‘My book will be valuable for Indian army officers’

Gen Shahid Aziz,who headed ISI’s analysis wing during the Kargil operation and has written that he was kept out of the loop,shares his views in an interview to Ruchika Talwar

Written by Ruchika Talwar | Published:March 6, 2013 2:54 am

What drove you to write the book (Yeh khamoshi kahan tak?)?

The book is about life,as it twists and shapes human beings. It is a personal experience of how love transformed me,and how my fears,inhibitions and desires dragged me through life. It is a book written for the youth of my country,to learn from my mistakes and be able to better understand themselves…. Since my life took me to higher worldly positions and made me a witness to some important events in Pakistan’s history,it is only to these that the media currently refers. Perhaps slowly my message will reach the audience that it is meant for. The message of the book is for the people to speak up if they desire their situation to change…

Was the book’s release timed ahead of the election?

The timings are not planned. The fact that elections are around the corner make the timings coincidentally most suitable,since the people should know the environment in which the powerful operate and realise that nothing can change in this political culture; and that a new political order has to be created if they desire peace and justice to prevail.

What kind of a response did you expect when you set out to write? From the army top brass,the religious right,political parties and the international community?

Those who have vested interests in the way things are,be they in Pakistan or abroad,certainly do not like to hear the truth. And such a response from these quarters was expected. But I am sure that the majority of the people of Pakistan would appreciate the effort.

Has there been a response from India?

From the Indian media,the only response is on Kargil,since my book justifies the Indian government’s stance. From the Indian people I have received some heartening emails supporting the truth and hoping that we will be able to settle our disputes. There has been more responses from retired Indian soldiers,who share my views. Soldiers can also learn from each other’s experience,even though we may face each other again on the battlefield… In that context,my book will be valuable for Indian army officers.

Do you think it will have a bearing on Indo-Pak relations,which are at a critical juncture?

I don’t think there is any critical juncture; these are just political gimmicks… We need to end this competitive behaviour and become more cooperative. But this will not happen unless the Kashmir issue is resolved.

How is is that most in the ISI,including you,were not kept in the loop on Kargil?

I was privy to only what was revealed to me,through my department. I cannot say when the ISI became aware. It was a far-flung area so no news travelled out. I do not know if there were specific measures to keep it hidden.

Once the Indians discovered the intrusion,how did others in the Pakistan army react?

There was great concern… The faults in planning became known slowly and the realities on ground came out much later,since the issue was forcefully shut down and discussions on negativeness severely discouraged.

Why did you write the book in Urdu? Is an English translation expected?

I wrote in Urdu because I wrote for the people of Pakistan. Also,I find the language much more expressive. The English translation will take a while,but I suggest a Hindi translation would be more appropriate for Indians.

Any contact with Gen Pervez Musharraf after the book came out? How did you react to his calling you “imbalanced”?

No contact since he left the country. His reaction was expected; but I cannot leave unsaid what is damaging to my country and to its image. I feel he did what he thought was best,with all good intentions for Pakistan… But he is not relevant any more.

Any feedback from Nawaz Sharif?

No.

Do you think Sharif did a U-turn on Kargil when he said he had no idea?

I do not formally know,but I believe he became aware at a later date and embraced the plan. His objections came to light only when we came under pressure. I think there was a lack of political will to stand behind the venture,and flowing from it the absence of the military leadership’s resilience to stand behind the soldiers.

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