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Kargil brought India to the table to discuss Kashmir: Musharraf

July 24, 2009 10:57 IST

Terming Kargil as a 'big success', former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said India agreed to discuss Kashmir only because of that war in 1999.

'Yes, indeed, it was a big success because it had (an) impact even on the attitudes of the Indian side. How did we start discussing the Kashmir dispute? How was it that the Indians agreed that we will discuss Kashmir and there must be a negotiated settlement? Before this there was no such thing at all,' Musharraf said in an interview to Karan Thapar in his Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN.

Making a strong defence of the controversial Kargil Operation, he said before that 'Kashmir couldn't be spoken. Our leaders did not mention Kashmir even in United Nation's speeches. This was the Indian side. (So) how did the Indians come on the negotiating table on Kashmir?'

On asked whether he would repeat the Kargil Operation, knowing that it ended up raising question marks about him personally, Musharraf replied: 'I don't want to comment'.

He also accepted that forces from the Pakistani Army's Rawalpindi Corps and Force Command Northern Areas were involved in the Kargil Operation -- contradictory to the country's earlier claim that Kargil was conducted by alleged freedom fighters and the army was not involved.

As written in his book In the Line of Fire, he said they were 'second line forces'. But he accepted that the army's Rawalpindi Corps and FCNA commanded them. 'What I have written is final. I am not going to get into the details at all,' Musharraf said.

Claiming the Kargil Operation ended with Pakistani forces in a 'very favourable' position, he said: 'If you are talking about India-Pakistan, Indians had moved all their forces against Kargil and there was (as a result) weakness elsewhere. So we knew what the Indian forces are capable (of) and what we are capable (of)... the situation was very favourable in Kargil, in Kashmir and on the entire border. We were capable of responding to any Indian action.'

Asked why he left the decision to Nawaz Sharif and didn't argue against a ceasefire, he said, 'One, there was a ground military position. The other is that there was a lot happening internationally. Internationally, there was the United States element putting a lot of pressure on the government to stop or whatever.

'And then there was the (domestic) political pressure. Whether the political situation was good enough to sustain that pressure. I, therefore, decided to only talk of the military (situation),' he said.

The former president said even though his decision to dismiss the Chief Justice was absolutely constitutional and legal, the handling of the situation was 'shabby'.

'I don't blame myself because I don't get into the nitty gritty of which Deputy Superintendent of Police was rude to him, some cars were taken (away) or something of that sort. Now I am not passing such orders at all,' Musharraf said.

Questioned about reports that he had a secret understanding with the late PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, which facilitated her return to Pakistan in October, 2007, he admitted for the first time that there was 'an understanding'.

He claimed that if Benazir had lived to be prime minister he would still be president of Pakistan today. 'There was an understanding. I did talk to her, yes. I had been talking to her twice. She was not supposed to come back before the elections," he said.

Commenting on the political situation in Pakistan, Musharraf agreed that it has become a more complicated country today.

'Yes it has. A lot of complications (are there) -- political, economic and law and order,' he said, adding the Asif Ali Zardari government was much weaker.

Musharraf also agreed with US President Barack Obama's comment that Zardari's government was fragile and unable to deliver services effectively to the people.

'At the moment, yes. That is correct. That is happening,' he said.

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