Lahore: Former Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif has said the day is not far off when a commission will be set up to probe the Kargil "misadventure" in 1999, which had stabbed in the back the peace process he had started with his Indian counterpart in the same year.

"I appreciate the Indians who conducted an inquiry into the Kargil incident. Should I appreciate those who did not allow a probe in Pakistan? A day will come when a commission will find out who launched the operation and why, preventing any such episode in future," the president of the main opposition PML-N party said.

Addressing a seminar here yesterday on the theme "Building bridges in the subcontinent", Sharif regretted that the peace process which had brought then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore was derailed by the Kargil conflict.

"Who should I blame for the misadventure? But you know who did it. It not only damaged Pakistan but also himself," he said, without naming former President Pervez Musharraf, who was the Army chief at the time of the Kargil incident.

Sharif said that, to his surprise, Vajpayee had told him in 1999 that India wanted to resolve all differences between the two countries, especially the Kashmir issue.

He said he had found Indian leaders keener on peace between the two countries than himself.

"I was keen but hesitant, fearing my intentions would be misinterpreted in Pakistan. But when they (Indian leaders) took the initiative, wholeheartedly worked for the peace process," he said. Vajpayee was sincere about the peace process while late Indian Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao showed the same sentiments and wanted to replicate economic reforms introduced in Pakistan in 1990, Sharif said.

He underscored the need for developing good neighbourly relations with India and mentioned his own efforts for peace during his two stints as prime minister.

Pakistan and India should shed petty issues and focus on economic development instead of engaging in an arms race, he said.

The two countries were not making the required progress because of the Kashmir issue, he contended.
Both sides should seek an amicable and practical solution to the issue.

The Indian people too want an early solution of the Kashmir issue as they felt money being spent on arms could be used for the welfare of the masses, he said.

Linking Pakistan's prosperity to India, Sharif said the leadership of both countries should follow a free market mechanism and enhance bilateral trade to usher in prosperity in the region.

At the same time, Sharif noted that Pakistan had gone nuclear due to India's atomic tests of 1998.

"It would have been better had it not happened. But the tests by India and Pakistan also opened doors to peace between them. Both Prime Ministers had come very close but they were disengaged (by the Kargil conflict)," he said.

The seminar was aimed at promoting peace between Pakistan and India on the occasion their Independence Days.

An Indian delegation attended the event and it was announced that a group of Pakistanis was in Amritsar for the same purpose.

Both groups would meet at the Wagah land border to light candles to rekindle hope for peace between the two countries.

(Agencies)