Kargil Commission

Former Pakistan Air Force and Pak Navy chiefs of the Kargil era, Air Chief Marshal (Retired) Pervez Mehdi Qureshi and Admiral (Retired) Fasih Bukhari, have demanded a commission of inquiry to probe the Kargil operation and have agreed to appear before it to give their version of the events surrounding the Kargil episode.

They have revealed that the air force and the navy were not on board when the operation was planned but they declined to divulge other details about it in public.

Air Chief Marshal Qureshi, who is known as PQ Mehdi, while talking to The News on Saturday evening said that the whole world knew that the Pakistan Air Force was not on board when the Kargil operation was being deliberated. “The whole nation is aware of what had happened in Kargil since on the initiation of the action. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee accused his counterpart in Pakistan Nawaz Sharif of stabbing him in the back. My statement will make no difference about the facts.”

He said the government should order an inquiry into the events of Kargil and everyone who was relevant would turn up with his version. Nobody can say no to such a commission, he added.

He disclosed that the events, which transpired during the days of Kargil, were preserved in the record of the PAF like other forces. “In case I am not in this world tomorrow, the whole record will be available for ascertaining the facts,” the former chief of the Pakistan Air Force said. He said that it was a serious matter and it must be taken with utter seriousness as it was linked with the future of the country and generations to follow.

Interestingly, Pakistan Air Force was not put into operation to counter the Indian Air Force due to strategic reasons. However, a PAF air defence unit shot down an Indian Air Force MiG-27 on May 27, 1999 that entered the Pakistan airspace. Pakistan also shot down another MiG-21, which had come into the area in search of the earlier downed pilot. Pakistan told the world with incontrovertible evidence that these two aircraft had violated the Line of Control (LoC) and entered seven miles into the Pakistan airspace before being shot down by PAF air defence and Pakistan Army surface-to-air missiles (SAM). The Indians claimed that they were in the Indian territory and that the aircraft were shot down by Stinger missiles.

The MiG-27 pilot, Flt. Lt. Nachiketa, ejected and he was captured by Pakistan ground forces as a POW. He was returned to India later when the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee pleaded for his release after cessation of hostilities. Four Indian Air Force personnel were killed on May 28 the same year when an MI-17 chopper was shot down by a Pakistan air defence unit.

Air Chief Marshal Pervez Mehdi Qureshi led the PAF from November 7, 1997 to November 20, 2000.

The former Naval Chief, Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bukhari, said that he would be prepared to appear before an inquiry commission that would be formed by the government of the day. Such a commission could unearth the whole truth about the matter, he said.

The former Naval Chief, Admiral (Retired) Fasih Bukhari, became the naval chief on May 2, 1997 and relinquished the command on October 2, 1999, ten days ahead of the coup by his colleague in the Army General Pervez Musharraf against the elected government of Nawaz Sharif.

Admiral Bukhari was the first who disclosed immediately after his retirement that Pakistan Navy was not taken into confidence about the Kargil operation at any stage and it did not make any preparations for any huge eventualities. Since then, he has kept quiet about it.

“I have been maintaining silence about the subject. If the commission constituted by the government calls me for evidence, I will put across my point of view before it with each and every detail concerning the episode,” he said. “I am a military-man and I will not share with the media my experiences in the force since I am under oath,” he added. “But I will not be reluctant to say anything before the commission if I am called.” 

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