Sharif demands Musharraf's trial over Kargil

Last Updated: Tue, Jun 03, 2008 14:06 hrs

Islamabad: Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that President Pervez Musharraf should be tried for treason for his "misadventure" in the Kargil war against India.

Talking to journalists in Lahore before leaving for London, Sharif said time had proved that the 1999 Kargil conflict was a misadventure that cost Pakistan heavily.

Sharif was the prime minister when Musharraf, as the army chief, quietly initiated the Kargil war by sending Pakistani soldiers dressed as Islamist fighters to capture the strategic hills in Jammu and Kashmir.

Eventually, after fierce fighting and US intervention, Pakistani troops withdrew, giving India a military-diplomatic victory.

Musharraf has repeatedly stated that Sharif was briefed on Kargil and that the operation was launched with his consent. But in a rare interview with GEO television, Musharraf's former aide, Lt. Gen (retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, has admitted that Musharraf did not inform Sharif about the Kargil operation.

"Now it has been proved. Musharraf should be tried for treason on the Kargil issue," said Sharif, whose government was overthrown by Musharraf in a military coup in October 1999.

Sharif was then sent off to Saudi Arabia. He remained there until last year when he returned to Pakistan. Today, his Pakistan Muslim League party backs the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People’s Party.

Kiani said: "I am not sure from where he (Sharif) came to know, but it wasn't through the army. The Kargil operation was kept secret from Nawaz Sharif."

Kiani was the corps commander of Rawalpindi, one of the most important posts in the army, when Musharraf was the chief of the army staff.

Kiani said it was because of Sharif that Pakistani forces were withdrawn from Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir. Otherwise, he warned, it might have sparked a "bigger war."

The former general demanded a probe into Musharraf's acts. "There are many issues and many acts on which Musharraf should be brought to the court of law," he said.

"As we know the Indian Army was in an aggressive mood, and they could have gone too far if the Kargil issue was not controlled in time."

After Sharif came to know about the Kargil operation, he immediately called top military commanders and his close cabinet colleagues to discuss the situation.

"None of the political or military leaders favoured Kargil and all the blame was on one person," Kiani said, in an obvious reference to Musharraf.

He said Sartaj Aziz, who was Sharif's foreign minister in 1999, was highly critical of the Kargil operation.

Kiani said Sharif went to the US to meet then president Bill Clinton "just to give a face-saving to the Pakistan Army".

He said Sharif had great respect for the army and he proved it by settling the issue in a decent way.

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