Kargil war: When Indian intelligence tapped General Musharraf’s phone
At 9:30 pm on May 26, 1999, Indian Army Chief General Wade Prakash Malik’s ‘Secure Internal Exchange’ phone rang. At the other end of the phone was Arvind Dwivedi, secretary of the Indian intelligence agency RAW. He told General Malik that his officials had recorded a conversation between two senior Pakistani generals.
One of the generals was talking to Beijing. He then read out parts of the recorded conversation to General Malik and said that the information contained in it could be important to us.
General Malik told the BBC about the phone call: “Actually he wanted to call the Director General of Military Intelligence, but his secretary mistakenly contacted me on the phone. When he found out that I was on the phone instead of DGMI, he was very embarrassed. I asked them to send me this phone conversation in the form of a text immediately.
The Kargil War, the failure of intelligence
General Malik added: “After reading the full text, I called Arvind Dwivedi and said that I think this is between General Musharraf, who was in China at the time, and a very senior general. I advised Dave to keep recording these telephone numbers and he acted on it.
RAW’s attempt at supremacy in ‘Turf War’
General Malik said: “Three days later, RAW recorded another call between the two generals. But this time, instead of sharing it with the DGMI or me, he sent the information directly to National Security Adviser Burjesh Mishra and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
On June 2, when I went to Mumbai with Prime Minister Vajpayee and Brijesh Mishra to attend a naval function, on my return, the Prime Minister asked me about the latest ‘intercepts’.
At that moment, Brijesh Mishra realized that I had never seen him. On their return, they corrected the mistake and sent me the transcript.
This incident shows that during the war, Indian intelligence, instead of sharing information with everyone, was restricting it to a few high-ranking people in order to maintain their supremacy in the ‘turf war’.
What was in the tape?
Aziz: “This is Pakistan. Contact us from room number 83315.”
Musharraf: “Hello, dear”
Aziz: The ground situation is OK. no change. One of their Mi-17 helicopters was shot down. Did you hear yesterday that Mian Sahib has spoken to his Indian counterpart?
“They have told him that you are prolonging the matter. You should have waited a bit before using the Air Force. “
“We can send Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz to Delhi to reduce tensions.”
Musharraf: OK. Has this Mi-17 crashed in our area? ‘
Dear: No sir. It has fallen in their area. We have not claimed to have demolished it. We have asked the Mujahideen to bring it down.
Musharraf: “Well done.”
Aziz: “But this scene was visible. His helicopter crashed right in front of our eyes.
Musharraf: Well done. Are they having trouble flying to our border after that? Are they scared or not? Keep an eye on it too. Are they flying away from our border now? ‘
Aziz: Yes, there is a lot of pressure on them now. Since then, their flights have declined.
Musharraf: “Very good. First class.
Decision to tell the tape to Nawaz Sharif
By January 1, the tape had been heard by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a Security Council committee.
On June 4, India decided to release the tapes to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with his transcript. If recording Musharraf’s conversation was a major achievement of Indian intelligence, then delivering these tapes to Nawaz Sharif was no small task.
The question is who will go to Islamabad with these sensitive tapes?
Secret Liaison of Indian Coordinators to Islamabad
One person, speaking on condition of anonymity, said RK Mishra, a well-known journalist who was in Australia at the time, had been selected for the post. He was called to India and given this responsibility.
Fearing that he might be searched at the Islamabad airport, he has been given the status of a “diplomat” so that he can enjoy diplomatic immunity.
He was accompanied by Vivek Katju, Joint Secretary, Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
RK Mishra met Nawaz Sharif at breakfast at 8:30 am and listened to the tape and handed over the transcript to him.
After completing the work, Mishra and Katju returned to Delhi that evening. The trip was kept so secret that at least it was not mentioned at the time.
The Telegraph, a Kolkata-based newspaper, published a report by Parne Sharma on July 4, 1999, entitled “Delhi Huts Sharif with Army Tape Talk”.
Delhi Huts Sharif with Army Tape Talk
The report said that India had sent Vivek Katju, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, to Islamabad to deliver the tape to Nawaz Sharif.
Former RAW Additional Secretary B Raman wrote in an article published in Outlook Magazine on June 22, 2007, “Release of Kargil Tape Masterpiece and Blender?” Return the tape and do not hand it over.
Mishra later denied the allegations, saying he had done so. Vivek Katju also did not formally acknowledge it.
Against this backdrop, RAW Secretary Arvind Dwivedi, National Security Adviser Brijesh Mishra and Jaswant Singh were of the view that due to the evidence and fears that India might have more such tapes, it would not be possible for the Pakistani leadership to address the Kargil issue. Can put pressure on.
Bringing tapes to the public
A week after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif listened to the tapes, India released the tapes at a press conference on June 11, 1999, before the visit of Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz.
Hundreds of copies of these tapes were made and sent to all foreign embassies in Delhi.
People in the Indian intelligence community are still reluctant to say how they did it.
Pakistanis believe that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad helped India in this task. Those who have listened to these tapes think that the voice towards Islamabad was clearer, perhaps the source was Islamabad.
Naseem Zehra, a Pakistani journalist who has written a well-known book on Kargil from Fram Kargil to the Day (from Kargil to the coup d’etat), writes in her book: Proved how careless they can be. The generalization of this conversation proved the extent to which Pakistan’s top leadership was involved in the Kargil operation.
Interestingly, Pervez Musharraf did not mention the incident in his autobiography, In the Line of Fire. However, later in an interview with Indian journalist MJ Uber as President of Pakistan, he acknowledged the authenticity of the tapes.
Cold reception of Sartaj Aziz in Delhi
A week after listening to Nawaz Sharif’s tape, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz was on a visit to Delhi when the Press Council of the Pakistan High Commission was waiting for him at the airport.
He had at least six Indian newspapers in which Musharraf-Aziz conversation was published. Jaswant Singh shook hands with Sartaj Aziz very coldly.
These tapes reinforced the perception in the world, and especially in India, that the Prime Minister of Pakistan had no direct hand in the Kargil crisis and that the military had kept him out of the Kargil campaign.
Criticism of releasing tapes
The release of the tapes was also criticized in some Indian intelligence circles.
In RAW, Additional Secretary Major General VK Singh wrote a famous book on the subject, Adiya’s External Intelligence – Secret Tale of Research and Analysis Wing.
He told the BBC: “It is not known how many ‘brownie points’ India got from the United States and the United Nations for bringing these tapes to light, but it is certain that Pakistan will get Islamabad and Beijing after that. A special satellite link was discovered, which was ‘intercepted’ by RAW.
“Pakistan shut it down immediately. It’s hard to imagine how much more important information we would have had if that link had continued.
Maj. Gen. VK Singh added, “Perhaps RAW or the people of the Prime Minister’s Office at the time did not read FW Winterbatham’s 1974 book, The Ultra Secret, which for the first time contained an important account of World War II.” The intelligence source was mentioned.
He said that at the beginning of World War I, Britain had discovered the code for the German encrypting device ‘Angma’ and this was kept secret till the end and the German army continued to use ‘Angma’ throughout the war. Which provided valuable information to the British Intelligence Department.
“Once upon a time, Britain found out that the German air force was going to bomb Lufthansa the next morning,” he said.
He added: “The lives of the people of this city could have been saved by getting them to safer places. But Churchill decided not to do so because it would have made Germany suspicious and would have stopped using Angma.
India’s advantage in psychological warfare
But on the other hand, former RAW Additional Secretary B Raman believes that bringing these tapes to the public was the biggest example of gaining the upper hand in the psychological warfare.
According to Additional Secretary B. Raman, he reinforced our Army’s claim that the “remaining” soldiers of the Pakistan Army fighting in Kargil were not separatist jihadists as Musharraf had repeatedly said.
This information helped the US to conclude that Pakistan had violated the LoC in Kashmir and should be removed from Indian soil at all costs.
These tapes raised doubts among Pakistanis about the credibility of the Pakistani army and Musharraf. Even today, there are many in Pakistan who reject Musharraf’s alleged story about Kargil.
There is no denying that these tapes increased world pressure on Pakistan and forced it to withdraw its troops from Kargil.
Note: This article was first published on BBC arrow.com on July 27, 2019.
Source by BBC Urdu