kargil war

War came as surprise, victory with a price…

Author’s Note on Kargil War

To me, Kargil war has been a mystery since day one. It proved to be a tale that had all the elements of a suspense thriller-treachery, deceit, folly and bravery. I am sure the story of the Kargil war is still incomplete. To me it is the beginning of a more sordid tale to follow in the months or the years to come.

The Kargil war story has a political backdrop. The characters of this story are high and mighty politicians, Generals and bureaucrats. All they say, they may not believe in. All they do, they may not speak out. They only throw up questions-no answers. They are actors, not real.

The only living characters in this tale are the brave Indian army officers and soldiers who had written the Kargil war: untold story in their blood. We salute them.

-Manoj Agarwal

Introduction to Kargil War

The serene environment at the snow-clad mountains in the north lay shattered. The lengthening shadows of the gangs of rapists from across the borders threatened the very existence and the prevailing peace and tranquility in the area. They came stealthily-from all corners, armed with sophisticated arms and ammunition.

Not many knew when and how? Fewer cared to answer. The Nation was outraged. The Government was numbed into silence. Outrageous statements became the order of the day. People demanded explanation. None was to come forth. While politicians played politics, the army swung into action to be joined later by the air force. The odds were heavy, the task (to flush out the intruders) insurmountable.

Pakistan, the canny neighbour, was at its treacherous best. Its army regulars along with mercenaries had infiltrated the Indian soil and occupied the strategic peaks of the Himalayas with the seeming objective to cut off Ladakh region from the Indian mainland. They also occupied about 46 km of Indian territory in Kashmir’s Drass-Kargil-Batalik region.

Nation cried for retaliation. Fierce battle ensued and valuable lives were lost. While our servicemen made supreme sacrifices and started pushing back the intruders.

The world watched the rapists. Few uttered meaningless syllables till US took the initiative and asked Pakistan to behave.

Dedication to The Nation

The hook is dedicated to the brave Indian Soldiers/ who laced the treacherous enemy in difficult terrain, earnestly hope that the hook will keep reminding millions of countrymen/the supreme sacrifices made by the men in uniform to defend the borders of our motherland pray to Almighty that the nob/e souls rest in peace. Our heart also goes to the families of the Martyrs. Assure all the families that the countrymen are with them in the hour of their personal loss.

The Shepherd’s Tale

The Shepherd's Tale
The Shepherd’s Tale

It was May 5, 1999. The weather looked good. The sky was clear. Two parties comprising 15 members had gone out on a regular patrol in the Kargil area. Anxious base command waited for the return of the parties for two days. It was not to be. There was no question of any avalanche. No distress message was received during the patrol on the ensuing days. The dampening silence was intriguing. Search parties set out immediately. However, it was later-on June 12,1999-aghast nation was informed that the parties were ambushed by the intruders and taken into custody. What happened next was a tale of horror and extreme brutality, yet to be unfolded in all its.

The army received the mutilated bodies of six army men of the patrol later from Pakistan. The postmortem of these brave men revealed that they were tortured to no end for days together. Even their private parts were mutilated. The Indian Government lodged ‘a strong protest’ at the ‘inhuman treatment’ to PoWs against the Geneva Convention norms. The fate of the remaining nine listed as ‘missing’ was not known for long.

While this went on, the Nation was told of the old she herd tale, invented by the Chinese way back in 1961-62. This time nobody shepherded the sheep, but ‘the shepherd whispered’. The nation was told that a shepherd saw ‘strangers’ in the mountains and that set into motion the chain of events which led ‘to ‘undeclared war’ that continued for two months and claimed over 1000 lives.

Though the skirmishes at the border had been the order of the day in the region, the Indian forces launched into action on May 9, 1999. As the face off continued in Kargil, the Indian Air Force (IAF) was placed on high alert for possible strike operations in Kashmir’s Drass-Kargil-Batalik region.

Caught Napping

caught napping
Caught Napping

Few deny that there had been a gross intelligence failure. How could so many men cross deep inside our territory, dig trenches; fortify their formations without our knowledge. Were our intelligence services sleeping, unaware of the enemy designs and activities? The infiltration, of course, did not begin overnight.

It was the outcome of a well-thought out strategy preceded by considerable planning by the Pakistani Army and the ISI. The experts are one that it could not have been possible without prior high altitude accli:01atisation by the intruders.

The entire operation must have taken minimum six months. That meant the operation began early this year and the planning much earlier. Later during the action the Indian forces were said to have recovered documents which indicated the intrusion began as early as February 1998.

The Indian authorities admit that they had no advance information of the Pakistani intrusion in the Drass-Kargil-Batalik region. Curiously, the Government told Lok Sabha on August 5, 1998, that Pakistan had targeted the civilian areas in Batalik, Kargil, Kanazalwan, Tarmgdhar, Karen and Uri. A leading daily, ‘Times of India’ reported on January 14 the presence of a large number of mercenaries in the area. Still, no notice seemed to have been taken. A military spokesman, three days earlier, had talked of the possibility of ‘limited Pakistani action to attract international attention to Jammu & Kashmir’. He also referred to the possibility of attempts by the Pak army to occupy our posts along the Line of Control (LoC).

It was an intelligence failure, no doubt. Surprisingly, these agencies went on passing the buck to each other. It was a failure of the entire intelligence establishment, including the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the army’s intelligence wing (MI).

It is surprising that the Research and Analysis Wing and its airborne surveillance agency called Aerial Research Centre and also G branch intelligence wing of BSF failed to notice the movements of the intruders who came and settled in the bunkers over the 140 km stretch.

Military Intelligence (M.I.) too, will have some explaining to do. The Brooks Henderson Report, authored in the wake of the 1962 defeat, specifically charged M.I. with the task of gathering information inside a 10- km belt on either side of India’s borders. The organisation failed to detect the build-up of Pakistani irregulars and troops at Olthingthang, and reports by the Intelligence Bureau’s Leh Office, issued in the third week of October 1998. In January 1999, M.I. again failed to pay attention to reports that Pakistani helicopters were surveying Indian position in the Kargil area. M .I.’ s evidently casual perceptions of the threat to Kargil appeared to have rubbed off on ground troops, some of whom were even believed to have left ammunition in the positions they vacated last autumn.

It appeared that M. I., like the military establishment at large, chose to be guided by the political perceptions of the BJP leadership on the integrity of the Lahore Process. The Army’s outrageous decision to send senior serving officers to brief the BJP National Executive illustrated the disturbing linkage that the Union Government had succeeded in engineering between its political establishment, the military and, the leadership. The linkages were, at the core, responsible for the failure to execute dispassionate military assessments of Pakistan’s objectives this summer.

Even more serious thought would be required on India’s future strategic paradigm for engaging Pakistan’s war in Jammu and Kashmir, of which the Kargil offensive was just the latest phase. A senior intelligence official said: “The fact of the matter is that they have inflicted very great costs on us to very little cost to themselves.

Indian Army strategies were traditionally built around the idea that any major Pakistani offensive in Jammu and Kashmir would meet with massive retaliation in Sindh and Punjab. But in a post Pokhran South Asia, scenarios of lndian armour sweeping through the plains of Punjab are unrealistic. For several years, voices within the Indian security establishment have been calling for the development and institution of an effective, covert counter offensive capability.”

Pushing Pakistan’s troops and irregulars from the Kargil heights later proved to be easy. But finding new and unconventional ways to fight unconventional wars in future would be the real challenge before Indian Army. No body took note of Pak army chiefs visits to POK and the purchases Pakistan was making at the international markets for preparation of the action in Kashmir. The only action that seemed to have been pushed through was the transfer of two junior officers of the Army from the northern sector.

It was on May 6, 1999 that George Fernandes, the articulate and the wise man of the Vajpayee Government, spoke of the shepherd having seen strangers in the area. Even if one digests the indigestible, there were indications that patrols were sent out on May 8 and 10. These never returned.

Even that was not enough to stir the sleeping authorities into action.

The explosion in an arm dump in Kargil where the artillery was said to have lost ammunition worth over 150 crores failed to have any effect. As the seriousness of the situation dawned, great Fernandes announced that intruders would be flushed out in 48 hours. Whether it was ignorance or total miscalculation, only the time would tell.

War with A Difference

Pakistan’s perfidy on Kashmir dates back right from the partition days. The two sides have fought three wars. Meanwhile Pakistan’s proxy war against India continued unabated ..
The present conflict was result of the proxy war with a difference. This time Pakistan dared to cross the LoC to occupy the strategically located Indian positions, with a view to cutting off Ladakh from Kashmir. The well-planned strategies aimed at escalating the tension and attract international attention. The Indians walked into the trap, seemingly unaware of the devilish designs.

There were confirmed reports that Pakistan had planned the operations to minute details. It made essential purchases, trained the mercenaries to fight in difficult high altitude peaks, and made bunkers. Once the operations started Pakistan was prepared to stay put on the peaks in winters as well. It occupied the peaks one-by-one during a span of well over a year. How was it that the Indian forces did not notice? Was that because they had left the peaks as inaccessible? They had stopped patrolling the area.

But, once the seriousness of the situation presented itself in all its ramification the Government woke up and launched ‘Operation Vijay’. Initially both sides tried to play down the events, but soon it was evident that India and Pakistan were engaged in ‘undeclared. war’ in Kashmir. The expression of hope for peaceful solution turned into war cries. Both alleged that the other side was forcing it to the brink.

Pakistan knew well that the conflict would allowed to go on a full-scale war. Its American friends and China, if needed, would change colours at the right time. But India’s commendable approach to the issue not only restricted the action to the Indian side of the LoC, but also turned the tables on Pakistan. Later events show that Pakistan had to ultimately face the wrath of the Pakistanis as well.

India was ill prepared for war. Military analysts would agree that nations just didn’t go to war without adequate preparations. Indian troops had not fought a war on the border for over 28 years. Subsequent Indian governments did not bother to keep the troops in readiness for any eventuality. Supplies for the army were restricted. Bofors, which proved its potential as an effective weapon in the hilly terrain, was considered a weapon to kill the political adversary, rather than the enemy on the front. The Army after getting involved in action realised that it did not have enough spares for the Gun. It was short of ammunition. India had failed to update its weaponry.

Why so? India never considered Pakistan capable of facing its armed forces. Indian forces were considered to be on higher pedestal. The threat from China had receded. A sense of complacent had crept in the entire system. Pakistan too recognised it and opted for an opportunity. The Vajpayee Government obliged.

Kashmir Embroilment

Kashmir Embroilment

The conflict over Kashmir, a princely state of India, dates back to the days of partition of India in 194 7. The British began to relinquish charge. The Maharaj a· of Kashmir, like other princely states was given a choice whether to join India or Pakistan. He initially opted for none.

The new rulers of Pakistan have already cast on the state and took advantage of the initial hesitation. Once Pakistan s army under the grab of Mujahideern overran a large chunk of the state, the Maharaja opted for India and the Indian forces were rushed to flush out the Pakistani raiders. A cease-fire in 1949 left the larger parts, including the valley in Indian hand and the smaller portion in Pakistan’s control.

How and why the cease-fire was accepted is another story, but the division became a bone of contention. Two subsequent wars in 1965 and 1971 did not produce any major changes. Yet after the 1971 war the two sides agreed in Simla ( called Simla Agreement) to cease hostilities and keep their forces behind the Line of Control (LoC), demarcated after withdrawal of troops from some positions. The LOC was well documented and the two sides signed on each of these maps, the copies of which were widely circulated and were sent to the UN as well.

The LOC in Jammu and Kashmir was demarcated in accordance with the Simla Agreement signed between the Governments of India and Pakistan, which situated that the line separating the two armies on · the day of cease fire be delineated. The delineation of LOC was effected in Suchetgarh on December, 972. Lt. Gen.PS Bhagat of the Indian Army and Lt. Gen. Abdul Hamid Khan headed the delegation, which put their signatures on the maps. Before the final agreement on LOC, the army authorities of India and Pakistan had nine meetings, starting with the first on August 10, 1972.

The senior military commanders of the two sides were assisted by three sector commanders along the entire length of 740 kms of LoC. It was divided in three segments, namely southern sector, central sector and the northern sector. It was ensured that nothing was left vague or uncertain. In November and December 1972 Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and General Tikka Khan met twice at Lahore and all the issues were amicably settled. Two sets of maps were prepared and LoC from Sangam and point NJ 9842 was reproduced. There were 27 map sheets formed into 29 mosaics.

A representative of Indian army flew to New Delhi the same day (December 11, 1972) and the Political Affairs Committee accorded its. approval. By 4.24 pm. the same day P N Haksar, the then Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister received a message from Aziz Ahmed informing him that the Government of Pakistan had also approved the recommendations of the Indo-Pak Joint Committee. The mutually agreed · statement was released in New Delhi on December 17, 1972 and three days later in Islamabad on December 20, 1972.

But, Pakistan chose to deny all that it had accepted and signed long back in 1972 after the war fought in Bangladesh and on the western fronts (December 11, 1972). The Indian Army is in possession of maps printed in 1984on the direction of Major General Anis Ali Syed, Surveyor General of Pakistan. Though the maps contain minutest details, Pakistan tried to create confusion on the plea that the LoC was not demarcated on the ground.

The map certified the claims of the Government of India. Western sources were said to have drawn the attention of Pak authorities to these maps as further proof of Pak’s intervention in Indian affairs. Three maps were seized by the Indian army from the Pakistan regulars in Kargil war, A western diplomat sarcastically remarked “all I could see was that the LoC in the (Seized) map was drawn in black, while the original was in red”.

Let it be red or black, who cared.

Pakistan knew that it would be difficult to convince the world on that count. It went on issuing confusing statements-diverting the issue to other subjects-like Pakistan had no control over the militants; Mujahideen were fighting the Indian forces and not the Pakistan army regulars etc.

There was hardly a militant group in the valley or Pakistan occupied Kashmir that did not claim that their Mujahideen or freedom fighters were in action against Indian Army. However, the reports reaching New Delhi said that there were three main groups: the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Al Badr. These were said to be provided with training and funds by the Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden, the key financier of international terrorism, now hiding in Afghanistan.

The leading among these Lashkar-e-Toiba was the militant wing of the Lahore based Markaz-e-Dawat-Ul-Irshad. It would pick-up young boys, usually from border villages and send them for religious briefings. This was followed by military training in Muzufferabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and also to advance training camps in Afghanistan run by bin Laden.

These boys were said to be the support team for hardcore Lashkar-e-Toiba mercenaries in Kargil. Most of these had arrived in Kargil fresh from the Afghanistan war. They were acclimatised to the high altitudes, the current conflict was in and was also used to actual warfare in those conditions.

As the Indian army battled against such hardcore religious fanatics, ISI had planned to increase pressure from the militants in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India. The bomb blasts in Assam and Chandigarh, shooting of innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir, arrest of militants with explosives in the Indian -capital and killings in BSF Township in Kashmir indicate Pakistan’s mischievous intentions on Kashmir.

After the flare-up of Kargil war, Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, as a part of a strategy, came to India at his own request. He held discussions with the Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. The talks failed. Both parties stick to their guns and as a result, no progress could be made in bilateral talks between the two leaders.

Pakistan was adamant in rejecting the demands made by India. Sartaj Aziz was not ready to listen to the Indian point of view.

The Government of India had taken a strong stand· during the talks. Since the bilateral talks had failed the situation was threatening to become worse. Indian Foreign Minister made two points with his counterpart, Sartaj Aziz. He first called upon Pakistan to stop, what he called its aggression in Kashmir. He also talked to Pakistan about the torture of Indian troops.

Line of control LoC

India claimed that Pakistan gouged out the eyes and crushed the skulls of some of its soldiers before they were killed. On the other hand, Pakistan told India to de-escalate tension on the LoC by stopping airstrikes and shelling. India did not believe in partial de-escalation. Pakistan had to withdraw its troops from the Indian territory as the first step, towards de-escalation. Sartaj Aziz said the talks were “frank and useful”. Indian side did not show any enthusiasm.

While protests were held in both Pakistan and India demanding the talks be called off, the Pakistan Foreign Minister expressed a desire that more such talks be held. India was in no mood. The Government of, India rejected an invitation from Pakistan for further talks.

Well, the meeting between Sartaj Aziz and Jaswant Singh was not expected to bring in dramatic results. Both sides acted tough; in fact. India publicly demonstrated its anger. There was none of the customary exchange of courtesies. The atmosphere had an air of hostility. Earlier India had rejected offers from Sartaj to visit on June 7, before communicating June l, as the convenient date. India sternly stated that it had neither invited Pakistan nor had suggested any meeting.

Pakistan’s ardour for negotiation was transparent in its motivation- to broaden the terrain of discussions, to utilise the vantage heights it had gained in the mountains around Kargil and to open the long settled question of the disposition of Jammu and Kashmir. India was hurt. It was betrayed. It was angry. It had decided to take no more bull shit. All credit must be given to Jaswant Singh to treat the talk with disdain, it deserved.

The two sides had tailored their views to suit their agenda for the talks. Sartaj Aziz insisted that he had provided concrete proposals to the Indian Government to defuse tension in Kargil War. On the contrary, Jaswant Singh claimed that no such suggestions had come. After return, the Pakistan’s foreign Minister spelt out in Islamabad his proposals.

He said that India should stop its airstrikes and artillery firing. India had only one point that intrusion across the LoC should be reversed.

In a striking confession, the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, told an American daily that her policy on Kashmir actually fuelled tension in Kashmir and regretted that she contributed inholding Indo-Pak relations hostage to a single issue of Kashmir.

Cultural Synthesis

Cultural Synthesis
Cultural Synthesis

Jammu and Kashmir have three distinct components Hindu majority Jammu, Buddhist dominated Ladakh in the North and predominantly Muslim populated Valley. Pakistan’s eyes were set on Kashmir on the pernicious two-nation theory. Never mind the fact that despite the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947 by the British, India still has the world’s second-largest Muslim population, Population around 120 million next only to that of Indonesia.

“It is a fact of history that Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists have lived in peace and amity in the State for centuries. When the rest of the subcontinent was up in flames, lit by the communal torch, it was Kashmir which stood out of the circle of holocaust, a ‘shining example’, in Mahatma Gandhi’s words of ‘secularism’. Not a drop of blood was shed in Kashmir while thousands perished in communal fury all around.” Says a Western analyst.
The Mughals, followed by Afghans, Sikhs and finally the Hindu

Dogras had ruled the State. The Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh entrusted the principality of Jammu and adjacent areas to Gulab Singh, his Dogra General. Guiab Singh brought large areas including Ladakh, Zanskar, Gilgit and Baluchistan under his control. Ranbir Singh succeeded the latter as Maharaja. And Maharaja Pratap Singh succeeded Ranbir Singh whose reign opened a new chapter in the history of modern Kashmir.

The British wanted a strong government to tackle the socio• economic problems of the Frontier State. In 1889, Maharaja Pratap Singh was deprived of his administrative authority which was to be handled by a Council of Regency under the control of a British Resident. The Maharaja undertook a tour of the frontier post up to Gurez and beyond and issued orders for immediate redress of the grievances of the people inhabiting these areas. With improvement on all the fronts, the British again restored full powers to the Maharaja in 1921.

Hinduism and Kashmiriyat


Kashmir witnessed the advent of Hinduism in the second millennium BC with the coming of the Aryans. The beginning of the third century BC is usually considered the period when Buddhist influences gained a foothold in Kashmir particularly in Ladakh. Kashmiri scholars played an important role in the spread of Buddhism to other parts of the world.

Despite the advent of Buddhism, Buddhist monarchs, centred in the Valley, continued the practice of patronising Hindu temples and celebrating Hindu festivals. The tenets of Buddhism subsequently faced a challenge from a resurgent Shaivite Hinduism centred on the Hindu God” Shiva”. The Amarnath cave in Kashmir, devoted to Lord Shiva, is symbolic of the deep influence that Shaivite Hinduism had on the people of Kashmir-an an influence that the very practices of Buddhism encouraged.

It was a form of worship that symbolised a mystical bond between the devotee and God without priestly mediation. Its spread resulted not from priestly propagation but from the participation of the people themselves.

The advent of Islam , resulting from incursions from Central Asia, Persia and Turkey, saw the decline of Buddhism particularly in the Valley and the conversion of a large number of people to the mystical Sufi school (and not the Wahabi school) of Islam. Syed Ali Hamadani from Hamadan in Persia, a scholar and Sufi saint, is recognised as the moving force behind the peaceful spread of Islam in Kashmir.

The Kashmiri affinity with Sufi Islam resulted from the traditions of mysticism that permeated the life of peoples devoted to Shaivite Hinduism with its emphasis on the mystical communion between man and God. Sufism was in part a symbol of protest against the codified and institutionalised Islam of the sultanates and caliphates, akin to the Shaivite practice which did not envisage a formal role for the clerical order. Sufism had-similarities to tantric practices which too had influenced the Kashmiri people.

These diverse influences shaped the foundation of Kashmiri society and the creation of an ethos of “Kashmiriyat”, Buddhist era structures such as the Shah Hamadan Mosque on the river Jhelum; the Ziarat Dastgir Sahib in Khanayar and the Ziarat Nund Rishi at Charar-e-Sharif symbolised the peculiar tolerant version of Islam embraced by the

Kashmiris. Sufi saints created a synthesis of monotheistic “Trikka” (the Kashmiri form of Shaivite worship) into the “Tauhid” concept of Islam resulting in a philosophy that embraced mysticism, contrary to the tenets of fundamentalist Islam.

The cross-fertilization of mystic “Trikka Shaivism” and mystical Sufism led to the advent of the Ri~t1i tradition in Kashmir akin to the Hindu concept of “Bhakti”. The spread of Islam, in this unique and liberal form, to the people of Kashmir was the contribution of the Rishis with the saint poetess Lalleshwari or Lalla-ded the foremost proponent of the Rishi cult.

Through her songs, which still echo in the Kashmir Valley, Lalla-ded spread the message’ of universal brotherhood and equality before God, quite distinct· from the proselytising creed of fundamentalist Islam. Sheikh Nooruddin or Nund Rishi, whose shrine at Charar-e-Sharif was burnt by fundamentalist militants in 1995, inherited her mantle and is revered to this day by both Muslims and Hindus alike.

The Rishi tradition can be seen in the modem day practices in Kashmir of post Namaz recitation of the “Aurade Fathiya” couplets in Kashmiri in praise of the Prophet; the reverence for Shrines and tombs of saints and Sufis and the veneration of holy relicsr as well as the adoption of a liberal form of Islamic jurisprudence.

“Kashmiriyat” of which these traditions and practices form a part is not limited only to the methods of prayer. It imbues the daily life of the Kashmiris. For example, in the Kashmir Valley, when a boat is lowered for the first time in the waters, the name of the Rishis is invoked. In Kashmir, contrary to fundamentalist Islamic practices, visits to Hindu temples by Muslims and to Shrines by Hindus are commonplace.

Muslims observe the Hindu practice of tying threads at the Shrines as a token of seeking favours from the Gods. In the annual Hindu pilgrimage to Amamath Cave, it is Muslim families which traditionally provide water to the pilgrims and the care of the cave has been handed down over the generations to the members of a Muslim family.

Kashmiri women unlike those in orthodox Islamic countries find a place equal to those of their men. Kashmiri tradition allows a woman full say in the manner of leading her life and the concept of a woman being treated less than a man is alien to the Kashmiris.

The spirit of co-existence and harmony among religions and creeds and the synthesis of practices and traditions of different religions, that have had their place in Kashmir, are at the heart of the Kashmiri ethos of Kashmiriyat-an ethos that abhors fundamentalism and intolerance.

The consolidation of Dogra rule in Jammu and Kashmir coincided with the strengthening of the Indian freedom movement under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership. The freedom struggle was soon to find an echo in several princely States and nowhere with more ardour than in Kashmir. By 1931, anti-Dogra sentiment in the State had struck solid roots with Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and others, like the Mirwaiz Maulvi Yusuf Shah, the Muslim high priest of the Valley, in the Lead.

The Maulvi, it soon transpired, was accepting a monthly stipend from the Maharaja and this, among many other factors, forced Sheikh Abdullah to steer away from Muslim communal politics as symbolised by the then Muslim Conference. By mid 1930s Sheikh Abdullah had moved to a secular base and formed the National Conference comprising of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The National Conference inevitably found itself drawn towards the Indian National Congress and thus a foundation of an abiding friendship between Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi was laid.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, tried hard to woo the Sheikh and, indeed, visited Srinagar on a couple of occasions only to be rebuffed by the National Conference. Jinnah’s known arrogance did not help him either. He dismissed his best bet in the Valley, Maul vi Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, as a “rotten egg”, as Sheikh Abdullah recalls in his autobiography “Aatish-e-Chinar”.

The Sheikh again recalls the supreme contempt that Jinnah had for the Kashmiri people. According to Sheikh Abdullah, when a National Conference activist, Ali Mohammed Tariq, asked Jinnah soon after the partition of the subcontinent whether the future of Kashmir would be decided by the people of Kashmir, he was stunned by Jinnah’s riposte: “Let the people go to hell.” The people of the so-called Azad Kashmir have known ever since how much their Pakistani benefactors have cared for them.

Kashmir Opts for India

kashmir opts for India
kashmir opts for India

At the dawn of independence when the great see saw about the future of the princely states was on, Sheikh Abdullah was still in jail and was released only when the Dogra Maharaja saw himself slipping into a mire. With Pakistani tribals, aided and abetted by the Pakistani army, commanded by Major General Akbar Khan, invaded the Valley, Sheikh bdullah had just been out of Maharaja’s jail.

The Pakistan Army’s active involvement in and following the tribal raids of 1947 and infiltration, of raiders supported by the Pakistan army into Kashmir before the outbreak of the 1965 conflict is acknowledged by one of the highly regarded Pakistani Generals, Lt. Gen. Gui Hasan Khan, in his memoirs and by Altaf Gohar in his biography of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. With the Maharaja still undecided about his future course of action, Sheikh.

Abdullah and his National Conference organised a volunteer corps, unarmed for the most part, to defend the Valley. The volunteers, drawn’ from all communities, were asked to protect the life, property, honour and dignity of the Kashmiri people. Luckily for Kashmir, the tribal invaders . did not move as fast as they could have. They accorded a higher priority
to rape, arson and loot.

Contrary to what Pakistan has been saying about its role then, it had sent a special emissary to Kashmir to try and persuade the Maharaja to· accede to Pakistan. The emissary failed in his mission. Consequently, Pakistan, in total disregard of the Standstill Agreement it had signed with the Maharaj a, cut off its supplies of essential commodities such as salt and petrol; it also stopped its supply of currency notes and small coins to the Imperial Bank in Kashmir. Since the roads joining Kashmir to the rest of India ran through Pakistan, things became more critical despite the protest lodged by the Maharaja. That was only the beginning.

Pakistan now sent tribal hordes from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to browbeat the Kashmiris. Muzaffarabad, now capital . of the so-called Azad Kashmir, was overrun in a day or so. But the tribals were more interested in rape and loot and that is perhaps what saved Kashmir in the end. The situation in Srinagar became tense. The Maharaja rallied his small army in an attempt to defend the State. In her book, “Halfway to Freedom”, Margaret Bourke White describes the, plunder by the raiders: “Their buses and trucks, loaded with boot , arrived every other day and took more Pathans to Kashmir.

Ostensibly they want to liberate their Kashmiri Muslim brothers, but their primary objective was riot and loot. In this they made no distinction between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.” “The raiders advanced into Baramulla, the biggest commercial centre of the region with a population then of 11,000, until they were only-an hour away from Srinagar. For the next three days they were engaged in massive plunder, rioting and rape. No one was spared. Even members of the St. Joseph’s Mission Hospital were brutally massacred.”

This tribal invasion was no accident, according to Sheikh Abdullah. It was a diversionary tactic created by the newly formed State of Pakistan. “The withdrawal of British forces from the tribal belt had left these people without any livelihood.” Sheikh wrote, “The ruler of Pakistan feared that these lawless people might proceed to plunder Peshawar and other big cities of Pakistan.

They were, therefore, asked to proceed to Kashmir, having been assured of their bounty through plunder of the countryside. Pakistani leaders were hoping to reap a double benefit: getting rid of the tribals and bringing Kashmiris to their knees. When the tribals refused to budge from Baramulla, Abdul Qayyum Khan, an NWFP Pathan leader, sent their religious leader, Pir Manti, to persuade them to advance towards Srinagar.”

According to confirmed reports as described by Sheikh Abdullah in his autobiography, Pakistani agents in Srinagar city decided to destroy all the bridges so that if the Indian Army was dispatched, its movement could be sabotaged. National Conference volunteers were posted at the bridges and Hindus and Muslims alike were prepared to guard their national honour, having heard about the atrocities inflicted on innocents by the hordes.

The ruler’s appeals to Pakistan were of no avail. The raiders caused havoc in different parts of Kashmir. The Kashmir state troops were incapable of offering effective resistance to the raiders and the threat to the Valley became grave. Unable to prevent the raiders from committing large scale killings, loot and arson, the Maharaja requested the Government of India on October 26, 1947 that the State of Jammu and Kashmir be allowed to accede to India.

An appeal for help was also simultaneously received by the Government of India from the National Conference which was the largest popular organisation in Kashmir and which had fought for the people’s rights and agitated for the freedom of Kashmir from the Maharaja’s rule. The National Conference also supported the request for the State’s accession to India.

To those who question Sheikh Abdullah’s credentials, one need only quote President Ayub Khan of Pakistan who had just then received the Kashmiri leader as Nehru’s emissary in May 1964. He had this to say: “Sheikh Abdullah is a lion-hearted leader.” And Allama Iqbal, whom Pakistan hails as its philosopher-poet, said: “Sheikh Abdullah wiped the fear of the tyrant from the hearts of the people of Kashmir.”

The Instrument of Accession was accepted the next day by the Governor General of lndia, Lord Mountbatten.

Jammu and Kashmir is often referred to, .in common parlance, as a Muslim state-a nomenclature that ill-defines the peculiar ethos of Kashmir, called “Kashmiriyat” which is quite distinct from orthodox Muslim practice as observed in many Islamic states.

Pakistan’s espousal of the right to self-determination has been conditional and circumscribed. It is demanded of the part of Kashmir which escaped its occupation but not its depredations. The right of self• determination is not recognised for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK).

The Pak occupied Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act, 1974, obliges all office bearers from the President down and all legislators to swear loyalty “to the cause of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan”. Islam is the state religion (Article 3). The President and Prime Minister must be Muslim. The right of freedom of association is restricted. Article 7(2) says: “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan:”

The former Prime Minister, Z.A. Bhutto, imposed the Constitution on POK. Pakistan conveniently ignored the fact that it is only in temporary charge of those areas under its occupation. Strangely in its view it is the rest of the State, which is, disputed territory, not that part which it had grabbed.

For no explicit reason Pakistan resents the expression Pak-occupied Kashmir but freely talks of ‘Indian held Kashmir’. Taking the UN resolutions by which Pakistan swears, it would be clear that while the I legality_ of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India
was consistently and explicitly accepted in those resolutions, the Expression Pak occupied Kashmir is derived from, the severy documents.

Codes and Conventions

On January 20, 1948, the Security Council set up a three-member Commission. On April 21, 1948, the Council not only expanded its membership to five but also laid down the details of a plebiscite• based solution. A Plebiscite Administrator was to be nominated by the UN Secretary-General. Clause 1 O(b) said: “The Plebiscite Administrator, acting as an officer of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, should have authority to nominate his assistants and to draft regulations governing the plebiscite. Such nominees should be formally appointed and such draft regulations should be formally promulgated by the State of Jammu and Kashmir.”

This is clear recognition of the legality of Kashmir’s accession to India, India’s external sovereignty over the State and the legal authority of the government of the State. Hence, the formal induction of the Plebiscite Administrator was to be made by the State government although he was to be nominated by the UN Secretary General. On August 13, 1948, the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) adopted a resolution embodying its proposals for a settlement.

India accepted it; Pakistan did not. On December 11, 1948, the UNCIP offered proposals in amplification of the first to provide for a plebiscite. Both sides accepted it. They were formally embodied in its resolution of January 5, 1949.

While the tribesmen from Pakistan and Pakistan’s troops were to be withdrawn completely, India was to withdraw only “the bulk of its forces”, retaining some “to assist local authorities in the observance of law and order”. That was not the only asymmetry. The existence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was explicitly recognized and so indeed was the State’s accession to India and assumption of

“external sovereignty”. Accordingly, the resolution provided that “the government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir” will safeguard law and order and that “human and political rights will be respected”.

For the other parts of the State the resolution said: “Pending a final solution, the territory evacuated by the Pakistani troops will be administered by the local authorities under the surveillance of the commission.” This is in sharp contrast to the clear recognition of the State Government, acting under the Government of India, in respect of external relations. No surveillance was provided for this part of the State.

In utter disregard of the UN resolutions by which it swears, Pakistan imposed a new regime on POK on June 21, 1952. Rules of Business were presented on October 28. Rule 5 said: “The President of Azad Kashmir Government shall hold office during the pleasure of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, duly recognised as such by the Government of Pakistan in the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs.” The Ministry’s Joint Secretary could attend meetings of the Council of Ministers and “tender advice on any matter under discussion”.

The legality of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India was contestable. Even so, India had agreed to a plebiscite in 1948. But among the prime causes, which have rendered a plebiscite impossible, is Pakistan’s annexation of POK, its refusal to withdraw its forces from the occupied territory, and its policies towards the rest of the State. The war of 1965 showed amply that Pakistan tried to grab the rest of the State at its chosen forum, the battlefield, and failed.

There was a cease-fire followed by the Tashkent Declaration. It is pertinent to recall that Clause (iii) of the Declaration recorded thus: “The Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan have agreed that relations between India and Pakistan shall be based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.” And Clause (iv) said: “The Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan have agreed that both sides will discourage any propaganda directed against the other country and will encourage propaganda which promotes the development of friendly relations between the two countries.”

Simla Agreement

simla agreement

Six years later it launched another war and it once again failed in its objective to grab Kashmir by force. There was a meeting between the

Prime Minister of India and the.. President of Pakistan at Simla and the talks resulted in the Simla Agreement. A look at the first six clauses of the Agreement, reproduced below, juxtaposed with the ground realities, would show how Pakistan has violated all these provisions. ‘ ·

Clauses (i) to (vi) of the Simla Agreement are as follow:

  • That the principles and purposes of the charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries.
  • That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or. any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them. Pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent the organisation, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peaceful and harmonious relations.

That the prerequisite for reconciliation, good neighbourliness and durable peace between them is a commitment by both the countries to peaceful coexistence, respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

That the basic issues and causes of conflict which have bedevilled the relations between the two countries for the last 25 years shall be resolved by peaceful means.

That they shall always respect each other’s national unity, territorial integrity, political independence and sovereign equality. That in accordance with the charter of the United Nations, they will refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of each country.

Pakistan ignored the Tashkent Declaration and has violated almost all the six clauses listed above of the Simla Agreement to which it was a signatory. It has mounted a low cost, covert operation in Jammu and Kashr1ir. The POK has served as a launching pad for this aggression. POK is firmly riveted to Pakistan’s control through the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council. It is presided over by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and comprises his five nominees, the President and Prime Minister of POK, and six representatives of the POK Assembly, elected by proportional representation. Politically PoK is a replica of Pakistan: Basic

Democracy of Ayub Khan and Gen. Zia’s Martial Law. In December 1993, the blasphemy laws of Pakistan were extended to the POK. The northern parts of the State have been dismembered from the POK and their status as part of the state questioned. They are ruled directly through · a chief executive, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Shafiq, appointed by Islamabad, with a 26 member Northern Areas Council. The people have never seen elections or enjoyed human rights.

In contrast to the government in Srinagar, the regime in Muzaffarabad (POK capital) is one set up by Pakistan in territory it has occupied, not acquired by law.

On The Cards

India banned Pakistan TV and the Indian population turned to Radio BBC for news from the front. Pakistanis also tuned to BBC for what was generally believed to be authentic so far as the reports about the conflict were concerned. BBC continued to project the seriousness of the situation-probably more than what was required.

The channel in its World Today programme broadcast on 17th June described the situation in Kargil as serious and said that India was under political pressure to act decisively.” The longer the military stalemate in the Kargil region of Kashmir lasts, the greater the risk that it will escalate into a still greater conflagration. The Indian Government has been anxious to dispel. such a notion despite the strike into Pakistan administered Kashmir in an attempt to break the supply lines to the armed militants on the Indian side of the demarcation line.”

” But, there are political and military pressures on it to act more decisively to expel what it calls intruders. And there are intense diplomatic pressures on Pakistan as evident by President Clinton’s phone call to Nawaz Sharif to do all he can to pull back the militants”.

The BBC interviewed Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid and the Indian military specialist, Prof. Brahma Chellani to know how the crisis was likely to develop.

The excerpts :
BBC : How strong the pressure was from the Indian Military for a strike into Kashmir?
Prof. : The pressure comes more from the political leadership than from the military leadership. The former had been made to look like real fools. They were caught napping by what happened. Prime Minister

Vajpayee who took the Bus Diplomacy to Lahore has spoken in recent days about the betrayal by Pakistan. The feeling is growing in India that the Prime Minister was taken for a ride in Lahore. That kind of image the Prime Minister cannot live with for too long especially because he has elections to face in three-month time.

BBC : Ahmed Rashid, would it be fair to say that if India does escalate this conflict further, the Pakistani military and the Pakistani government will be pleased?

Ahmed: I think they would be more worried militarily because India has vast superiority over Pakistan in the military term, especially if it decides to strike either inside Kashmir but at a different location where Pakistani forces are vulnerable or if it crosses the border between the two countries which will mean all-out war. But, Pakistan’s attempt is to basically internationalise the Kashmir issue.

This it has failed to do thus far. President Clinton’s call to Nawaz Sharif to persuade the militants to come out demonstrates that the international community is becoming increasingly worried that India may well strike out and try and hit Pakistan where it is more vulnerable given that the Indian forces are not making much headway in Kargil War.

BBC : So, Prof. is it fair to say it is not military advantage to Pakistan, but is military advantage to India?
Prof. : Yes, to some extent. But we have to note that the Pakistani infiltration scheme is such a blatant attempt at committing aggression across the LoC that the international community could not stay quiet for too long.

BBC: Ahmed your comments on blatant attempt to commit aggression?
Ahmed: Many Pakistanis feel that India will have no choice ultimately but to cross the LoC at some other point. This would mean a much wider conflict. I think the west is now finally waking up to this reality of the dangers of escalation and trying to stop it.

BBC: Is there anything at all which suggests that the two countries could be brought to find some kind of some compromise?
Ahmed: I think if a way out was given where Pakistan could withdraw the intruders quietly without too much of a show from India’s side by which Pakistan could then declare victory as it were and then withdraw them so that there’s not a huge domestic backlash on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif especially from the Islamic fundamentalist parties.

Prof.: I agree with Ahmed. Not all is lost. I don’t think India is expecting Pakistan to own up for what it has done in Kargil War. If Pakistan can first cut off supply lines to the intruders and then withdraw them over a couple of week, then I think this crisis will blow over.”

That was June 17. It took exactly one month for the process to be over. West intervened. Asked Pakistan to bring back the intruders from the Indian soil. Pakistan complied. India allowed the Pakistanis time up to July 17 to go back. Pakistan did exactly that. But did the war end?

To some, yes. But the later incidents showed that the action shifted to Kashmir mainland. Pakistani intruders began action inside the valley, waiting for the opportunity to start the action somewhere, sometime for the sixth round perhaps.

The Nuclear Compulsions

Nuclear compulsion
Nuclear compulsion

Officially entered the nuclear club in 1964, when China tested its first atomic weapon. Although the nuclear detonation followed the first test by the United States by some 20 years, the communist state’s action sent chills through a region already suspicious of China’s growing military aggression.

India, in particular, was quite wary of its militarist neighbour. Ties between the two countries had worsened since 1959, when Tibet’s Dalai Lama fled to India after the Chinese invasion of the Himalayan territory. India also had lost a brief border war with the Chinese in 1962-a defeat that led India to shift more resources toward nuclear weapons research.
As India progressed down the path of developing its own nuclear programme, its conflict with western neighbour Pakistan also became more acute. The two countries had been at odds over several disputed border territories since their creation in 194 7, fighting a series of wars in the span of a 20-year period.

In 1971, hostilities erupted again as Pakistan troops began assaults on India-backed Bengali separatists in East Pakistan. A brutal campaign ensued with Bengalis subsequently declaring their Nation (Bangladesh) independent and India joining the fight against its western neighbour. By December 1971, some one million people had died in fighting that ended with Pakistan’s surrender.

Pakistan’s defeat spurred its leaders to pursue a secret nuclear weapons programme. India, however, was the first to demonstrate nuclear weapons capability with a test in May 1974-a detonation that shocked Pakistan and altered the nuclear balance in the region.

In the 1970s, Pakistan turned to China for help in its arms race against India had made significant progress in acquiring sensitive nuclear technology. China reportedly supplied Pakistan with plans for a nuclear bomb in 1983, as well as enough enriched uranium for two thermonuclear weapons. Pakistan’s leading nuclear scientist Abdul Qadir Khan claimed Pakistan had developed a nuclear bomb in 1987, although the statement was not backed by testing.

Pakistan and India worked on acquiring and perfecting nuclear capable missiles throughout the 1980s and 1990s. India tested in 1988 its Prithvi missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead into Pakistan. Meanwhile the Pakistanis launched a programme to develop two short• range ballistic missile systems in the l 980s-(a decade later testing a 600-kilometer ballistic missile capable of reaching targets deep into India’s interior).

Despite the publicised missile tests, details of both nuclear programmes remained sketchy in the 1980s and early 1990s. One reason: India and Pakistan did not sign Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that would have opened their nuclear programmes to more international scrutiny.

In May 1998, India shocked the world by detonating a series of nuclear devices. Pakistan followed week later with its own sequence of nuclear tests. The actions by the two countries brought international condemnation and economic sanctions from many countries, including the United States.

Eventually the international pressure, combined with the continued losses from fighting in Kashmir between Indian Hindus and Pakistani Muslims, led the two sides to meet in October 1998 for peace and security talks. For the first time, negotiators discussed the use and testing of nuclear weapons, even dedicating one session to their conflict in Kashmir. No accord, however, was reached. Both governments continue to negotiate with U.S. officials about signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

In December, the Clinton administration announced the easing of sanctions against both India and Pakistan, paving the way for U.S. loans and investments in the two nations. Pakistan and India were bracketed together. New opportunities presented themselves inviting the two countries to come closer.

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