Kargil Revisited

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Ray, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I am trying to get as many articles on Kargil so that we can build up a ready reckoner.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    An Analysis of Kargil

    Shaukat Qadir

    Introduction

    “The purpose of deterrence is to deter”.

    In May 1998 India tested its nuclear weapons, and Pakistan, despite the half hearted
    attempts of the international community to prevent it, soon followed suit. While many
    analysts viewed this development as dangerous, there were almost an equally large
    number, which felt that it was really for the best, since this brought deterrence fully in to
    place. It was not to be long before they were to be rudely shocked out of their assessment.
    In February 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpyee, the Indian Prime Minister, visited Pakistan, as
    part of the much touted “bus diplomacy”, with great pomp and show, on the invitation of
    his counterpart, Mr Nawaz Sharif, little knowing that Kargil had been, or was being
    occupied.

    In early May 1999, the Indian army learnt of some intruders, who had occupied
    the heights close to Dras. A patrol of ten soldiers sent to investigate was wiped out. Over
    the next few days the Indian army, without yet reporting to their political leadership (as
    any other army would do), proceeded to first attempt the eviction of the intruders and, on
    failing to do so, assess the extent of their intrusion. Somewhere at this point in time, they
    went to the political leadership to inform them of the intrusion. An event that sent shock
    waves round the world, according to some analysts, almost led to a nuclear war, resulted
    in a military intervention in Pakistan and, is still an ongoing process, the final outcome of
    which will be assessed at some date in the not too distant future1. For Vajpayee, this was
    a particularly un-propitious moment in time when he was heading an interim government,
    coming up for reelection in a few months, and just after his return from a courageous trip
    to Lahore, in the teeth of opposition from all his colleagues2.

    India has carried out an assessment of this event in “The Kargil Report”, but Pakistan
    variety, and my knowledge of the collective character of the Pakistan army, on which
    basis I also judge the Indian army, being essentially no different.
    I state this at the very outset, since the task I have set myself is challenging enough in
    itself, to be considered daunting. I would find it impossible, were it to be challenged for
    authenticity. To the sceptic, I state it contains considerable conjecture. To the believer,
    “take it with a pinch of salt”. If you wonder why I should undertake a venture, for which I
    possess, what might be, insufficient information; there is probably enough accuracy in it
    to draw lessons from, but even more importantly, it might result in more open debates on
    subjects, that have hitherto, been sacrosanct from public knowledge and debate in
    Pakistan, as elsewhere.

    Background

    Without going into all the details of the process of the partition, of what was, British
    India, and how it was undermined by the machinations of Lord Mountbatten, when the
    British finally decided to leave India in 1947, they decided the territories of India and
    Pakistan, but left it to the “Princely States” to take their own choice. Junagarh, a
    predominantly Hindu state, with a Muslim ruler, opted for Pakistan, but was forcibly
    occupied by India on the principle that the population was predominantly Hindu.
    Hyderabad chose independence, but was again forced into the Indian Union. The
    territories that formed the state of Jammu and Kashmir, were governed by a Sikh ruler,
    who kept delaying his decision until 1948, when finally some tribal lashkars (a loosely
    grouped force) decided to intervene on behalf of their Muslim brethren. He then
    announced his accession to India over the radio, and Indian troops were air lifted into
    Kashmir, to reinforce those already there, ostensibly to defend the Prince. Interestingly,
    India claims that the Maharajah (Prince) also signed the document of accession, but the
    document has not yet been seen by anybody.

    Indian troops managed to evict the lashkars from the valley of Srinagar, but could not
    do so from the heights they occupied, thus creating, what was later to be called the Line
    of Control (LOC)3. India moved the UN, which unanimously passed a resolution in
    favour of self-determination by the people of Kashmir, but while Nehru, the Indian Prime
    Minister accepted the resolution, and promised to abide by it, he later reneged. Kashmir
    became “disputed territory”, divided into Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and Azad (free)
    Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K, or AK), as the Pakistanis learnt to refer to them.

    Pakistan and India have fought three wars. Of these, two were fought over Kashmir,
    the one in 1948 and 1965, when Pakistan decided to attempt to liberate the people of
    has neither attempted to produce a similar document, nor is likely to do so. While I have
    no intention of filling that particular vacuum, I have felt, for a long while, that some kind
    of an objective analysis is essential, to understand what transpired (if not the exact events,
    since these are unlikely to be made available within the foreseeable future, then the likely
    course that events could or should have possibly taken), analyze them and draw lessons
    therefrom. This is what I plan to undertake in this effort.

    Let me state at the outset that, while I have considerable knowledge of the course of
    events, pieced together from private discussions with friends and colleagues in positions
    of authority, who played a role, I have neither the official Pakistani version nor, quite
    obviously, any input from the Indian side. There is, therefore, some conjecture in what I
    relate. Only the actual actors will be able to judge the accuracy of this conjecture.
    1 Though I do not subscribe to the view that India and Pakistan were on the verge of a nuclear war, for
    reasons that will emerge later, but it did lead to the military takeover in Pakistan and is still an ongoing
    process.

    2 The fact that the Kargil episode, in fact, resulted in his political benefit by returning him to the office of
    prime minister is irrelevant. Neither he, nor India has yet overcome the personal sense of betrayal.
    1
    However, I will be less than fair to myself, were I not to add that the conjecture is based
    on my personal knowledge of the terrain of that area, the character of the principal actors
    in the Pakistan army (whom I know fairly well), my knowledge of the decision making
    process in the Pakistan army, having served in command and staff assignments of a large
    ____________________
    1 Though I do not subscribe to the view that India and Pakistan were on the verge of a nuclear war, for
    reasons that will emerge later, but it did lead to the military takeover in Pakistan and is still an ongoing
    process.
    2 The fact that the Kargil episode, in fact, resulted in his political benefit by returning him to the office of
    prime minister is irrelevant. Neither he, nor India has yet overcome the personal sense of betrayal
    _________________

    variety, and my knowledge of the collective character of the Pakistan army, on which
    basis I also judge the Indian army, being essentially no different.
    I state this at the very outset, since the task I have set myself is challenging enough in
    itself, to be considered daunting. I would find it impossible, were it to be challenged for
    authenticity. To the sceptic, I state it contains considerable conjecture. To the believer,
    “take it with a pinch of salt”. If you wonder why I should undertake a venture, for which I
    possess, what might be, insufficient information; there is probably enough accuracy in it
    to draw lessons from, but even more importantly, it might result in more open debates on
    subjects, that have hitherto, been sacrosanct from public knowledge and debate in
    Pakistan, as elsewhere.
    Background
    Without going into all the details of the process of the partition, of what was, British
    India, and how it was undermined by the machinations of Lord Mountbatten, when the
    British finally decided to leave India in 1947, they decided the territories of India and
    Pakistan, but left it to the “Princely States” to take their own choice. Junagarh, a
    predominantly Hindu state, with a Muslim ruler, opted for Pakistan, but was forcibly
    occupied by India on the principle that the population was predominantly Hindu.
    Hyderabad chose independence, but was again forced into the Indian Union. The
    territories that formed the state of Jammu and Kashmir, were governed by a Sikh ruler,
    who kept delaying his decision until 1948, when finally some tribal lashkars (a loosely
    grouped force) decided to intervene on behalf of their Muslim brethren. He then
    announced his accession to India over the radio, and Indian troops were air lifted into
    Kashmir, to reinforce those already there, ostensibly to defend the Prince. Interestingly,
    India claims that the Maharajah (Prince) also signed the document of accession, but the
    document has not yet been seen by anybody.
    Indian troops managed to evict the lashkars from the valley of Srinagar, but could not
    do so from the heights they occupied, thus creating, what was later to be called the Line
    of Control (LOC)3. India moved the UN, which unanimously passed a resolution in
    favour of self-determination by the people of Kashmir, but while Nehru, the Indian Prime
    Minister accepted the resolution, and promised to abide by it, he later reneged. Kashmir
    became “disputed territory”, divided into Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and Azad (free)
    Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K, or AK), as the Pakistanis learnt to refer to them.
    Pakistan and India have fought three wars. Of these, two were fought over Kashmir,
    the one in 1948 and 1965, when Pakistan decided to attempt to liberate the people of
    ________________________
    3 Pakistan’s Governor General, Jinnah, had ordered Gen Gracy, the Commander in Chief of the Pakistan
    army to send in troops in support of the Lashkars when India started moving troops in, but he refused on
    the plea that he might be faced with British troops from India, since at that time both India and Pakistan
    still had a smattering of British officers. While that might have been a consideration, in which case he
    could have sent troops from units which did not have British officers, the real reason as Lord
    Mountbatten’s support to the operation. He was Governor General, India, royalty, popular with parliament,
    and no British officer could survive, if he got on his wrong side.
    _________________________
    Kashmir. The 1971 war was, in fact, imposed by India, to liberate East Pakistan, now
    Bangladesh. Kargil was one of the numerous mini-wars, between the two. Apart from the
    wars, both sides have, at every given opportunity taken advantage where they could.
    India occupied the vacant heights at Siachin glacier in 1984, leading to an annual
    exchange at the highest battle ground of the world, which lasts to date. Pakistan too, has
    seized every opportunity. Interestingly, Kargil was, in fact on the Pakistani side of the
    LOC until 1971, when the Indians evicted the troops there by a surprise attack.
    The Terrain
    Amongst the most beautiful in the world, but also amongst the most difficult to
    conduct military operations in. The Kargil war was fought over an area extending from
    Dras to Kargil and Batalik, an area spanning about a hundred kilometers in length.
    Craggy peaks abound the region, ranging in height from 13000 feet to 18000 feet, with
    the floor of the valleys at around 7000 feet. Each crest line is followed by another, with
    ravines in between and, even along the crest line of one continuous feature, there are
    frequent depressions, which could range from a few hundred feet in depth, to a few
    thousand. Making infantry attacks, unless backed by surprise, an unbelievably costly
    venture and, almost certainly doomed to failure4. The extremely harsh and inhospitable
    nature of the terrain was the reason for the Indian troops taking a “calculated risk”,
    leaving it unoccupied during winters, and returning at the advent of spring.
    What are referred to as roads, are usually tracks, which can take heavy traffic,
    particularly of military vehicles. They invariably run along valleys and, in this case ran
    from Dras to Kargil fairly close to the heights, in fact, at Dras, the road curves right under
    the dominating heights5, making the entire Main Supply Route (MSR) feeding the area
    beyond, including Siachin vulnerable to interdiction, even with small arms.
    Most valleys in the region range in span from a few hundred meters to a couple of
    thousand. At Dras the valley is at its widest, ranging between five to seven thousand
    meters, which enables it to house a small cantonment. It is from this cantonment that
    troops move in to occupy the heights they have vacated in winters, at the advent of
    spring.

    Preliminaries

    Somewhere towards mid November 1998, Lt Gen Mahmud, then commanding 10
    Corps sought an appointment with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen Pervez
    Musharaf, through the Chief of General Staff (CGS), Lt Gen Aziz. When he went to see
    him, he was accompanied by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Frontier
    Constabulary of the Northern Areas (FCNA), Major General (now Lt Gen) Javed Hassan.
    ________________
    4 The size of the highest point on the feature usually dictates the number of soldiers it can accommodate:
    usually between 4 to 12 per post. The size of the craggy approach to the top, dictates the number of soldiers
    that can approach it abreast, usually between 8 to 20, thus heavily weighting the numbers game in favour of
    the defenders. Apart from this, the final approach in the attack, through what is known to the military as the
    “killing ground” is made, not only when the attacking soldier is most tired, but at the most difficult part of
    the climb, reducing the attackers to virtually, “ducks in a barrel”.
    5 Amongst the heights occupied by Pakistan, this was the most threatening location from the Indian point of
    view, a fact that dictated subsequent events.
    ___________________

    They sought permission to execute a plan, which had been made earlier, as military plans
    often are, and shelved. The plan essentially visualized occupying terrain in the Dras-
    Kargil sector, which the Indians were known to vacate every winter, and reoccupy at the
    advent of summer. The rationale was that it would provide a fillip to the Kashmiri
    freedom movement. The plan was approved in principle, with instructions to commence
    preparations, but confine the knowledge of this plan to the four people present, for the
    time being.

    I interrupt the sequence of events here to draw brief pen-pictures of these four
    characters, as I know them, so as to better understand the Pakistani adventure in Kargil,
    since their characters played a prime role in the events to follow. Obviously, these will be
    incomplete, focusing essentially on the traits relevant to the events at Kargil. Equally
    obvious is the fact that the assessment of their characters is mine and, only as accurate as
    my knowledge of them, and my ability to assess another human being.

    Gen Pervez Musharaf: A sharp and intelligent, artillery officer, who has
    commanded infantry formations from brigade upwards, and held a large variety of staff
    and instructional appointments. A bold commander, who takes pride in being decisive,
    quick to take decisions (a fact he took pains to highlight after his takeover, but cannot be
    accused of in political matters) and, therefore, a good commander of troops and keen to
    assume responsibility.

    Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed: Again an artillery officer, with a wide variety of
    experience. He is sharp and intelligent, with a touch of arrogance that kept growing till it
    became overwhelming towards the end of his career, and a strong sense of right and
    wrong. A strong, forceful, decisive and highly ambitious individual, who was secular, but
    “discovered” the force of Islam late in life. Consequently he tends to see everything in
    life is starkly either, black or white. On those occasions, as dangerous as any other “who
    believes himself to be incapable of going wrong”.

    Lt Gen Muhammed Aziz: More than anyone else, he has been painted the villain,
    and the “fundo”, which he is not. Deeply religious, but very balanced, he is born
    Kashmiri, and has served in some of the most rugged reaches of it, at various stages of
    his career. Strongly patriotic and deeply committed to the cause of Kashmir, but not to
    the extent that it might jeopardize Pakistan. He is intelligent, sharp, very balanced,
    progressive and dynamic.

    Major General Javed Hassan: A highly intelligent and well-read officer, who is
    more an academician than a commander, and bears that reputation. He was the only one,
    with a point to prove.

    While preparations for executing the plan began in November/ December 1999, the
    subject was casually broached with the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, some time in
    December, presenting the same argument that the freedom struggle in Kashmir needed a
    fillip, which could be provided by an incursion into these territories, left unoccupied by
    the Indians during winters. It would also repay them for their incursion into Siachin. In
    fact, it would hurt them more. Nawaz Sharif, being the kind of person he is, accepted the
    statement at face value. Nor did the military leadership, as it is supposed to, present a
    complete analysis of the scale of the operation or its possible outcome, with a political
    aim, and how the military operation would achieve the political aim.

    Thus far, the rest of the army was unaware of the operation, as indeed were the Chief
    of Air Staff (CAS) and the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), and preparations proceeded in
    secret. Personally, I do not think that the operation was intended to reach the scale that it
    finally did. In all likelihood, it grew in scale as the troops crept forward to find more
    unoccupied heights, and finally were overlooking the valley. In the process, they had
    ended up occupying an area of about 130 square kilometers over a front of over 100
    kilometers and depth ranging between 7 to 15 kilometers. They were occupying 132 posts
    of various sizes6. Whereas, the total number occupying these posts, never exceeded 1000
    all ranks, but four times this number provided the logistical backup to undertake the
    operation. While the occupants were essentially soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry
    (NLI), there were some local Mujahideen assisting as labour to carry logistical
    requirements.

    It was at this stage, in March 1999, that the leadership of the army was apprised of the
    operation and the Military Operations (MO) Directorate in GHQ was tasked to evolve a
    strategic operational plan, which would have a military aim to fulfill a political objective.

    Given the fact that they were evolving a plan to justify an operation already underway,
    the response was no less than brilliant. Given the total ratio of forces of India and
    Pakistan, which was about 2 ¼: 1,7 the MO concluded that the initial Indian reaction
    would be to rush in more troops to IHK, further eroding their offensive capabilities
    against Pakistan. As a consequence, they concluded that India would not undertake an
    all-out offensive against Pakistan, since by doing so it would run the risk of ending in a
    stalemate, which would be viewed as a victory for Pakistan8. This is the cause for my
    being in a one-man-minority amongst the analysts, that war, let alone nuclear war, was
    never a possibility.

    While the political aim spelt out was, “To seek a just and permanent solution to the
    Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir”, the military aim
    leading up to the political aim was, “To create a military threat that could be viewed as
    capable of leading to a military solution, so as to force India to the negotiating table from
    a position of weakness9”. The operational plan visualized the Indian’s amassing troops at
    the LOC to deal with the threat at Kargil, resulting in a vacuum in their rear areas. By
    July, the Mujahideen would step up their activities in the rear areas, threatening the
    Indian lines of communication, at pre-designated targets, which would help isolate
    ________________
    6 Posts in such areas house between 4 to 12 soldiers per post.
    7 It is generally accepted that the required ratio for a force launching an offensive to have chances of
    success is 3:1. However, in mountainous terrain the required ratio may be many times more. It is my
    opinion that over the last decade the conventional military capabilities of both Pakistan and India have
    eroded, but the erosion has been more in India than Pakistan, due to their dependence on Soviet support. If
    the present total military capabilities, including quality, quantity, numbers, etc were quantified, I would
    support the estimate that MO came up with in 1999. However, this relationship is not permanent, and,
    given their proposed military spending, will undergo a drastic change in favour of India in a year or two.
    8 A large number of analysts were of the view that nuclear deterrence, coupled with the resultant diplomatic
    mileage was the cause of Indian restraint after Pakistan occupied the heights of Kargil. Though diplomatic
    mileage was a major consideration, but I tend to agree with the conclusions of MO. It is my view that India
    toyed with the idea of an all-out war in late May/early June, but the military leadership could not guarantee
    the defeat of Pakistan. Consequently, it was decided to confine the war in space or, in other words “escalate
    on the vertical scale rather than the horizontal one”. This view is borne out by the subsequent debate, which
    started in India, that Kargil proved the possibility of a “limited war”, under the nuclear umbrella.
    9 My input on the subject is from a number of highly placed sources, on the condition of anonymity, during
    and immediately after the episode. However, it was verbal, though I made my notes after the conversation.
    Consequently, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the words, but can vouch for the essence of the two
    statements.
    __________________

    pockets, forcing the Indian troops to react to them. Thus creating an opportunity for the
    forces at Kargil to push forward and pose an additional threat, this would force India to
    the negotiating table. While it is useless to speculate on whether it could in fact have
    succeeded, theoretically the plan was faultless, the initial execution, tactically brilliant.
    The only flaw was that it had not catered for the “environment10”. Quite clearly, it was an
    aberration to the environment, and the international reaction soon left little doubt of that.
    Soon thereafter, the first formal briefing of the entire operation was made for the
    benefit of the prime minister in April, in the presence of the other services. Since the
    CNS was on a visit abroad, the navy’s reaction was voiced cautiously, but the CAS was
    openly critical and skeptical of the conclusion that India would not opt for an all-out war.
    He also voiced the view that in the event of war, the air force would not be able to
    provide the support that the army might be seeking11.

    pockets, forcing the Indian troops to react to them. Thus creating an opportunity for the
    forces at Kargil to push forward and pose an additional threat, this would force India to
    the negotiating table. While it is useless to speculate on whether it could in fact have
    succeeded, theoretically the plan was faultless, the initial execution, tactically brilliant.
    The only flaw was that it had not catered for the “environment10”. Quite clearly, it was an
    aberration to the environment, and the international reaction soon left little doubt of that.
    Soon thereafter, the first formal briefing of the entire operation was made for the
    benefit of the prime minister in April, in the presence of the other services. Since the
    CNS was on a visit abroad, the navy’s reaction was voiced cautiously, but the CAS was
    openly critical and skeptical of the conclusion that India would not opt for an all-out war.
    He also voiced the view that in the event of war, the air force would not be able to
    provide the support that the army might be seeking11.
     
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  4. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The Battle

    By the third week of May, the Indian leadership began to have some idea of the
    extent of the penetration, and from their initial boastful claims of ousting the intruders in
    a matter of days, they moved to weeks, then months, and finally they hoped that they
    might be able to evict them before the onset of winters, but were not certain. Meantime,
    in Pakistan, the decision had been taken to disclaim the intrusion as having been
    perpetrated by military troops and lay the blame on the Mujahideen12. In the period upto
    the third week of May, the Indian army made numerous unsuccessful forays and suffered
    heavy losses. At about this time, the Indians decided to escalate the war vertically, by
    using air power. They also decided to bring in their 400 odd “Bofors guns13”. In fact only
    about 170 were inducted, but these were destined to play a decisive role.
    ________________
    10 At the National Defence College, while teaching operational planning, the first factor to be considered is
    “environment”. It is meant to view the national and international aspects of the environment, so as to decide
    whether the political aim could be acceptably achieved, and if so, to evolve a military plan that could
    succeed within the given environment.
    11 In the interest of brevity, the other briefings are not being outlined. However, there were three others, the
    second in May, two weeks after the Indians had started their response, without any success in which the
    CNS continued to express his astonishment at the undertaking. However, the CAS modified his opposition
    and decided that he would go along, which might not say much for him but, in all fairness, it must be stated
    that the second one took place at the corps HQ, instead of GHQ, where a number of junior officers
    attended, making it very awkward for senior officers to express reservations, which could be interpreted as
    cowardly. The last briefing was in June, after Pakistan lost four posts to Indian attacks, during which the
    COAS told the prime minister that he was “prepared to pull back if the political leadership wanted the army
    to do so”. Given the fact that some posts had been lost, Nawaz Sharif’ confidence was further shattered by
    this comment, forcing him to head for Washington.
    12 It is my understanding that this decision was taken by the then political leadership, but the military was
    also favourably inclined towards avoiding direct responsibility. They had probably realized that the
    operation was likely to prove embarrassing. The sheer idiocy of the decision, which was obviously
    unbelievable, only added to the diplomatic embarrassment of Pakistan.
    13 Swedish made field howitzers. Although these were in bad shape due to lack of spares and parts,
    following a bribery scandal, these were the only weapons light and portable enough to be inducted into
    Kashmir over the kinds of roads that existed. Consequently, the Indian government paid for the parts and
    ammunition at exorbitant rates and inducted them into the area.
    ________________

    The inclusion of air power was not very successful. Within a few days two MIGs
    were shot down by Pakistan on May 28th and two helicopters on May 29th. Their lack of
    success was no aspersion on their effort, but the nature of terrain was such that bombing
    had little chance of success, unless it was laser-guided, the only kind that could be
    accurate in this terrain. Since it was not possible for the Indians to put troops on ground
    for this purpose, they tried using helicopters, but they had to expose themselves: thus the
    losses.

    Early in June the Bofors guns began to arrive, since Dras was the locality where
    Indians were most vulnerable, they decided to start here. Since the depth of the valley
    was also the greatest here, there was the necessary space for deployment. While only
    forty or so guns could be deployed here, they were sufficient. Under cover of their fire,
    elements of 2 Rajputana Rifles captured, what the Indians called Tololing top on June
    12th, Point 459014, the most dominating height directly overlooking Dras, and an adjacent
    post on June 13th, and Tiger Hills (point 5140), another dominating height on June 20th.
    Without in any way undermining the courage and determination of the Indian soldier, the
    deployment of the Bofors could not but result in the capture of these peaks, as is
    graphically depicted below, but could not have had the same military outcome in other
    places, merely due to the nature of the terrain, and the lack of space and depth to deploy
    the Bofors.
    As Figure 1 below shows, in accordance with the laws of physics, a gun deployed at a
    distance of 2700 m from a mountain 4000 m high will fire at an angle of 60o but will
    ricochet off the top. Whereas, with a distance of 4000 m it gets an angle of 45o and will
    be able to engage the top, and anything further will enable the gun to engage lower
    heights and move upward ahead of attacking troops, providing what is called “covering
    fire” for infantry attacks, without which, an attack in this terrain is bound to fail. Figure 2
    also shows why heights in depth, even if greater than the ones in front are impossible to
    engage. This was the significance of the depth of the valley at Dras15.
    ____________________

    14 Point heights indicate the height of the feature in meters.
    15 During my service I have served in neighbouring areas of Kashmir, where we have deployed artillery
    pieces on heights, both manually, with the help of mules, and with helicopters, and used them as direct
    firing weapons with devastating effect, as also have the Indians, wherever they could. It is, however a time
    consuming and grueling experience, impossible to manage manually in less than three months per piece,
    manually. With helicopters, it is extremely difficult, since it involves more than one helicopter, but even
    more important is the fact that the approach to the top must be secure. It cannot be done under fire of direct
    weapons by the opponents.

    The Aftermath

    Nawaz Sharif, who had been gloating over the drubbing that the Indians were getting,
    began to feel uncomfortable. In all fairness to him, the military leadership had failed to
    apprise him of the politico-diplomatic fallout and he, being the kind of person he was,
    had made no effort to analyze this aspect. The international pressure was becoming
    unbearable and, when the posts at Dras fell, without appreciating the military causes of
    it16, he began looking for an escape route, but he was very worried about the reaction of
    the military leadership and apprehended that a withdrawal might result in his untimely
    ouster. He, therefore, dispatched his brother, Shahbaz Sharif to Washington, where, after
    a series of meetings, he managed to get the American establishment to issue a warning
    that a military coup in Pakistan would be unacceptable to them. Not only did this serve to
    warn the military leadership of Nawaz’ fears, it also shed some light on the possible
    __________________
    16 I have no evidence that any level of the military leadership even tried to explain this to him, though it
    might have made no difference to the events that followed even if they had.
    _______________________________
    course he might pursue later. The Indian leadership had been offering Nawaz an “out”, by
    saying that the Pakistani army had undertaken the operation without political sanction17.
    Had Nawaz picked up on this offer in time, he might have survived, even though it would
    have made him look foolish, but he lacked the political acumen. By the time he did pick
    it up, after his ouster, he found few believers.

    Meantime, in the last briefing in late June, the COAS told Nawaz that, while there
    were no military apprehensions of India’s succeeding in ousting Pakistanis from the posts
    they were holding18, if the government so desired, the army would pull back19. After some
    frantic telephone calls conveying his desperate straits to Clinton, Nawaz went to
    Washington, met Clinton on July 4th, and with guarantees of his support, returned to
    announce the withdrawal of the “freedom fighters” occupying Kargil20.

    However, Nawaz was still apprehensive and uncertain of his ability to survive his
    decision to pull back. Had he not been, things might have gone on in routine, and we may
    still have been saddled with him (nightmarish thought!). He therefore, began to call upon
    the COAS to proceed against the principal actors in this episode and get rid of them. He
    also convinced Mr Niaz Naik21 to give an interview to BBC stating that India and
    Pakistan had been working towards a peaceful solution of Kashmir, which was hijacked
    by Kargil. Conscious that, in fact, if heads were to roll, they should begin with his own,
    the COAS resisted. Nawaz hatched his plot to get rid of him, and the rest is history.
    Nawaz went into the past tense and Musharaf into the present and future22.
    As already stated, Pakistan’s first error of judgment was to undertake the operation at
    a juncture when the entire international community was bound to condemn it. Not only
    was the “Lahore process” being viewed with hope, India had returned to the limelight in
    U.S.’ eyes, and Vajpayee was making a place for himself. Kargil had the capacity for
    creating political chaos in India, which was the last thing the world wanted. If it had
    succeeded, the Advanis and George Fernandes’ would have been India’s future: disaster
    for everyone including Pakistan. The timing was wrong. If it had taken place a year
    earlier, the reaction might have been less adverse.
    As if this was not enough, Pakistan decided, for some inexplicable reason to disclaim
    responsibility for the incursion, which was totally unbelievable. Not only did this cause
    considerable politico-diplomatic embarrassment to Pakistan, it also made other truthful
    _______________________
    17 A full page advertisement was published in newspapers in Washington and London, depicting the
    Pakistan army as a “rogue army”, which acted independent of political control.
    18 The army had continued to assert that no posts had fallen to the Indians, which reaffirms the contention
    that no effort was made to explain such a loss, or why it could not recur. However, in this case, it appears
    that Nawaz found the Indian claims more credible than the Pakistan army’s denials.
    19 It is my distinct impression that by this stage the army leadership had also realized that the operation was
    a mistake. Though they do not admit to the fact to date, but it is my impression that they too were looking
    for a way out, without accepting their mistake. This statement was the closest they could get to the
    admission, and it succeeded in conveying the message.
    20 Not only did he call for their withdrawal, thereby giving the lie to his own assertions that Pakistan did not
    know who they were, nor have any influence over them, but his entire conduct of seeking the statement
    from U.S. against a military takeover, and the abjectness with which he sought Clinton’s support cost him
    whatever public image he enjoyed, and made it easier for the military to execute the October coup. No
    wonder people celebrated his departure by distributing sweets!
    21 An ex-foreign secretary of Pakistan involved in “track two” diplomacy with India.
    22 For the record, I am a strong democrat and opposed to a military rule. Even now, my fears are the form of
    democracy we might be faced with at the end of this year. However, when I think of the possibility of
    either Nawaz or Benazir having to face the challenge of the last few months, I thank God for Musharaf.
    ______________________

    assertions suspect. American intelligence confirmed military presence there, tapes of a
    conversation between the COAS, on a visit to China and the CGS in Pakistan only
    reconfirmed the fact. To top it all, Pakistan was giving away gallantry awards, including
    the highest military award in Pakistan to soldiers who, we averred, were not fighting a
    war!
    Finally, having suffered the condemnation and the embarrassment of being caught in
    an unbelievable falsehood, if the planning of the complete operation was as meticulous as
    I have been given to understand, it might have been better to allow it to run its course. It
    was indeed brilliantly planned. When it comes to “what might have been, if….”, then the
    conclusions are often too speculative. However, if the military leadership was convinced
    (and some of them managed to convince me) of the possibilities of its success, it might
    have been better to see it to its logical conclusion. But then, we shall never know the
    answer to that, will we?

    The military takeover was “written on the walls of Kargil”. Even if Nawaz had
    succeeded in his endeavours to oust Musharaf, he could not have lasted. No political
    government could survive the sacking of two army chiefs in one term23 in Pakistan: an
    unfortunate reality. It now appears that Pakistan will return to some sort of “controlled
    democracy”, whatever that means, with Musharaf as the ultimate untrammeled “check
    and balance” to a puppet government, for a minimum of five years. Whereas, his steps so
    far are appreciably in the right direction, whether absolute power will corrupt absolutely,
    time will tell. Even if it turns out for the best, the idea of democratic dictatorship is
    unpleasant. Yes, Kargil is an ongoing process, with the ultimate outcome still awaited.
    ___________________
    23 In October 1998, Nawaz sought and obtained the resignation of Gen Jehangir Karamat, then COAS, over
    a disagreement, when he publicly recommended the formation of a National Security Council.
    _____________________________________

    http://shaukatqadir.info/pdfs/Kargil.pdf
     
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    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It is requested that comments be appended after one sees the link.

    These articles are long and take up a very posts.

    If in between there are comments, it disrupts the flow of the article to those who wish to read it.
     
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    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Please post articles on the Kargil War to include international views and opinion and papers, to include Pakistani.

    This will help the serious scholar to have a library of views and opinions to scan at one place.

    Comments and personal views could be addressed in the other ongoing thread on Kargil.
     
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    From Kargil to Kaluchak-The Bleeding Continues| Book Review by Suba Chandran
    Book review












    From Kargil to Kaluchak-The Bleeding Continues





    Suba Chandran
    Research Officer, IPCS

    Kargil: Blood on the Snow ? Tactical Victory, Strategic Failure
    Maj Gen Ashok Kalyan Verma, AVSM

    New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 2002

    Pages: 227
    Price: 475



    The year 1999 witnessed three crucial events for India, Pakistan and Indo-Pak relations. The Lahore summit, the Kargil War and the Coup in Pakistan ? all having special significance, as they transformed the security perspective and situation of the two. Of these three, the Kargil War, in particular, is significant, as it unmade the first ? the Lahore summit ? and, to a great extent, made the last ? the coup in Pakistan.


    Four questions are primarily involved in the Kargil War. First, after the Lahore summit, what prompted Pakistan to prepare for the Kargil war? What were its objectives and motivations, when relations between the two were getting stabilized after the 1998 nuclear tests?


    The second question is, having started the war, what made Pakistan to call it off abruptly? When Nawaz Sharif met Clinton on 5 June 1999, the war was far from over. The Indian Army had made significant advances, but certainly not the whole area was cleared. Had Pakistan decided to increase the conflict, it would have taken a longer period for India to achieve what it had, by the end of June 1998.

    Third question is even more significant ? how the war was fought between the two new nuclear states? What made India restrain itself and not cross the LoC, when there was a greater pressure from its public to cross it and teach the other side a lesson? Despite raising a few noises, why was the nuclear option not discussed at all?�

    Finally how did the post Kargil developments affect the social and political security of Pakistan and India, especially Jammu and Kashmir? The coup in Pakistan and the increased militant activities especially the fidayeen attacks in Jammu and Kashmir to a great extent were the direct result of the Kargil war.

    While some of the books were published immediately after the war, others were published much later thus witnessing the post war developments in J&K and in Pakistan. The later works had an added advantage of interpreting the events in a non-sensational environment and by then the Kargil Review Committee?s report had also been published.

    Maj Gen Ashok Kalyan Verma?s work, the latest on the subject, focuses more on the first aspect of the third question namely, how the war was fought by India. Maj Gen Verma provides a detailed description of the war on the various sectors, with the help of a number of maps, which makes one understand better the problems faced by the Indian security forces.

    He is absolutely correct in calling the Pakistani plan as ?militarily ambitious and unrealistic.? But what made Pakistan undertake such an ambitious and unrealistic adventure? If the plan was such a grandiose one, what made Pakistan think that it would be able to achieve its objectives through the so-called mujahideens� and a limited assistance in terms of its direct involvement? These questions, even today, baffle everybody and Maj Gen Verma, with his extensive experience, could have analyzed the psyche of the Pakistan military in preparing and executing the Kargil war.

    Maj Gen Verma rightly calls the Kargil war as a tactical victory and a strategic failure. He argues that the ?real guilt lay between the political and the Army brass.? After identifying the issue correctly, like the Kargil war, he stops abruptly, from explaining it. He compares the Kargil war with the other wars that India had fought in 1962, 65 and 71, which is very useful. He tries to bring out, but briefly, how the leadership failed to carry forward the gains that were achieved in the battlefields. Had more focus been given to this aspect, given his background, the book would have been extremely useful, instead devoting merely one chapter with four and half pages.

    The strategic failure of India was the sudden increase in militant activities both inside and outside J&K and its collateral damage. The suicide and fidayeen attacks, which were absent in the pre-Kargil War period, became the highlight of the militant attacks. The two suicide attacks in Srinagar in 1999 and 2000 and the fidayeen attacks on State Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Parliament and the recent attack on Kaluchak cantonment during 2001-02 ? all these events symbolize the strategic failure of India. Who were responsible for these failures? How it could have been prevented? Or what could be done at the political and military level, at this juncture to have a strategic victory?

    Some of the points that have been raised by Maj Gen Verma are worth analyzing in detail. Will the simple strategy of India becoming assertive and proactive and playing a ?more pivotal role in the Great Game,? as Verma says, enable India to achieve strategic victory? Secondly, the question of ?starving the troops of qualitative improvement? after India?s confidence on the nuclear weapons as the ultimate weapon. This is a difficult question, which needs to be probed. Especially with ideas being floated on ?Limited War?, how much should India spend on conventional and nuclear forces? Despite having a strong nuclear force, if India is going to spend on conventional forces, then why should one develop the first if it is not going to be of any deterrence value?

    Instead of devoting more than half of the book to the general history of Kashmir, Maj Gen Verma could have focused more on why did Pakistan begin and end the war abruptly. The absence of any real discussion to use nuclear weapons during the war and its implications for any future war could also have been analyzed in depth, which would have made the book more comprehensive.

    ***********************
    The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

    For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

    Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.
     

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