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July 6, 1999
Sharief digging his own grave: ex-ISI chief
A former Pakistani spymaster today said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief risked ''considerable danger'' to his political future by agreeing to a withdrawal of militants from the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
''This is not practical, this is unrealistic,'' retired army lieutenant-general Hamid Gul said, referring to Sharief's accord with American President Bill Clinton.
''It is not going to push the chances of war back, but will rather bring them closer. This cannot be implemented,'' said Gul, a former chief of Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence.
Asked if the agreement posed political dangers to Sharief's government, he said: ''I think there is a considerable danger because I think Nawaz Sharief has scuttled his own mandate by going against the wishes of the nation.''
Gul, who has been close to the Kashmiri militants, predicted that most Pakistanis would oppose yesterday's Clinton-Sharief agreement.
''It is not confined to one party,'' he said of opposition to the accord. ''On this there is no divided opinion. The only division now exists between Nawaz Sharief and the rest of the nation.''
Clinton and Sharief reached the agreement in Washington. US officials said it required the militants to withdraw from strategic heights in the Kargil-Drass sector.
A Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said Islamabad, which says it has no control over the militants, would issue an appeal to them to end fighting because ''they have achieved their purpose of highlighting the Kashmir dispute''.
''This appeal will fall on deaf ears and it will only alienate the freedom fighters and the government of Pakistan,'' Gul said.
Some of the militant groups say they will not withdraw and a right-wing Islamic party has called for protests tomorrow.
''The agreement is rather cowboyish and it is not going to produce any result,'' Gul remarked.
The agreement calls for the restoration of the LoC under the 1972 Shimla accord and for bilateral talks.
Gul said it would be ''extremely wishful'' to push Kashmiris in this direction ''now when the ground reality is shifting in favour of their liberation.''
''It's a pipe dream, and I don't think it is going to meet any success at all,'' Gul concluded.
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