Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz, who recently created ripples by acknowledging in an article that regular troops were involved in the Kargil operation, said the “misadventure” was a “four-man show” and details were initially hidden from the rest of the military commanders. When the operation began in the spring of 1999, it was known only to Musharraf, chief of general staff Lt Gen Mohammad Aziz, Force Command Northern Areas chief Lt Gen Javed Hassan and 10 Corps commander Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmad, Aziz told the Dawn newspaper.
Though Sharif has for long claimed that he had no information about the Kargil operation, Aziz said information he had gathered suggested the former prime minister was not kept “completely in the dark”.
Aziz said he was personally not aware of what information had been shared with Sharif but recalled that another general had told him that Sharif had once asked during an informal discussion: “When are you giving us Kashmir?”
Aziz said the operation was a “failure” and the actual figure for Pakistani casualties was still not known. “It was a failure because we had to hide its objectives and results from our own people and the nation. It had no purpose, no planning and nobody knows even today how many soldiers lost their lives,” he said.
A majority of corps commanders and principal staff officers were kept in the dark and even then director general of military operations Lt Gen Tauqir Zia learnt about the operation after it had begun, said Aziz, who was the head of the analysis wing of the ISI in 1999. Musharraf worked on a policy of “need to know” throughout his tenure as army chief and later president, Aziz said.
“The Pakistan Army did not plan the operation because Gen Musharraf never saw Kargil as a major operation. Only the FCNA was involved in it and perhaps a section of 10 Corps,” said Aziz.
He also claimed the operation reflected a “major intelligence failure for India”. “It was a miscalculated move”, he said, adding that “its objectives were not clear and its ramifications were not properly evaluated”.
Aziz said he first discovered that something was up in Kargil when he came across wireless communication intercepts that showed something was making “Indian forces panic”. Aziz said he took the intercepts to then ISI director general Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt, who told him that the Army had captured some area in Kargil. He felt this was not right. “In his opinion, he should have been told about the proposed operation in advance so that he could have provided his analysis in advance,” the Dawn report said.
A day later, Butt told Aziz he had been invited to the General Headquarters for a briefing on Kargil. During the briefing, director general of military operations Lt Gen Tauqir Zia said units of the Northern Light Infantry and regular troops had captured areas in the Drass-Kargil sector.
During the briefing, Zia also referred to the “objectives” of the operation, including cutting off India’s supply lines to Siachen because of the closure of Zojila Pass on the Srinagar-Drass-Kargil-Leh road. This, Zia said, would block India’s supplies to its troops in Siachen and subsequently force it to vacate the glacier. Aziz said this did happen because the planners “miscalculated the Indian response and overall repercussions”.
In retrospect, Aziz said he feels that “even if only Northern Light Infantry men were up there, it would be wrong to suggest that the operation was carried out by paramilitary forces because NLI falls under the military chain of command”.