Nasim Zehra’s Book on Kargil. Review by Maj Amin


Review from Major Amin. 


Agha H Amin

My first issue with this book is that analysis delayed is analysis lost and Nasim Zehra is guilty of publishing this analysis some 20 years late. Before that she was in the good books of many culprits of Kargil who 20 years later are fired cartridges with near zero nuisance value. More seriously, I take analytical as well as conceptual dispute with her in regarding characters like Lieutenant General Javed Hassan as “ courageous and conscientious”

:– A work so well researched should not have basic factual wrong, as on page 23 where our brilliant author misses the point that parts of Gurdaspur district were awarded to India and not the whole Gurdaspur district as she fallaciously claims

:– On page 33 Nasim Zehra starts making factually outrageous factually totally incorrect assertions like shifting India’s Northern Command Headquarters from Udhampur to Leh

:– On page 35 Nasim Zehra becomes more outrageous with facts:


Firstly corps headquarters don’t send military patrols which are sent by lower formations, in this case FCNA. Secondly Nasim Zehra demotes Commander FCNA Major General Imtiaz Warraich from major general to brigadier ! Thirdly Nasim Zahra’s basic facts are false and incorrect when she fallaciously claims that Major General Imtiaz Warraich was FCNA Commander from 1982 to 1984 whereas in reality Imtiaz Warraich was commander FCNA from 15 Jun 1980 to 15 Jun 1982. The Imtiaz Warraich interview that she cites as a reference was conducted by this scribe. But Nasim Zehra is supremely arrogant in not citing this scribe by name. On 1st October 2001 I had resigned from Defense Journal and proceeded to Afghanistan to evacuate some friends. The interview was published after I had left the journal and defense journal as it was miserly staffed had an old retired colonel doing proof reading who did not publish the correct dates in proof reading. But Nasim Zehra with her massive line of contacts and admirers could have been more careful with her facts.

Now our pro establishment author Nasim Zehra fails to analyse or point out that Siachen was one of the greatest intelligence failures in Pakistan’s military history where both ISI and Military Intelligence failed in doing their basic jobs. We expected more intellectual honesty from a book so much over-projected and elevated to the level of a masterpiece. On page 41 Nasim Zehra again gets her facts wrong when she claims that Operation Venus was conducted whereas in reality the operation was only planned and never conducted: — On page 42 Nasim Zehra fallaciously elevates Lt Gen Safdar to the position of Pakistan Army’s 1 Corp commander, a position that he never held. How outrageous so called researchers and analysts can get with facts is mind boggling. For this imperial blunder our brilliant author Ms. Nasim Zehra cites no reference.

On page 43 Nasim Zehra continues making false assertions like claiming that Musharraf and Ali Kuli were from post 1965 generation of officers whereas both were commissioned in 1964 and participated in 1965 war :– Both officers were clearly from pre 1965 army courses. Nasim Zehra is intellectually dishonest about circumstances of General Jahangir Karamat’s forced retirement which had massive links with his financial corruption in taking kickbacks in Ukrainian tanks deal. On page 81 again she is more than tactful when she discusses why Musharraf was made army chief :– The essential rationale was that it was stated that he belonged to the Urdu speaking minority and did not have the clout in the army to stage a coup because of his ethnicity.

A very serious flaw of this book is lack of serious research in analyzing mindset of the principal characters who launched Kargil operation. Nasim Zehra claims that she was researching the book from 2002 or so. In 17 years she could have easily discovered that Javed Hassan authored a book sponsored by Pakistan Army’s staff college which made all kind of bogus claims like claiming that “the Hindu belief system lacked commitment for sacrifice on battlefield” (page-58-India – A Study in Profile-Brigadier Javed Hassan) .That India would be unable to sustain reverses (page-208). Nasim Zehra could have related this book to Javed Hassan’s preconceived gross underestimation of India. The most dangerous part of this book was that it was sponsored by command and Staff College Quetta’s “Faculty of Research and Doctrinal Studies” and was distributed to all officers by Pakistan Army book club. This was seriously relevant to the issue as there was a widespread mass mindset in Pakistan Army in underestimating India. This I personally saw in my service in Pakistan Army in 1981-94. However Nasim Zehra does not point out any such thing. This just shows how ham-handedly she worked on the book.

All along the book if Nasim Zehra had done her homework carefully, something entirely feasible and easy to do, she could have answered many questions, like Major General Javed Hassan’s gross under estimation of the Indians like the discussion on page 119 :– All along in the book “India –Study in Profile” Javed Hassan had claimed that Indians are weak and irresolute in counter-acting. But our author had not done her basic home work at all. It is far easier to understand Kargil when it is related to Javed Hassan’s book, but our so-called brilliant Nasim Zehra is an apology of a military historian of substance. The books central idea is analyzing the motivation of launching the Kargil adventure and it falls flat on its face as Nasim Zehra miserably fails to decipher the overambitious personality of Major General Javed Hassan and his utopian fantasies about Indian weakness as rationalized in his book India a study in profile. The only consoling point of the book is an illustration of Lt Gen Mahmud’s indecisive personality on page 132:– On page 138 again Nasim Zehra fails to present a conclusive analysis of Javed Hassan’s personality as she fails to link it to Javed Hassan’s gross mental under-estimation of India as enunciated in India A Study in profile articles in COMMAND AND STAFF College Quetta FORADS sponsored study of 1987-91.

The book contains many known and repeated stories about Kargil. All along Nasim Zehra fails to analyse that Javed Hassan had served in DC embassy and acted as main catalyst of Kargil after his return. At least she could have analyzed the possibilities of US machinations in causing Kargil so that both India and Pakistan could be arm twisted ! After all there was a man named Machiavelli who discusses these matters long before Nasim Zehra was born ! Nasim Zahra’s research remains partial and incomplete. Lt General Khawaja Zia Uddin had tasked one Major Saqib from engineers to do fact finding of Kargil operations. Saqib found out that Major General Javed Hassan had recommended to the GHQ that some 65 to 80 % officers involved in Kargil operations be retired prematurely as he was not satisfied with their performance. Such was the gross intellectual dishonesty of Pakistani military commander for scapegoating his subordinates. But no, Nasim Zehra would remain supremely vague and non-committal . On page 355 she does make a passing reference but still gives Javed Hassan a clean chit !

Nasim Zahra’s analysis of Kargil decision making is utopian and being wise in hindsight. A more logical explanation which she totally misses is that (1) Major General Javed Hassan was ultra-ambitious (2) Javed Hassan grossly underestimated India since earliest days at least 1987-90 on record as proven by citadel staff college Quetta articles (3) that Pakistan Army as an institution had adopted Javed Hassan’s mad under estimation of India as its operational philosophy once Pakistan Army distributed Javed Hassan’s nonsense delusional gross under estimation of India to all officers ! Yes Musharraf bumped into over ambitious men like Javed Hassan and Mahmud and these men were the principal reason who sabotaged the decision making process. But Pakistan Army as an institution cannot be exonerated in having grossly under estimated India. To call Kargil a blunder by gang of four would be gross underestimation of a phenomenon that was collective madness.

There are serious typo errors in book like making Junejo premier in 1984 when he was nobody in reality as on page 456. The worst irony remains that the world remains in firm grip of opportunism. When this scribe critiqued Kargil as in an article published in NATION Lahore people like Nasim Zehra were having best time of their lives in living safe lives of not ever discussing Kargil when Musharraf was at the height of his power. But only after 20 years when Musharraf is totally sidelined and discredited , one Nasim Zehra analyses Kargil ! Too late !

The book lacks maps which is a serious failing of the book

Appended below is this scribes article on Kargil published in 2003:

 The Kargil Conspiracy The Nation 29 May 2003 A.H Amin

What I wrote in 2003 was when the likes of Jamshed Gulzar Kiani and Shahid Aziz were enjoying all perks and privileges of being corps commander and CGS. And one fine day these opportunists suddenly discovered that Musharraf was not a good guy ! Opportunism Pakistani Army style ! There is general consensus on the fact that military juntas are convenient agents of change employed by larger powers to bring desired policy changes in smaller countries. This is truer for Pakistan where the USA has had a record of using the military juntas as agents of change . Ayub was cultivated in the 1950s and proved his worth as USA’s collaborator par excellence in destroying democracy in Pakistan . The Zia coup was US inspired and had complete US blessings since the USA viewed Mr. Z.A Bhutto as a dangerously charismatic leader capable of uniting the Islamic/Third World ! Thus Operation Foul Play of 5th July 1977 ! When Liaquat Ali Khan the then prime minister of Pakistan warned the US Ambassador to Pakistan that the Graham Report on Kashmir must be presented in the UN by 15th October 1951 he was assassinated on 16th October 1951 ! Raja Ghazanfar Ali then Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran noted that Liaquat had planned an Islamic conference to discuss Kashmir , Anglo Iranian Oil Company and Palestine ! Keeping this background in mind the fact that a deliberate conspiracy with a design to control and manipulate Pakistan’s geopolitical future with Kargil as the key point cannot be ruled out. It is possible that Kargil may have been designed as the catalyst to create a civil-military political conflict in Pakistan and as a future launching pad of a military coup.

In 1998 Nawaz Sharif, often criticized as a man with limited IQ, took one of Pakistan’s most decisive strategic command decisions defying USA , not appeasing it as Musharraf took in September 2001 ! It is on record that Nawaz Sharif did not surrender on one telephone call from US president like General Musharraf did and defied US threats to go on with the nuclear tests despite four telephone call threats from US president Clinton and resolutely went on with Pakistan’s Nuclear blasts ! Dr Qadeer Khan speaking at a function in Karachi on 3rd April 2003 stated that Nawaz even refused an offer of bribe from Clinton wherein Clinton had offered to deposit 100 Million USD in Nawaz Sharif’s personal bank account ! All evidence proves that Nawaz Sharif’s decision to go on with the nuclear blast was a political decision and the role of the armed forces was merely that of a technocrat consultant ! It appears that from May 1998 the US policy makers came to the conclusion that Nawaz was an irresponsible man and must be taken to task.. By September 1998 it appears that the Americans had succeeded in their manipulations . The then Army chief General Karamat at this stage started pressurizing the political leadership to include the army in the political decision making . Nawaz had done his homework well. With the ISI firmly under the prime ministers command under Lieutenant General Zia Uddin one senior officer Zulfiqar, later chairman WAPDA, had been sent to Ukraine to find details of kickbacks given to General Jahangir Karamat in the Ukrainian tank deal with Pakistan. Full evidence was prepared of Jahangir’s complicity in taking kickbacks. Once Karamat asserted his political ambitions Nawaz threatened him with prosecution for taking kickbacks ! Thus Jahangir Karamat’s unceremonial exit from power ! USA’s likely agent of change had been removed ! Now comes Kargil. With the appointment of Musharraf as army chief the more Machiavellian geopolitical moves were planned ! Major general Javed Hassan Khan previously military attaché to Washington where many military attaches are successfully cultivated by US intelligence was posted as Commander FCNA in charge of the forces in Gilgit ,Northern Areas including Kargil. The readers may note that this officer presently the commandant of the Pakistan Army’s National Defense College , back in early 1990s made Mughal Emperor Humayun fight in Second Battle of Panipat in his book “India- A Study in Profile ! The fact is that Humayun was dead while Panipat was fought and Humayun had no connection with Second Battle of Panipat ! MY LETTER TO COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE QUETTA ABOUT THEN LIEUT COL JAVED HASSANS BOOK AND ITS HISTORICAL DISTORTIONS IN 1991 WHILE SERVING AS AN INSTRUCTOR AT TACTICAL WING SCHOOL OF ARMOUR NOWSHERA. NO ONE KNEW THEN HOW JAVED HASSAN AND PERVEZ MUSHARRAF WOULD PLAY HELL WITH PAKISTAN ARMY AT KARGIL

The men who planned Kargil military operation using Pakistan’s 80 Brigade to infiltrate Indian positions in Kargil Sector were instruments of a grand conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan’s political government which had defied the USA and wanted to make peace with India without US involvement ! Ambition of General Musharraf and his team while planning Kargil had infected the entire military thought process ! The Kargil plan was adventurist, superpower manipulated and its intrinsic violence penetrated and cut open the very arteries of the Pakistani state, spurting out in civil military strife and finally a military coup ! FATHERS OF THE KARGIL FAUX PAS MUSHARRAF AND JAVED HASSAN The heroes of those rocky pinnacles are all dead ! Sacrificed in vain ! Diabolically launched into the valleys of death by men who now are dead earnest to make peace with India but propelled by promiscuous and unadulterated ambition wanted to sabotage Nawaz Sharif’s Lahore Peace move in 1999 ! Once Vajpayee came to Lahore on Nawaz’s initiative in 1999 he was a vampire but once Musharraf went to Agra later Vajpayee was an angel ! At the super power level Kargil was planned with a view to ridicule Pakistan’s political leadership , embarrass the Pakistani prime minister and to create a civil military divide aimed at a military coup in Pakistan ! Why ! Someone may ask naively ! Because the USA views the military junta in Third World countries as a more reliable collaborator agent of change than a prime minister who repeatedly defies US threats of retaliation and a 100 Million USD bribery offer ! Thus Kargil operation was launched with an ulterior motive to divide Pakistan’s political and military leaderships !

It is an unfortunate fact of history that Nawaz Sharif was not aided by a good defense analyst team ! Those who were with him and supposedly considered defense experts were either in secret league with Nawaz’s handpicked military man or too naive to understand the military intricacies of Kargil ! Kargil in the final analysis stands out as the meticulously planned conspiracy catalyst employed to trigger a chain of events that led to the primacy of the military junta on 12 October 1999 ! So far the Americans have succeeded ! The Pakistani Nuclear program is in safe hands ! Pakistan , the beautiful woman in words of General Habibullah has sold herself to , not the highest bidder , but the only bidder at a relatively low price ! The military junta has divided the society ! Bought the pillars of state ! Balkanized the political parties ! Marginalized the society introducing unjust ethnic domination in the army , reduced the Sindhis into a political minority , pitched Punjab against Sindh by Machiavellian agreement to Thal Canal and is all set to strike a deal with India which would ensure that Pakistan’s military junta is given a permanent share in the political hierarchy simply because it is USA’s best and most reliable agent of change ! Life goes on !

Kargil-A Military Analysis Based on discussion with various direct participants of this faux pas in between 1999 and 2002. 15 June 2003 A.H Amin

Kargil stands as perhaps the final military effort on Pakistan’s part to settle the Kashmir dispute by military means. Analysis has mostly centered on political aspects of the operation while the military aspects have been largely left to the imagination of the public. Lately it has been claimed that Kargil was launched to bail out Mujahideen as a last resort ! This is an insult to the memory of the Pakistani armed forces “Volunteers” who died in that Himalayan wasteland without a funeral and in circumstances of unimaginable misery ! Kargil operation cannot be understood unless the personalities and motives of the principal characters are examined ! Every action in history is the final culmination of a personality’s self-perception, ambition and subconscious as well as conscious urges. In this context the Kargil operation was born out of two key factors ! One was the personality of General Pervez Musharraf and the second was the unceremonial manner in which Nawaz Sharif ousted General Jahangir Karamat Musharraf’s predecessor army chief of Pakistan Army. Musharraf as those who have served with him know which includes this scribe also has always been an intensely ambitious man ! One hallmark of his personality is that he wants to stand out as a great military commander ! Propelled by an enormous ego wherever he served he endeavored to do something extraordinary ! However fate did not allow him the glory in battle which his other course mates like shabbir sharif achieved ! In 1965 Musharraf was a subaltern in an artillery unit which saw little action apart from supporting operations by indirect fire ! The 16 SP unlike 3 SP which fired on Indian tanks with direct gunsights at Chawinda stayed in conventional artillery role ! In 1971 Musharraf’s commando company was not involved in action ! I Interviewed Musharraf’s Commanding Officer in 1971 Lt Col Iqbal Nazir Warraich in 2002 and he stated that Musharraf did not see any action under his command in 1971 contrary to prevalent myths. Nevertheless Musharraf compensated for this lack of combat laurels by achieving laurels in army courses and in various command assignments ! His final opportunity came when he ascended to the post of army chief in a situation when the army was in a subservient position vis a vis the civilian head of state , something which was regarded by the military hierarchy as worse than blasphemy ! The forced retirement of General Karamat by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was regarded as a personal defeat by the Pakistani military brass and by Musharraf who felt that he would be a far weaker army chief under a strong prime minister who had asserted civilian control over the military machine ! These two factors were the fathers of the Kargil operation ! Ambition accompanied by a perception that the Pakistani public must be convinced that the soldiers were better than politicians.

Kargil at the military level was the brainchild of three men i.e. General Musharraf the army chief ,Aziz the then army Chief of general Staff and Mahmud the then corps commander 10 Corps ! Musharraf and Mahmud were motivated by intense ambition to achieve military glory and Aziz was motivated by his Kashmiri ancestry plus military ambition. The person they selected to execute the operation was again one distinguished by out of proportion ambition i.e. Major General Javed Hassan , author of a book in 1990s that claimed that India was on its way to disintegration and in which Mughal king Humayun was resurrected from the grave to fight at Second Battle of Panipat ! In November December 1998 just one month after Musharraf’s elevation to the post of army chief volunteers were asked for at the army level for an operation in Kashmir ! Many thousand volunteered including both officers and men from various units ! At no stage did any Mujahideen enter Kargil ! This is a piece of fiction and has no veracity ! These were attached to NLI units in the 80 Brigade sector for training. The principal idea of the plan was to infiltrate four battalions of NLI (Northern light Infantry) stationed in 80 Brigade Sector into Kargil Heights overlooking and dominating the Srinagar Ladakh road the lone Indian link with the Siachen and Leh Sectors ! The idea being to cut the lifeline of Indian supplies to Leh and Siachen Sectors ! Indian held heights in Kargil were to be occupied in February 1999 while Indian infantry had abandoned these heights at the approach of winter snow as an annual routine since 1948.In occupying the heights no fighting was involved ! The real issue was that of supplying Pakistani troops holding these heights which was far more difficult from the Pakistani side than from the Indian side ! Plans were kept secret and even the Commander 10 Corps Engineers of was not allowed to enter the Operations Room in 10 Corps Pindi. The distance involved in reaching the heights varied from 15 to 35 kilometers from Pakistan side over mountains as high as 13 to 19,000 feet .To do this each battalion was divided into two parts , one acting as porters taking supplies forward and one half occupying the heights .

The heights were occupied as per the plan but the four units while doing so were severely exhausted ! In March-April the Indians discovered the Pakistani presence and reacted severely ! Severe fighting continued till July once the Indians finally re-captured the heights after Pakistani troops had been left to the mercy of Indian artillery and overwhelming troop concentrations as a result of the Blair House Accord ! A brief military examination of the plan reveals following weaknesses.(1) Failure to assess strategic repercussions of the operation at geopolitical and national strategic level .(2) Logistic failure in incorrect appreciation of supplying the troops . (3) Failure to understand that by occupying the heights the Indians were driven into a corner and had no choice but to retaliate , not for glory as was the Pakistani military’s case but for pure military survival . (4) At a more subtle level the use of the Chora-Batalik Sector as a future spring board for Pakistani operations against India was sealed since Indians heavily fortified this sector for any future war.

The Pakistani planners failed to assess that war as an instrument of policy is no longer in vogue at the international level and their temporary military success would only bring greater international censure and a negative war mongering image without any corresponding military gain at the strategic level. This scribe interviewed a former commander of FCNA and 10 Corps about logistics and General Imtiaz Warraich replied as following :– ” We initiated this operation but failed to support it with comprehensive operational planning and above all buildup for essential logistic support without which no operation can succeed”……'” the principal reason for our heavy casualties and lack of progress was unimaginative and callous logistic operations to support the units”. At one point the sepoys who had volunteered to fight and had come from many other infantry units to the NLI units refused to act as porters carrying supplies over 15 kilometers and were so exasperated that they defied Javed Hassan’s personal orders in unit durbars to carry supplies and when Javed Hassan threw his cap on the ground threatened to march over it unless they were not employed as porters ! One such volunteer told this scribe that we had volunteered to fight ,not to act as porters ! The same fact was also mentioned in ISI chief Zia Uddin Butt’s secret report to Nawaz Sharif prepared by an Engineer officer on Zia’s staff in ISI ! The failure to assess the “Enemy” factor was another strategic planning failure at the highest level .I asked General Warraich this question and he stated ” Capture of Kargil Heights would totally stop all Indian movement to Leh and Ladakh Sectors unlike Pakistan in Siachen and Indians had no option but to do and die ” !

Lust for glory and honor in battle are perfectly reasonable aspirations as long as they are accompanied by commensurate military talent in the generals who are at the helm of affairs ! This was sadly lacking in the Musharraf team who planned the operation. Their egos were many times larger than their real military talent ! By promoting an intensely ambitious man to the rank of army chief Nawaz did a favor which could only be repaid by betrayal ! The plan was based not on sound military reasoning but on burning ambition and an unrealistic desire for glory by men far away from the heat of battle ! No one above major level died , yet in a report to the military secretary’s branch Javed Hassan recommended retiring 75 % of officers involved in the operation below colonel level ! The prime minister was not fully briefed because of ulterior motives ! Had the operation succeeded it would have been projected as a proof of Musharraf’s Napoleonic brilliance and if it failed as it did Nawaz Sharif would have been made the scapegoat !

MUSHARRAF AS COMMANDER 1 CORPS The operations planners were distinguished neither by loftiness of thought, nor audacity in the conduct of battle at the operational or strategic level. Thus boldness at tactical level was sacrificed because of operational and tactical timidity at the highest level. No one appreciated that the army men who were employed , and it is a fiction that there was a single Mujahid in Kargil , had flesh and blood ! These men mourned by a few hundred families were sons, husbands, fathers and brothers ! The Kargil operation at the military level is a watershed ! Idealism that propelled many hundred to die in those Himalayan wastes is buried for good ! Now there is a new breed which dominates the army ! The ones who aim at going on lush UN secondments or to KESC,WAPDA or as well paid consultants ! Karnal Sher Khan was fighting till August 1999 as the plate below his picture at a Pakistan Army mess indicates. This means that these indomitable warriors were fighting like Lions while their shameless opportunist commander Musharraf had abandoned them in July 1999 to die fighting without ammunition and rations, what can one conclude ! It was the human heart that failed in Kargil and this heart which failed was housed in the ribcage of men sitting in the GHQ and not on the rocky pinnacles of Kargil ! Once the supply lines were closed under Indian threat of a counter attack , these brave men all Pakistan Army regulars were abandoned to die , pounded by artillery fire , bayoneted by overwhelming numbers , weakened by starvation ! Who can hear their cries ! Our ears are covered with heaps of lies ! Truth died at Kargil ! What remains is a body guard of lies!

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Omar Ali

I am a physician interested in obesity and insulin resistance, and in particular in the genetics and epigenetics of obesity As a blogger, I am more interested in history, Islam, India, the ideology of Pakistan, and whatever catches my fancy. My opinions can change.

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4 years ago

I think the whole Kargil thing is Pakistan is similar to Zia-ul Haq’s death. Everyone has an idea of what might have happened, and they are relieved its over, and no one is really interested in that topic anymore.

Scorpion Eater
Scorpion Eater
4 years ago

Wow. I didn’t know even book reviews can be so emotionally charged! Chill man. It is just a book.

Brown Pundits