The nation, led by President Ram Nath Kovind, solemnly marked the 20th Anniversary of the Kargil conflict on July 26, paying tribute to the 523 brave officers and jawans who laid down their lives for the country. This was the day in 1999, when the Indian Army formally announced that the Kargil conflict had ended and all Pakistani intruders had been evicted. The Army had earlier thrown out well-positioned units of the Pakistan Army, in its epic operations in Tiger Hill and Tololing. The Kargil War Memorial is located in Dras, at the foothills of Tololing and adjacent to Tiger Hill.
Even as Pakistan was claiming great military and diplomatic successes in its Kargil misadventure, a pitiably nervous Nawaz Sharif visited the White House, after President Clinton reluctantly agreed to receive him on July 4, his country’s independence day.
Nawaz was accompanied for the crucial meeting, which he had virtually begged for, by his wife Kulsoom Nawaz. Many of his American interlocutors concluded that Nawaz was palpably nervous that he would be incarcerated or even lynched, if he returned to Pakistan, and others accused him of surrendering, just when the Pakistan Army was sensing victory in Kargil!
There are interesting accounts by American participants in the July 4 meeting, about how a reluctant Nawaz signed an agreement averring that Pakistan would respect the “sanctity of the Line of Control” in Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan’s present Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi (then editor of an English daily), whom I met at the American Ambassador’s Independence Day Reception in Islamabad on July 4, asked me to give her my assessment as the Indian High Commissioner, of why Nawaz suddenly rushed to Washington. I responded, “Maleeha, Nawaz’s visit to Washington marks the beginning of Pakistan’s end game, in its Kargil misadventure.” Mercifully, that was the only time that I figured in the front page headlines of a Pakistani newspaper, the very next morning.
The behaviour of the Pakistani establishment has not changed 20 years after the Kargil conflict. This is evident from the spin given to the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Their description of the judgment is at total variance with what the international media has said on the subject.
The media has referred to the fact that the Court held that Pakistan had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, by not informing Jadhav of his rights to seek Consular assistance from India, and by not granting India prompt Consular access to Jadhav. The ICJ asked Pakistan to rectify this immediately.
The sole dissenter in an otherwise unanimous judgment was a Pakistani judge, included to participate in the proceedings. He predictably echoed the views of their Army. Interestingly, even the Chinese judge backed the judgment finalised by his peers. Most importantly, the judgment held that Pakistan must review and reconsider the death sentence given to Jadhav. This clearly indicated the Court disagreed with the death sentence awarded to Jadhav, implicitly holding that he should be given a fresh trial, in a civilian court.
Pakistan’s Army is clearly calling the shots in the Jadhav case, like it does now in all aspects of the country’s national life. Imran Khan, regarded as the Army’s protégé, is described in Pakistan as a ‘selected’ and not as an ‘elected’ Prime Minister!
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