President Pervez Musharraf has confirmed what the world had suspected for long that Pakistan's Kargil invasion had been planned even as the then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was preparing for his journey of peace by bus to Lahore in February 1999.
Nawaz Sharif, the then Pakistan Prime Minister, had been briefed on Kargil operation 15 days ahead of Vajpayee's journey to Lahore on February 20, 1999, Musharraf, who was then the Army chief, said in a television interview.
The Pakistan president's disclosures came in reaction to Sharif's recent claims that he was in the dark about the Kargil operation and that he had first come to know about it when Vajpayee had telephoned him from New Delhi to ask 'Mr prime minister what was happening.'
'A prime minister is not worth his salt if he is being informed about Kargil operation by his Indian counterpart,' Musharraf said, virtually defending the invasion stating that it was Kargil and the Mujahideen's operation, which immensely internationalised the Kashmir issue.
Musharraf told Pakistani news channel Business Plus that Sharif was informed about Kargil at a briefing at Kel frontlines in northern areas, which took place on February 5, 1999.
He presented 'pictorial evidence' of Sharif's visit to Kel located south of Kargil and his briefing there by the army high command on that day. Musharraf held out four photographs, saying: 'Look at these pictures. In one of these pictures, I am receiving him (Nawaz Sharif), in another he is being briefed by Commander Mehmood at Kel who later became DG ISI while in yet another he is addressing the troops there.'
'All these pictures were taken the same day,' he told the channel, according to Daily Times, which published excerpts of the interview.
'Why had he gone to Kel at a time when all such things were underway? During heavy snow, what was the necessity that forced him to go to Kel? One cannot do anything if someone is telling lies so consistently,' Musharraf said.
The daily also published the photographs showing Musharraf accompanying Sharif. In the pictures, Sharif is seen attending a 'briefing' by former ISI Chief and retired General Mehmood, who took part in the 1999 coup by Musharraf and later quit during a purge of the military top brass following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US.
A close political associate of Sharif, Raja Zaffarul Haq who was a Minister at that time, is also seen sitting with him in the meeting. Haq is currently the President of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N. The pictures also show Sharif addressing the jawans apparently of the Pakistan Light Infantry of the northern areas, which Sharif claimed had been wiped out as its men and officers took part in the Kargil operation.
Sharif said 2,700 personnel were killed in the Kargil operation, which according to him was far higher than the combined casualties in Pakistan's 1965 and 1971 wars with India.
Musharraf, in his television interview, also sounded a warning of sorts to Sharif and told him to be 'economical' on revealing details. The issues relating to Kargil were extremely confidential and of paramount national importance, and these should not be publicised in the way in which the former prime minister was doing consistently, he said.
'I would advise him to talk economically on this issue because it is an issue of great national confidentiality,' he said.