IT is only as information has leaked out in bits and pieces over the years that we have understood how Kargil came to be what it really was: a poorly planned and badly executed operation that put hundreds of our soldiers at risk, and not the mujahideen-led jihad initially sold to the nation. New revelations paint an even bleaker picture of this gamble that Gen Musharraf took as army chief. One man’s testimony cannot provide a complete picture of a controversial armed conflict. But when the head of the ISI’s analysis wing at the time says he only found out about the operation after it had been launched — and that the same was true for most of the corps commanders and senior army staff, including the head of military operations — his words should prompt yet another look at the Kargil fiasco. Not taking the senior leadership into confidence, both within the army and in the other armed forces, had obvious consequences: the lack of a viable strategy, inadequate logistical planning and a poor calculation of the Indian response, all of which cost Pakistan the lives of hundreds of soldiers, further damaged relations with India and contributed to the political upheaval that followed.

And yet aside from occasional insights provided by those who are relatively well-informed and have chosen to speak up, there is no objective public record of what took place. Gen Musharraf had reportedly banned discussion of the topic at the National Defence University, where military operations otherwise form important case studies. And while it eventually surfaced that scores of Pakistani soldiers had died, the lies the media was fed in the early days of the conflict indicate that misinformation was a critical component of this operation. Told in daily press briefings that this was a mujahideen struggle and shown what appeared to be mujahideen training camps, reporters were blatantly used to mislead and rally the public.

Many questions still remain, including about the role of the political leadership. Was the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, aware of the plan? Was he ordered to seek out American help for a ceasefire, or was he responsible, as Gen Musharraf has claimed, for the operation’s failure? A decade and a half later, it is time for an objective, official examination of the facts, and for making them public. If Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz and others who have spoken up are wrong, they should be contradicted. Even though preventing future mistakes is all that can be done now, the country deserves to know the truth.

Updated Jan 30, 2013 12:10am

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Comments (17) (Closed)

Jan 30, 2013 12:21pm
It is treason; Musharraf should be punished.
Jan 30, 2013 07:43am
Surprised that he chose to remain silent for so long. Why did he not spill the beans earlier, especially when Nawaz Sharif was tried and Musharraf was in power?
Jan 30, 2013 07:28am
Pakistanis and Indians living in the west have always had warm relations. I am ashamed of my country as this event led to so many broken friendship for us in USA. Our indian friends stopped doing business, meeting us. It has brought nothing but shame on us. Perhaps if the govt tells the world the truth and apologises, we may redeem some of what has been lost. Similarly the mumbai massacre has caused so much shame on us who live abroad. We send money home helping the economy but are let down by our govt.
Jan 30, 2013 01:04pm
History has recorded that 1947 and 1965 were identical to this mis-adventure. Wherein, the Pakistan Govt. claimed that non-state actors had crossed over and attacked India's defences.
akhter husain
Jan 30, 2013 03:00pm
The editorial titled Time For Truth makes some sense as regard the right of people to know the events that took place about fourteen years ago at Kargil. But judging it from the perspective of success or failure could be misleading unless all the facts and intention for the operation are totally known.The operation of Kargil was a success in a way as it kept the issue of Kashmir alive ,making the Indians realize that no concessions can be have without resolving the main dispute that is the bottleneck for better trade relations ,specially the facility of short route to Central Asia that will enhance Indian exports at lower prices.Let some one who was on board with Musharraf at the time of Kargil operation.come up with all the truth.
Taqi Ramzan
Jan 30, 2013 03:18pm
why are they always leaking information after a decade or so ,,,,why they dont have the courage to speak of the truth at instance ,,,,,,,at the much needed time they save their jobs and now leak information for sensalization or cheap publicity,,,,,,,such generals like shahid aziz should also be punished ,,,as they keep mum when the disaster could be averted ,,,,,now they talk because the country has suffered loses but they have nothing to lose ,,,shame on you opportunists..........
Siddhartha Shastri
Jan 30, 2013 04:18pm
The editorial laments more about the poor quality of planning and immature handling rather than objecting to Musharraf's activist agenda that risked a nuclear war. The editorial seems to be sorry about the failure - not the concept itself. With such a mindset there will be more opportunities to lament in future.
Jan 30, 2013 09:57am
This editorial is trying to take the moral high ground which it does not deserve. The Media cannot claim it was taken for a ride not just in Kargill but also in 1965, 1971 and on 26/11 tragedy. Every government will indulge in propaganda and misinformation, it is the job of the Media to ascertain the Truth not print the handouts received by it from sources with vested interests. Even in FATA and disturbed areas the Media has never bothered to verify the news it is fed from shady sources and about its ability to conduct investigative journalism the less said the better. No doubt journalists in Pakistan reporting real facts have met a sad ending but more often the spirit to ascertain facts is lacking due to fear or as a result of ideological affinity.
Cyrus Howell
Jan 30, 2013 06:22pm
Well stated, Feroz.
Jan 30, 2013 07:15pm
Truth,objectivity,clarity and tranceparency are consistently sacrificed by all participants in public debate.Unless these broad principles are adhered to,more confusion,lack of certitude leading to indifference to issues which are vitally important is the result.
umesh bhagwat
Jan 30, 2013 09:07pm
Dialogue not war is the way forward!
Jan 31, 2013 09:00am
thats a gud question. maybe the general had his own goose to cook ..
Jan 30, 2013 02:07pm
Launchinga war for no purpose is a crime. Musharraf deliberately misled Pak people into this agression for personal glory. He is nothing but a murderer of Pak and Indian soldiers.
Jan 30, 2013 02:18pm
Bodies of the dead NLI soldiers on Indian territory were refused by Pak Army to keep up the pretence that they were Mujahideen. This is the respect they got from Musharraf. On the other hand the dead NLI soldiers were given a respectful Islamic burial by the Indian Army
Fuzail Z. Ahmad
Jan 30, 2013 06:33am
Excellent editorial. To the point and thought provoking. Kargil offensive was a misadventure, pure and simple.
Jan 30, 2013 06:41am
I agree with what you wrote media was fed with wrong information and media led people to believe in wrong information. So a question arises isn't it media's responsibility to seek the truth instead of ratings or is it the war of the ratings that the media is playing among themselves, while during this war they have also forgotten that we live in Islamic Republic Of Pakistan and anything against Islam should not be depicted by media. If i am wrong than prove it to me why Channels like GEO, SAMMA etc use words like dating, parties, night outs in their news.
Husain Jan
Jan 30, 2013 06:30am
But Mush was given a great send off despite reportedly being involved in BB case. It is not difficult to judge who is to be blamed most......AZ or Mush ??