October 7, 2006 1:49:45 am
Seven years after the Kargil conflict, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has for the first time admitted in the Hindi version of his book, In the Line of Fire, that 357 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the war and 665 wounded. He claims that 157 soldiers were killed during the conflict and 200 after the ceasefire was announced.
Musharraf, who was chief of the Pakistan Army during Kargil, called for an urgent review of the Kargil chapter in Agnipath, the Hindi version of his book, to insert the figures, which are missing in the English edition.
“Yudh viram se pehle hamare 157 sainik shaheed huey aur 250 ghayal huey. Sena ki wapasi ke dauran hamare 200 sainik shaheed huey aur 415 ghayal huey, (Before the ceasefire, 157 of our soliders became martyrs and 250 were wounded. While the Army was on its way back, 200 soldiers became martyrs and 415 were wounded),” writes Musharraf in Agnipath.
The figures, however, stand completely at odds with the Indian estimate of 1,100-plus killed on the Pakistani side. These were based on reports after counting of graves on the Pakistan side. Then Army chief V P Malik notes in his book on Kargil that 270 Pakistan soldiers were buried in India.
But top officials here agree that it is huge step in Musharraf’s mind to admit he lost 357 soldiers when one takes into account that 522 Indian personnel were killed in the war. Indian military agencies have a list of 45 Pakistan officers who were killed in Kargil.
Sources confirmed that it was Musharraf’s personal decision to insert these figures at the last moment, delaying the printing and release of the Hindi version. In fact, he called for the Kargil chapter a couple of days before the English version was to be released.
By now, there are several versions of the truth about Kargil on bookstands in Pakistan. In his book, Pakistan’s then prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said nearly 2,700 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the war. The numbers, he added, were “bigger than those who were martyred in the wars of 1965 and 1971.”
Musharraf, of course, disputes this and argues that India lost twice the number it has officially announced.
The battle of numbers aside, Musharraf has finally put a figure against Pakistan’s casualties, attempting in many ways a “possible closure” to the controversy. It was in the English version of the book that he admitted for the first time that Pakistan army had set up outposts across the LoC.
Considered in India as the architect of Kargil, Musharraf and Pakistan have always maintained that Pakistani soldiers were not involved in operations across the LoC and that those who lost their lives were essentially Mujahideen. With this disclosure, Musharraf has cleared the fog considerably.
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