Controversy surrounding the former president and Kargil refuses to die down, with fresh allegations by a former Pakistan Army official that weeks before hostilities erupted between Indian and Pakistani troops in Kargil, then army chief General Pervez Musharraf spent a night on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC).
Col (retd) Ashfaq Hussain, who was serving in the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) at the time, said Musharraf flew across the de facto border on March 28, 1999 and spent a night at a location 11 kilometres inside Indian territory, The Times of India reported.
Hussain alleges that Musharraf, who was accompanied by Brigadier Masood Aslam, then commander of 80 Brigade, spent the night at a location called Zikria Mustaqar, where Pakistani troops commanded by Col Amjad Shabbir were present.
However, the spokesperson for Gen Musharraf strongly denied Hussain’s claim that the former military ruler had ever crossed the LoC. “Such claims are baseless and nonsense,” said Major General (retd) Rashid Qureshi.
General Qureshi, who is also member of Musharraf’s political party, said Col (retd) Hussain served under him at the ISPR.
“At the time of the Kargil operation, he was posted in Karachi, and his claims about General Musharraf crossing over the LoC were nothing but preposterous,” he added.
Col Hussain first made the revelation in his book ‘Witness to Blunder: Kargil Story Unfolds’, which was published late in 2008.
He repeated the assertion earlier this week on a television show on the Kargil episode.
He went on to say that Pakistani troops first intruded into the Indian side of the LoC on December 18, 1998, when Captains Nadeem, Ali and Havaldar Lalik Jan were sent on a reconnaissance mission.
“They were never told about the aims and objectives of their mission,” maintained Hussain.
However, Musharraf’s spokesman denies this assertion, saying he could not have access to such classified information given the position he was serving in the Army. “It appears to be a publicity stunt,” Gen Qureshi insisted.
V K Singh praises Musharraf’s ‘courage’
On Friday, Musharraf also received praise for entering deep into Indian territory in Kargil in 1999 from former Indian Army chief General V K Singh, who said it showed the “courage” of a military commander.
Singh, who headed the Indian Army from 2010 to 2012, said there were “mistakes” on the Indian side that allowed Pakistani troops to cross over into Indian territory and let Musharraf return to Pakistan safely.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2013.