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Press Release regarding bodies of two Pakistan Army Officers

July 15, 1999
New Delhi

The Pakistan authorities have adamantly refused to acknowledge the involvement of Pakistan Army regulars in the misadventure in Kargil. The callousness and inhumanity with which they are persisting in this fiction is demonstrated in the current matter concerning the bodies of two officers of the Pakistan Army who had died in action on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Kargil. The body of Capt. Imtiaz Malik of 165 Mortar Regiment was found at Point 4875 in the Mushkoh sub-sector. The body of Capt. Karnal Sher of 12 Northern Light Infantry was found on Tiger Hill in the Dras sub-sector. The identities of these two officers were established by correspondence found on their person. Both bodies are in possession of the Indian Army authorities.

The above information was conveyed to the Pakistan government on July12. We informed the Pakistani authorities that we would like to hand over the bodies to them. We did not receive any response. Subsequently, the International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) approached Government of India on July 13, stating that Pakistan government had requested them to contact the Government of India for handing over the bodies of the two officers about which they had heard. The Pakistani request did not specify the names and identities of the two officers, despite the information being available to them. The reason is obvious. The Pakistan authorities realised that if they conceded the identities of these two officers, it would demolish the myth that Pakistan army was not involved in Kargil. We provided ICRC with this information, along with the photographs of the bodies and copies of correspondence found on their person, which identify them as above.

The Pakistan Government conveyed through ICRC that the material we had furnished was "insufficient" to establish the identities of the officers, and that they would like the bodies to be handed over and taken to Islamabad for verification. It is clear that this was again an attempt to obscure and evade the fact that these were bodies of officers of the Pakistan Army involved in the Kargil operation. We offered to the Pakistan authorities through the ICRC that we would be ready to receive in India persons, including their family members, deputed by the Government of Pakistan to come to India and verify the identity of the officers and take over the bodies. We had pointed out that it is unprecedented and unheard of for bodies to be sent abroad in this fashion for the purpose of identification, even before their nationality and military identity are established. If Pakistan doubts them, it is for their representatives to come and see the bodies. We have not yet received a response from Pakistan through the ICRC.

It is clear that Pakistan is fully aware of the identities of these bodies but they do not wish to acknowledge this fact as it would immediately expose their army’s involvement in Kargil. Hence, their persistent and callous refusal to do so, they are doing great disservice to the families of their soldiers and to the traditions of armed forces everywhere.

The Government of India had conveyed to the ICRC that because of the weather conditions, the condition of bodies is deteriorating and the ICRC should come back with the response from Pakistan by 1100 hrs. IST on July 15. Pakistan has not conveyed their response. In view of the humanitarian nature of the problem, the Indian Army authorities will wait as long as it is possible, to get a response from Pakistan authorities through the ICRC.