Averting Armageddon on the Fourth of July:
    The Story of the Kargil War in 1999

    Wednesday June 21
    Noon in the Hynson Lounge

    Bruce Riedel speaking at the Learn at Lunch program


    In 1999  the Pakistani army crossed the cease fire line in northern Kashmir around the town of Kargil and took up positions overlooking the main highway for supplying Indian troops in the disputed territory.  India responded with counter attacks in Kargil and air strikes against the Pakistani army.  All out war threatened between two nuclear armed countries.

    The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, had not been part of the decision to cross the cease fire line.  Sharif was desperate to avoid escalating the conflict and appealed by phone to President Bill Clinton to mediate the conflict.  Clinton agreed to meet with Sharif on July 4, 1999 at Blair House.

    Sharif flew to the United States for the summit.  Clinton was firm: only a complete withdrawal of the Pakistani army back behind the line of control would deescalate the crisis.

    As Clinton prepared for the meeting at Blair House the CIA detected preparations by the Pakistanis to arm their nuclear weapons for imminent use.  The subcontinent was on the verge of nuclear war.

    Fortunately Sharif agreed to a unilateral withdrawal from the Kargil heights and the battle ended.  He was ousted in a military coup a few months later for his decision to withdraw.  

    This lecture will review the crisis and the summit on July 4.  I was Clinton’s Special Assistant for Near East and South Asia Affairs and was the only eye witness to the meeting with Sharif.