WASHINGTON, July 23: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not aware of the Kargil Operation when he received his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lahore on Feb 20, 1999, says a new book.

The book 'Pakistan's drift into extremism: Allah, the army, and America's war on terror' examines the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan.

The author, Hassan Abbas, is a former senior police officer who served in the administrations of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (1994-95) and President Pervez Musharraf (1999-2000).

According to a foreword by Jessica Stern, released by publishers M.E. Sharpe of New York, the book contains new historical materials on the 1965 war, Gen Ziaul Haq's plane crash, a botched military coup in 1993-4, the story of National Accountability Bureau and Gen Musharraf's response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Pakistan High Commissioner to Britain, Maleeha Lodhi, is quoted in the book as telling the author that "even corps commanders and other service chiefs were excluded from the decision-making process" of the Kargil operation.

"So much so that even the very able Director-General Military Operations (DGMO), Lt-Gen Tauqir Zia, was initiated into the secret after the 'gang of four' had already taken the irrevocable decision of going ahead with the operation," the book says.

The author says that the Kargil operation had been discussed at least twice before and turned down both times. Gen Ziaul Haq was the first army chief invited by the military operations directorate to see a presentation on this operation but rejected the plan because he believed it would lead to a full-scale war with India.

The plan surfaced again after Gen Zia's death and was shot down. The third and final operational plan for Kargil was put forward by Lt-Gen Mohammad Aziz Khan, the then chief of the general staff, says the book.

The author identifies two other generals, Lt-Gen Mahmood Ahmad, and Major-Gen. Javed Hassan, as the co-authors of the third Kargil plan. Lt-Gen Ahmad was the commander of the 10th Corps while Maj-Gen Hassan commanded the troops in the Northern Areas and thus both were required to be directly involved in carrying out the operation.

Gen Pervez Musharraf, the book says, was taken in by the enthusiasm of two of his closest generals, and became a strong advocate of the operation. The absolute secrecy surrounding the operation prevented the generals from seeking a second opinion, the book says.

To win over Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the generals organized a presentation. According to Niaz A. Naik's narration of events to Prof Robert Wirsing, Nawaz Sharif was given a briefing by the army on the Kashmir issue on March 27 or 28, 1999, which probably was the one where the Kargil Plan was discussed.

But Owen Bennett Jones, an Islamabad-based BBC journalist, says that a specific briefing on the Kargil Plan was given in the second week of March 1999, where Nawaz Sharif granted formal approval of the plan. This confirms that Nawaz Sharif was not aware of the Kargil operation when he met Mr Vajpayee on Feb 20, 1999, the book says.