Pak lost 2, 700 troops during Kargil conflict: Nawaz Sharif

Pak lost 2, 700 troops during Kargil conflict: Nawaz Sharif
Islamabad, July 6 (PTI) The Pakistan Army lost 2,700 military personnel in the Kargil conflict, far higher than its casualties during the 1965 and 1971 wars with India, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said in his memoirs.

Giving his account of the 1999 conflict in the book "Ghadaar Kaun? Nawaz Sharif Ki Kahani, Unki Zubani", Sharif said the casualties suffered by the Army were so extensive that an entire brigade of the Northern Light Infantry based in the Pakistan-controlled Northern Areas was wiped out.

Sharif reiterated his contention that Gen Pervez Musharraf, the then Army chief, had not taken him into confidence on the situation in Kargil and that he learnt the details from his Indian counterpart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"As a prime minister, I was not taken into confidence on Kargil. I came to know what the Army was doing from Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. Even the Air and Naval Chiefs as well as many Corps Commanders of the Army did not know about the Kargil operation," Sharif he said in a series of interviews to journalist Sohail Waraich that were compiled and published in the book in Urdu.

Sharif said he was told by Musharraf, who toppled him later in 1999, that the Kargil operations were being conducted by mujahideen and not the Pakistan Army. "I was told the Army itself will not participate in the fighting. Only mujahideen invasion will be enough but when the conflict began the entire Northern Light Infantry was wiped out and 2,700 personnel were martyred and hundreds others injured. The number of those martyred was more than those killed in the wars of 1965 and 1971 together," he said.

"They (Army) briefed the prime minister four or five months after they invaded Kargil and then said it was mujahideen fighting there and the reality was different. It was Vajpayee who called me and told me the military is fighting there," Sharif said.

Sharif said the extent of the casualties was so "huge" that he asked Musharraf how Pakistan suffered so many losses when his initial claim was that the military would not suffer any damage as the operations were being conducted by mujahideen. Musharraf attributed the casualties to carpet bombing of the Kargil peaks by India.

"I inquired (from Musharraf) were you not aware that this kind of bombing could take place. Musharraf said, 'Sir, we were not aware of it,'" Sharif said adding he was told the Indian artillery bombardment was so extensive that it blew off the heads of Pakistan soldiers hiding in trenches.

Musharraf told Sharif that because the trenches did not have covers, the soldiers were directly exposed to artillery fire.

"Let me tell you by the time when the Washington deal took place, the Indians had already recaptured half of the peaks and were advancing further. I protected the Pakistan Army's honour or they would have been left with nothing," Sharif said.

In response to a question why he visited the front lines with Musharraf in the midst of Kargil episode, Sharif said he went after Musharraf insisted that he go there and meet the soldiers.

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