THE STORY OF KARGIL WAR: PART 1
DATE: May-July 1999
LOCATION: Kargil district, Kashmir
RESULT: Pakistani military retreat; India regains control of occupied territory.
Commanders and leaders
Ved Prakash Malik
Indian official figure
527 killed, 1363 wounded, 1 POW, 1 fighter jet shot down, 1 fighter jet crashed,1 helicopter shot down
Pakistani military claims
357-453 killed, 665+ wounded, 8 POWs
The Kargil War (Hindi: Kargil Yuddh and Urdu: Kargil Jang) also known as the Kargil conflict was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line Of Control (LOC). The conflict is also reffered to as `Operation Vijay’ which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector.
The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of LOC which serves as the de facto border between the two states. During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualities and later statement by Pakistan’s PM and Chief of Army Staff showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces led by General Ashraf Rashid. The Indian Army later on supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. With international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC.
The war successfully showed the whole world the strength of the Indian Army which stands at height in matters of patriotism, bravery, sacrifice, secularism, unity etc. It was also a lesson for cunning Pakistan’s master plan to conquer the places of Kashmir. It is for this reason that after the Kargil War, Pakistan did not make any more attempt to fight with India. However, instead they started threatening us by blasting bombs and killing common people in the commercial Indian cities. Even for that, our NSJ soldiers and policemen answered well in 2008 during Mumbai Taj attack.
After the Indo-Pak war of 1971, there had been a long period with relatively few direct armed conflicts involving the military forces of the two neighbours – notwithstanding the efforts of both nations to control the Siachen Glacier by establishing military out posts on the surrounding mountain ridges and the resulting military skirmishes in the 1980s. During the 1990s, however escalating tensions and conflict due to separatist activities in Kashmir some of which were supported by Pakistan as well as the conducting of Nuclear Test by both countries in 1998, let to an increasingly belligerent atmosphere. In an attempt to defuse the situation, both countries signed the Lahore Declaration in February 1999, promising to provide a peaceful and bilateral solution to the Kashmir conflict.
During the winter of 1998-99 some elements of the Pakistani Armed Force were covertly training and sending Pakistani troops and paramilitary forces, some allegedly in the guise of Mujahideen, into territory on the Indian side of the LOC. The infiltration was code named “Operation Badr”, its aim was to sever the link between Kashmir and Ladakh and cause Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier, thus forcing India to negotiate a settlement of the broader Kashmir dispute. Pakistan also believed that any tension in the region would internationalize the Kashmir issue, helping it to secure a speedy resolution, Yet another goal may have been to boost the morale of the decade-long rebellion in Indian Administered Kashmir by taking a protocative role.
Pakistani Lieutenant General Shahid Aziz and then Head of ISI analysis wing, has confirmed there were no Mujahideen but only regular Pakistan Army soldiers who took part in the Kargil war. “There were no Mujahideen, only taped wireless messages which fooled no one. Our soldiers were made to occupy Darren ridges, with hand held weapons and ammunition” Lt Gen Aziz wrote in his article in The National Daily in January 2013. Some writers have speculated that the operation objective may also have been as a retalitation for India’s Operation Meghdoot in 1984 that seized much of Siachen Glacier. According to India’s Army Chief Ved Prakash Malik and many other scholars much of the background planning including construction pf logistic supply routes had been undertaken much earlier. On several occasions during 1980s and 1990s the Army had given Pakistani leaders (Zia ul Haq and Benazir Bhutto) similar proposals for infiltration into the Kargil region, but the plans had been shelved for fear of drawing the nations into all out war.
Some analysts believe that the blueprint of attack was reactivated soon after Parvez Musharaf was appointed Chief of Army Staff in October 1998. After the war Nawaz Sharif, PM of Pakistan during the Kargil conflict claimed that he was unaware of the plans and that he first learned about the situation when he received an urgent phone call from Atal Bihari Vajapayee, his counterpart in India. Sharif attributed the plan to Musharaf and “just two or three of his cronies”, a view shared by some Pakistani writers who have stated that only four Generals including Musharaf knew of the plan. Musharaf however asserted that Sharif had been briefed on the Kargil Operation 15 days ahead of Vajapayee’s journey to Lahore on February 20.
Before the Partition of India in 1947, Kargil was part of the Baltistan district of Ladakh, a sparsely populated region with diverse linguistic, ethnic and religious groups, living in isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. The First Kashmir War (1947–48) concluded with the LOC bisecting the Baltistan district, with the town and district of Kargil lying on the Indian side in the Ladakh subdivision of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. After Pakistan's defeat in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the two nations signed the Simla Agreement promising not to engage in armed conflict with respect to that boundary.
The town of Kargil is located 205 km (127 mi) from Srinagar, facing the Northern Areas across the LOC. Like other areas in the Himalayas, Kargil has a temperate climate. Summers are cool with frigid nights, while winters are long and chilly with temperatures often dropping to −48 °C (−54 °F). An Indian national highway (NH 1D) connecting Srinagar to Leh cuts through Kargil. The area that witnessed the infiltration and fighting is a 160 km long stretch of ridges overlooking this only road linking Srinagar and Leh. The military outposts on the ridges above the highway were generally around 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) high, with a few as high as 5,485 metres (18,000 ft). Apart from the district capital, Kargil, the populated areas near the front line in the conflict included the Mushko Valley and the town of Drass, southwest of Kargil, as well as the Batalik sector and other areas, northeast of Kargil.
One of the reasons why Kargil was targeted was that the terrain surrounding it, lent itself to pre-emptive seizure of unoccupied military positions. With tactically vital features and well-prepared defensive posts atop the peaks, a defender of the high ground would enjoy advantages akin to a fortress. Any attack to dislodge a defender from high ground in mountain warfare requires a far higher ratio of attackers to defenders, and the difficulties would be exacerbated by the high altitude and freezing temperatures. Kargil is just 173 km (107 mi) from the Pakistani-controlled town of Skardu, which was capable of providing logistical and artillery support to Pakistani combatants.