Islamabad: Claiming that his 1999 Kargil operation was a "big success militarily", former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has said that if the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had not visited the US, the Pakistani Army would have "conquered" 300 square miles of India.
He defended his action to launch the operation in Kargil in the wake of fresh allegations that he masterminded the intrusions.
Referring to Lt Gen (retired) Shahid Aziz`s allegations that he had kept other military commanders in the dark about the operation, Musharraf said, "Telling everyone about it was not necessary at all".
He claimed Aziz had an "imbalanced personality" and had resorted to character assassination by making these accusations.
"We lost the Kargil war, which was a big success militarily, because of (then premier) Nawaz Sharif...If he had not visited the US, we would have conquered 300 square miles of India," Musharraf said in an interview with Express News channel.
Though Pakistan had initially claimed mujahideen were responsible for occupying strategic heights along the Line of Control in early 1999, Musharraf later revealed in his autobiography `In The Line Of Fire` that regular Army troops had participated in the operation.
Aziz, who headed the analysis wing of the ISI during the Kargil conflict, recently revealed that the operation was masterminded by a group of four generals led by Musharraf.
He has said details of the operation were hidden from other military commanders and the exact number of Pakistani casualties was still not known.
But Musharraf claimed the action in Kargil was a "localised" operation and not a major operation.
"Kargil was just one of many sectors under a Major General stationed in Gilgit, (who was) in charge of the area. Exchange of fire was routine there," he claimed. Musharraf said he would not go so far as to accuse former premier Nawaz Sharif of betrayal but his decision to withdraw from Kargil was a mistake.
"Nawaz lost a political front which we had won militarily," he claimed.
The former dictator, who has been living in self-exile outside Pakistan since 2009, said the "prime consideration" for actions like the Kargil operation is security and secrecy.
"So the Army leadership decides who is to be informed and when. As the operation progressed and the proper time arrived, a briefing of the corps commanders was held," he said.
Musharraf said he was "really astonished" that Aziz was writing about the events 10 years later.
Blaming the nation at this juncture, as Aziz had done, seems to be "part of a conspiracy", he claimed.
"It was a tactical action that had a strategic importance in which no more than a few hundred persons were involved, but which engaged thousands on the Indian side and was of tremendous importance," he claimed.
Musharraf justified Pakistani casualties in the conflict, claiming the country lost only 270 men against India’s 1,600 soldiers.