A retired Indian Air Force pilot has revealed that two Jaguars were about to bomb a base in Pakistan where Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif were present during Kargil war.
A report by The Indian Express revealed that two Jaguars were tasked with bombing at Gulteri base in Pakistani during the peak of the Kargil war in June 1999. One of the Jaguars had lased over – meaning acquired the target using laser guided system – a forward base of the Pakistani army. Eventually, the pilot of the second Jaguar who was following close behind, asked the pilot of the other aircraft not to engage and the bomb was dropped on the Indian side of LoC. It was later discovered that at the very same moment Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif were present at the base.
The document quoted by The Indian Express reads,
On 24 June 1999, Jaguar CLDS [Cockpit Laser Designation System] engaged Point 4388. The pilot had lased over Gulteri across LoC but the bomb did not reach the target as it was released outside the laser basket. Later, it was ascertained that the PM of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was present at Gulteri when the target was attacked.
Gulteri, a forward administrative post of the Pakistani army, was one of the main points for logistical support of the army during the war. It is around nine kilometers inside the PoK along the Kargil-Dras sector. On June 24, 1999, Musharraf and Sharif were on a visit to this base.
A Pakistani newspaper, The News, in its of June 25, 1999 edition read,
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday reiterated his call for dialogue with India for defusing a war-like situation along the Line of Control (LoC). “I invite the government of India to adopt the way of reconciliation,” so that all disputes including Kashmir could be solved through peaceful means, he said while addressing the troops at the height of 11,600 feet here. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf, Defence Secretary Lt Gen (Retd) Iftikhar Ali, Hummayun Akhtar, the Chairman Board of Investment, were also present on the occasion.
Air Marshal Vinod Patney, who was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF’s Western Air Command, commented,
It was a target in Mushkoh Valley, where a logistics dump was seen by the Jaguar aircraft. The first Jaguar lased against the target and the second Jaguar was to fire a laser-guided bomb. When the captain of the lasing aircraft suddenly had a doubt and told him not to fire, he came back and found from the video that it was Gulteri.
Air Marshal Patney revealed that he was unaware that the base had these two prominent Pakistanis at the time. He added that dropping a bomb at Gulteri base was anyway against the rules. The Indian government had prohibited IAF from carrying out missions across the borders and did not allow them to target bases which were on the Pakistani side.
Air Marshal Singh, who was an Air Commodore during the Kargil War, added,
The time was around 8.45 am. I was also airborne that day in the same area in a Jaguar aircraft, which I had flown from Adampur air base. The flight commander of the leading Jaguar was a Squadron Leader who was my youngster when I had commanded the squadron. The flight commander excitedly called me on the radio and said, ‘I have the target in sight. It is a big military camp with a large number of people. I have it on the CLDS.’ I told him not to fire and to tell me whether he was on this side of the river or the other side. I was very sure that he was across the LoC as I had overflown that area earlier myself. I also knew the flight commander personally who was excitable and known for his impetuousness. As it was on a riverbank and with a large number of people, the base could only be Gulteri. “I then told the flight commander, ‘let me fix the position’. It means that my aircraft had to come to a position where I could physically see his aircraft. When I did that, I saw that he was 10-12 kilometres to my right, clearly in Pakistani territory.
Singh also said that it was purely coincidental that they were airborne that time. The IAF has refused to comment on this story.