fiction that keeps the Pakistani nation going. Defeats are turned into victories; and in cases where even the imagination would boggle at reinterpretation of the result, such as the liberation of Bangladesh, mainstream history in Pakistan teaches it was a great act of treachery by the Hindu minority. Mujibur Rehman, the Awami League, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto are all swept aside in this self-serving narrative.
Now that a former ISI man has let the cat officially out of the bag that the Kargil intrusion was directly carried out by the Pakistan Army, Musharraf is attempting to claim it was a successful gambit that would have got Pakistan 300 square kilometres of Indian Territory. The tragedy is that there will be many takers for this version of events and whatever lessons, particularly political ones, that need to be taken, will be ignored.
It is extraordinary that although the peaceniks continuously warn India to be careful in dealing with a nuclear armed Pakistan, strategists on the other side of the border believe this ‘shield’ allows them to attack by ‘other means’. The greatest deception is that of the ‘non-state’ actor. The failure of India to hold to account those responsible for the many proxy attacks on it, such as the Sikh and Kashmir militancies based on a twisted interpretation of religion, has meant that Pakistan has maintained a brazen deniability. Indian intelligence and diplomacy did not exhibit the capability of even identifying those who planned and ordered the crimes perpetrated over the years. This has only encouraged Pakistan to continue with what is considers a ‘successful’ policy of attrition. From time to time, as in the recent case with Musharraf, mythology is created that promotes this national mindset.
India had throughout maintained that Kargil was the handiwork of the Pakistan Army. When the truth did come out, far from being shamed, the General attempted to brazen it out. Considering what could have been the consequences of Musharraf’s act, India ought to identify and pursue the matter in the International Court of Justice against the warmongers and war criminals, including Musharraf, who has now made an open confession. In his case, actually, getting him arraigned should not be difficult as he lives in political exile in a Western country where rule of law would be acted upon. At the least, the asylum granted to him should be got withdrawn so that he faces the law in his own country.
India should also show why Sharif had to make peace on the table; how Kargil could have escalated into bigger things – either massive loss of territory for Pakistan, or a nuclear war. The people of Pakistan should know what dangers their Army, the ISI and its ‘non-state’ allies are putting them into with their misadventures. In fact, the Ambanis ought to collaborate with Spielberg or some other high quality director in Hollywood to make a movie about a full-scale war between the two countries. It would be a piece of fiction that would amply illustrate the existing ground reality.