» Kargil Diary »
FIRST, a confession. I was a voluntary displaced person during the Kargil conflict. I fled to Canada on a pre-arranged visit, keeping a promise to my long-suffering family that nothing short of a nuclear war would keep me from taking my vacation in June. I was here in the early days of the airstrikes. I attended briefings, chatted up my sources and sent my reports to awaiting world. And then I left, feeling not a shred of guilt for abandoning my colleagues at this crucial time. You see, six long years of covering India and Pakistan gave me a pretty good idea of how this crisis would develop. Believe me when I say I'm not being smug when I say I was right. It seemed obvious from the start that this would be a bitter, bloody little war in which brave soldiers would die but bungling generals, bureaucrats and politicians would not be held to account, that the rhetoric would be intense and that the BBC would be criticised with equal vigour on both sides of the Line of Control. Sitting by the shore of a pristine lake in Canada, in a place that much resembled Kashmir, I was hard pressed to find news about Kargil. I know, I know, the international media is to blame for ignoring the conflict, or deliberately downplaying it out of pro-Pakistan, or even pro-India inclinations. That BBC World Service radio was my only consistent source of information puts the lie to such allegations, but we all know they'll be levelled again when it suits those who make them. Anyway, I went back to the warfront upon my return last week— as ever, travelling to one of the world's most beautiful places, only to discover grief, anger and bloodshed.