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17 January 2017 | Last updated 10:50 PM
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‘Kargil War: 17 years later...it’s not over yet for Pakistan’
The Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan in May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of J&K and elsewhere along the Line of Control. After the war ended on July 26, 1999 a government inquiry found gaping holes in our strategy planning and war preparedness. After all these years, senior Defence veterans inform SHASHWAT GUPTA RAY that we haven’t yet learnt the lessons.
Lessons remain unlearnt
Pakistan’s plot to occupy Kargil heights was meant to alter the line of control (LOC), obtain a better bargaining position, avenge Siachen glacier defeat, and give a fillip to militancy in Jammu & Kashmir. Emboldened by the 1998 nuclear tests, Musharraf launched an operation to occupy unoccupied pickets on our side of the LOC soon after PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s February 1999 Lahore visit.
“This perfidious assault represented a grave threat to India’s security and the situation could only be retrieved by deploying overwhelming military force, and accepting heavy casualties to recover lost ground,” former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral (Retd) Arun Prakash told Sakal Times.
Within days of conflict-termination, the government constituted the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) headed by strategic analyst K Subrahmanyam to probe into India’s national security shortcomings.
The KRC report, tabled in Parliament in early 2000, contained a scathing indictment of national security management and apex decision-making and pointed out glaring deficiencies in our intelligence services, border management and higher defence organisation.
“Our military modernisation remains stalled, the DRDO remains wayward and we persist with an archaic system of higher defence management sans a Chief of Defence Staff. Worst of all, civil-military relations are at an all-time low,” he said.
There is a view that Mumbai 26/11 may not have happened if the GoM recommendations had been fully implemented.
“Having observed the inept handling of the Pathankot air base attack, do we need to worry about the possibility of a Kargil II?” he asked.
Quick processed info must from intel agencies
The Kargil Sector 17 years ago was held by just a Brigade strength encompassing Kargil up to the Mashkoh Valley. There were large gaps in the defences and infiltration was comparatively easy.
“Today, the entire sector is held by a Division. The gaps in the LoC are effectively covered. Defences have been strongly fortified. Road connectivity to the forward posts has improved substantially,” former Chief of Staff, Western Command and Brigade Commander during Kargil war Lt Gen (Retd) Amar Aul said.
More Kargils waiting to happen
Lt Gen (Retd) D B Shekatkar, who during the Kargil War in 1999 was commanding IV Corps and was responsible for maintaining vigil on the Chinese for any possible intrusion from Eastern sector, said it was foolhardy to believe that Pakistanis will enter through the same route again.
“It will find newer gaps for intruding inside India to cause many more Kargil-like episodes. Attack on Indian Parliament in 2001, 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai in 2008 and attack on Pathankot Air Force base in January this year are three glaring examples of more Kargil-like attacks,” he said.
“These are attacks on India and part of a greater plan. They will encash on our lethargy and lack of vision,” he said. He accused the political leadership and bureaucracy for not doing “anticipatory threat perception”.
Insisting that India should change its strategy in countering Pakistan, Lt Gen Shekatkar said that India has to fight proxy war by proxy mechanism.
“Therefore, the possibility of Pakistan carrying out another misadventure is extremely remote,” he said. But there are still important gaps which need to be filled. “Though tactical intelligence has improved considerably, there needs to be a constant flow of strategic intelligence, giving out concentration of troops, buildup across the Line of Control,”
Lt Gen (Retd) Aul said.
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