Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's
Address to the Nation,
July 12, 1999, During The Kargil Crisis
My dear Countrymen, not everyone will know of the tensions that we
have gone through and the circumstances we have braved during the last
month and a half. It is a fact and no secret anyway that the deterioration
in Pakistan-India relations brought our two countries to the brink of
war. While there is no doubt that the Kashmiri Mujahideen through their
sacrifices and battle successes wrote out a new chapter in their freedom
struggle, the situation on the diplomatic front became so complicated
that it was no easy task to straighten it out or control its adverse
Dear brother and sisters, by the grace of God, Pakistan is not a wall
of sand or a child's plaything. We have the ability to deal befittingly
with aggression. Had war been imposed on us, the invader would have
lived to regret the day. However, we do not wish to make war, nor have
we looked for it. We know that in a nuclear conflict there can be no
It is my considered opinion that by going to war Pakistan and India
can only multiply their problems without solving even one of them. I
have repeatedly said that the Kashmir dispute should be resolved amicably.
I am also aware of the record of those who vowed to fight for a -thousand
years. I know what their aims were. Their only gift to the nation was
ignominy and lasting regret. After taking stock of past events and making
an objective study of history, I have come to the conclusion that our
principal national priority should be making Pakistan a great self-reliant
economic power. Only then can we achieve our supreme national objectives.
After the Lahore Declaration in February this year, not only the people
of Pakistan and India but the international community as well had begun
to hope that after their long history of discord, our two countries
had chosen the path of peace. Prime Minister Vajpayee of India visited
the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore and what he said on the occasion was
a good augury for the future since it showed that he wanted to begin
a new chapter in our relations, with the bitterness of the past forgotten
and old attitudes abandoned. I welcomed this. While we were preparing
to o negotiations in line with the Lahore Declaration, the Indian Lok
Sabha was dissolved and fresh elections were announced. On the other
hand, the Kashmir freedom struggle which has been underway for the last
eleven years entered a new and intensified phase with the freedom fighters
gaining control of the Kargil mountains.
Prime Minister Vajpayee phoned me, expressing his concern at these
developments. I suggested a meeting between local commanders while pointing
out that we should resolve this matter at a local level, as in the past
so that there should be no escalation. He agreed with me and the next
day the two local commanders met but, simultaneously, India turned its
heavy guns on us, while the Indian air force began to pound the Mujahideen-held
positions. This sudden escalation was unexpected. It is true that the
Mujahideen were present on several Kargil heights but it was part of
their long freedom struggle and inseparable from it. For example, you
all know that the Mujahideen took control of the Hazratbal shrine in
Srinagar once. Now there is no way in which Pakistan could have come
to their aid there. The shrine was surrounded by Indian troops and yet
the Mujahideen took it over and held it for several days. Once the world
took notice of what their action and the unresolved question of Kashmir
became duly highlighted, they vacated their occupation of the shrine.
It is for the same reasons that the Mujahideen must have occupied those
heights in Kargil. Once the Mujahideen had succeeded in drawing world
attention to Kashmir, it is understandable that they would wish to disengage.
Had we tried, this matter could have been resolved peacefully; but
India set the fires of war alight instead of dealing with the situation
through negotiations. It also chose to engulf the entire country in
a war frenzy. However, Pakistan remained unprovoked and we saw to it
that there was no war hysteria in the country. We also ensured that
there would be no break in mutual contacts. Since the start of the crisis
in Kargil, up to this day, I have spoken to Prime Minister Vajpayee
on the phone several times. I also sent my Foreign Minister over though
his visit proved fruitless. Given all this, it is unfair to allege that
we stabbed anyone in the back. It has been my constant effort that our
countries be spared the horror of a nuclear war. Only a desire for collective
suicide can prompt us to take such a step. I have no such intention.
I believe Prime Minister Vajpayee has no such intention either. However,
going by the attitude of India, it did seem to us that New Delhi was
rapidly moving towards war. The use of air and land power in Kargil
by India was on a scale associated with a large and regular war only.
Pakistani positions were shelled from across the Line of Control resulting
in the death of innocent civilians and armed forces personnel who were
merely defending themselves.
The number of troops deployed by India on our borders was again warlike.
Its naval power was moved close to our shores and its nuclear missiles
turned towards us. The Indian air force was put on red alert. I salute
the armed forces of Pakistan which took all necessary steps to deal
with the expected Indian attack with exemplary efficiency and speed.
I also wish to pay tribute to all those innocent citizens who fell victim
to Indian shelling. Those who suffered material loss as a result of
Indian actions have my full sympathy. The government will soon take
steps to give them due compensation. I also salute those martyrs of
the Pakistan army who fell while performing their duties on the Line
of Control. Those who suffered injury also have my heartfelt sympathies.
Their courage, valour and resoluteness will serve as an example to the
world. They surprised a military power several times their size on the
world's most inhospitable and difficult front by dint of their grit
and determination. They resisted the unrelenting attacks of the Indian
air force and infantry in an admirable manner. They proved that they
were prepared to go to any extent for the sake of their freedom. I take
this occasion to pay tribute to the gallant freedom fighters of the
All Parties Hurriyet Conference.
My dear Countrymen, we have decided to give diplomacy another chance.
This decision is neither hasty nor has it been taken under pressure
or out of nervousness. It has been said that it takes more courage to
extricate oneself from war than to start one. For many years and with
time it has gained in intensity and strength. Kargil has been a part
of that struggle. We were constantly in consultation with our friends
as the fighting continued. When tile clouds of war began to draw closer,
we intensified our contacts. At the same time, we did not snap contact
with the Indian government. I was busy trying to press every entity,
every individual, in aid of our cause and its furtherance. I was in
touch with President Clinton. When American representatives came to
Pakistan, we made it clear to them that the problem would not be solved
by putting out the fires in Kargil but to get to the heart of the problem.
We argued that, the Kashmiri urge for freedom was like molten lava in
the belly of the earth which would always find other points of eruption.
Even if we succeeded in capping the fire-spitting mountains of Kargil,
unless the basic problem was addressed, there will be outbreaks elsewhere.
If the Kashmiri people were not given their right of self-determination,
there would be other Kargils. Neither we, nor India, would be able to
stop that. The only way to stop more Kargils from happening was to do
justice to the Kashmiris. The promises made to their had to be fulfilled.
That was the message I carried to America and I am glad that President
Clinton agreed that unless the basic issue of Kashmir was resolved,
the clouds of war would continue to hover over the Subcontinent. This
was the backdrop of the joint statement issued in Washington. The statement
clearly stated that as soon as the situation on the Line of Control
returned to normal, negotiations between India and Pakistan would begin
in order to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. President
Clinton extended the assurance that lie would riot only encourage all
moves aimed at settling all outstanding disputes through dialogue, but
he would take a personal interest in these efforts in order to ensure
that they were intensified.
This assurance, coming from the head of a great power like the United
States is no ordinary matter. It is clear that after this unequivocal
commitment from President Clinton in particular and the international
community in general, the world will pay serious attention to Kashmir,
being now aware of its importance and sensitivity. That is why we appealed
to the Mujahideen to come down from the heights they were occupying
in Kargil and give diplomacy a chance so that it could carry forward
and complete the mission for which they had made so many sacrifices.
I am grateful to the Mujahideen for having accepted our appeal. The
outcome of every war leads to negotiated decisions which is the route
we have also taken and I am sure that truth and justice will prevail
in the end.
My dear Countrymen, true leadership is that which is riot interested
in merely staying in office but in ensuring national security and public
welfare. True leadership does not hesitate from sacrificing office or
popularity if it is the security of the country and the people which
is at stake. You will recall that in my first term as Prime Minister,
the shadows of the Gulf war lay across this region. Kuwait had been
occupied and the Allied forces were preparing to invade Iraq, at that
time, many of our political parties, leaders amid even individuals in
the service of the state tried to gain cheap popularity by inciting
the people and playing with their sentiments. They kept the facts hidden
front the masses in order to advance their own political careers. They
led processions and fell no hesitation in jeopardizing the national
interest as long as it won them popular following. You know well that
had I allowed myself to be swept away by emotion and begun to raise
sentimental slogans to please die masses, the consequences for my country
and its people would have been grave. Those who conspire to attain power
and advance their political careers are the very same people who end
up pushing their country and their nation over the precipice. Whatever
decision I took, I took to protect the interest of my country and my
people. During the Gulf war I chose what in my view was the right course.
I was riot swayed by considerations of personal power.
I did not follow the popular upsurge, if you recall. The results are
there for everyone to see. If you have faith, you should only take those
decisions which in your judgment are correct.
Dear Countrymen, I want to declare that the Kashmiri urge for freedom
cannot be stifled by force. The Kashmiri people's struggle will continue.
Freedom is their fundamental right and unless they Win that right, the
people of Pakistan will continue to be with them, shoulder to shoulder.
We will never abandon the Kashmiris.
My dear Countrymen, it has always been my dream to take Pakistan to
the highest pinnacle of glory and in the pursuit of this dream, I have
not been held back by fear or self-interest. You will recall that when
India was firing off its missiles and the world instead of restraining
that country was putting every possible pressure on Pakistan not to
join the race, I resisted and went on to test the Ghauri and Shaheen
missiles. There were many other pressures on us subsequently but I refused
to buckle under them. Can anyone forget the crass Indian bid to establish
its overlordship over this region after detonating nuclear bombs on
11 and 13 May 1998! Highly provocative statements were issued and it
was said that Pakistan would have to come to terms with its reduced
status. While we were being subjected to intense external pressure and
threats, inside the country there were some to whom the lure of dollars
was more attractive than the attainment of self-sufficiency and freedom.
They were terrified of sanctions but it was I who stood firm and went
ahead to conduct our nuclear tests. Thereafter, sanctions were indeed
imposed on us but I stood my ground. Such hard decisions can only be
taken by a person who has the supreme interest of his people and the
fear of God at heart. You know that whatever Nawaz Sharif does, he does
in order that you and your children live in peace and security, enjoy
prosperity and walk with honour. For me my country always comes first.
Pakistan and Nawaz Sharif are one. Pakistan is a part of my being and
I am part of Pakistan. Each breath that I take is like a prayer for
the security of Pakistan and the' progress and well-being of my people.
My dear Countrymen, I want to thank you today because at this most
delicate point in our history, you have not fallen into the emotional
traps laid out for you and you have not allowed yourselves to be fooled
by any political party. You have refused to hit the streets for the
sake of the those who have chosen the path of negativism. You have demonstrated
that the Pakistani nation is not willing to act frivolously when the
questions involved carry grave national consequences. You have shown
that you have complete trust in your elected leadership.
Let me assure you that given the help of God, I will never betray your
My dear Countrymen, during the Lahore summit, I told Indian Prime Minster
Vajpayee that we had gained nothing by fighting wars. Every war had
led to the next one. I say again today that in the last fifty years,
Pakistan and India, despite having fought several wars, despite having
put their armies in direct face-to-face confrontation with each another,
despite spending billions of rupees on armaments, and despite having
trained their nuclear weapons at each another, have failed to resolve
any of their disputes through conflict. Is that not a pity!
Because of the failure to resolve the Kashmir dispute, we have not
been able to give the people of the Subcontinent a single day of peace.
Can we not solve this problem and thereby guarantee a peaceful, tranquil
and secure future to the one billion people who live here! How many
more Kashmiris have to die at the hands of India before this reality
dawns upon that country! How many more Kashmiri homes have to be laid
waste! How many more Indian soldiers have to die pursuing an unjust
war! How many more Kashmiri youth have to perish! How many more Kashmiri
women still need to be outraged! How any more mothers in Indian cities
are fated to shed tears over the dead bodies of their sons!
My dear Countrymen, world opinion will have to decide how long this
drama of blood and fire is to be played in Kashmir. Why the delay in
resolving the Kashmir problem! The United Nations conferred the right
of self-determination on the Kashmiris over fifty years ago. India promised
to implement those resolutions. It was not Pakistan which passed those
resolutions: it was the United Nations. India neither implements those
resolutions nor does it enter into any meaningful or result-oriented
discussions with Pakistan. Is this how problems are resolved in this
world! Where lies the gain in sticking to a single recalcitrant position!
How can anything be resolved amicably if such diehard attitudes are
allowed to prevail! Because of its intransigence, India has suffered.
It has been left behind, and so have we. It is in the interest of both
India and Pakistan to give up the old, obstinate, unbending attitudes
of the past and make an honest attempt to settle tile Kashmir dispute
amicably through negotiations.
How long can we snatch food from the mouths of our people to buy guns?
How long will we goon jeopardizing the future of our children by buying
the shells that go into these guns?
How long will we allow our resources to go up in gun smoke and add
to the number of our unemployed?
India should learn a lesson from history. No liberation movement has
ever been crushed through the use of military force. Bullets do indeed
draw blood but in the process become blood drenched themselves. How
long will India continue to tell the world that it is Pakistan which
is interfering in Kashmir! No outside power can sustain a movement for
eleven years through the use of infiltrators.
My dear Countrymen, you will remember that during my election campaign
I had promised to end all disputes with India and establish good relations
with that country. I want that the mandate which the people have given
me should be used for their welfare. I want to settle the long-standing
question of Kashmir so that I can forever secure the future of my country
and its people. The people of India also need peace. India too has to
move ahead. I ask Prime Minister Vajpayee to step forward and talk to
us. Let's save our people from the scourge of war and give them peace
and security. Let us sit across tile negotiating table and begin our
search for a better future for our people. A great deal of time has
passed. Let no more time pass. In the end, I pray for the solidarity,
strength and well-being of Pakistan and its people. May God be our strength
and our support.
Long live Pakistan.
Indian Prime Minister's Address during Kargil Crisis