Weeks before hostilities erupted between Indian and Pakistani troops in the Kargil sector in 1999, Gen Pervez Musharraf crossed the Line of Control in a helicopter and spent a night at a location 11 km inside Indian territory, a former aide to the military ruler has said.
Col (retired) Ashfaq Hussain, who was a senior officer in the Pakistan Army's media arm, said Musharraf flew across the LoC on March 28, 1999 and travelled 11 km into the Indian side.
Musharraf, who was accompanied by Brig Masood Aslam, then commander of 80 Brigade, spent the night at a spot called Zikria Mustaqar, where Pakistani troops commanded by Col Amjad Shabbir were present.
Musharraf, who was then army chief, returned the next day. Hussain first made the revelation in his book 'Witness to Blunder: Kargil Story Unfolds', which was published in late 2008.
He repeated the assertion last night on a television talk show on the Kargil episode in the wake of Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz's assertion that the intrusions by Pakistani troops were planned by a group of four generals led by Musharraf.
He further said Pakistani troops first intruded into the Indian side of the LoC on December 18, 1998, when Captains Nadeem and Ali and Havaldar Lalik Jan were sent on a reconnaissance mission.
"They were never told about the aims and objectives of their mission. Even for a recce, they were not provided any briefing or objectives," he said.
Shortly after this, several units were told to cross the LoC and occupy positions on the Indian side. Several units competed with each other to go further into the Indian side.
The intrusions were spotted by a shepherd who informed Indian troops, he said.
Like the initial reconnaissance mission, there were no aims or objectives set out for the entire Kargil operation, which was masterminded by Maj Gen Javed Hassan, then chief of the Force Command Northern Areas, Hussain said.
'Major setback for intel agencies'
Expressing disappointment over the explosive revelation that former Pakistan Army Chief Pervez Musharraf had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in 1999 and spent a night on the Indian-controlled side, defence analyst Bharat Verma on Friday said this latest disclosure is a major setback for Indian intelligence agencies.
Verma, who was responding to a poser on Pakistan Army Colonel (Retired) Ashfaq Hussain's book 'Witness to Blunder' wherein, he has exposed Pervez Musharraf and blamed him for the unwarranted aggression against India in 1999, and revealed that the former army chief had himself crossed over the LoC, said 'the revelation by Colonel Hussain, a former member of the ISI, Pakistan Army, in his book is a very major setback for India's intelligence agencies'.
"If an army chief of an enemy country with four-star ranking is spending a night eleven kilometres inside Indian territory, it's a total collapse of the intelligence services of India, whether it is RAW, IB or military intelligence. That a general of the Pakistan Army can come in, can plan, can sleep inside Indian territory. And here, we are not talking of across the border intelligence, we are talking of intelligence failure right inside our own territory which is very difficult to digest for a citizen of this country," said Verma.
"The problem is that the amount of money a taxpayer is spending on security architecture, it is not giving the relevant output or the output that should have come to secure the nation. The nation is getting more and more insecure due to these continuous failures on behalf of the intelligence community," he added.
Hussain in his book says that 'the Kargil misadventure was masterminded by Major General Javed Hassan, General Mehmood and General Aziz. They made Musharraf agree to the plans, which later lead to a limited conflict between India and Pakistan'.
Leading television channels in India and Pakistan are quoting Hussain as claiming that Musharraf had himself crossed the LoC and spent a night on the Indian-controlled side.
"On 28th March 1999 General Pervez Mushrraf crossed 11 kms beyond the LoC on a helicopter and was escorted by Colonel Amjad Shabbir at a location named Zakriya"Mustakar," he says.