Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 39, July - August 1999
The Kashmir DisputeEditor's note: As reported in Issue No. 38, in Washington on 4 July Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif committed his Government to urge the strict observance by all fighting forces of the 'Line of Control' in Kashmir established by India and Pakistan under the 1972 Simla Accord. In late May, an incursion into the Kargil sector of Kashmir by forces seeking Kashmiri independence triggered intense conflict resulting in many casualties, military and civilian. On 9 July, India and Pakistan agreed a deadline of 16 July for the completion of the withdrawal of insurgent forces. On 12 July, India announced that all Pakistan regular forces had withdrawn. Pakistan consistently denied the involvement of any of its regular armed personnel in the fighting in Kargil. Despite this significant de-escalation of tension between the two States, however, serious incidents continued throughout the period under review in this issue - see News Review for more coverage.
Statements & Comment
Speech by Prime Minister Sharif, 12 July
Address to the Nation by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, 12 July 1999
"Not everyone will know of the tensions that we have gone through and the circumstances we have braved during the last month and a half. It is a fact and no secret anyway that the deterioration in Pakistan-India relations brought our two countries to the brink of war. While there is no doubt that the Kashmiri Mujahideen through their sacrifices and battle successes wrote out a new chapter in their freedom struggle, the situation on the diplomatic front became so complicated that it was no easy task to straighten it out or control its adverse fallout.
By the grace of God, Pakistan is not a wall of sand or a child's plaything. We have the ability to deal befittingly with aggression. Had war been imposed on us, the invader would have lived to regret the day. However, we do not wish to make war, nor have we looked for it. We know that in a nuclear conflict there can be no victors.
It is my considered opinion that by going to war Pakistan and India can only multiply their problems without solving even one of them. I have repeatedly said that the Kashmir dispute should be resolved amicably. I am also aware of the record of those who vowed to fight for a thousand years. I know what their aims were. Their only gift to the nation was ignominy and lasting regret. After taking stock of past events and making an objective study of history, I have come to the conclusion that our principal national priority should be making Pakistan a great self-reliant economic power. Only then can we achieve our supreme national objectives.
After the Lahore Declaration in February this year, not only the people of Pakistan and India but the international community as well had begun to hope that after their long history of discord, our two countries had chosen the path of peace. Prime Minister Vajpayee of India visited the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore and what he said on the occasion was a good augury for the future since it showed that he wanted to begin a new chapter in our relations, with the bitterness of the past forgotten and old attitudes abandoned. I welcomed this. While we were preparing to open negotiations in line with the Lahore Declaration, the Indian Lok Sabha [Parliament] was dissolved and fresh elections were announced. On the other hand, the Kashmir freedom struggle which has been underway for the last eleven years entered a new and intensified phase with the freedom fighters gaining control of the Kargil mountains.
Prime Minister Vajpayee phoned me, expressing his concern at these developments. I suggested a meeting between local commanders while pointing out that we should resolve this matter at a local level, as in the past so that there should be no escalation. He agreed with me and the next day the two local commanders met but, simultaneously, India turned its heavy guns on us, while the Indian air force began to pound the Mujahideen-held positions. This sudden escalation was unexpected. It is true that the Mujahideen were present on several Kargil heights but it was part of their long freedom struggle and inseparable from it. ... Once the Mujahideen had succeeded in drawing world attention to Kashmir, it is understandable that they would wish to disengage.
Had we tried, this matter could have been resolved peacefully; but India set the fires of war alight instead of dealing with the situation through negotiations. It also chose to engulf the entire country in a war frenzy. However, Pakistan remained unprovoked and we saw to it that there was no war hysteria in the country. We also ensured that there would be no break in mutual contacts. Since the start of the crisis in Kargil, up to this day, I have spoken to Prime Minister Vajpayee on the phone several times. I also sent my Foreign Minister over though his visit proved fruitless. Given all this, it is unfair to allege that we stabbed anyone in the back. It has been my constant effort that our countries be spared the horror of a nuclear war. Only a desire for collective suicide can prompt us to take such a step. I have no such intention. I believe Prime Minister Vajpayee has no such intention either. However, going by the attitude of India, it did seem to us that New Delhi was rapidly moving towards war. The use of air and land power in Kargil by India was on a scale associated with a large and regular war only. Pakistani positions were shelled from across the Line of Control resulting in the death of innocent civilians and armed forces personnel who were merely defending themselves.
The number of troops deployed by India on our borders was again warlike. Its naval power was moved close to our shores and its nuclear missiles turned towards us. The Indian air force was put on red alert. I salute the armed forces of Pakistan which took all necessary steps to deal with the expected Indian attack with exemplary efficiency and speed. I also wish to pay tribute to all those innocent citizens who fell victim to Indian shelling. ...
We have decided to give diplomacy another chance. This decision is neither hasty nor has it been taken under pressure or out of nervousness. It has been said that it takes more courage to extricate oneself from war than to start one. ...
Even if we succeeded in capping the fire-spitting mountains of Kargil, unless the basic problem was addressed, there will be outbreaks elsewhere. If the Kashmiri people were not given their right of self-determination, there would be other Kargils. Neither we, nor India, would be able to stop that. The only way to stop more Kargils from happening was to do justice to the Kashmiris. The promises made to them had to be fulfilled. That was the message I carried to America and I am glad that President Clinton agreed that unless the basic issue of Kashmir was resolved, the clouds of war would continue to hover over the Subcontinent. This was the backdrop of the joint statement issued in Washington. The statement clearly stated that as soon as the situation on the Line of Control returned to normal, negotiations between India and Pakistan would begin in order to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. President Clinton extended the assurance that he would not only encourage all moves aimed at settling all outstanding disputes through dialogue, but he would take a personal interest in these efforts in order to ensure that they were intensified.
This assurance, coming from the head of a great power like the United States is no ordinary matter. It is clear that after this unequivocal commitment from President Clinton in particular and the international community in general, the world will pay serious attention to Kashmir, being now aware of its importance and sensitivity. That is why we appealed to the Mujahideen to come down from the heights they were occupying in Kargil and give diplomacy a chance so that it could carry forward and complete the mission for which they had made so many sacrifices. I am grateful to the Mujahideen for having accepted our appeal. The outcome of every war leads to negotiated decisions which is the route we have also taken and I am sure that truth and justice will prevail in the end. ..."
Source: Government of Pakistan website, http://www.pak.gov.pk
India Foreign Ministry Statement, 12 July
"Operation Vijay has been a resounding success. Pakistani forces have been defeated on the ground and status quo ante on the Line of Control in the Kargil sector is being restored. Almost the entire sub-sector Batalik and the sub-sector Dras have been cleared of Pakistani aggression in the last 48 hours. Pakistani armed intruders comprising overwhelmingly of their regular troops and some extremist elements under their command and control have been evicted. The pressure of our decisive military action in the other two sub-sectors of Mushkoh valley and Kaksar was also proving unbearable for the Pakistani army.
Pakistan being faced with the inevitable, their DGMO [Director General of Military Operations] called his Indian counterpart on the evening of 9 July. He sought an early meeting. Our DGMO suggested that the meeting be held at the Border Security Force Reception Hall, on our side of the Joint Check Post, at Attari on Amritsar - Lahore Road on the 11th afternoon. Our DGMO also informed him that we expected Pakistan would begin withdrawing its troops from the Kaksar Sub-sector even before this meeting, and that this withdrawal will be completed by 12th morning.
During his meeting with the Pakistani DGMO yesterday our DGMO informed him that Pakistani forces must withdraw well north of the Line of Control by the morning of the 16th of July. The Pakistani DGMO said that Pakistan would comply with this schedule. ...
The withdrawal of Pakistani forces from Kaksar appears to already have taken place. Our troops are proceeding to verify this withdrawal. We have information that the withdrawal of Pakistani forces in Mushkoh valley is also under way.
This withdrawal of Pakistani forces has been brought about by the skill, determination and valour of our armed forces, who rolled back Pakistan's aggression from Kargil, even while conforming to government's direction that the sanctity of the Line of Control be maintained.
Our forces have not de-escalated their action, nor has any dis-engagement taken place. The Indian army is not impeding by fire the retreat of Pakistani forces. After this withdrawal has been completed, we expect that Pakistan will reaffirm the inviolability and sanctity of the Line of Control. The continuance of cross border terrorism in the State of Jammu & Kashmir is a clear violation of the Line of Control and must be abandoned by Pakistan.
Pakistan has persisted with its claim that those who occupied the Kargil heights were 'Mujahideen'. It is abundantly clear by now that the overwhelming majority of those who crossed over from Pakistan in the Kargil sector were Pakistani troops in pursuit of a misadventure, fully planned and conducted by the Pakistani authorities. The presence of Pakistani regulars is borne out by the evidence that our forces have collected in the form of identity cards of regular troops, official army documents, personal letters and photographs and the nature of Pakistani weaponry in the posts recaptured by our troops.
It is also tragic that the Pakistan army has refused to accept the bodies of their regular troops who died in action against our forces in the Kargil sector. Our forces have buried the Pakistani dead in accordance with military custom."
Source: Government of India website, http://www.indiagov.org
US Defense Secretary William Cohen, 11 July
"I'm not in a position to comment on whether or not they are preparing additional [nuclear] tests. It is clear from recent conduct on the part of both that they have been determined to develop nuclear capability. ... We think that the tensions there, as demonstrated by the most recent events, indicate that it's important that there be a peaceful resolution of the situation in Kashmir... We have encouraged both sides to try to resolve the situation in a peaceful fashion. But the development of a nuclear capability is certainly something that is a concern to all nations."
Source: Cohen says India, Pakistan set on nuclear issue, Reuters, 11 July.
© 1999 The Acronym Institute.