War Scenario: Beginning Of The End

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by jamwal, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    This is one story that I started writing in November last year and finished in May 2011. Some of you might have already read it elsewhere but am posting it here for people who are interested in reading war stories (fictional) and haven't read it earlier. There aren't many changes except fixing of some spelling mistakes.
    Although it's fictional, some of the characters are based on real people and events. But it's still fictional and should be treated as such. Feedback, corrections etc. are always welcome.

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
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  3. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 1

    Chapter 1
    11:00 Hours
    26 Oct 2012

    National Stadium
    Karachi, Pakistan

    Mushtaq Naqvi, son of Pakistani President, Saqlain Naqvi was going to make his first public speech to mark his formal entry in to the troubled nation's political arena. His entry in to politics was supposed to revive the sagging fortunes of his father and party PPP before national elections in 2013. PPP was in trouble on many fronts; most serious of them being their ongoing spat with powerful factions in Pakistani Army.

    A popular saying among people interested in international affairs is, “Every Country has an Army, the Pakistani Army has a country”.

    Naqvi was never a really popular President to begin with. He got the post for one reason only, his wife, former PM Samina Naqvi was assassinated while campaigning before elections in December 2007. One, amongst countless conspiracy theories circulating in Pakistan, suggested that the assassination was carried out on the orders of the then all powerful military dictator and “President”, General Inzamam. Most PPP supporters believed it and nurtured a deep resentment against the Army. Adding to this mistrust was the fact that PPP was Sindhi dominated while Punjabis formed the bulk of the Pakistani army. Most of the issues troubling Naqvi originated from this bitterness amongst the two groups.

    A major one was the growing closeness of PML (N), a Punjabi dominated party led by former PM Wasim Akhtar with powerful elements in army and its shady intelligence agency the ISI. Both resented PPP and its hold on civilian government and had been working behind the scenes patiently to weaken what they saw as disproportionate influence of Sindhis in nation's political arena. PML (N) and army together had launched a vicious campaign against PPP by planting stories about ill-gotten wealth and debauchery of the families of Zaradari and his PM Yaqub Raza in the media and executed targeted killings of PPP cadre, thinly disguised as terrorist attacks.

    The mastermind behind this sustained campaign against Sindhi PPP was General Abdul Asgar. He was ambitious and well-connected, who thought nothing of using people or ideologies for his personal gains. Right from the time he joined army, he had cultivated the image of being a pious Muslim with hatred for anything western or what Pakistanis thought of as anti-Pakistan. But nobody, except him, knew the real General Asgar and his ambitions.

    He quickly rose through the ranks to command a senior post in Pakistani Strategic Missile Group (SMG). He was a casualty of Musharraf's half-hearted attempts of purging the military of radical Islamic elements after 9/11 and was transferred to an army unit in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir bordering China and India. After Musharraf's exit, he was promoted to rank of a General and given the command of the army's garrison in Islamabad, and then in Karachi.

    Being a powerful army guy in Pakistan brings many benefits; money and political influence not being least of them and General Asgar was quick to make the most of it. Very soon, he was considered to be army chief in waiting as soon as General Beg stepped down. But Beg had other plans.

    Even though he considered General Asgar favourably, General Beg had no intentions of giving up the post of army chief anytime soon. During the last 18 months, he had started to appease his paymasters in the US with fervour by providing vital intelligence against major anti-US militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Using his help, NATO forces had captured or killed a number of most wanted terrorists in a short period. Although it increased his influence within the US, and correspondingly Pakistan, the numbers of enemies among Islamist militants as well as sympathetic elements in the defence forces and amongst the civilian population increased exponentially. Like General Pervez Musharraf before him, he too alleged numerous conspiracies and attempts of assassination directed against him to gain sympathy.

    Using his influence amongst US officials he managed to get extension to his already prolonged tenure, the latest one being in April 2011 that extended his virtual rule on Pakistan by another 3 years. In this, he had a lot of help from the US which was backing him to the hilt as their new "ally" in Pakistan.

    It didn't go down well with many people in Pakistan, least of all with General Asgar, who saw his chances of gaining absolute power in Pakistan rapidly diminishing. It was at this time, that General Asgar started looking for allies in Pakistan’s political arena and he zeroed in on Wasim Akhtar. Akhtar too, despised Beg who was protégé of his nemesis General Pervez Musharraf. Akhtar had never forgotten how Musharraf had launched the Kargil misadventure, overthrown his civilian government and put him into exile, thereby striking a crippling blow on his political clout and career. Even though he had no trust in the military, he was only too glad to forge a secret alliance with General Asgar, who promised him the positions of PM and President, in exchange for an indefinite tenure on the post of army chief for himself.

    Together, they had launched a vicious covert assault on PPP and the government it led. News stories were planted in local and international media exposing ill-gotten wealth, bribery and sex scandals of various ministers and army personnel loyal to Beg who were holding key positions in the regime. Many junior leaders and cadre of PPP and its allies were assassinated in violent attacks which were conveniently blamed on Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies.

    With just months to go into elections, effect of this onslaught on government and Beg's hold on it was tremendous. Nobody ever expected elections to be free and fair in Pakistan, but revelations of brazen corruption and immorality among ruling politicians and the Beg faction of the army caused the popularity of PPP and Beg plunge to an all time low. Adding to their woes was the ever increasing friction between cadre of PPP and Punjabi parties who indulged in almost daily clashes armed with automatic weapons and explosives. Punjabis having the support of General Asgar invariable had the upper hand in most of these battles. Combined with sectarian Shia-Sunni violence and frequent attacks by Talibani organisations, the situation in Pakistan was truly dire

    It was at this time when Mushtaq Naqvi was hurriedly called back from London to give a much needed boost to election campaign being led by his father. Mushtaq's publicity handlers were wise enough to cultivate his image as a suave and well educated secular Muslim who cared more about Pakistan than holding any position of power. This was particularly essential after pictures of him indulging in drinking and cavorting with women in London were published on the Internet. That was waved away as an inevitable discretion of youth, and Mushtaq Naqvi in 2012, was a far cry from the drunk womaniser that he was alleged to be.

    Sitting in his bulletproof SUV along with his father as it raced to the election rally spot, he listened intently as his father gave him last minute instructions on how to conduct himself on stage in front of thousands of supporters. As the convoy reached the rally spot, it was surrounded by thousands of eager supporters, intent on catching a glimpse of their young fresh leader. Death of his mother in similar conditions was still fresh in the minds of the security detail who had forbidden any member of Naqvi family to even peek outside the heavily tinted bulletproof windows of their vehicles. Their SUV stopped at the stairs of a twelve foot high temporary stage and both father and son quickly climbed up the stairs, surrounded by dozens of well trained and heavily armed commandos.

    PPP speaker Mahroof Raza who was already on stage greeted the father son duo warmly and escorted them to the chairs strategically placed so as to allow the crowd full glimpse of whoever was sitting there. After the customary hand waving, sloganeering and introductory speech by Raza, Naqvi senior took control of the mike to address the rally. He wanted this rally to be the launch pad for his son's future political career and presented Mushtaq as the next great hope for Pakistan. After waxing eloquent for what seemed like an eternity he invited his son to make his first ever speech in Pakistan. Flanked by his body-guards, Mushtaq got up from the chair and started walking towards the dais.

    His short journey was rudely interrupted by sounds of gun shots fired just 70-80 meters from the stage. Panic spread quickly among the massive crowd and the stadium was full of terrified people rushing towards the nearest exit. Saqlain and Mushtaq both were quickly surrounded by their body guards who started escorting them to their convoy. At this time, whole stadium shook with a massive explosion that blew up most of the stage and put the rest on fire.

    Last thing that senior Naqvi saw before losing consciousness was the sight of his son's body being tossed up high up in air like a broken rag doll.
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  4. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 2

    12:15 Hours
    26 Oct 2012

    Secret Army Safe House
    Karachi, Pakistan

    Lt. Zia knocked nervously on the closed door and waited for permission to enter. He had strict instructions to leave the occupants of the room in complete privacy, but owing to urgency of situation he felt he had no other option other than to comply with what the caller on the phone had asked for. The door was unlocked by General Asgar who inquired in a level voice the nature of the interruption. Lt. Zia just told him name of the caller and handed over the phone. General Asgar put the phone to his ear and ambled up to the sofa on which he had been sitting earlier.

    He winced as his ear was blasted by the frantic voice of Wasim Akhtar who seemed to be scared out of his wits.

    “What the hell just happened, General? Bombing of Naqvi's rally!! I tell you General, we are all screwed.”

    General Asgar asked mildly, “What are you talking about Wasim? “

    “PPP rally in National stadium was bombed! Switch on the TV for god sake. Naqvi is seriously injured and his son blown to pieces. Where are you hiding General? Why the hell did you did this? Didn't you think of the consequences?” Wasim shrieked.

    General Asgar’s voice suddenly took on a hard edge, “What makes you think that I'm behind this attack, Wasim? It's a very serious allegation that you are making “

    Surprised by the change in tone of General's voice Akhtar could only manage to stammer “But, but... what, err who could have done this? “

    “How am I supposed to know this? Do I look like an oracle? Keep watching the TV for any updates”

    “But everybody will accuse me only. PPP workers are already baying for our blood. What the hell am I supposed to do now? “Akhtar’s whining voice made General Asgar wince again. Maintaining his composure, he replied in a cool voice, “Whoever did this will soon take responsibility. Your name will not be dragged in to this. “

    “But what about those crazy Sindhis? They've already made up their minds that I'm behind this! Their leaders have already started mobilising supporters to avenge this bombing.”

    “I believe that your men are well trained and suitably armed to defend themselves against any such stupid attacks. You yourself are guarded well enough” General Asgar smiled to himself.

    “But you are missing the consequences. Even though Mushtaq was not a candidate, the elections can be postponed indefinitely due to his death. All the efforts that we had put in too discredit Naqvi and Gilani will be neutralised by the sympathy wave. “

    “You don't need to worry about that either. You have my support and only you'll win these elections. When was the last time, a free and fair election, was held in Pakistan anyway? “General Asgar laughed loudly at his own joke.

    “Are you really sure about this General? Remember our fortunes are tied to each other. If I go down you go down too”

    “I realise that very well Mian Wasim. Both of us will certainly get what we both need. Just relax and stop worrying about it. I want you to do one thing for your own sake. Organise a press conference as soon as possible and announce your shock and sorrow at this tremendous loss to nation. Just don't overdo the sympathy bit and go out publicly. Wait for someone to take responsibility for the attack. Do you understand me?”

    Wasim Akhtar replied like an obedient school boy to his teacher, “Yes General. I understand perfectly well.”

    General Asgar put down the phone and smiled at the only other occupant of the room, General Mao Hu of People Liberation Army, China. “You might have guessed it by now, it was future PM of Pakistan asking his trusty general for advice in face of what he thinks is a colossal crisis”

    General Hu replied, “Of course. It was only logical that he did. I assume that you were able to calm him down. Everything going according to plans?”

    “As always. Would you mind if I turn up the volume on TV? I think that they are broadcasting what I've been waiting for.”

    They both turned their attention to the TV screen on which the news channel was playing the voice recording of a man who claimed to be a member of a new Paksitani Islamic organisation, Al Mujahideen committed to cleanse Muslim nations of corruption and immorality. He claimed full responsibility of the attack on PPP rally and blamed the Naqvis of bringing shame to whole Islamic world by their corrupt ways and allegiance to kafir USA. Within minutes of having broadcast this recording, another channel played a recording made by Haqqani's eldest son who claimed that he had personally planned this attack to avenge the death of his father due to intelligence provided by Paki govt. Soon, all the channels were full of self-styled experts debating and analysing this new development and the “who-really-dunnit” blame game began in earnest.

    General Asgar turned down the volume and remarked, “These TV channels remind me of a circus that I once visited as a child. Shall we resume discussing our plans? “
  5. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

    Feb 17, 2009
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    post it please......................thanks.
  6. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 3

    18:00 Hours
    26 Oct 2012

    CIA Headquarters
    Langley, USA

    Bill Cosby, CIA's South Asia specialist was still going over his notes when a disheveled CIA chief Richard Cobain walked in to the meeting room. He slumped into a chair closest to the door and just lay there with his eyes closed. After a while he opened his eyes and said in a tired voice, “What are we dealing with here? Any idea who did this?”

    “Four different groups, two each based in Pakistan and Afghanistan, have claimed responsibility for the attack till now. Too soon to confirm anything" Cosby replied

    "I don't care what’s being shown on TV. Who really did it?”

    "There are so many players in this game that it's almost impossible to point out the culprit without any good piece of evidence."

    Richard replied in exasperated tone of voice, “For Christ's sake, I have to brief the president within two hours over this incident. What am I supposed to tell him? Do you want me to report that even after spending billions of dollars on gizmos, spooks and buying loyalties, we don't have any information on who very nearly killed the president of our nuclear armed ally? "

    Sergey Page, a senior analyst replied tentatively, "Actually we do have something that might prove interesting, but we are still missing some pieces of the puzzle. We have evidence of some kind of alliance between PML (N) led by Wasim Akhtar, General Asgar and the Chinese. A large number of PML (N) men have recently received weapons and training from people who we believe work for Pakistani army. We are not exactly sure how this bombing incident will help Wasim Akhtar, but weakening the PPP can pave the way for General Asgar to become even more powerful. But, the thing that's really worrying me is involvement of Chinese”

    "What do you mean?”

    “Chinese have been secretly propping up General Asgar as their man in Pakistan for quite some time now. After Beg started cooperating with us against the Taliban and Al Qaida terrorists, the only way he could survive in Pakistan was with our help. Also, our attacks on their strongholds in Af-Pak region forced many terrorists to move to safer places, the most prominent being the Muslim majority Chinese province of Xinjiang. The recent resurgence of "civil unrest" in Xinjiang is indirectly a consequence of our improved intelligence and tactics in Af-Pak".

    Page paused for breath and then continued, “For the Chinese, somebody they can control will be a much better asset than the current regime headed by Beg. He was supposed to step down from post of army chief last year and hand over the reins to Asgar, but he pulled a fast one by getting himself a 3 years extension. Now, Asgar has no chance of becoming army chief unless something drastic happens.

    "Drastic? Like assassination of the Naqvis?" Cobain half-inquired under his breath.

    Page replied, "Possibly yes! General Asgar is a very resourceful and ambitious man. We suspect that he stuck a deal with Chinese according to which he'll use their influence to gain power in exchange for crackdown on supporters of Uighur separatists in Af-Pak and possibly needling India. His dependence on the Chinese must have increased even more after Beg's newest extension.

    We had no choice except to help Beg prolong his tenure. We really need his cooperation in our war against terror and the only man senior enough to take his place, Asgar was on our list of suspected terrorist sympathisers in Pakistani defence forces that we handed over to Musharraf after 9/11. His links with Chinese and radical Islamists make him very unreliable and detrimental to our interests in the region. In fact, we have proof of his involvement with some militant Islamist groups that we are fighting. Some telephone intercepts suggest that these groups have been attacking PPP cadre on his instructions. "

    “Do you have any concrete evidence to prove involvement of Asgar and Chinese in this?" Richard asked sharply.

    Page was unruffled, “Not yet sir. We do have bits and pieces of evidence that points to some kind of alliance between Asgar, Wasim and Chinese. But nothing substantial that'll prove their involvement with this bombing."

    "Great! Less than 90 minutes before my conference with President, Joint Chief of staff and other biggies start and I have nothing to put on table except wild theories." A frustrated Richards addressed to no one in particular. “Well, gentlemen. From now on, presentation of some solid evidence to back up any theory will be highly appreciated. Thanks for your time."
  7. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 4

    19:00 Hours

    PM House
    New Delhi, India

    A meeting between the Indian PM, the Chiefs of Army, Navy, Air Force, NSA, and the Defence Minister was already in progress when the Home Minister rushed in to the building, closely followed by his aide, who was stopped at the door by the security guard. "Sorry sir, but we can't allow your companion in. He'll have to wait outside in the lobby till the meeting is over. Orders from above"

    HM paused for a moment to argue with the guard but then shrugged and went in himself alone to the secure conference room where NSA chief, Angad was debriefing PM and other participants on the current situation in Pakistan. Everybody paused for a moment when HM entered. Indian PM signaled him to take seat on the nearest available empty chair and said, “Got held up somewhere Purohit ji? Angad had just started explaining to us the current situation in Pakistan. I believe that you haven't missed anything that you already didn't know." and motioned NSA chief to continue.

    "As I was saying, Pakistani politics is currently divided in to numerous camps. But the biggest ones that we need to monitor are the Naqvi-Beg and Asgar-Akhtar alliances. They are being backed up by USA and China respectively. Also there are some minor political groups like MQM, PML (Q), and ANP etc. But their role and influence is comparatively minor. In addition to these mainstream parties, there are numerous jihadi tanzeems (organisations) that we monitor. Some are pro-government, others anti and still many others declare their allegiances on case by case basis. Without any major exceptions, they all sympathise or cooperate with Taliban and Al Qaida and are one of the major support bases for these terrorist organisations.

    Beg's renewed cooperation with US in war against terrorism has been a mixed bag for them. Even though, they've suffered the loss of many senior leaders by means of arrests and even killings, their wide support base and help from closet jihadis in Pak establishment, especially Army, ensures that their work continues unhindered. Our intelligence sources suggest that General Asgar has close links with many of these organisations and employs their cadre for his dirty work.

    Apart from this, there are two other factors that we can't afford to miss. First one is Balochistan and second is Pak Occupied Kashmir. Both regions are in serious turmoil directly due to Chinese.

    Of the two, it's POK that concerns us the most as it is Indian Territory illegally occupied by Pakistan and now being swamped with thousands of Chinese soldiers and workers. In early 2010, Pakistan allowed China to start building a massive network of roads, railway tracks and pipelines through the region connecting the two countries. Chinese hope to safe-guard their energy routes by using this line as it gives them a direct land-route to the Arabian Sea and Gwadar port. This way, they can avoid the longer and potentially less reliable route through Straits of Malacca. They have already started negotiations with Iran, Saudi Arab and some African countries to route their shipments, oil and gas through this port. Pakistanis also hope to benefit from this and have extended their full cooperation. In fact we have intelligence which proves that Chinese have been using, at least, two army bases and one air strip, in POK to move in their supplies and as storage dumps.

    Satellite pictures show construction of at least four permanent colonies where no civilian Pakistani is allowed. Each one of these colonies has one or more helipads and heavily armed guards on a 24x7 watch basis. Two of these colonies and military bases are less than 80 km from the Line of Control and can be used to launch a surprise attack against us within an hour's notice.

    Not only that, there are dozens of terrorist training camps in the vicinity, some of them in direct control of ISI and Paki army. It is a very dangerous situation for us. Chinese presence in this area means that if we decide to take any action against these terrorist camps in the near future, Chinese can get in the way. We have reports from multiple sources that Pakistanis have been planning a big terrorist attack in India very soon and I have a gut feeling that Chinese presence in this area will definitely come into play some way or the other.

    But the locals of that area are playing spoil-sport with Paki-Chinese plans. They allege that Chinese activities have destroyed their farms, polluted rivers and uprooted 100s of villages. Three out of four colonies are on the land belonging to the locals and they allege that they were paid insufficient compensation and in many cases, none at all. There have been many reports of protests being held by the affected villagers against the Chinese, but the Pakistani government has been able to hush it up.

    Chinese have responded by kidnapping, torturing and even killing some of the more troublesome protesters. Right now, the region is witnessing serious unrest and almost daily confrontations between the locals and Chinese take place. High handedness of the Chinese in dealing with protesters is starting to look like Soviet actions in Afghanistan. Pakistanis have been turning a blind eye to this, as the affected areas are mostly inhabited by ethnic Shias.

    As for Balochistan, people are faring no better there either. By and large, Balochis are moderate Muslims but some groups do have links with terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Balochi grievances are that the Punjabi and Sindhi dominated army and government are interested in exploiting natural resources of the region all the while treating them as 3rd rate citizens.

    Construction of Gwadar port, without any involvement or economic benefit to the locals, is the latest and just one of the items in a very long list of grievances that they hold against the Pakistani government. Balochis have been fighting a bloody war against the Pakistani establishment for a long time. Pakistani army has used everything in its arsenal ranging from heavy artillery, air strikes and covert missions to put down the rebellion, but the hardy Balochis have kept the resistance alive. However, the entry of Chinese in to the theater has changed the situation for worse.

    As I explained earlier, Gwadar port is supposed to be an important point in the new energy route for Chinese and they've invested billions of dollars in it. Common sense dictates that construction of such a massive port, transport routes, pipeline will result in large scale employment of locals and generation of goodwill for the investors. But Chinese kind of screwed up on this one too by employing Chinese workers and engineers for construction as well as daily operations of the port. Instead of helping locals by the creation of employment opportunities, Chinese actions, in the area have in fact caused the same repercussions as in PoK.

    Skirmishes between the Chinese and Balochis have already started in earnest. One of the latest causes of conflict is the oil-gas pipeline that Chinese are constructing from Gwadar to China through POK. Balochis forced work on the pipeline to be halted when they came to know that it'll pass through the pastures and native village of a leader of one of the most powerful nationalist Baloch leaders, Gaffar Khan of Baloch Nationalist Liberation Front. Negotiations between Chinese and Khan broke down over the compensation being offered by Chinese. Pakistanis intervened in their usual high-handed manner by arresting another senior leader and torturing him in custody.

    Enraged by this, the Balochis responded by ambushing the army convoys passing through the area and destroying any Chinese construction vehicle and material they could lay their hands on. Unfortunately, the situation was exacerbated when Chinese alleged that two of their unarmed workers died in the attack. A joint Pakistani and Chinese assault force then attacked 3 villages killing at least 57 people, 21 of them women and destroying numerous houses. Next day, son and pregnant daughter-in-law of Khan went missing while on en-route to her parent's house. Their badly burned bodies were found two days later around two km off the road. Nobody took responsibility, but that incident closed the lid on any possible reconciliation effort.

    Since then, a savage fight has been going on between the Balochis and the Paki-Chinese army with the latter using helicopter gunships and heavy artillery to completely raze down entire villages. Balochis have suffered high causalities, but they've managed to halt all construction work and supply lines to the Gwadar port through most of the area.

    This conflict has forced Chinese to look for an alternate route. The first alternative, follows the coastal highway connecting Gwadar to Karachi, then roughly follows either Indus or General Trunk Highway upto Islamabad and from there to occupied Kashmir. But this alternate route is much closer to the Indo-Pak border and within our easy striking distance. Further, they have already invested billions in mapping and construction of the route through Balochistan. Such a drastic change of plans, at this time, will not only increase the operational cost of the project but also cause unacceptable delay.

    For the moment, they are trying their level best to find a way out in Balochistan, but I doubt if the Balochis will oblige. They know that even if they manage to quell the rebellion, nothing short of genocide and complete ethnic cleansing will ensure safety of their route from sabotage in future. All these facts are explained in detail with maps in the reports that I've placed in front of you. You're welcome to ask any questions

    HM was first, “With billions of dollars that they have at their disposal, what stops the Chinese from just buying off the locals in Balochistan and POK and prevent all this bloodshed and delay? “

    “If Chinese have billions of dollars, US can print trillions even at the cost of damage to its economy that such an action might bring. In case of POK, Chinese have displaced people from dozens of mountainous villages where land suitable for farming and rearing cattle is at a premium and constructed their colonies and roads. The people who have lost their lands have nowhere to go and make a living outside POK as they don't have full rights as other Pakistanis. Even those who haven't lost their lands directly have suffered due to pollution, land-slides, flooding among other side-effects brought upon by indiscriminate Chinese activity in a fragile eco-system.

    As for Balochistan, things could've been much better if Pakistani army officers were kept out of the compensation process. Balochis alleged that army siphoned off a lion’s share of the money that was given by the Chinese and they were left with nothing. When Chinese attempted to talk directly, Pakis brought in their H & D (Honour and Dignity) issue in to play and also screwed up everything by picking up needless fights. Same thing happened in POK too.”

    PM asked the next question, “Is Chinese presence in Balochistan and POK in anyway related to the attack on the PPP rally? “

    “I only have a theory sir.” Angad replied hesitatingly.

    “Let’s hear it!”

    “Pakistanis have been moving slowly on the Gwadar port route due to US pressure on Beg and the civilian government. The US has been sponsoring psy-ops for quite some time against the project by questioning whether anybody except the army and its stooges will gain anything out of this, covertly of course. Beg regime was already under enormous domestic and international pressure due to corruption charges and this whisper campaign forced him to tow the US line. Work on the Balochistan route was halted many times citing environment clearances, land ownership issues and so on much to the annoyance of Chinese.

    Although it seems kind of farfetched, one of the quickest ways to get the work completed as soon as possible is to have their own puppet in control instead of a US controlled one. For Chinese, there is no one better than General Asgar for this job. They've been propping him up for quite some time now, as a counter to US influence. They planned to use him to push their agenda after Beg stepped down, but Beg's three year extension put a spanner to their plans. Chinese wouldn't let their investment go down the drain and will do anything within their ability to retain their influence and activate that route. They don't see it as an option but a vital necessity. They'll do anything to weaken Beg and install their own man. This near fatal attack on Naqvi is a big blow to the public moral and image of army. Something that General Asgar and Chinese really want.”

    “Why don't Chinese try buying off Beg instead of playing such dangerous games? “ Home minister inquired.

    “Well, I don't think that they didn't try that. We know for a fact that two senior PLA generals visited Beg many times over that last two years, ostensibly for the same purpose you mentioned and also to pressurise him to stop the training and infiltration of ethnic Uighur militants into XinJiang. But Beg knows too well that he and PPP government can't last a day without US support.

    As for the Uighur militant issue, he is powerless to oblige China without messing up US plans. It's not like reign of Musharraf when Pakis were able to use terrorists for their own means even when pretending to fight them in exchange for money and military aid. Americans have wisened up to the duplicity and perfidy of Pakis and have kept everything on a tight leash. They want to get out of Af-Pak as soon as possible and allowing Chinese controlled Asgar to rule Pakistan will make a graceful exit impossible for them.”

    “So it seems like US and China are fighting a proxy war, each one using Pakistanis as pawns. “, PM said with a wry smile.

    “But not without serious consequences for us.” Defence minister interjected. “A US-China battle ground in our nuclear armed neighbour is a nightmare. But I don't think any one of the two will be foolish enough to destabilise the country, it being in tatters as it already is.”

    “Agreed. I don't think that either the US or China will enter into direct conflict with each other. But their cat-and mouse games are sure to cause serious unrest. It could even result in a civil war. I don't want to even contemplate that.” DM said with a shudder.

    PM asked Angad, “Why has Asgar not tried to initiate a coup against Beg till now? Or did Beg try to defang Asgar? “

    “It sure seems like a quick fix, but both are serving army men and any such move by either of the two will surely cause division within the army and the likelihood of a civil war. With nukes in the picture, nobody knows the consequences. Even without nukes, it's a lose-lose condition for both, unless something unexpected happens, “Angad replied

    “Unexpected like?”

    Angad paused for a moment before speaking, “Like Beg willingly hands over the reins to Asgar in exchange for a guaranteed safe exit and large sum of money. Or Asgar dies, in that case there is nobody senior enough in Paki army hierarchy that Chinese control to challenge Beg. But Asgar has good contacts with many Islamist terrorist organisations and most worryingly with army wing in charge of the nukes from his pre-9/11 days.

    Beg can also postpone the elections, impose martial law, and cut the wings of Asgar by arresting him or by other means. On the other hand, if Beg dies, power is still in hands of civilian government and they can demote or dismiss Asgar. But I seriously doubt that Asgar and his Chinese allies will let that happen.”

    “So, what does that mean for us?”

    “In the case of a civil war, anything from terrorist strikes, to a full blown war to deflect any attention. Threat of a nuclear attack blamed on a rogue commander or on terrorists is very likely. Chinese will surely try to take advantage of the situation.”

    “A stable Pakistan is in our interests after all!” DM remarked bitterly.

    “I dare say it's not. If we play our cards right, we can use the instability in Pakistan to cut China down to size as well as rid ourselves of the shackles of terrorism and nuclear blackmail that these two threaten us with. “Angad responded eagerly to an approving nod from the army chief, General Zoravar Singh.

    “Interesting” DM replied. “What are our options?”

    “I believe our service chiefs already have a plan that they can explain much better than me “

    PM turned to the three chiefs who so far had been listening to every word intently and spoke, “Let’s hear it gentlemen.”

    All three chiefs shared glances with each other and nodded a silent agreement. General Zoravar Singh leaned forward on his chair and began explaining their battle plans to a fully attentive audience.
  8. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    In progress ;)
    Pintu likes this.
  9. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 6

    10:00 Hours
    27 Oct 2012

    Central Market
    Karachi, Pakistan

    Mohammed Shafiq was in a bad mood when he stopped his car in front of his 25 years old eatery in Central Market, one of the busiest in Karachi. He came to the city when he was barely 13 years old, after running away from his home in Multan. He did various jobs for 11 years and somehow scraped up enough money to start his own shop in Central Market. Over the years he managed to establish a reputation of serving good food at affordable prices. Most of his customers were local shopkeepers and their employees who bought their breakfast and lunch from him daily.

    His daily commute of 20 minutes to his shop today took him 3 hours due to the almost curfew like security measures in place. Although Pakistanis were used to terrorist attacks and the subsequent tight security regime that invariably followed such attacks, the measures deployed today were extreme by even Paki standards. Every occupant of every vehicle was told to disembark and then body-searched in addition to metal-detector and dog sniffer checks. This delay had cost him earnings he made every morning that amounted to almost half of his daily income every day. He barked at Shahid, the eighteen year old helper who was dozing in front of the shop, to get the keys and open the shutters while he searched for a place to park his car. A delay of three hours meant that most of the already scarce parking spaces were already full and he had to park his car at a considerable distance from his usual place near the shop. Cursing everybody in general for his troubles he took out a cigarette and started walking towards his shop. His unpleasant mood was slightly softened at the sight of a few regulars starting to assemble in anticipation of an early lunch or a late breakfast.

    Shafiq's attention was diverted by sound of a pickup truck being rashly driven that passed him by with only inches to spare. He swore loudly cursing the driver and his relatives to hell and worse. His rant was suddenly interrupted by the sight of that truck suddenly changing its direction towards the small crowd in front of his shop. Before his horrified eyes the truck ran over 3 people and stopped after hitting the wall of his shop. He shouted at the people around for help and starting running towards the scene of accident. He was still twenty meters away when the truck exploded with a loud bang and caught fire. Shafiq along with many other people was thrown back many meters by the force of the blast, wounded grievously. Fire from the truck soon reached the LPG cylinders in the eatery which exploded spreading the fire. Eight fire brigade trucks took 4 hours to extinguish the blaze which turned more than half of Karachi's most crowded market into ashes, killed thirty seven people, and wounded many more.

    19:00 Hours
    27 Oct 2012

    PM House
    New Delhi, India

    Six big blasts, in four cities, within a span of four hours!” the Indian PM was incredulous, “What the hell is happening in Pakistan? “

    “Bomb blasts are least of their worries right now. More Pakistani civilians have died in riots that broke out after the blasts than the blasts themselves. More are dying even as we speak. “Angad replied.

    “Any idea who did this? Were all blasts planned by a single group”? PM asked even though he knew the answer he'd get.

    Angad shrugged, “We are still analysing our intelligence reports. There are numerous suspects, but whoever did this, executed it really well. Unlike the attack on Paki President, no one has taken the responsibility for these attacks yet. “

    “I just hope that these guys have enough sense not to blame us for this.” DM remarked warily.

    “That’s a feeling we both share.” PM murmured and lapsed into a moody silence.

    “We've already issued an official statement condemning the bombings. But I have serious doubts whether it'll make any difference to these idiots. They'll blame everybody except themselves for all their troubles.” DM continued. “I'd like to put our forces on border on a heightened state of alert, but I'm sure that it'll be taken as a sign of aggression.”

    “Only border? I'd like to put all our security agencies on high alert. I'm willing to bet you anything that some Islamist nuts have already started planning terrorist strikes against us”. HM spoke to the nodding agreement of Angad.

    “We can put state police and other internal security organisations on high alert without any problem but doing it on the international border is a different matter. Doing so will not only increase tension but bring to bear international pressure on us. Pakis have always exploited anti-Hindu feelings and utilised the anti-India card to divert attention from real issues since long and any such action on our part will surely provide them with an excuse to cause some mischief.”

    “Would you rather have similar terrorist attacks in our cities than take necessary actions to avoid them lest it offends the Pakis?” HM asked testily.

    “Our forces in J&K are always on high alert and BSF is guarding rest of IB in western sector fairly well. In current situation, maximum we can do is to increase size and frequency of patrols without making it public. Anything beyond this will be seen as unprovoked aggression on our part. Mobilisation of army in current situation is out of question.” DM retorted.

    This exchange was broken by buzzing of the intercom. Angad put the phone to his ear and without saying a word turned on the large LCD TV in room. All eyes in the room were turned to the news channel on which serving Pakistani Army Chief General Beg was reading his speech. He spoke of the recent bombings and subsequent riots and their effect on the already precarious security situation in Pakistan. He went on to announce the imposition of martial law, postponing of elections pending better security conditions and his appointment as the country's military ruler until such conditions were achieved. War against Islamic terrorism was to continue without any change as per the requirements of his allies. He finished the speech asking for help from the international community in Pakistan's hour of need.

    “Well, that changes something I guess. At least he had the fig leaf of a civilian regime before this. ” PM was first to break the silence.

    “He didn't mention anything about mobilisation of army or reshuffling of top posts. I can't find anything in his speech that'll specifically change anything for us in near future.” DM observed.

    “What about our peace talks? We can't be seen negotiating for peace with a military dictator. “PM asked in a worried voice.

    DM rolled his eyes and was about to say something when he was interrupted by HM, “You are still serious about that “peace talk” thing?

    PM replied in a surprised fashion, “Why not? Do we have a choice?”

    “We can worry about “peace talks” later. Right now, we have a situation at hand that needs our immediate attention.” HM responded. “What do you think of it Angad? “

    “One of many things that worry me is the reaction of General Asgar. I don't think he'll take it easily. Beg didn't mention anything about him and we don't know what he is going to do. Unless Beg has offered him something substantial, he will not take it lying down. Especially, when he has the backing of the Chinese.”

    “What's the worst that could come of it?”

    “An attempted coup followed by a bloody civil war is one thing that comes to the mind.” DM replied glumly.

    “You mean Asgar trying to overthrow Beg? But this is madness!” PM exclaimed.

    “Well, we discussed something like that in our last meeting.”

    DM looked towards HM before replying “Seems like we'll have to put our forces on maximum alert now. No point in taking chances when Chinese and Pakis are involved. “

    “What is your opinion Angad? “ PM looked towards NSA chief hopefully.

    “I agree with Defence Minister. Not only Army, even Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard should be put on high alert. It'd be foolish to just guard IB after Mumbai attack.”

    “Very well then. Do whatever is necessary, but take every precaution to keep things under control. I don't want a possible nuclear war due to any misunderstanding. ”

    DM allowed himself a smile, “Don’t worry, sir. We'll issue a press statement and send a dossier to assure everybody of our benign intentions.”
  10. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 7

    19:30 Hours
    27 Oct 2012

    Karachi Garrison

    General Asgar was pacing his office waiting impatiently for his telephone to ring. General Beg's reaction to the bombings and riots had taken him completely by surprise. As soon as he came to know of it he tried contacting General Hu but was told by his aide that Hu was in a meeting with senior leaders of the Party and could not be excused. Asgar could do nothing but wait for Hu to contact him and that made him mad.

    Presently the phone rang and Asgar rushed towards the table to pick it up. Smooth voice of General Hu came in on the line, “Good evening General. I understand that there've been some unexpected events?”

    “Why else would I feel the need to contact you General Hu, if everything was alright?” Asgar asked angrily.

    Hu ignored the jab and continued in the same voice, “Well, Beg's action were not really unexpected after what happened to Naqvis and the unfortunate blasts and riots in your country today.”

    “Nothing is really unexpected once it has happened. Now what am I supposed to do? I don't even know who is behind these blasts. “

    “If you leave out Islamic terrorists, who do you think can possibly benefit from this? “

    “Beg himself! But is it really possible? Serving Army chief orchestrating bombings and riots to get the chair! “

    Hu replied, “We don't know if he did it or not. But think of the consequences if it is somehow proved as being the truth.”

    “Even if he really did this and we manage to prove it as such, it will not amount to anything. Americans will not withdraw their support and Beg will continue his rule” Asgar lamented.

    “Not if you snatch it from him”.

    Asgar nearly jumped out of his chair, “A coup! That too against a serving Amy General! Are you in your senses? Do you really think that Americans will let their poodle go down so easily? “

    Hu replied in a soothing voice, “I know very well what I'm talking about General. If Americans are backing Beg, you have all the might and goodwill of Chinese republic behind you. You realise that China is an all weather ally of Pakistan unlike US, even your public knows this truth.”

    “What will you gain from this? “

    “Come on General! We both have common goals and interests that we've discussed so many times. It's just that we need to find a somewhat different way to get you to the top post. ”

    “It'll not be so easy General Hu, as you might be thinking. There are a million things that could go wrong. General Beg is no fool. I'm sure that he must have planned for any such attempted coups. Grabbing power from him could turn in to a bloody and long affair. And what is going to stop Americans from coming to his aid?”

    Hu replied in a reproaching voice, “You seem to forget your Chinese allies too easily, General. Whatever you need of us, you just need to ask.”

    “I'm worried about American intervention because of the nukes. They'll do anything to stop me from gaining their control. You know the history. “

    “You need not worry about that General. Didn't I just say that you just have to ask?”

    “What? Are you djinn (genie) or something? Genei Hu?” Asgar laughed nervously.

    “Maybe.” Hu replied mysteriously. “You are really worried about being nuke nude, aren't you? “

    “Of course yes.”

    “In that case, how about we supplying you a minimum of six nuclear missiles within two days of your request? Painted in your Pakistani colours, all ready to parade around or even launch at your enemies as you see fit. Beg needs approval from his American masters even to see the Paki nuke assets. But you'll have your own, completely independent ready to launch nuclear tipped missiles. Even if Americans disable all the nukes and missiles that your country already has, you still have something to scare your enemies. You'll get more weapons later according to your requirements. “

    Asgar stammered, “Yes...yes...That'll be really great. But, what about the Indians? How do we keep them from any mischief?”

    “Indians wouldn't be able to interfere in our plans anyway. If needed, we'll keep them occupied. You just have to act fast before anybody has the chance to react. ”

    “I understand. You just take care of the nuke business and keep an eye on India. I can easily handle Beg myself. After I seize power, nobody will have any option but to respect my authority.”Asgar felt some of his old confidence returning.

    “Very well then. I'll be seeing you in person real soon. Goodbye and good luck.”
  11. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 8

    03:30 Hours
    28 Oct 2012

    Army HQ

    The last few days had been really hectic for General Beg and his face showed it. He hadn’t had a moment of rest during the last two days and his eyes were puffy and red from cigarette smoke and endless cups of tea consumed during that period. Right after his announcement of martial law on TV, he had called a meeting to discuss his future course of action with some of his trusted army and civilian officers. He had decided to keep most of the civilian bureaucratic setup unchanged for the moment to deflect some domestic pressure. All of the cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats were to continue their work as usual. But a few changes in the Army were inevitable and officers loyal to him reaped all the benefits in form of promotions and transfers to desirable places. For General Beg, it was a necessity to consolidate his position rather than to reward his cronies. All the promoted and transferred officers were supposed to take up their commands within 24 hours but nobody was complaining. The officers who had to vacate their posts to make way for these new beneficiaries were sure to complain, but they didn't know of it yet.

    After the meeting was over, he poured himself a stiff drink of scotch and called for his car to take him to his residence. The drive to his official bungalow took barely ten minutes on a crowded day; it was going to be even shorter in these wee hours. He finished his drink leisurely and ambled out of the front door of the building towards his waiting bullet-proof car. A body guard who usually sat alongside his driver in front seat saluted smartly and opened the back door for him. Beg got in the back seat and closed his eyes as the driver slowly eased his car out of the driveway. 22 heavily armed commandos in 7 cars and SUVs surrounded the car and escorted him.

    He felt mobile phone in his pocket vibrating signaling arrival of a new sms, but he ignored it for the moment. Nobody sent him any sms apart from his 12 years old son, but he should've been fast asleep now. He opened his eyes just minutes later when his driver stopped the car in front of the bomb proof gate of his bungalow. There was a lawn almost 70 meters across between the gate and bungalow with a narrow paved driveway joining the two. Even though all the lights in the lawn were on, those inside the house were off, except for a single bulb on the porch of front entrance.

    He yawned and took his phone out to read the message. In the meantime gate was opened and first car of his convoy started entering the premises. He fumbled with the buttons to get to message inbox and smiled quizzically when he read his son name as the sender of message. “It's a little late for the little monkey to be up. Even the lights of whole house are off.”

    He pressed the read button to open the message and his smiled disappeared at once. It was very short and read, “Bad men inside. Do not come. Send help.”

    He immediately asked his driver to stop the car. All of his convoy behind him rolled to a stop. He snatched the walkie-talkie from the guard in front seat and hailed Major Sohail riding in leading SUV of convoy. “There's a situation Major Sohail. I think my family is being held hostage inside the house.”

    “What! I don't understand sir” Sohail exclaimed.

    “I just received this message from my son warning me that some bad men are inside and that I should send help.”

    “Asif is not of prankster type. Any idea who or what are we dealing with?”

    “No. He didn't tell. I'm trying to call him but his phone is switched off. We need to act fast. “

    “Agreed General. I'm calling for additional forces from the HQ. Meanwhile we'll check the house ourselves. You stay in your vehicle sir.”

    “Alright. Hurry but be very careful. “

    “Roger that.”

    Sohail immediately gathered his men and ordered 12 of them to take positions around the house and guard the general. All the windows of the house were barricaded by grills and there were only two entrances to the house, one each in front and back. Guarded by two armed soldiers, at all times. He split the rest of his men in two five member teams, one for each entrance and decided to lead the one entering through the front door himself.

    Running towards the door he prayed that Asif was indeed playing a prank on his father for once. If he was not, all his men were in serious trouble. The bad guys inside the house must already have him and rest of his team in their gun sights all this while. Feeling of butterflies in his stomach got worse as he neared the front entrance. Two guards who were supposed to be there at all times were missing. Just then, Hav. Yaqub leading his 2nd search team informed him that there were no guards on back entrance either. For a moment he considered waiting for the backup to arrive. After all, it wouldn't take 10 minutes for them to reach here. He brushed away these thoughts from his mind. He was a professional soldier trained for all kinds of situations. Backup or no backup, it was his duty to complete the mission assigned to him.

    About 10 metres from the door he thought that he saw somebody moving on the balcony on 1st floor. He was about to hail whoever was there, when he saw a flash and heard the whooshing sound typical of a RPG-69. Before he had the time to react, the rocket smashed in to the ground right in the middle of his team and exploded. Two of his team members were blown to pieces while the rest were thrown off their feet by impact of the blast. As he struggled to get up and return fire, he heard sounds of heavy gunfire and grenade blasts coming from back of the house, right were his 2nd team was supposed to be. He shouted at the survivors of his team to follow him as he ran towards the cover behind the heavy flower pots around the entrance. This time his approach was interrupted by a hail of heavy AK 47 gunfire and remaining two commandos following him dropped dead. He himself was hit by a bullet in left leg, but managed to crawl up behind cover of a flower pot where he lay bleeding, unable to move or fire back at his attackers.

    General Beg was watching this carnage from the back seat of his car. Ten of his men were down without even firing a single bullet. His car was hidden from the house by a row of trees and decorative bushes, but they'll provide no cover from the bullets once the intruders in the house start firing in his direction. He had no idea how many people were inside and could only guess their intentions. He only knew that they were very heavily armed and had his family hostage. Only thing he could do was to wait for backup from HQ to arrive. Till then, it'll be better if he got himself out of their weapons range.

    He ordered rest of his men to get in cars and get out of the bungalow. His driver immediately started the engine and put the car into reverse gear. His convoy, now reduced to four cars started backing up towards the gate at a high speed.

    It was time to pay back for their second mistake. They had completely forgotten about the guards on the gate. As the first car neared the gate, one of the three guards on duty fired a RPG on it killing three commandos who were in it. The other two started firing from their assault rifles. Survivors took cover and started firing back. Guard who had fired the RPG was killed as he was trying to reload it. Just then, intruders in the house directed their small arms fire towards the convoy.

    Inside his bulletproof car Beg was frantically shouting into the walkie-talkie calling for backup. Major Aslam answered him, “I'm almost at the gates of your bungalow General, but how do we get in? “

    General Beg was furious, “What do you mean by that?”

    “Your gate and boundary wall are bullet proof and bomb proof, designed to keep armed intruders out.”

    “For God's sake, just blow up the damned thing using C4 charges. I don't care if you use up whole stock. We are being shot to hell from two sides. Thirteen of my men are dead already. “

    “Understood sir. My men are placing the charges now.”

    Moments later, whole compound shook when the C4 charges planted by men of Major Aslam's team exploded. One of the guards near the gate was knocked down by the flying debris. Explosions also disoriented the third and last guard who was killed when he tried to run across the lawn towards the house.

    Remains of General Beg’s battered convoy sped out of the bungalow premises towards the reinforcements. Aslam at once came running towards Beg’s car and saluted when General himself opened the door and got out to take a look at the reinforcements.

    “Major, you arrived just in time to save our asses. These buggers killed half of my men in minutes and still have my family. They are no ordinary terrorists.” Beg said somewhat shakily.

    “We can take out these rats easily sir. Just give us the order. “

    “Don’t be a fool. These men might be holding my family inside the house. I can’t risk their lives. “Beg snapped. “Find out what their demands are. Only then I’ll decide on future course of action”

    “Yes sir.”

    Aslam was back fifteen minutes later with the new that his men had discovered that telephone lines to the house were cut from the junction box in guard house. Within minutes, Beg received news that the lines were reattached. He himself dialed his landline number and waited anxiously as the telephone inside his house rang. He was nearly startled when someone inside the house picked up the phone. Beg started shouting at once, “Hello, hello!! Who is there? Nussarat? Is that you? “

    A heavy male voice replied mockingly, “Ah General Beg .You really have a long life. We were just about to call you.”

    “Who the hell are you and what do you want? Where is my family? They’d better be alright; otherwise you’ll regret that you were ever born.” Beg was beside himself.

    Man on the other side laughed and said, “Relax General. Your family is completely safe with us. We don’t wish any harm to them or even you. “

    “Then why have you taken them hostage and why did you kill my bodyguards?”

    “That was really unfortunate general. Believe me. If we had any choice, none of this bloodshed would have happened. Our plan was to meet you inside and persuade you to act according to our wishes in a reasonable and mutually beneficial way. Only if your boy was not so naughty so as to warn you, you’d know of our benign intentions firsthand.”

    “Shut the hell up and tell me who you are and what do you want?” Beg bellowed into the phone.

    “Well, who we are is not important General. But, what we want from you is infinitely more important. We just want you to give up one thing that you should’ve relinquished long ago “

    “What is that? “

    “Your post of Chief of Army Staff.” The voice replied in a very casual manner. But the effect on General Beg was anything was casual. He lost whatever self-control he had on himself and started shouting even louder into the phone.

    “Who the hell you think you are you filthy son of a bitch? Do you think that you can just walk into my house and force me to handover everything that I worked for all my life just like that? I have lakhs of men at my command. I control the whole country, I control the Americans. You are nothing but a sneaking filthy rat. My men will enter the house and tear you apart within minutes.”

    Man on other side of the line laughed even louder this time, “I’d not count on that if I were you. You need to understand it very clearly General that we are not ordinary terrorists. Our goal is to make sure that you give up your post with as little trouble as possible. We do have other means to persuade you apart from your family.”

    “What do you mean? “

    “For starters, why don’t you try calling General Khalid? Maybe that’ll make you see the light. I’ll call you after ten minutes. “

    General Beg was left holding the phone to his ear. He immediately broke out of his paralytic state and asked Major Aslam to contact General Khalid. Beg had promoted Khalid in order to cut down the power of General Asgar. Khalid was to assume command of Karachi garrison from Asgar who was transferred to a Nak Bundi near Afghanistan border. There his role would’ve been nothing more than that of a border guard. Orders to this effect were issued just a few hours ago in just concluded meeting.

    Aslam was back within minutes looking shaken, “Sir, we have some very bad news. General Khalid convoy was attacked just outside his house just a few minutes ago. He is missing and five of his bodyguards are dead. Survivors claim that attackers who were in army uniforms bundled him into an army vehicle and sped away. “

    Beg was speechless for a moment. “Can anybody tell me what the hell is going on? Are you telling me that some nuts not only took my family hostage and almost killed me inside my own house, but also managed to kidnap my most trustworthy subordinate? That too, right inside my cantonment?”

    Aslam shifted uneasily on his feet but kept quiet. He was rescued by ringing of Beg’s phone. It was from his house and he at once accepted the call and snarled into the phone, “What have you done with General Khalid you bastard? Who are you working for? “

    Man completely ignored his questions, “Do you realise what you are up against, General? You, your family, your cronies, nobody is safe even in your own backyard. You might wear the stars, but it’s us who control everything in this country. For your own sake General, I’d strongly urge you to give up and do exactly as we say. “

    “If I resign, who’ll take up my place?”

    “You need not worry about that General. After you retire, we’ll make sure that you lead a very comfortable retired life anywhere in the world. “

    “It’s that bastard Asgar and you work under him? Isn’t it? I always knew that he wanted my job, but never imagined that he’d stoop so low.”

    “Right now, it’s not important who wants you job. Only thing important is the safety of you and your family. After all we can’t afford to keep them tied and bound for long.” Threat in the voice was too explicit to be ignored.

    “Like hell I will. You’ve signed your own death warrant asshole. None of you will leave this building alive, even if it’s the last thing I’ll ever do.”

    He disconnected the call and ordered Aslam to collect a crack team to storm the house. In the mayhem that followed his orders, his men suffered twenty eight causalities. They managed to save his son but not his wife. Her dead body was found in her bedroom, shot at point blank range. Total of eleven dead intruders were found, all in army uniforms but with fake identification papers. All were later identified as serving army person, three of them commissioned officers.
  12. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Chapter 9

    20:00 Hours
    27 October 2010

    Point 711 Border Post
    Uri, J&K

    Major Ajay Singh was staring at the written order that he had just received from Army HQ. His orderly Subedar Gurang Thapa stood by. He could read the excitement in the Gorkha's twinkling eyes. “Where are these journalists right now?” he asked quietly.

    “They are staying at the HQ. They'll be here by tomorrow morning by helicopter if the weather permits. “Sub Thapa replied eagerly. Sub Thapa was one of the happiest men in the unit right now. Visit of journalists from a national TV channel meant he could be on national TV. His fiancée would be impressed.

    “Is old Verma out of his mind? How are we supposed to help these clowns document the situation at our borders? We are seriously short of manpower as it is and now we have to play tour guide to these dorks from the TV channel! “Ajay muttered in exasperation to himself. Then to Sub Thapa, “Get me Col. Verma. He is not the kind of man given to such frivolities. “

    Much to chagrin of Maj Ajay, Col Verma was unmoved by all his protests. TV channel had obtained permission from defence and home ministries for this visit. Defence minister had called Army HQ himself to ensure that full cooperation was extended to the journalists.

    “It should be no big deal Ajay. Most of their work is already done in HQ itself. All they need now is to document daily lives of soldiers at the border. Just take them with you on a patrol. Show them the border posts and tell them about your daily lives on the posts on the mountains. You should be happy that you and your men are going to be on national TV. “

    “Being on TV is the last thing on my mind. Conditions are really volatile these days. We are observing a lot of activity on the Paki side. We can't risk ignorant civilians playing tourists in such a minefield. “

    Col Verma explained patiently, “It's not a war field yet. You just have to act like yourself and allow these guys to film you in the process. How difficult it could be? Ministry thinks that we need all the coverage we can get and what better way to get some journos to see what we army guys daily go through protecting country's borders? These guys are not completely ignorant. Lead journalist has covered Kargil war from the battlefield itself. I believe that she can handle herself fairly well in peacetime.”

    “She was more trouble than anything else then. I don't think that she has improved a bit”

    “You are not the one to judge that Major. Col Verma replied sternly. We have our orders and we have to follow them to best of our ability. These journalists, one of them a cameraman will be at your post by 0500 hours, by chopper. You'll allow them to do their work as explained in written order. Am I clear on this? “

    “Yes Sir. Over and out.”

    Maj Ajay disconnected the radio call and walked out of his weather proof shelter. He was in charge of 11 posts spread about on the mountainous terrain, each one manned by 8-12 men. Their main task was to prevent infiltration of Paki terrorists across this difficult terrain.

    Each post was constructed within line of sight of at least one other post, sometimes two. But bad weather and almost daily fog during winters nullified any advantage that such arrangement provided. Each post consisted of 1-3 concrete bunker manned by 2 man heavy machine gun teams. Some of the posts had mortars for heavier fire-power and could call for artillery fire from 120 and 155mm guns cleverly hidden a few km behind them. This artillery was useful to suppress the Paki border guards whenever they tried to provide covering fire to the infiltrators. Soldiers usually slept in pre-fabricated igloo like structures constructed of multi-layered fiber-glass and plastic material. This structure provided excellent protection against all kinds of weather.

    But first line of defence for these soldiers was the fence on border. The fence itself was a formidable obstacle for any infiltrator. 12 feet high, electrified and covered with motion sensors, heat detectors and cameras with night vision, it was nearly impossible to cross. Number of successful infiltrations had come down drastically wherever the fence was constructed and soldiers were happy for that. The border was not entirely fenced due to the difficult terrain, forests and numerous nullahs and small rivers that abound in mountains. Thus there were some points where there were large gaps from where infiltrators regularly tried to slip in. Soldiers thus had to keep constant watch over such points. Each post sent out a 6 man patrol, thrice daily, to check the integrity of the fence and look out for terrorists from Pakistan trying to slip in.

    By this time in October, winters usually set in and covered the whole area with snow making infiltration a very difficult affair for Pakis. Most of the infiltration attempts in this area were made just before this time. But winters were unusually mild this year. Only a light snowfall spread over two weeks happened and most of the snow melted before it snowed again. The whole area was covered with brown mud instead of white snow which was visible only on the highest rocky tips of the mountains. It made job of the soldiers doubly difficult. Not only there was no snow to slow down the infiltrators, it also made their patrol routes muddy and difficult to travel. Mules which carried most of supplies for these soldiers high up in the mountains often got stuck in the mud increasing their misery.

    Pakis on other side of the fence were quite aware of this and were trying to take full advantage of the situation. In spite of the mess their own country was in, they were sparing no effort to push in as many terrorists as possible across the border. According to intelligence reports, there were a minimum of 60 terrorists waiting in various jihadi safe houses across the border, each one guarded by Paki army personnel. More terrorists were streaming in every day from terrorist training camps all around the area. Fence was taking the brunt of their attempts at infiltration and Pakis were trying to create as much gaps as possible by directly shelling and cutting it under the cover of darkness. There were reports of Pakis digging tunnels below the fence and Indians were leaving no stone unturned to counter this. Orders had come in to increase duration and frequency of the patrols. In addition to the usual gear, each patrol now carried a video camera to document all the damage and repair work done on the fence. These extended patrols were taking their toll on Indian soldiers who were short of manpower even during relatively peaceful periods.

    All of this was on Maj Ajay's mind as he saw a patrol team from his post come in after repairing yet another breach in the fence a few km away. He shrugged away all thoughts of the impeding visit of the journos as he prepared himself for reporting by the team. Varsha Butt from UNDE TV was not due to land for another 9 hours.
  13. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Somewhere else
    Chapter 10

    07:30 Hours
    28 Oct 2010

    Point 711 Border Post
    Uri, J&K

    Sub Gurung Thapa was proving to be an enthusiastic host for the two journalists. He had assumed the responsibility of a hospitable host right from the moment that the chopper carrying Varsha Dutt and her cameraman Sidhesh Pathik had landed. Maj Ajay Singh had received the visitors himself, but then had handed over the reign to Gurung. He in turn was only too glad to have the opportunity of getting his photos clicked and having an attentive audience. It wasn’t everyday that reporters from national TV channels came visiting for interviews. After handing them much needed cups of hot coffee, he took the journalists on a guided tour of the small base, explaining everything about their daily routine. Varsha kept asking questions and nodding vigorously to his explanations while Sidhesh kept recording everything in his camera, not uttering a word. He had learnt to keep quiet when working alongside journalists with inflated egos and love for attention. He just paid full attention to the camera, leaving the journo to his/her own and it had worked for him quite well.

    They were in middle of the guided tour when Gurung was called upon by Maj Ajay. The morning patrol had discovered breaches in fence nearby their post that needed immediate repairs. He had to leave the journalists under supervision of somebody else, while he accompanied the repair team Major Ajay was leading the team who wanted a firsthand look himself. As her itinerary included a visit to actual LoC (Line of Control), Dutt had no great difficulty persuading Maj Ajay to let her accompany the repair team.

    The actual site of the breach was less than a Km away from the post, but mountainous terrain and muddy trails prolonged their journey to 30 minutes. The breach was in a small clearing inside a lightly wooded area. There was a gentle slope just beside the Indian fence, broken by small hill like protrusions on the mountain on the Pakistani side. Pakistani presence was marked by two small bunkers on two such hills, about 800 metres apart from each other. One bunker which was on a slightly higher elevation provided a superior view of the surroundings, while the second one provided a cover to its flank from the right side. For any Pakistani infiltrator, it was an ideal place to cross over due to easier terrain, tree cover and firing cover by Pakistanis manning the bunkers.

    Varsha Butt was struggling to keep up with the soldiers marching towards the breach. She had not expected her visit to the LOC to be an exhausting affair. So far it had consisted solely of her trying not to get left behind on the muddy and rocky trails. Her expensive Swiss made snow shoes and warm suit were covered with mud and in spite of her four layered clothing the cold wind was chilling her to the bone. The small six man team led by Maj Ajay would have been more considerate if the tensions were not so high. But they were under tremendous strain themselves and couldn’t afford such niceties. Sub. Gurung was cameraman of the team and he was responsible for recording all the damage to the fence and material required to repair it. Sidhesh had taken an instant liking for the cheerful Gorkha soldier and he was teaching him tricks of the photography. So, she was left with no one but herself to talk with. This she did with much gusto, grumbling to herself. Sidhesh once caught her talking to herself and considered slowing down for her. But he was enjoying Gurung’s anecdotes too much to do so.

    The party reached the site of the breach and at once got down to business. Major Ajay assigned three soldiers to keep watch and 2 for repair of the fence. Gurung switched on his camcorder and started recording. The damage was not much, but a single man could pass through the breach with little difficulty. Varsha cornered Maj Ajay as soon as he was finished assigning duties and started another interview right there. Maj Ajay answered her questions as patiently he could while half of his mind was focused on the work being done by his men. He was also wary of an ambush by the Pakis and wanted the whole business to be over as soon as possible. His men reported that they would need 15 minutes to finish the job. Varsha Dutt now wanted to rattle out her impressions of the visit with the fence and Paki border posts beyond that in the background besides her. Although it was dangerous, Ajay had no choice but to acquiesce to her demands.

    She at once positioned herself at an advantageous point, where Sidhesh could capture a Paki border post and the fence at the same time while keeping her in focus. Sidhesh gave the ready signal and began recording, while she started her speech.

    “So, here we are the Line of Control, where Indian soldiers stare at their Pakistani counterparts day after day, night after night. This line is dotted by thousands of posts on both sides where lakhs of able bodied men who could be employed more productively elsewhere, spend their lives keeping their so called “enemy” in their gun-sights all the time.” All the soldiers within earshot cringed in disgust. Oblivious to them, she rattled on, “We spend billions of rupees just to maintain status quo while billions of people go hungry everyday. Is this the right way to...”

    Her speech was interrupted by a screeching sound coming from across the border. She stopped in mid-sentence and turned around looking for the source of the sound in confusion. Maj Ajay and his men knew the sound of Paki Type-81 mortar very well and immediately swung into action. Maj Ajay rushed towards the two journalists and started dragging them towards cover behind some large rocks. First mortar landed about 80 metres from their location as they were taking cover. Almost at once, Pakis from bunker on left opened up machine gun fire, pinning them down behind the rocks,

    Although the soldiers were used to be under fire, it was not true for the journalists who were scared as hell. Varsha screamed at once. “What the hell is this? Why are they firing on us?”

    “It must be an ambush. They deliberately damaged the fence, knowing very well that we’ll send our men to repair it and will be sitting ducks in process.” Ajay replied over the din of gun fire. They ducked again instinctively when another mortar round came whooshing by and landed less than 40 metres from them.

    “Pakis from the 2nd post are firing these mortars sir. We are not in their direct line of sight, so they can’t fire their machine guns on us. But we need to get out of this area as soon as possible.” Gurung shouted.

    “This post in front must be providing them with our exact location. Chandra and Murugan take up positions and provide us with covering fire while the rest of us make a dash towards the tree cover. We’ll cover you when we reach there. Gurung, you escort Varsha and Sidhesh. Run towards the trees the moment Chandra and Murugan start their covering fire.”

    Just then another mortar landed very near to the group showering them with dust and rubble. It was too much for Varsha, who at once jumped up from behind the rocks and started running, exposing herself to enemy fire. Gurung at once realised the danger she was in and jumped on her, pinning her to the ground. He then dragged her back to the cover behind rocks as she kept thrashing hysterically.

    “You fucking moron. You will get me killed here! Look at me. Why did you tackle me? All my clothes are now covered with mud. These clothes cost more than your annual salary and you’ve spoiled them. You’ll suffer for this you idiot.” She screeched.

    “Calm down madam. He just saved your life. You can’t talk to him like that.” Maj Ajay intervened

    “You need to shut up Major. You don’t realise who you are talking to. I left my comfortable studio to make a documentary on you dumbasses and this is how you treat me? This is not acceptable. I’ll make sure that you all suffer for this.”

    Gurung interrupted her charade, “Sir, the men are in position. Ready to leave at your order.”

    “Very good. Chandra, Murugan, start firing. Rest of the men, follow me” Maj Ajay ordered in a calm voice...

    “She is coming too, sir?” Gurung asked, gesturing towards Varsha who now lay prone behind the rocks.

    “Yes. Drag her if you have to. Just ignore whatever she says.”

    Murugan and Chandra had taken up positions behind two large rocks and started firing on the Paki machine gun with their INSAS. Even though, the distance was large for an assault rifle, their accurate fire silenced Paki machine gun for a while. It was the opening that Maj Ajay was waiting for. He ordered the team to rush out at once. Paki gunners saw them trying to escape and opened up fire again. But the team reached safe positions before Pakis had the chance to adjust their aim and fire accurately. Maj Ajay then ordered men alongside him to provide covering fire for Chandra and Murugan who rejoined the team safely. After checking whether everybody was OK, Ajay assigned two of his men to escort the two journalists to a safer place, while he called for reinforcements and fire on the Paki posts from adjacent Indian posts.

    He didn’t know it yet, but Pakis had just started unprovoked firing on 11 other locations along LoC in J&K. Ceasefire along the border was no longer in force.
  14. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 17, 2009
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    well written please continue to post and yes donot kept it incomplete
  15. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

    Feb 12, 2009
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    Jamwal sahab, excellent writing, waiting for more
  16. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2010
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    are u gng to start a comic book on it... or make a future film on it????
    best of luck for either....
    it seems like u did a lot of hard work...keep it up

    SADAKHUSH Senior Member Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2010
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    I enjoyed the post and waiting for the end of the story.
  18. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Somewhere else
    Chapter 11

    10:00 Hours
    28 Oct 2010

    PM House
    New Delhi, India

    Everybody in the meeting room wore a grim expression. None of them had expected things to deteriorate so fast. Defence Minister was supposed to be on his way to Russia for a meeting with his Russian counterpart. News of the attempted coup had come in middle of the night and he had to postpone his trip. Air Force Chief had cut short his tour of some newly activated air fields in the north-east. He could have registered his presence using video-conferencing, but he preferred to be physically present. Right now, he was exchanging notes with the Army chief who was looking even more serious than usual.

    Last men to enter the meeting room were PM and NSA chief Angad, both earnestly involved in a conversation. Everybody rose up to greet the PM who took up his usual seat and motioned NSA Chief to start his briefing immediately.

    "Good morning, gentlemen. We are a bit short on time due to radically changing situations in our neighbourhood. I'll come straight to the point. Last night, there was an attempted coup in Pakistan.

    Some serving Pakistani soldiers, believed to be loyal to General Asgar tried to kidnap or kill General Beg inside his residence. General Beg escaped unharmed, but his wife and nearly 20 of his soldiers were killed. At the same time, his new second in command, General Khalid was kidnapped. His present whereabouts are unknown. Beg had promoted General Khalid in staff meeting last night to replace General Asgar.

    Right after the news of this attack started to spread, there were reports of gun fights among Pakistani soldiers in various cantonments all over the country. Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers are believed to be dead or missing in the bloodshed."Pakistan has seen numerous coups, but this one is unprecedented in terms of players involved and the bloodshed that has followed. This infighting inside Pakistani army is sure to affect their already weak civil society badly. Pakistani civilians were already reeling under bomb blasts and subsequent riots. This mutiny will have serious consequences not only for Pakistanis but even us. This meeting is called for discussing our plan of action regarding this issue."

    DM was in an unusually bad mood, partly due to postponement of his trip and he was not hiding his displeasure, "Damn these idiots! Who is in control of their nuclear weapons now? "

    "In comparatively normal circumstances, General Beg. Whatever we know of Pakistani nuclear system, even if Asgar manages to get hold of a few bombs, he wouldn't be able to use them. Not even against us." Angad replied.

    How is that?" DM asked eagerly.

    "In return for their dollars, Americans had forced Pakis to consolidate their nukes in to a centralised system that could be monitored continuously and deactivated to prevent its misuse in conditions just like this. Their man Beg had all the launch codes and even if any rogue element manages to launch a missile against us, it wouldn't cause a nuclear explosion. “Angad explained.

    "You mean to say, that right now all of their nukes are useless against us?”

    “Not exactly. Only the arsenal that they couldn't hide is under control. Rest of it might still be usable.""

    “That's not a comforting thought." HM observed dryly.

    “It certainly isn't" NSA chief agreed.

    DM was on the verge of hysteria, "The whole country is breaking down. Even the army that used to hold the place together is divided now. What stops any fanatic to take advantage of the chaos and take control of a few nukes! We have to take some action."

    "And what might that be? Do you have anything in mind?" PM inquired

    "Well, I can't think of anything right now" DM conceded. But surely military can think of something. What do you suggest gentlemen?" he asked turning to the service chiefs sitting beside him for help.

    Army chief began, "Right now, anything we do will potentially be seen as adding fuel to the fire. They, I mean some of them actually want us to get involved in the mess. This morning, Pakistanis started firing at our border posts in J&K breaking the cease fire agreement."

    "Pakis have always been firing all year round to provide cover for their terrorists. What's different his time?" HM interrupted.

    "The scale of firing is unprecedented. Earlier Pakis shelled our positions either to provide diversion or covering fire to their terrorist infiltrating into India, but this time they are specifically targeting our soldiers and positions. This is not limited to a specific area. Our positions in Kargil, Siachen, Uri, Poonch, and Rajauri, practically all of the north and north-west sectors in J&K came under intense fire today. It's still going on in many places. According to the orders, our men showed restraint and refrained from responding in the same way. Our causalities were light for the scale of fire, but our luck wouldn't hold for long.

    "We can't fall in to this trap. If we don't show restraint this whole thing will blow up in our faces." PM said in a worried voice.

    General Zoravar Singh was expecting this, "I agree sir. However, the consequences will be far more serious if we don't take any action. We lost three men in the firing today with 14 wounded. The toll is mounting even as we discuss this issue. Letting our soldiers die just like that is completely unacceptable. We have to show those Pakis that they can't take play nuke card every time to inflict damage on us. If we surrender to Pakis today, Chinese will surely try to take advantage. They have already taken control of a large part of PoK. What stops Chinese from indulging in similar mischief to further weaken and embarrass us?”

    "Yes. He is right. Pakis tried to play dirty in Kargil too, thinking that we wouldn't dare attack them since they had nukes. But after we did, they washed off their hands of the whole issue. Buggers even refused to acknowledge their own dead. What if we had not taken any action and allowed them to stay fearing a nuclear attack?" DM added

    "How do Chinese fit in to this picture? Are they involved? And who in Pakistan gave the orders to start the firing?" PM asked.

    “Well, Chinese involvement is what is worrying us the most. As discussed in the last meeting, General Asgar is just their puppet. I'd be really surprised if we don't find any proof of their involvement in this coup. Apart from this, the area in northern J&K, where we came under fire is too close to places Chinese are present. We know for sure that Chinese have spread their tentacles much beyond the highways and tunnels they were building.

    As for who is coordinating this firing, most of the evidence points to General Asgar. For starters, he was CO of the Pak Army HQ in Gilgit during Musharraf's time. Further, commanders currently serving there are believed to be loyal to him."

    PM's already worried face assumed a horrified expression, "So if we retaliate to Paki firing, there is a real possibility of Chinese getting involved too? This is too much for us."

    DM lost all of his patience, "Chinese have no ground to take any offense. All of J&K, including POK is ours and these turds have no business being there in first place. And we are retaliating to unprovoked Paki firing on our positions. We have all the right to do anything we want to protect ourselves."

    "What if all this is a Chinese conspiracy to pick up a fight?"

    HM spoke up."So what! We give them a fight. Why the hell are we spending so much money on defence when a third rate terrorist sink hole can kill our soldiers at their own pleasure? "

    DM's voice was getting too loud for the ears of the soft-spoken PM and he winced in annoyance."So, what do you want? An all out war? "

    "Of course not. But taking such provocations lying down is highly unsuitable for a country aspiring to be in UNSC. It's your pet dream after all, isn't it?" DM shot back, much to the surprise of everybody present in the meeting.

    HM cleared his throat and intervened, "Cool down Shivendra ji. It's not the time or place for this. There is always a peaceful way."

    "Don't you think that I know this? DM replied, in a milder tone. "But there has to be a limit. There is nothing stopping us from at least bombing the hell out of buggers who are shelling us."

    Army chief took the cue, “Yes. Our hands are tied due to the ceasefire agreement. Now that they've themselves broken it, we have no obligation to play nice. At the very minimum, we should have the authority to destroy Paki positions which are firing on us."

    "What about Chinese?" HM asked DM answered the question before Army chief could, "What about them? We are defending ourselves from Paki firing. If they object, they wouldn't have a leg to stand upon. "

    PM took a deep breath and asked "Are you sure General, that firing back is the right thing to do?”

    Army Chief responded, "We do have the option to stay quiet and take the blows, but for what? We are losing soldiers even as we sit here. Some of the firing has affected civilian areas too. A journalist from a national TV channel was filming a documentary on our border posts in Uri, when it came under fire."

    HM had not forgotten the pestering he had endured by the TV channel to grant permission for documentary. He rolled his eyes and interrupted, "Yes that Varsha Butt from UNDE TV. Saw her showing off her wounds and posing like she is some kind of war heroine. It was a mistake allowing her to be there." Realising somewhat belatedly that he was interrupting the Army chief, he apologised and requested him to continue.

    Army Chief acknowledged his apology with a curt nod and resumed, “Not responding will encourage Pakis as well as Chinese to cause even more trouble. Its effect on morale of the armed forces as well as civilians is anybody's guess. We are not asking for permission for an all out attack on Pakistan. We just want the authority to defend ourselves against Paki firing."

    "And you are sure that the things wouldn't spiral out of control? What if they start firing in other places too?”

    “I can't give you 400% guarantee of anything apart from that my soldiers will not overstep their authority in any condition." General replied plainly. "As for rest of the international border apart from J&K is concerned, we can be reasonably sure that the Pakistani Rangers in the sector will not act in same way as their Army counterparts in J&K. We have no reason to believe that Rangers will dance to Asgar's tunes. In addition, they don't have the Chinese card to threaten us here. Pakistani forces are in no position for an offensive anywhere. Our forces are on a high alert anyway and can start mobilising within hours of receiving the orders."

    "Will you require support from Air Force or Navy?”

    "We had discussed the issue amongst ourselves before the meeting. My men will surely need support from AF to transport men and materials. Navy can be used to impose a sea blockade, but that's not necessary now. We can handle the offensive part ourselves. Involving AF or Navy offensively will escalate matters. "

    "That reminds me, what about their Air Force and Navy?" DM asked Angad.

    "Although their Air Force is in control of some nuclear bombs, they just can't launch their aircraft carrying them without us or Americans knowing. Specially since only a few F16s are nuke capable and Americans have kept a tight leash on them .As for Navy, we don't think that they pose any serious threat to us. The mutiny in the army has affected these two forces in the same way, and their operational readiness is severely degraded. Hell, I'd be surprised if they manage to fly even regular sorties. Even then we are taking no chances and we will have all of them under continuous surveillance. If they try doing anything funny, we'll be the first to know."

    For first time since the meeting started, PM looked slightly at ease, "That's some comparatively better news. Very well General. You have my permission to fire back in if Pakistanis fire at you. But under no conditions, our men will cross the LoC. You can't imagine the pressure I'm currently in. People want me to just offer the other cheek. "

    "I understand Sir. We'll try our best to keep things under check." A visibly relieved General Zoravar Singh replied.

    "I suppose that's all there is to it? Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have a meeting scheduled with the American ambassador. Shivendra ji, do you have your statement on the situation in Pakistan ready yet? Let's discuss it in my office. PM rose up signaling end of the meeting.
    A.V. likes this.
  19. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Somewhere else
    Chapter 12 Part 1

    17:45 Hours
    Point 6431
    Poonch, Jammu

    Joining army was more of an accident than a conscious career choice for Shubharanjan. As a 11 years old kid, he had seen the Kargil war on TV and like every other kid of his age, he too watched the events unfolding on TV with rapt attention then forgot about it afterwards as pressure of studies and other stuff associated with growing up took all of his time. As an average student, he did alright in school and joined a fairly well reputed college. There, he joined NCC just for the extra grades it offered and completed level C. As the time of graduation approached, he too started applying for jobs with various private sector companies and government agencies, hoping to grab a well paying job like all of his classmates.

    He was not entirely successful in his endeavours, managing only a clerical job in a small startup company that didn't pay enough to justify the long hours his boss demanded. He got bored of the job within weeks and started looking for change. Most of his classmates were doing comparatively well, but a lot were stuck in jobs that they hated, just like him. One day he received a letter containing his admit card for the SSB exam. He had filled up the form on the NCC counter in his college months ago without really giving it a thought and had forgotten all about it. Although he enjoyed his stint with NCC, he had never given a serious thought to idea of joining armed forces as a career choice or even as a way to serve the nation. Nobody in his family had been in armed forces, except one of the cousins of his mother and he too was in police.

    “Well, what the hell! What's the harm in trying? ” He said to himself and attended the exam, then again promptly forgot about it until the day he received a letter informing him that he had passed the written and was required to attend the second round for face to face interviews and physical tests. In good physical condition, he cleared the physicals easily but was shown the door in one of face to face interviews. Piqued and puzzled by his disqualification at almost the last round, he discussed the matter with one of his college mates whose elder brother was a Colonel in the army. The Colonel was gracious enough to listen and give him as much guidance as he could in his limited time. Although in meanwhile, he had managed to land another job that paid better than the previous one, he applied again for the SSB. Even though he still had doubts about clearing the exam, much to his own surprise he did so in second attempt.

    His father was both proud and slightly amused while his mother showed more of a horrified surprise than pride. Both had been in government service their whole lives and idea of their only son joining the army had never crossed their mind. They had expected him to complete his studies, get a job somewhere, preferably in government sector and start his own family within a few years, just like the rest of the extended family. He was even well on the expected path and now this army thing! What with its risks and postings to remote places that no one even heard about.

    The very concept was alien to them, but they had to give in to his wishes. Sure there was a little danger but it's not that everybody died. Private sector job was okay but was boring as hell and he had loved the NCC. He even won two awards, didn't he? Additionally, even army was paying a competitive salary after the 6th Pay Commission. Who else in the whole family had the honour of wearing the olive green uniform? And most importantly, finding a girl for marriage wouldn't be hard now.

    He resigned from the job next day and reported to the IMA for his training which he passed respectably. His first tour of duty in Punjab was peaceful and routine in every aspect and lasted four months. After which he was transferred to J&K, which everybody rightly expected to be his first brush with real action. He had arrived at his post known only as Point 6431 in two weeks as an almost fresh Lieutenant still learning the ropes.

    Point 6431 was just one of countless mountain peaks that formed the rugged landscape on the India-Pakistan Line of Control in J&K. Like with every other mountain peak right on the border, this one too had army posts manned all year round. Maintaining round the clock vigil all through the year was tough in summers and murderous in winters. The process was exhausting, expensive and most of all, took its toll on the soldiers who considered a posting like this akin to a punishment tour. Cut off from rest of the civilization, except for the field radio in small bunker high up in a god forsaken mountain, all the while keeping constant vigil was nobody's idea of fun. But still, the work had to be done. Neither side was sparing any effort to better or at the very least, keep up with the other side.

    Conditions had not always been like this. Prior to Kargil war in 1999, most of the posts high up in the mountains were vacated during winters and reoccupied in summers by both armies. Both India and Pakistan had a gentleman's agreement on the issue and neither side tried to occupy others empty posts. The truce between two sworn enemies had held in spite of some hiccups till 1999, when Pakistani army broke the agreement and occupied numerous Indian posts while they were empty during winters. Intruders were regular Paki army personnel disguised as “mujahedeen”. Indian intelligence and armed forces were caught with their pants down. A limited, yet bloody war ensued with Indian Army throwing waves of infantry and artillery attacks against a well established enemy in an impossible terrain. The war took its toll on both sides. India lost more than 600 soldiers and 5 aircraft in a war that lasted just more than three weeks. Losses on Pakistani side were much higher. Indians claiming more than 1400 while Pakistanis claiming no more than 300. Pakistanis owned up some of their dead 11 years later. They had to do it sooner or later, especially since loss of a whole army unit; NLI was difficult to hide anyway.

    One of the effects of that war was a halt on the practice of abandoning posts during winters. All along the LOC, new bunkers were constructed, existing ones fortified with more supplies and armies on both sides started their round the year watch.

    But Point 6431 differed from rest of the peaks. It had immense strategic value for both sides. It had been in Indian control since 1947 and unlike many other peaks, its posts were never abandoned during winters even before 1999. Much of its strategic value came from its unique position. It was directly on the top of Bahu pass, which connected India’s territory with Pakistan. Although the pass had been in disuse for six decades, it was still a vital feature for both the sides. It was the only place in the sector which allowed tanks from either side to cross over in to the other. Both sides had realised the possibility and constructed roads that could support heavy armour movement right up to the opening. But Pakistanis had a major disadvantage in the fact that whoever controlled Pt. 6431 effectively controlled the pass and the control was in Indian hands.

    One other advantage that controller of the peak enjoyed was the strategic view it offered, on both sides of border, especially Pakistani. While terrain on Indian side behind the peak was still uneven and covered with smaller mountains, Pakistani was more or less flat with only a small series of hillocks that actually marked the end of the mountain range in this area. Although it gave Pakis an easier and faster terrain to move their convoys, control of the peak in Indian hands negated much of their advantage. Any movement they made was difficult to hide from the Indians. Even the small 130 mm field guns and 81 mm mortars on top of the mountain were deadly and had extended range due to the altitude advantage. Additionally, they could always call for backup from the heavier 155mm Bofors guns which were placed only a few Km back.

    The importance of the pass was further increased after an old but disused route connecting Poonch to Shopian in Kashmir was activated. In earlier times, the route was used by Mughals to travel to Kashmir. It passed through Jammu, Rajauri, and Poonch and terminated in Shopian in Kashmir. The new road, formally named as Mughal Road was less than 1 hours drive from the pass and the side controlling it had a very easy route to reach both Kashmir as well as Jammu in a short amount of time.
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  20. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
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    Somewhere else
    Chapter 12. Part 2

    One of the first things that Lt. Shubharanjan had noticed about the peak was the time required for travel to the post on the mountain top from army base camp just on the foot-hills. First time he traveled, it took him more than 5 hours to climb the nearly 6000m high mountain. At many places the path was no more than a small mule trail, which afforded barely enough foot-hold for a loaded mule to pass through. Iron chains and ropes were nailed in at many places to provide a hand hold for the men. Anybody slipping at any such place was sure to die a quick yet gruesome death on the hard rocks hundreds of meters below. Getting down from the top was as difficult as going up, in some places more difficult due to the loose rock and gravel. Mules and porters carried much of the supplies above, with an occasional chopper pitching in whenever available.

    Conditions on Pakistani side were much easier though. The peak was more like a gentle slope, albeit littered with large rocks, which extended many km down in to the Pakistani side. It also took much less time to travel and getting men and supplies, to the top, were much easier and safer. They could have very well constructed a road if it was not for Indians controlling the peak.

    He had staggered on to the peak tired, cold and out of breath in spite of the excellent physical condition he was in. His CO, a jolly Major Baljit Singh Randhwa had laughed on seeing his condition and immediately offered him a drink of brandy which Lt Shubhranjan gratefully accepted. He was filled in on the history and importance of the post by the Major himself. But it was Subedar Sonam Stobbdhan who taught him about life on top of the mountain. Among all men, he had spent the most time on the post and was the senior most NCO. He was also the leader of artillery spotter team and had taught many a soldier the tricks of raining down accurate artillery fire in mountains.

    Lt Shubhranjan had shown good marksmanship in NCC as well as IMA training and was given charge of the machine gun posts. There were 2 INSAS LMGs (Light Machine Gun) and 2 MGA1 HMGs (Heavy Machine Gun) placed in fortified concrete bunkers spread around the top. Two mortar teams, each armed with 81mm mortars were usually positioned in the middle. They could move to a different position when required.

    Heavier fire power was provided with M-46 130mm field guns. Although old, these Soviet manufactured artillery guns were in good condition and had fair range and accuracy for their caliber. These were placed in dug in positions shielded by the rocks and sand bags to protect them from counter-artillery fire and to hide the muzzle flash. Although in theory these guns could be moved around, there was no place to do so on the mountain top. The guns were carried up in completely knocked down condition by helicopters and mules and then assembled on top. Ammunition was transported in the same laborious way, 2-3 shells on a single mule at a time.

    Close in fire support was provided by six more riflemen armed with standard 5.56mm INSAS rifles.

    Soldiers wished for more fire power and men, it was almost impossible to do so using mule-porter system and already scarce Chetak and Cheetah light helicopters. Dhruvs with their higher carrying capacity were beginning to share some of the work load, but they were in short supply too. Even if they could move in more supplies and men, there was little space for either on top.

    Lt. Shubhranjan had learned of the above mentioned fact on the second day of his arrival when he had to scramble towards cover when Pakis started shelling the place. He was on a familiarisation tour of the post with Sub. Sonam playing the tour guide, when sound of first shell screeching towards the post hit their ears. Both men immediately scrambled towards the nearest bunker, reaching there only seconds before first of the shell landed, albeit well short of the place they were in. Pakistanis were using 122 mm Type 54, Chinese copy of Soviet M30 and ironically, Type 59I which were Chinese copy of M46 that the Indians had. Indians retaliated with shelling of their own. The duel ended as soon as it had started. Pakis didn't want to risk needling Indians more than usual due to the strategic advantage latter held and Indians on the other hand, were almost always short of ammunition.

    Sitting in the bunker while guns were blazing, Shubhranjan had not realised the cramped conditions inside. There was barely enough space for 2 man crew of the machine gun in the bunker and addition of 2 extra men had left little room for anyone to move without bumping into somebody else. He was too busy to pay any attention to this as he watched Sub. Sonam providing coordinates to the artillery crew on the short range radio. But he couldn't help but notice shaking of earth as Paki shells landed close by and Indian guns fired back. Although both sides had fired only 5 shells each in less than 2 minutes, it has seemed like an eternity to the young Lt, who was facing enemy fire for the first time. Slightly shocked and disoriented, he had just sat there until Sub. Sonam shook him awake after the firing stopped.

    “Are you OK sir? Don't worry about this. Ye sab to chalta hi rehataa hai." The veteran Subedar had told him with a nonchalant grin and went out of the bunker motioning the still confused Lt. to follow him. They were met by Major Baljit who was always in a cheerful mood, irrespective of whatever was going around. He slapped Shubhranjan on the shoulder and asked, “So Lt., did you liked the Paki welcome? Quite a show they put on to make you feel special, didn't they? “

    Subhranjan was still gathering his wits and could only mumble confusedly, “Yes sir!”

    Both of other men laughed on hearing this much to the discomfort of somewhat embarrassed Lt. “Don't worry Lt. You will get used to it. It's nothing much.” Major Baljit said in a kindly way.

    Although he nodded his agreement, Subhranjan still couldn't understand how anybody could get used to high explosive shells exploding around him. “Around”, if the chap is somewhat lucky. No amount of luck is going to help someone who gets a direct hit, even within meters. He thought to himself.

    The next few days passed away in a similar routine with Pakis marking their presence with an occasional burst of shelling which kept Indians on their toes. Pakis had the advantage of a terrain suitable for moving around and always fired from a different location, unlike Indians who were forced to stay in a restricted area. Although it somewhat evened out the odds, neither side liked its status. After all, nobody likes to fight an evenly matched enemy, let alone a more powerful one. Much of the work on Indian side consisted on keeping an eye on Paki movements, just to keep the odds even.

    This task they performed using high powered binoculars and with additional thermal sights during night or heavy fog. Recently, army HQ in Poonch had managed to get hold of a couple of Heron UAVs. Although it had made the task much easier, there was simply too much ground to be covered by only two UAVs. Local commanders had been pressing for more UAVs but the equipment and trained manpower were hard to come by. It meant that, they could manage to receive pictures and live video feed of their sector only once every two days. Rest of the time, they had to depend on their own eyes and binoculars. Looking at the pictures taken by Heron for first time, Shubranjan immediately noticed the immense force multiplier effect an eye-in-the sky provided. Even during low visibility conditions caused by fog, clouds or night, thermal imaging cameras of the UAV could capture every detail of men and machines on the ground and stream back the images in real-time to their handlers. He had talked about it with Major Baljit and wished that they could have more time with the UAVs. Major had replied simply, “We fight with what we have Lt., not with what we wish for. I agree with what you said, but we simply don't have the resources right now.”

    Seeing the expression on of Subhranjan's face, he had smiled and continued, “That’s what Brigadier Gagan said to me when I asked him for more UAVs just the way you said. Who are we to question the old man, eh? I know he is trying his best. Who knows, we might get more in coming days.”

    Things had gone on as expected with Subhranjan. He had learnt from his first experience of being in enemy fire and as the more experienced soldiers had predicted, learnt to take it in stride. After nearly 2 weeks, his initial “welcome” was just another part of life on the border. Still, the soldiers watched the events unfolding in Pakistan warily. They knew that any kind of unrest in Pakistan will definitely affect the peace on border. They were not entirely wrong in this assumption and Pakis proved them right by increasing the amount of shelling just after the news of attack on Paki President had hit the news channels.

    Although they were under strict orders to exercise restraint, Indians had no choice but to retaliate in self-defence. The shelling that lasted for a maximum of 10-12 rounds earlier had now escalated to full blown artillery duels being fought on multiple locations. Now after two days of facing intense firing Indians were hoping that the news of coup will dampen the enthusiasm of Pakis and volume of fire might decrease. Much to their disappointment, Pakis had actually increased the tempo.

    The three senior most ranking personnel on Point 6431, Major Baljit, Lt. Shubharanjan and Subedar Sonam were huddled in a bunker discussing their plan of action in current situation. The walls of the bunker were covered with maps and recently taken pictures of Paki positions by Heron UAVs. Things were not going well for Indians. They were running short of ammunition due to paucity of stocks. The convoys that were expected to bring more supplies were delayed due to bad weather and landslides. Bad weather had also stopped the base camp from sending mules and porters up.

    “What's our inventory situation Sonam?” Major Baljit without lifting his eyes from the reports he was studying.

    “We are running short of ammunition for our M46s as well as 81mm mortars. Stocks for both are reduced to 31 and 42 rounds respectively. We do have enough grenades and bullets for our rifles, but that's only because we haven't had to fire them, yet. We still have enough food and water to last us a week” Sub Sonam was quick to reply.

    “Going by the current rate of fire, these stocks wouldn't last for more than a day. When are we going to get more supplies?” Shuhranjan couldn't help wondering aloud.

    Sonam gestured towards the small window of the bunker “Our mules can't carry anything up due to this bloody fog and rain. They tried sending some men in the morning but the team had to turn back within one hour of leaving the camp. Using choppers in these conditions too risky. We can only hope that the weather eases soon.”

    “Even if the mules start their journey right now, it'll take them at least 3 hours to reach here. If our ammo runs out sooner than their arrival, we will be in real deep shit.”

    “What do we do then sir? “ Sonam asked Major Baljit.

    “We'll have to use our ammunition more judiciously. Fire only when you have a sure fix on their position. No need wasting firing just for the effect.”

    Taking up a pointing stick, he pointed out position of Paki guns on maps and pictures, “Herons took these pictures last night. As you can clearly see, we did manage to hit one of their big guns in previous night's shelling. But they still have two more type 59Is and three Type 54s spread all over this sector, most of them pointed in our general direction. Although 59Is have more range, it's 54s that worry me more. These smaller guns are comparatively more mobile and can prove really hard to counter if Pakis keep moving them as they've started to do recently. Am I clear on this?” he asked.

    Both men nodded their agreement and Major continued, “Lt., I'll need you to check on machine guns and mortar crews. Make sure that they are ready to fire and have enough ammunition. You never know when we might need to fire them. Sonam, come with me. I want to check the big guns myself.”

    With this he ended the meeting and went out of the bunker followed by his two juniors. Subhranjan watched the two men walk towards M46 positions while he himself started his walk towards machine gun bunkers.
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  21. jamwal

    jamwal Regular Member

    Sep 4, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Somewhere else
    Chapter 12. Part 3

    He found the soldiers slightly tired and wary but in good spirits otherwise. He was in first bunker on the eastern side when he heard the sound of artillery shells streaking in. Even just by listening to the sound of the shells as they streaked towards his post, Shubhranjan realised that something was different. But he didn't have enough time to guess what. Within seconds, one shell landed smack in middle of the post area, with two passing over the peak.

    “Damn it! They are firing 155mm shells. “Lance Naik Joginder shouted in surprise.

    “Seems like they have a good lock on our position as well. You sure it’s a 155mm?” Shubhranjan shouted back, his ears ringing by sounds of the blast.

    “100% sure sir! These shells are much bigger and even clearing the peak this time. Their 130mms can’t fire that far.” Joginder replied back.

    Their conversation was interrupted by the boom of Indian M46s firing back at the Pakis.

    Joginder grinned at the Lt., “Heh! That's sure to teach those idiots some good lesson.”

    Right about then, one of the shells fired by Pakis got lucky and landed smack on one of Indian M46s. The ammunition dump right next to the gun caught fire and some of the shells exploded.

    Shubhranjan heard the racket with a sickening feeling as he remembered that both Major Baljit and Subedar Sonam were supposed to be right there. He at once scrambled out of the bunker and started running towards the gun's position. He stopped in his tracks when a badly wounded soldier, covered in soot and dust staggered in front of him and collapsed. He muttered deliriously, “Nobody survived sir. The shell landed right on our position.” Shubhranjan asked the soldier to keep quiet and shouted for the medic. He was also scrambling towards the gun's position along with his assistant. He at once started administering first aid to the wounded soldier.

    Shubhranjan left the three men there and resumed his search for his two compatriots. He stopped dead in his tracks when he came across the gun's position. The small clearing was nothing but a mess of twisted metal, smoke and fire. Overcome by fear and desperation he sprinted towards the clearing trying to find survivors. All he could find was splashes of blood and a few dismembered limbs. Unable to control himself, he collapsed on his knees and puked. He didn't knew how much time had passed as he vaguely felt rather than heard sounds of more explosions as the fight got more intense. He was shaken out of his state by the medic who was trying to drag him back towards cover.

    He shook away his arm and said confusedly, “What are you doing?” Pointing at the place where the gun was, he screamed, “We have to help them! Come with me!”

    That medic, another NCO in the unit replied gently, “We can't help them sir. They are all dead. But we need to get back in to cover.”

    “But Major Baljit and Sub Sonam were there.”

    “I know sir. They are both dead. The wounded soldier you saw earlier saw them die with his own eyes. Now, we have to get out of this exposed position in to cover. Please hurry up.”

    He stumbled back into the command bunker where he had last discussed their strategy with now dead Major and Subedar. All of it felt unreal to the young Lt. who just realised that he was now the senior most on the post and was responsible for the well being of all the men under his command. His attention was taken up by the radio which was cackling with excited chatter. He recognised voice of Colonel Saha from the base camp calling on their call-sign, “Watchguard Alpha. This is Base 1. Do you copy? “

    He picked up the receiver and replied, “Base 1, this is Watchguard Alpha. “

    “Thank god, somebody replied. Who are you? Identify yourself. What was that explosion? ”

    “This is Lt Shubhranjan, Sir. One Paki artillery shell hit one of our M46s. We lost 4 men including Major Baljit and Sub. Sonam.” Shubhranjan heard himself reporting mechanically.

    “Shit!” Voice on the other end replied. “What about the other gun? Do you have enough ammunition?”

    “Other gun is operational but we are fast running out of ammunition for it. For heavy fire power, we only have some mortars left.”

    “Damn it! Listen Lt., activate your UAV feed. We have just started receiving live video from one of our UAVs flying in your sector. It seems like Pakis are making an attempt to capture your position. We can see their infantry moving up on the slope from west. Do you have a visual on them?”

    “Negative sir. Visibility is less than 100 metres.”

    Colonel replied in a worried voice, “That's bad. That bird won't stay up there longer than 30 minutes. Listen Lt., as you might've known by now, Pakis have moved in a couple of their M198s. We are sending you reinforcements and ammunition right now. You just hang in there tight and don't let those bastards come anywhere near your positions. Use your mortars, machine guns anything to hold their advance. We'll provide you support against their heavy artillery from our 155mm guns.” and added almost as an afterthought, “as long as our stocks last.”

    “Understood sir. I will not let Pakis take this post” Shubhranjan said with much more confidence than he actually felt.

    “Good luck son. Over and out.”

    The young Lt. Was left staring at the headset of the communication gear for a while before he was jarred back into reality by sound of yet another Paki artillery shell landing close by. He immediately picked up the short ranged field radio to contact the crew of remaining M46 and filled them in with the new developments. The artillery crew in turn replied that they had only 13 shells remaining.

    Indian 155mm gun crews immediately started targeting Paki gun positions after the feed from UAV started coming in. Indian soldiers on top of Pt 6431 could hear the distant rumble as Indian gunners fired off their first salvo targeting their Pakistani counterparts. Effect of this counter- artillery fire was immediate. Some of the Paki guns were forced to change their positions, thus providing some respite to besieged defenders on Pt 6431. But they were not quite out of danger yet. Pakistani infantry was still advancing along the rolling slope of the mountain. Even in the bad weather, Heron operators could see the mortars they were carrying. It was only a matter of minutes before they reached close enough to fire them.

    Subharanjan hailed crew of his remaining M46 on radio and ordered them to concentrate their fire on advancing Paki infantry. Indians knew the territory like backs of their hands and the effect of their firing made it quite obvious. Still smarting from the losses they had sustained earlier, they let loose a volley of high explosive shells that very nearly wiped out the whole advancing column of Paki infantry.

    Subhranjan watched in quiet fascination as he sat in front of UAV feed console watching shells exploding in between Pakis. But the invaders were spread out over a large area and there were not enough heavy guns to cover them all. Even as one of the advancing parties was wiped out, another group started racing upwards. Now, it was turn of Indian mortar crews. As soon as they were in range, all of them started their fire simultaneously. Although the effects were not as spectacular as the 130mm shells, they were not less damaging to the attackers. A lot of them were blown to pieces even as they were running up the slopes. Survivors tried to take cover behind the rocks, but mortars were still finding their mark with deadly accuracy.

    Subhranjan allowed himself a slight smile as he watched Paki offensive break up and lose steam under sustained Indian artillery and mortar fire. Pakis had been unable to come close enough for their machine guns or mortars to be of any use. They were counting on their own heavy artillery to suppress the defenders. Banking on element of surprise, dense fog and fast deteriorating light they felt they had good chance of taking the post without suffering too many causalities. But early warning given by the UAV and subsequent Indian artillery fire had broken the back of their offensive. With their forces severely depleted and scattered, they ordered retreat causing quite a few roars of joy and laughter from Indians. But Indians were not quite out of woods yet. Ammunition for mortars and sole 130mm gun was almost depleted and reinforcements were still more than 3 hours away.

    Colonel Saha came on the radio, “Nice work Watchguard Alpha! Paki infantry is retreating, good job by your mortars. Our Bofors guns managed to break up their artillery formation but not as well as I'd have liked. Still, they'll be out of action for some time. How are you faring up there? “

    “No further causalities sir, but we are all out of ammo for our 130mm. Less than 12 mortar rounds left. We need supplies immediately.”

    “A team with reinforcements and ammunition is on its way Lt. You can expect them in 3 hours maximum. There'll be no UAV coverage for 3-4 hours at least, as the bird needs to be refueled and repaired. You'll have to hold on to your position till then.”

    Subharanjan could feel the unease in Colonel's voice even as he broke the bad news. Lack of UAV coverage in such low visibility conditions was going to be a big handicap for Indians. Without UAV, they had to rely on their night vision devices, which had a very limited range and utility in comparison.

    “I understand sir. Just try keep their heavy artillery off our backs and we can manage the rest.”

    “Good. One of our convoys just delivered an artillery position locating radar. I've heard a lot of good things about it. Hope it'll do the job.”

    “One good news at last.”Subhranjan thought to himself then heard the Colonel say, “Listen son, I know I'm asking a lot from you, but you have to hold your positions until reinforcements arrive. A lot depends on you tonight. God bless.”

    It's going to take much more than just blessings if we want to defend the peak against another attack. Subharanjan thought to himself and went out again to check on his men.
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