Pakistan Foreign Ministry News

Kargil operation

16 August 1999

The back-channel diplomacy adopted by the government during the Kargil operation had come close to an agreement by June 25, but Indians were not ready for time-bound negotiations on Kashmir, revealed Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz on Friday.

Winding up debate on the Kargil operation in the Senate, he said the proposal for the prime minister's visit to Washington had been under discussion since mid-June.

The PM did not rush to Washington in haste. Since President Clinton was on a visit to Europe, he (the PM) could not undertake the visit earlier, said Mr Aziz.

The foreign minister emphasized that India must vacate Qamar, Chorbutla and Siachen it had occupied in violation of the Simla Accord.

"India must withdraw from those areas to restore the sanctity of the Line of Control," he told the house, adding that the LoC had to be respected by both sides as it was a mutual obligation.

Pakistan cannot, in the name of peace and restraint, accept the Indian hegemonic designs, aggressive postures and implicit policy of "might is right". Indian hegemony would not stop at the LoC, it would go beyond that, he said.

The minister expressed the hope that the time would vindicate the Washington accord. "Only time will tell.. it will bear fruit," he said.

Rebutting criticism of the Washington accord by the opposition, he said the involvement of international community in the Kashmir issue "greatly" favoured the position of Pakistan.

Mr Aziz said it would be considered a positive outcome of the Kargil operation if Kashmir issue continued to get attention of world community in the coming 18/20 months.

Quoting a Times report, he said it had termed the Kargil episode a turning point in the 50-year history of the Kashmir issue.

To a question repeatedly raised by the opposition senators as to what was the objective of the Kargil operation, he said firstly the Mujahideen had wanted interdiction of Highway A-1 which links Kargil with Siachen via Leh. The Mujahideen had successfully done that and inflicted huge losses on the enemy in men and material for over two months.

The other objective, he said, was to highlight the Kashmir issue and the Kargil operation drew the world attention towards the freedom struggle to the extent it had not got before.

About the argument as to what was the need of initiating Lahore process when the government had to undertake the Kargil operation, the minister said the same question had been asked by Mr Vajpayee and he had told the Indian premier that it was wrong to expect that the Kashmir freedom struggle, going on for as many as 10 years, would stop just by starting the Lahore process.

He pointed out that the Lahore process had not reached the stage where it could give hopes to the people of Kashmir for the resolution of their long-standing problem.

Mr Aziz said the realities that emerged from the Kargil situation should be kept in view before analyzing the implications of the operation.

The first reality, he said, was that despite huge military and air force mobilization by the Indians, they failed to dislodge a few hundred Mujahideen from the heights.

The massive build-up of Indians in Kargil highlighted that even after committing half of its army in Kashmir to subjugate the freedom fighters for as many as 10 years, they failed to suppress the struggle, he added.

The minister said the Kargil operation further demonstrated that the Mujahideen could also execute other than hit-and-run guerilla operations.

He told the house that Pakistan army had occupied certain empty positions close on its side of the LoC. Encouraged by the advance of Pakistan army, Mujahideen occupied some positions across the LoC, he added.

Intensified shelling from India also hit some areas on Pakistan side, resulting in loss of lives, he said.