June 28, 2020
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Roger That

Intel agencies blast Gen Malik’s comments, say army goofed up

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Roger That
Roger That

Retired Pakistani Lt Gen Shahid Aziz’s revelations about the Kargil war and his swipes at General Pervez Musharraf have not found too much traction in the Indian intelligence community. On the issue of LoC-specific intelligence, though, both RAW and IB officers insist that it is the army’s responsibility and civilian spy agencies cannot be blamed for the former’s failures during the Kargil conflict or today. “Shahid Aziz seems to have a problem with Musharraf. Maybe Musharraf didn’t let Aziz become ISI chief; he’s sniping because he has a grouse,” then IB director Shyamal Dutta told Outlook. “Anything is possible in Pak­is­tan. Apart from giving media interviews, Aziz has also written a book in Urdu which is unintelligible to me. So I’m not even aware of his full agenda.”

Dutta, who headed IB from April 1998 to May 2001, says Aziz’s disclosures are irrelevant today. “How does it matter whether the Pakistani intruders in Kargil in 1999 were army regulars or mujahideen? We drove them back. Period. The intrusion obviously violated the Lahore peace pact—we don’t need Aziz to tell us that! Neither is India really keen to know how many generals Musharraf took into confidence 13-14 years ago...it’s history. And to be honest, whether Musharraf miscalculated India’s response or knew exactly how we would react hardly excites me.”            

Dutta, though, is livid with ex-COAS General Ved Prakash Malik’s for his scathing remark that “IB and RAW are still in denial on the Kargil intelligence failure”. “Malik can say what he likes. What matters to me is that PM Vajpayee, home minister Advani and defence minister George Fernandes praised the IB on the floor of Parliament. Moreover, the Subrah­m­anyam committee report specifically mentions the June 2, 1998, report bea­ring my signature to the PM, home minister, cabinet secretary, home secretary and dgmo about the ominous developments in the Force Commander Northern Area (FCNA) region.”

“Gen Malik can say what he wants. What matters is that PM Vajpayee, others praised the IB’s efforts in Parliament.”
Shyamal Dutta, Ex-IB director (1998-2001)

Dutta did not spell out the report’s contents but Outlook has learnt that it recorded the build-up, including preparations, by Kashmiri and Afghan mujahideen in cahoots with the Northern Light Infantry in the FCNA region overlooking Kargil. (Going by Aziz, there were no mujahideen among the intruders.)

Although the strategic community is generally dismissive about Aziz’s revelations, his claim that Musharraf kept even the ISI in the dark on Kargil brings a smile to the face of sulking intelligence officials. A retired RAW special secretary says, “V.P. Malik keeps accusing us of intelligence failure. But now Aziz tells us the ISI too didn’t know what Musharraf was up to until they intercepted Indian army communications. So are we supposed to have information about Pakistan that even the ISI or Americans are not privy to?”

About the present scenario on the LoC, IB and RAW officers say the MoD should set its house in order. “A lot of water has flown since Kargil. The army made us scapegoats then but today the situation is very different. It has the Defence Int­el­ligence Agency established in ’02 besides the Directorate General of Military Intelligence and Field Intelligence Units to meet its LoC-related requirements,” an official remarks.

The bad blood between the intelligence community and Malik is evident from the former gloating over disclosures by retired Pak colonel Ashfaq Hussain close on the heels of Aziz’s revelations. According to him, Musharraf crossed the LoC in March 1999, travelling 11 km into India to spend the night at Zikria Mustaqar with Pakistani troops. V.K. Singh, who headed the army till recently (2010-12), even openly praised Mus­harraf’s courage for venturing so deep into enemy territory. As a RAW off­i­cer put it, “Musharraf comes out smelling of roses—a brave commander risking his life to be with his boys. In contrast, Gen Malik was having a jolly good time in Poland or playing golf in Delhi when his men were getting killed in Kargil.”

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