America intervened decisively in 1999 to end the Kargil stalemate between India and Pakistan and provided a face saving exit to then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but General Musharraf was the one who pushed Sharif to withdraw the Pakistani troops.
This has been revealed by General Anthony (Tony) Zinni, who was the Commander in Chief of CENTCOM, when Kargil took place, and who was sent on a special mission to Pakistan by President Clinton.
He makes the disclosures in his book, “Battle Ready” written with fiction writer Tom Clancy and published by GP Putnam’s Sons, a member of the Penguin Group.
The book covers Gen. Zinni’s career from Vietnam to Kargil but Pakistan is mentioned in less than 10 pages scattered over the 450-page copy in hard cover.
Zinni’s account of Kargil is, however, detailed and covers pages 346 to 350. Earlier he also devotes one page to Pakistan’s position when Nawaz Sharif was about to detonate the nuclear bomb in response to the Indian test.
In May, Pakistani forces made a deep incursion into an area called Kargil, on the Indian side of the Line of Control.
Though there was normally "fighting" near the Line of Control, the area for a long time had been quite stable. There would be probes and shooting during the good months of the year, but nothing ever changed much; and in wintertime, everybody would pull back down into the valleys, and the two sides would create a "no-man's-land." As spring came, they would go back up into their positions.
Every so often, somebody on one side would be a little late getting up to their spring position, and the other side could grab an advantage of a kilometer or so. It was like "Aha, I've gotcha!" on a tactical level. But it didn't really change things.
This time, however, the Pakistanis waylaid the Indians and penetrated all the way to Kargil. This was such a deep, significant penetration that it wasn't tactical; it threatened Indian lines of communication and support up to Siachen glacier.
The Indians came back with a vengeance. There were exchanges of fire, there was a mobilization of forces, there were bombing attacks, planes were shot down. Then the two sides started to mobilize all their forces all along the line; and it was beginning to look like the opening moves of a larger war. It got alarming.
I was therefore directed by the administration to head a presidential mission to Pakistan to convince Prime Minister Sharif and General Musharraf to withdraw their forces from Kargil.
I met with the Pakistani leaders in Islamabad on June 24 and 25 and put forth a simple rationale for withdrawing: "If you don't pull back, you're going to bring war and nuclear annihilation down on your country. That's going to be very bad news for everybody." Nobody actually quarreled with this rationale. The problem for the Pakistani leadership was the apparent national loss of face. Backing down and pulling back to the Line of Control looked like political suicide. We needed to come up with a face-saving way out of this mess. What we were able to offer was a meeting with President Clinton, which would end the isolation that had long been the state of affairs between our two countries, but we would announce the meeting only after a withdrawal of forces.
That got Musharraf's attention; and he encouraged Prime Minister Sharif to hear me out.
Sharif was reluctant to withdraw before the meeting with Clinton was announced (again, his problem was maintaining face); but after I insisted, be finally came around and he ordered the withdrawal. We set up a meeting with Clinton in July.