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The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad
"Mr Sharif said he'd decided to break his silence"
 real 28k

General Mirza Aslam Beg on the World Today
Nawaz Sharif did give the go ahead
 real 28k

Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Army rejects Sharif claim
Mortar exchange during the Kargil conflict
A confrontation between the world's newest nuclear powers
Pakistan's military rulers have rejected comments by the ousted Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, that he was not consulted during last year's confrontation with India.

Mr Sharif - in detention since being overthrown in October - said he was only told about the operation after it had already begun.

Last May Pakistani-backed forces crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir and clashed with Indian troops.

The move derailed peace talks and led to widespread international criticism of Pakistan.

A spokesman for the military government said Mr Sharif, in his role as Prime Minister, chaired several meetings before the Kargil conflict began, and was very much aware of the operation.

I was told our loss of life was nominal while whole units... were wiped out

Nawaz Sharif
On Monday, Mr Sharif used a brief, 15-minute break during the corruption trial to read a handwritten statement to the media.

"The preparation for [the] Kargil operation was done in January 1999 but I was taken into confidence in May 1999 when the operation had, in effect, already begun," Mr Sharif's statement said.

His statement directly contradicted comments made by Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, after the conflict.

General Musharraf - who was the army chief during the operation - had said that the government was fully aware of the situation at all times.

Mr Sharif also said the military's planning of the entire operation was "deficient" and "weak".

General Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf's stand has been contradicted by Mr Sharif

Soldiers at the front were not given enough food or ammunition because the supply lines were weak, he said.

"I was told our loss of life was nominal while [actually] whole units of the NLI [Northen Light Infantry] were wiped out," Mr Sharif said.

He added that if he had been kept informed of the operation, he could have stopped Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee from making a high-profile visit to Lahore in February last year.

It was the first visit by an Indian prime minister in more than a decade.

Nuclear threat

The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones, who attended the hearing, says that Mr Sharif had stated what many Pakistanis had admitted in private - that the Kargil operation had been planned and carried out by the military.

Officially, Pakistan maintained that the fighters who had crossed over into Indian territory were Muslim rebels, fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.

The fighting eventually ended when Mr Sharif, under intense diplomatic pressure from western countries including the United States, ordered the fighters to withdraw.

Mr Sharif told journalists that the step was necessary to avoid a nuclear confrontation with India.

"As prime minister it was my responsibility to prevent this," he said.

Since last October's military coup, India has not spoken to Pakistan's new leader, General Musharraf, who they hold responsible for the Kargil conflict.

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See also:

12 Jun 00 | South Asia
Kargil villagers live in fear
09 Jun 00 | South Asia
'Better Kashmir intelligence needed'
26 May 99 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Under fire in Kargil
15 Jul 99 | South Asia
Flashpoint Kashmir: Special Report
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