Terrorism Update
Show/Hide Search
    Click to Enlarge

The Kargil War
Preliminary Explorations
Praveen Swami*

... the clock shall go on ticking, louder and louder, because it now has nuclear energy infused into it.1 

There is something fundamentally repugnant about the idea of a post-mortem of the Kargil War, premised as it is on the assumption that the conflict has died. In reality, the war of the summer of 1999 is just part of a much wider conflict, driven by forces which are far from spent.

Writing in 1990, with Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in the middle of a cataclysmic upheaval, analyst Sumit Ganguly addressed the possibilities of a war between India and Pakistan. He argued, among other things, that the Indian state would be able to contain the rise of terror in the Kashmir Valley. It would, Ganguly pithily suggested, "restore order, if not law". But the real danger he foresaw was that an "extended insurgency in Kashmir is likely to lead to continuing small-scale border skirmishes between India and Pakistan, with the ever-present possibility of inadvertant escalation".2 Elsewhere in his paper, Ganguly pointed out that escalation could well have nuclear implications.

The Kargil War has some important, if depressing, elements of preordination in it. This paper is an exploratory attempt to understand why it came about, and what lessons need to be learned from it. It seeks to examine the legitimacy of Indian claims that the Kargil War ended in an unequivocal victory, as well as the broader political theatre that drove the conflict. Above all, it argues that the Pokhran II nuclear tests of March 1998 prepared the ground for the most serious military engagement in South Asia since the war of 1971.

An important caveat, however, needs to be explicitly stated. Much of the material for this paper was gathered during my work as a journalist covering the war. In the absence of cogent and reliable empirical data from independent sources, a preponderance of this material is based on information made available by military and intelligence agencies, as well as other informants. As more material on the facts and events of the Kargil War emerge in the weeks and months to come, some or many of these facts may prove to be incorrect. I believe, however, that the fundamental thrust of this paper will stand scrutiny, as will at least the contours of the information that has been compiled, if not its ornamental details.

At the time of writing, an enquiry has been ordered into the intelligence and military failures that enabled Pakistan to occupy and hold some 1,000 square kilometres of Indian territory. It is far from clear just what the scope of such an inquiry will be, and whether it will serve any meaningful purposes other than generating electoral capital. An insightful article by the scholar, A.G. Noorani has pointed to the examples of the Shimon Agranat inquiry into the Israel-Arab War of 1973, and the Franks Committee Report on the Falklands War, as examples of the scale and independence of the investigation that is desperately needed to examine the causes and conduct of the Kargil War.

The nation must stoutly refuse to give any respite to men who have served it so badly. The only ones to emerge with credit are the men of the armed forces who have performed bravely against heavy odds. Their morale will not suffer, but will rise if the politicians who put them in this situation on account of their incompetence are brought to account. V.K. Krishna Menon resigned as Defence Minister on November 7, 1962, even while the India - China War was on. At the height of the First World War, Churchill was removed as First Lord of the Admiralty on May 26, 1915, following reverses in the Dardanelles campaign.3 

The Three Phases of Battle in Kargil.

It is now fairly well established that the first physical contact with Pakistani troops and irregulars in the Kargil sector was established on the Jubbar heights, on May 3.4  Appropriately for a war characterised by the Indian security establishment’s negligence, and on occasion incompetence, the contact had nothing to do with military reconaissance or patrolling.

Tashi Namgyal, Morup Tsering, and Ali Raza Stanba, three shepherds from the tiny village of Garkhun, had made their way up the Banju heights with their flocks of sheep. Shepherds in the Kargil mountains routinely pool their livestock together, assigning groups of two or three villagers by turn to graze the animals on the high meadows. Namgyal and his friends are a little coy about just what led them up towards the Jubbar heights quite so early in summer, but the most plausible explanation is that they hoped to use the time to engage in the region’s favourite sport, poaching mountain goats. Tsering carried with him a pair of powerful field binoculars, purchased years earlier in Leh, a tool of particular use for hunting.

By the morning of May 3, Namgyal had moved some 5 kilometres up the Jubbar Langpa [nullah or mountain stream]. As he scanned the mountain with Tsering’s binoculars, he saw groups of men in Pathan suits, digging earth and putting up makeshift bunkers. Although it was possible neither to establish their numbers nor strength, Namgyal promptly informed officers of the 3 Punjab Regiment, stationed locally. Initial reactions to Namgyal’s story appear, by local accounts, to have been more than slightly blasé. According to 15 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Kishan Pal, two patrols subsequently despatched on May 4 and May 5 to Yaldor and Kha Baroro detected seven intruders on the Kukerthang ridge and two at Kha Baroro. Two further patrols were sent up in the night on May 7. The one sent to Kukerthang lost one man in an ambush, while the second patrol lost two soldiers and suffered several injured in a second ambush in the morning on May 10. Clearly, the patrols had not gone out expecting serious resistance.5 

Army officials have so far been less than forthcoming about just when patrols were sent out in other areas of Kargil, and what precisely their fate was. Lieutenant Saurabh Kalia’s ill - fated patrol is now affirmed to have moved down the Kaksar Langpa on May 14 although officials had first claimed it had, in fact, left on its mission ten days earlier. There is as yet no verifiable account of what other patrols were sent out and just where they encountered or engaged Pakistani units. The scale and character of military response to the information first provided by Namgyal is just one of many issues that needs to be established through independent and rigorous inquiry. All that is known is that by the middle of May, the Army was discovering fresh Pakistan-held positions on an alarmingly regular basis, spanning the entire Kargil sector fry om the Mushkoh Valley in the west to Chorbat La in the east.

The 15 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Kishan Pal has given at least some indication of the conceptual framework that underpinned the Army’s early responses. In his first press conference on the Kargil War, called before air strikes commenced, Pal described the territory occupied by Pakistan as "unheld areas". In a subsequent interview, he explained just what he meant by this novel formulation. "If I don’t take notice of them", he said, "it will make no difference…. If they come off the heights in the summer, they will be slaughtered. And if they don’t leave them in the winter, they will freeze to death".6  The true significance of these observations has been little understood. Evidently, the military leadership believed the intrusion at that stage to be little other than a very localised nuisance, an abortive enterprise to push in irregulars into an area of Jammu & Kashmir until then unaffected by insurgent activity.

The middle of May, however, saw at least some degree of unease set in. Pal ordered helicopters engaged in Wide Area Surveillance Operations [WASO] to fly lower, an effort to locate small Pakistan units entrenched on the mountains which would be undetectable from altitude. Three helicopters engaged in WASO were shot at with machine guns. Two were hit, but mercifully managed to return to base safely. Shortly afterwards, Cheetah helicopters used for WASO began to be equipped with machine guns mounted on their skids, a tactic first experimented with in Kupwara in spring. By most accounts, this tactic was only of limited defensive utility. Given the lack of a broad appreciation of the strength and purpose of Pakistan’s thrust into Kargil at this stage, small numbers of poorly-acclimatised troops with thin artillery support were pushed up the mountains in a desperate effort to vacate its positions. No weekly breakdown of casualties has so far been made available, but the figures may cast interesting light on the results of Army strategy during this first phase of its Kargil operations.

Both Union Defence Minister George Fernandes’ glib pronouncements during the first phase of the Kargil War and the fact that the first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was not summoned until May 25 say not a little about the chaotic management and poor strategic appraisal that characterised this period.

The meeting of the CCS led to the commencement of the second phase of the Kargil War. The morning after, Indian combat jets bombed Pakistan-held positions throughout the arc from the Mushkoh Valley to Batalik. For much of the media and public opinion, this signalled the real begining of the Kargil War; but the initial air campaign provided less than illustrious results. The loss of a Mig-21 fighter flown by Squadron Leader A. Ahuja to a Stinger missile on May 27, minutes after a Mig-27 flown by Flight Lieutenant K. Nachiketa went down accross the Line of Control with engine trouble, was followed a day later by the destruction of a Mi-17 helicopter fitted with rocket pods in the Drass sub-sector, resulting in the death of all four crew. Indian planners had clearly not anticipated the use of Stinger missiles by Pakistani air defence. In the wake of the losses, combat aircraft were compelled in general to fly at higher altitudes, using defensive measures to deflect the heat-seeking Stinger missiles. The use of Mi-17 helicopters as weapon platforms was subequently severely restricted.

What uses, then, did the air offensive serve? Chief of Air Force Staff, Air Marshall A.Y. Tipnis, at a press conference in Srinagar, made it clear that "the consequences of the restricted use of air power had been made clear to the Government". By this, Tipnis presumably meant that combat aircraft were not being used for the tasks for which they were designated. Attacks on major Pakistan supply, bases and artillery positions were ruled out by the fact that such an offensive would have meant flying accross the LoC. None the less, the use of air power had two significant consequences. First, it signalled to Pakistan troops and irregulars on the Indian side of the LoC that the battle had been joined in earnest. Any expectations that an effette enemy could be held at bay until the winter began to set in were now dispelled. Second, and perhaps most important, sagging Indian troop-morale received not a little aid from the air strikes. Soldiers struggling up the mountains now moved in the knowledge that their adversaries, too, were facing sustained and lethal bombardment.

It is perhaps not coincidental that the first major Indian victory, the capture of the Tololing heights facing Drass, followed the use of air power. Troops of the Rajputana Regiment succeeded in pushing their way up this 4,950-metre summit, and further on to the highest summitt visible from Drass, Peak 4,510. The push, followed six weeks of sustained artillery bombardment, and demonstrated to poorly acclimatised and sometimes demoralised troops that the war in the high Himalayas, could in fact, be won. The subsequent assault on Tiger Hills west of Drass, and Peak 5,062 overlooking the Sando Langpa, the gateway to the LoC at Marpo La, proved similarly successful. These victories were the subject of considerable media hype. Officials claimed they had considerable strategic importance, since Pakistani forward observation posts overlooking the highway had now been vacated.

While there was some element of truth in this claim, the fact remained that much of the war remained to be fought. In early July, the picture in several other sectors was less comforting. The body of Major Mariappan Sarvanan, killed in a May 28-assault on a Pakistani position at Height 4,250 in Batalik, had yet, to be recovered. This made it clear that Indian troops had yet to move to higher positions, from where the enemy fire preventing Sarvanan’s body from being collected could be engaged and neutralised. Mechanised Infantry officer Major Rajesh Adhikari, killed in the Mushkoh Valley at a height above 4,000 metres, was also listed as missing, a similar indicator of Indian progress. No significant success in India’s efforts to regain its forward position on the LoC in Kaksar, Bajrang Post, had been reported at all. In some areas, the Indian attack had faced severe reverses. On June 10, troops of the 12 Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry and the Desert Scorpions Paracommando unit who had taken a commanding position above the Yaldor Langpa found themselves sandwiched between two fresh lines of counter-attacking Pakistan troops. This established that, contrary to Army claims, Pakistan’s resupply lines were still open.

Despite slow progress in several areas, however, India’s formidable military machine was clearly at work. This second phase of the battle might best be described as one of consolidation. The 56 Brigade, brought in early in the battle to relieve the 121 Brigade in the Drass sub-sector, had begun to establish itself west of the Munar Langpa. Initial logistics problems, which had on more than one occaision left troops without adequate food, clothing and ammunition, had been resolved. West of Tingel Langpa, another new formation, the 79 Brigade, had taken charge of fighting in Mushkoh. Further troops were pouring in, and over five additional Brigades were in position before fighting was to conclude. At least some officials who were discredited in the early phase of fighting had been removed from their positions. Artillery positions had been reinforced with Bofors guns and Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers.

This phase of consolidation, mirrored by sustained air and ground bombardment, prepared the way for the final push that began in early July. Among the most spectacular victories were claimed by soldiers from the Garhwal Rifles, the Bihar Regiment, the Gurkha Rifles and the Grenadiers pushing their way along the flanks of the Batalik heights. The 5,287-metre summit of Khalubar, east of Yaldor, fell on July 2, and the entire mountain was cleared within three days by the Gurkhas. West of the Urdas Langpa, Peak 4,812, which Indian soldiers call Dog Hill, rapidly followed. Holding these flanks, troops could now begin to cut off Pakistani reinforcements making their way down from their rear base at Muntho Dalo, which had been hit by successive waves of air strikes through the previous weeks.

Luck played a significant role in the capture of Jubbar. Troops had succeeded in making their way up the Urdas Langpa to Banju, the minor peak which guards the Jubbar ridge line. The final assault up the ridge would have been murderous, had a shell not hit a massive Pakistani ammunition dump near the Jubbar peak. The route up Jubbar, on to Peak 4,924 and beyond, to Peak 4,927, was now clear. Progress had been rapid on the eastern side of the Garkhun Langpa as well. The push from the village of Yaldor, on the Yaldor Langpa, to Peak 4,821 on Kukerthang had been a protracted one, claiming heavy casualties. But the mountain was finally taken, and the 5,103-metre Tharu followed soon after. With the heights reclaimed, troops could now dominate the Garkhun Langpa, and the villages of Baroro and Kha Baroro. Further Pakistani movement to reinforce positions along the Gargurdu, Garkhun and Yadlor Langpas was now near-impossible.

Interestingly, progress in the Batalik area provided the first irrefutable evidence of Pakistan’s military presence on the Indian side of the LoC. Naik Inayat Ali of the 5 Northern Light Infantry (NLI), captured on July 2, told interrogators that his entire unit of 200 had been wiped out in the course of fighting in the Batalik area.7  Earlier evidence of such involvement had emerged. The US-based magazine, Time reported that troops "from the northern light infantry were used because of their high-altitude experience and because they are from the region".

They were encouraged to look like mujahideen, and they discarded their uniforms for traditional shalwar kameez, or tracksuits, grew beards and wore traditional white religious skullcaps. The soldiers say that when they reached the heights in February, some genuine mujahideen were at the abandoned Indian positions. But these men left after a few days because they could not survive in the high altitudes. They are now used for reconnaissance and as porters.8 

In an interview, one Pakistani soldier provided a lucid account of his deployment in the Kargil sector, and of the Army’s logistical support.9 Much of what he stated bears out Namgyal’s account of his May 3-sighting in Jubbar. 

At the time Pakistan troop withdrawals were announced on July 11, the battle for Batalik, and the third phase of the Kargil War in general, was, contrary to official claims, far from over. Pakistan troops retreating from Jubbar had been reinforcing at two heights over a kilometre inside the Line of Control, Peaks 5,121 and 5,327. Assaulting these heights could have proved costly. To the east of Yadlor lay Muntho Dalo, the 5,065-metre pyramid which acted as Pakistan’s principal supply base for the Batalik sector. Although Muntho Dalo had come under sustained bombardment until at least July 9, the final physical occupation could again have taken time. In the event, Pakistan's withdrawal from Muntho Dalo allowed Indian troops to occupy the position almost without resistance. No counter attacks appear to have been encountered from the reinforcements that had begun to gather at Peaks 5,121 and 5,327.

Pakistan’s movement out of the Drass area also prevented what could have been a series of small but bitter skirmishes along the Tiger Hills belt. At least one Pakistani position on the western face of Tiger Hills remained intact until the withdrawal, and there had been concerted counter-attacks on Peaks 5,100 and 4,875. Interestingly, the Tiger Hills area also appears to have received significant reinforcements of Pakistani regulars until July 8. On that day, the bodies of at least two Pakistani soldiers, Captain Imtiyaz Malik of the 12 NLI and Captain Karnal Sher of the 165 Mortar Regiment, were reported recovered from the hills. Pakistan continued to dispute claims that its soldiers were there in the first place, a proposition that, by this point, was somewhat ludicrous. But there is little doubt that the early withdrawal helped India retake positions like Marpo La. Somewhat mystifyingly, the Army announcement of the capture of Marpo La was preceeded weeks earlier by a signed official claim that its positions there were already occupied by Indian soldiers.10 

But it was in the Mushkoh Valley and Kaksar that the Pakistan withdrawal had its most significant impact. The assault down the Mushkoh valley that commenced on 7 July claimed 23 soldiers the next day, and heavy casualties were subsequently reported. Much of the worst fighting came along the Mun Thang, the stream that drains Peak 4,342 above the Mushkoh Valley. The fighting was at an air distance of between five and six kilometres from the Line of Control, but Pakistan troops were not likely to be present at depth in the region since temperatures in the glaciers north of the Mushkoh Valley would rule out holding positions for any length of time. The counter attacks on Tiger Hills and Peak 5,100 appeared designed to relieve pressure on Pakistani positions in Mushkoh.

Kaksar was also certain to see bitter fighting. At least three attempts to storm the Pakistan-occupied Bajrang Post and Peak 5,299 which dominates the Kaksar stream, had been beaten back since fighting began. A major offensive that commenced on July 6 showed few results until the withdrawal from the area commenced, and while Indian troops had been engaged in virtual hand-to-hand combat a fortnight earlier, Pakistan succeeded in reinforcing its positions. Officials had been desperately petitioning New Delhi for a limited retaliatory incursion across the Line of Control in this area, since the only local ridge-line-route to Peak 5,299 and to India’s lost forward-area Bajrang Post lies on the other side. The option was a succession of near-suicidal assaults up the mountain face, certain to claim large numbers of soldiers.

Pronouncements of unconditional victory are clearly problematic, made in the context of the ground situation at the time of Pakistan’s withdrawal. Although Indian troops had made significant advances, and Pakistan troops and irregulars had sustained significant casualties, the fact remained that there was more than a little fighting still to be done. The withdrawal saved time for India, and, inevitably, significant economic and human costs. Yet, I shall argue, the structure and conditions of the withdrawal have rendered what most likely would have been an unconditional military victory into a profoundly complex and problematic one. The war on the Kargil heights ended not as the triumph the Union Government would have us believe it was, but as punctuation in a larger conflict over the future of Jammu & Kashmir.

Safe Passage: The Politics of the Victory That Wasn’t

It is not entirely clear how the end of the third phase of the Kargil War could be described, as it has been, as a glorious triumph. Pakistan’s troops and irregulars were clearly under no military compulsion to retreat at the time they chose to do so, although they faced crippling losses. Nor did Indian military threats to other Pakistan forces or territory bring about the withdrawal. Former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar is one of the few politicians who has had the courage to strip the US-authored end of the Kargil War of its triumphalist raiment which the Union Government had conferred upon it:

In the begining, the Defence Minister talked about considering the idea to give safe passage to the intruders. It was ridiculed and rejected. Now the same is being implemented. Whatever may be the claim, in reality it is a ceasefire and safe passage.11 

The spring of 1998 had seen the reinvention of George Fernandes as a hands-on Defence Minister, suitably dressed in combat fatigues and located on the Siachen heights – an image carefully manufactured for, and nurtured by, television. He was a fitting representative of the defence policies of the new supposedly-nationalist regime that had taken power in New Delhi. Playing out his role to the hilt, he visited the frontlines to shore up morale, despatched recalcitrant bureaucrats to oblivion, and finally fixed his lance and saddled his horse to charge the evil dragon threatening India’s security, China.

Fernandes’ deservedly notorious Kargil War pronouncements illustrate the complete surprise the government’s strategic establishment was taken by when combat broke out in early May. On May 14, the very day Lieutenant Kalia’s patrol had disappeared and Indian reconnaissance parties were encountering a plethora of Pakistani positions, Fernandes visited Leh for a meeting of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. He described the shelling that had broken out in Kargil as "sporadic", a somewhat curious description for a barrage that claimed since the 121 Brigade’s Artillery Dump near Kargil along with several other installations, and said the Indian Army was "well prepared" to deal with the situation. At New Delhi the next day, he promised intruders would be evicted "in forty eight hours". One day later, the Indian news agency, UNI reported from Dhanbad that Fernandes claimed the Army "had cordoned off the area entirely" and that Indian objectives would be realised "within the next two days".12 

Given that the Indian Army had just commenced pumping in additional troops, the charitable interpretation of the Union Defence Minister’s pronouncement is that it was a lie. A second possibility is that Fernandes had been misinformed of the situation by the top leadership of the Indian Army, a proposition rendered implausible since no one has so far been punished for so outrageous a crime. The less generous explanation was that neither he, nor the Ministry of Defence, had bothered to investigate with any seriousness just what was happening in Kargil. Nor, it is now evident, did anyone else in the BJP-led coalition government. It was not until May 25 that the first meeting of the apex Cabinet Committee on Security was called, a day after Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah visited New Delhi to beg the Prime Minister to take the Kargil issue seriously. It was only after this meeting that the Prime Minister recovered from his Lahore trance to realise the situation in Kargil was "war - like". More than fifty soldiers were by then dead.

Fernandes now attempted to cover up the errors of his Ministry and the defence establishment. On May 29, he claimed that Indian troops had flushed out infiltrators from the Drass sub-sector, and "restored the sanctity of the line of control". This was an outright lie. At the time of this statement, it is now clear, Indian troops were nowhere near the top of the Tololing heights in Drass, let alone the lower saddle of Tiger Hills. Marpo La, India’s key forward position on the Drass sub-sector LoC, was only to be reached after Pakistan's withdrawal. A day earlier, the Union Defence Minister had attempted to defend the government’s handling of the Lahore process. His effort was to exonerate the government’s dialogue partner, Nawaz Sharif. "In this entire episode", Fernandes said on television, "the Pakistan Army has hatched a conspiracy to push in infiltrators, and the Nawaz Sharif government did not have a major role…. The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which we know initiates such activities, has not played any role".

Government confusion snowballed as criticism of its handling of Kargil grew. On June 1, Fernandes made his infamous offer of safe passage for Pakistani irregulars and troops back to their side of the LoC, a statement that was to have an enormous impact on the structure of the diplomatic dialogue that followed. "Get your troops out of our soil", he proclaimed, "or watch them being thrown out," but adding that, if Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz "wants to discuss how the intruders are to leave, we can discuss their safe passage". The Prime Minister, apparently oblivious to the outrage Fernandes’ statement had provoked, endorsed this position while commissioning INS Mysore in Mumbai on June 2. "We can discuss their safe passage if such a request was made", Vajpayee said, and added, "it could be considered". Both statements, despite subsequent denials, served a purpose. They suggested that the diplomatic forces set in place after Vajpayee’s bus journey to Lahore offered potential for the resolution of the military conflict in Kargil.

At least two important assumptions could be detected in the noises emanating from the Union Defence Minister and Prime Minister. The first was that there was significant friction between Pakistan’s military and civilian centres of power. Prime Minister Sharif and, indeed, the ISI were deemed to have had nothing to do with the incursion, in Fernandes’ view a purely Army-led maneouvre. The Kargil War was, thus, the outcome of a struggle for supremacy between the centrist Sharif and a Jehadi Army establishment, seeking to derail the process of normalisation initiated by Prime Minister Vajpayee’s bus journey to Lahore. This assumption, for obvious reasons, served the interest of the Union Government in no small measure. But second, and more important, the ascendancy of this interpretation ensured New Delhi had no cogent notion at all of why Pakistan had carried out the incursion, and what it sought to achieve by forcing a conventional engagement.

Fernandes’ assumptions, by his own account, were founded in part by intercepts of conversations between Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf, and Chief of General Staff, Lieutenanat General Aziz Khan. It is unclear who made the conversations available to India, but the transcripts have a strong element of authenticity. They record conversations between Musharraf and Khan on May 26, 1999, and May 29, 1999, while the Pakistan Army Chief was in Beijing. It is unclear just how Fernandes, and the Union Government, arrived at the conclusions they did on the basis of the conversations. Musharraf told his subordinate, referring to Prime Minister Sharif, that "so many times we had discussed, taken your blessings". "And yesterday also I told him", he continued, "that the door of discussion, dialogue must be kept open and [as for the] rest, no change in ground situation". He also made clear that Pakistan Foreign Secretary Samshad Ahmed had been briefed on the Kargil conflict, along with the Corps Commanders, at a later stage.

Musharraf made explicit Pakistan’s objectives in a second conversation on May 29, preceeding the initiation of a serious diplomatic engagement on the war. This time, Aziz Khan told Musharraf that he would ensure Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz would give "no understanding or no commitment on [the] ground situation" during their imminent talks with New Delhi. Aziz would be instructed to argue that "we have been sitting here for long". "Like in the beginning, the matter is the same – no post was attacked, and no post captured. The situation is that we are along our defensive Line of Control… On this line", Khan concluded, "we can give them logic, but in short, the recommendation for Sartaj Aziz sahib is that he should make no commitment in the first meeting on the military situation". "And he should not even accept a cease-fire, because if there is cease-fire, then vehicles will be moving [on the Srinagar-Leh route]." In the May 26 conversation, he reported further that Sharif was "confident, just like that":

Samshad [Haider] as usual was supporting. Today, for the last two hours, the BBC has been continuously reporting on the air strikes by India. Keep using this - let them keep dropping bombs. As far as internationalisation is concerned, this is the fastest this has happened [emphasis added]. You may have seen in the Press about United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s appeal that both countries should sit and talk.13

Pakistan, then, was quite content to allow Sartaj Aziz’s visit to New Delhi to collapse: indeed, failure was its very purpose. As Aijaz Ahmad has pointed out in the second of his remarkable analyses on the Kargil conflict, three alternate military outcomes had come to be by mid-June.14  First, India’s response would be compelled, for a variety of reasons, to be so restrained that Pakistan forces would be able to sustain their positions until the onset of winter, generally after October 15. Second, India would be so resolute in its determination to retake the Kargil heights, a resolve driven by the certainty of electoral disaster if they were not regained, as to contemplate acceeding to requests by the armed forces to cross the LoC, provoking a full blown war. This, as I have argued earlier, is supported by the actually - existing ground position in several areas in the Kargil sector, particularly Kaksar. Third, India would seek some form of international assistance to ensure Pakistan would vacate the Kargil heights, and Pakistan, in turn, would be able to demand some kind of at least minimal quid pro quo on the larger issue of the future of Jammu & Kashmir.

By mid-June, it was clear to India’s government, with military experts warning of a prolonged conflict on the Kargil heights, that the first of these possibilities was dangerously close to realisation. That, in turn, had made the second possibility, of a full scale Indian assault accross the LoC, dangerously imminent. Chief of Army Staff General V.P. Malik had begun to drop dark hints about approaching the Cabinet for permission to mount an attack into Pakistan, and at his June 13-press conference in Srinagar, Prime Minister Vajpayee refused to rule out crossing the LoC, saying only that he could not be expected to discuss strategic issues in public.15 Some pretence of avoiding international intervention was made, with India rejecting United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s offer to despatch an envoy. But finally, while proclaiming the somewhat vapid communiqué emerging from the Cologne G-8 Summit a grand victory, though it only called for an end to hostilities without naming Pakistan as an aggressor, India asked for measures to be taken against its neighbour, including a blockade on economic asssitance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).16 

It seems clear in restrospect that this was also the stage where the Indian government made its finally decisive and desperate appeal for US assistance. The contents of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s letter, conveyed by India's National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra to his US counterpart, Sandy Berger, on June 16, are not known, but it is probable, as the Washington Post reported, that it made it clear that an assault accross the LoC could not be delayed further:

While President Bill Clinton was in Geneva in June making a speech to the International Labour Organisation, his National Security Adivsor Samuel R. ‘Sandy’ Berger slipped out to receive an alarming letter from Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Vajpayee’s message was that India might have to attack inside Pakistan if Pakistan did not pull back troops who had seized Indian outposts in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

It stoked already high US fears that India, which has lost more than 100 troops trying to dislodge the Pakistanis, would storm accross the ceasefire line that divides Kashmir or open a second front elsewhere on its border with Pakistan, widening the first armed conflict between the rivals since both tested nuclear weapons last year.17 

If Clinton had now chosen to squarely involve himself in the Kargil War, he had no intention of marginalising Sharif, or of opening the way for the even more rabidly chauvinist elements to come to power in Pakistan. Nor was Pakistan as isolated as India wished to believe. On June 29, well before the Pakistan Prime Minister’s fateful journey to Washington was announced, State Department spokesperson James Rubin made it clear the US did not intend to influence the IMF. China had earlier announced plans to build a factory to produce combat aircraft in Pakistan, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) had sprung to Sharif’s defence.

The Indian media reported it all, but in the small print as it were, refusing to draw the conclusion that in virtually every respect and in all the usual quarters it was business as usual and that Pakistan’s "great isolation" in the "international community" was restricted to the scale of its operations in Kargil beyond the LoC, which of course even the Pakistan government must have anticipated before launching the operation. For them, the question had always been how far will the condemnation go, in material terms, and what else, other than the condemnation, could they get [my emphasis].18 

In retrospect, the weekend of June 26–27 was central to the diplomatic resolution of the Kargil War. After concluding intense discussions with the Commander-in-Chief of the United States’ General Command, Anthony Zinni, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gibson Lanpher, who had been in Islamabad over the preceding week, Pervez Musharraf told journalists in Karachi that Sharif would soon be meeting Clinton. The Sunday Telegraph reported on June 27 that the structure and timing of a Pakistani withdrawal had been the central thrust of the discussions between Zinni and Musharraf. And Dawn, in turn, went on to assert that Pakistan had insisted on reciprocity, demanding a time-bound process of discussions with India for the resolution of the Kashmir problem in return for "assisting the mujahideen to (return to) home bases".

Pakistan, on its part, would be prepared to consider as part of the permanent solution the inclusion of the entire Valley and the Muslim parts of Jammu in the Azad Kashmir territory – a settlement on the line of the Owen Dixon plan.19

Whether something of the kind was, indeed, discussed when Sharif and Clinton met on July 4 is not known. Certainly, the wording of their joint statement does promise that Clinton would "take a personal interest in encouraging an expeditious resumption and intensification of those bilateral efforts [for resolving all issues dividing India and Pakistan including Kashmir] once the sanctity of the Line of Control has been fully restored".20  It is also now known that Lanpher and Sharif’s special envoy, Niaz Naik, had spent time in New Delhi conferring with both Prime Minsiter Vajpayee and Brajesh Mishra, who were presumably told of the content of the Musharraf–Zinni meeting. Consider the subsequent sequence of events. Naik left New Delhi for Islamabad on June 27, the same day Musharraf announced his Prime Minister would shortly be leaving for Washington. Sharif, in turn, abruptly terminated his visit to Beijing the next day, having concluded the most important of his meetings with the Chinese leadership. Clinton, finally, altered the dates of his planned vacation to enable the final meeting with Sharif at Blair House.

Though Vajpayee, under intense domestic pressure, refused to travel to Washington, the Blair House summitt was, nevertheless, nothing short a US–engineered summitt on South Asia. Pakistan and US officials sat together accross the table to hammer out an agreed text, based on the crucial Musharraf–Zinni negotiations. Berger, meanwhile, constantly discussed the wording of the emerging joint statement with Brajesh Mishra, as the Indian Prime Minister waited to receive a final telephone call from Clinton. It is also now clear that some of the exploratory work for the Blair House text may have been concluded during the three visits to Pakistan by R.K. Mishra, editor of the Ambani-owned Business and Political Observer, who was acting as a back-channel emissary of the Vajpayee government.

Indian officials and BJP leaders have been as desperately claiming a diplomatic victory as a military one. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pakistan’s alleged isolation notwithstanding, the fact remains that it has secured its core objective of bringing the US into a strategic dialogue on the larger question of J&K. Notably, the US has not, in the course of the entire conflict, had a word to say about the fact that, for the past ten years, Pakistan has been routinely violating the LoC by sending terrorists accross it, with tragic consequences for the peoples of J&K. Continued terrorist violence, with enormous losses of civilian lives, is evidently acceptable to whatever constitutes the ‘international community’: the holding of fixed territory, and the prospect of a frontal conventional engagement with the concomitant possibility of nuclear engagement is not.

An escalation of violence within J&K is now inevitable (an issue I will return to below). How the Indian establishment will cope with this, however, remains to be seen.

Kashmir as the Context of War and Peace in Kargil

Indian bureaucrats and officials appear to have no plausible explanation for Pakistan’s objectives in the Kargil War. Persistant claims that Pakistan sought to cut-off Siachen by disrupting the Srinagar-Leh highway are less than cogent. India’s has another perfectly usable route to Leh and on to Siachen, the highway from Kulu over the Rohtang pass. Nor is it probable that Pakistan would have provoked a full-scale conventional engagement simply to secure a territorial bargain of some kind. Broader political objectives were clearly at play, impelled by developments both in Pakistan and in India, objectives which India’s political and security establishment failed to comprehend and engage with.

It has passed largely unnoticed that the Kargil War intervened in an ongoing political dialogue on the future of J&K. Pakistan’s own perception has been that the US-authored withdrawal from the Kargil heights would lead to some kind of progress towards a second partition of J&K. This demand for the logic of Partition to be taken to its ‘inevitable’ conclusion has structured Paksitan’s recent policy. Aijaz Ahmad has perceptively noted, regarding negotiations between Musharraf and Zinni:

Dawn, the oldest of English dailies in Pakistan, went further and wrote: "Pakistan had insisted on reciprocity. For example, a promise by the Indians for time-bound discussions on Kashmir in return for assisting the mujahideen to home bases. Pakistan, on its part, would be prepared to consider as part of the permanent solution the inclusion of the entire Valley and the Muslim parts of Jammu in the Azad Kashmir territory – a settlement on the line of the Owen Dixon Plan.... That "the Valley and the Muslim parts of Jammu" should be included "in the Azad Kashmir territory" is of course Pakistan’s maximum demand which India is most unlikely to concede. But that some variant of this solution, interim and much softer, is being prepared seems beyond doubt, as we can surmise from the contours of the plan for the reorganisation of Jammu & Kashmir that Farooq Abdullah’s Regional Autonomy Committee had released already, on April 13..."21 

Chief Minsiter Farooq Abdullah’s Regional Autonomy Report lies at the core of recent events, and underlines more vividly the reality of the threat to a democratic and secular J&K than Pakistan’s pleadings to the US. Released by the Regional Autonomy Committee (RAC), the Report calls for the historic regional formations of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh to be broken down into new entities. In some important senses this holds out more fundamental threats to the prospect of a secular and democratic J&K than any number of Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists.

The RAC recommended the creation of eight new provinces, each of which would have an elected Provincial Council. In Kashmir itself, if the RAC has its way, there would be three new Provinces. The Kamraz Province would be made up of the districts of Baramulla and Kupwara, the Nundabad Province of Budgam and Srinagar and the Maraz Province of Anantnag and Pulwama. Although all of these three Provinces have some historic resonance, their coming into being makes little sense. The people of the districts have, indeed, been arguing for more local power, but not for new administrative boundaries built along non-existant faultlines.

Ladakh, if the RAC has its way, would be subject to a brutal application of the National Conference’s communal cleaver. The mountain region would be broken up into two new provinces consisting of just one district each, those of predominantly Buddhist Leh and predominantly Muslim Kargil. Already sundered by the exclusion of Kargil from the Ladakh Autonomous Council set up in 1989, a decision for which no cogent explanation has ever been forthcoming, the transfiguration of the two districts into Provinces would serve only to sharpen communal and ethnic boundaries. Had protests by local chauvinists in Kargil been disregarded in 1989, the deepening fissures between Buddhists and Muslims in the region may have been averted. As things stand, voting in the region since 1996 has largely been on communal lines, and many political groups in Leh have been calling for a united Buddhist nominee to contest this year. Indeed, Buddhist chauvinists in Leh even opposed the use of the district to house refugees from Kargil, a sign of the depth of communal bitterness that has already developed.22 

But the most dramatic impact of the RAC recommendations would be on Jammu. Here, the RAC Report makes no effort to hide its authors’ motives. The district of Doda, and the single Muslim-dominated tehsil of Mahore from the adjoining district of Udhampur, would be made into a new Chenab Valley Province. Largely Hindu Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur districts would become the Jammu province. Poonch and Rajouri districts, for their part, would form the Pir Panjal province. The existing Province of Jammu would, thus, be turned into three provincial blocks divided along the geographical faultlines of Hindu and Muslim majorities. Perhaps the best index of the RAC’s deep communalism is that not a sentence in their Report even seeks to explain these decisions. All that exists by way of reason, if it can be called that, is a suggestion in paragraph 32 that "the prevailing classifications of Provinces/Divisions are hampering the processes of social/human development... The Committee is also of the view that this arrangement is coming in the way of democratic participation at the grassroots level within the state".

On more fundamental issues, the Report offers even fewer insights into the RAC members’ thinking. Why development could not be achieved within the existing district and Province boundaries is nowhere explained. On how the creation of new Provinces would aid development, there is no serious discussion at all. Indeed, the RAC only calls for changes to be made to the Constitution of J&K to enable the new Provincial or District Councils to be made, without spelling out what they might be. Nor are the powers of the new Councils and their specific responsibilities spelt out. Since this was presumably the purpose of setting up the RAC Committee in the first place, it is hard to escape the conclusion that it did not do its work.

The history of the RAC offers not a little insight into how some of its more outrageous recommendations came into being. The RAC was set up shortly after the National Conference government came to power in October 1996, with Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah as its chairman. Academic Balraj Puri was appointed as its working chairman. The members consisted of Finance Minster Mohammad Shafi Uri, Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) Syed Mushtaq Bukhari and Mubarak Gul, and Ladakh representative Pinto Narbu. The raison d’être of the RAC was to ensure that National Conference demands for greater autonomy for J&K as a whole did not alienate minorities in the State, since they would be given guarantees of regional autonomy.

Puri was, however, besieged with demands from National Conference leaders and other politicians for both new Provinces and Districts. He flatly refused. The RAC’s terms of reference said simply nothing about new Provinces, asking only for recommendations which would "promote better involvement and participation of people in different regions for balanced political, economic, educational, social and cultural development (and the) evolving of instrumentalities, like local organs of power at all levels". The RAC was also to examine the powers that local organs of power were to be vested with, and "whether any changes in the State Constitution would be needed to bring them about". Late last year, Puri circulated his proposals for regional autonomy, which essentially consisted of strengthening existing institutions at the Panchayat, block, district and regional level. Much of the emphasis in his Report was on removing the State Government’s powers to nominate members to local bodies. One third of all Panchayat members, for example, are government nominees, along with representatives of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and what state laws describe as ‘Other Classes’. District Development Councils, in an institutional arrangement unique to the State, have an entirely nominated leadership. Puri sought to replace this burlesque with real democracy.

But National Conference members on the RAC, although they had expressed no reservations with drafts that were circulated, rapidly distanced themselves from Puri’s Report, claiming it did not have their support. On January 21 1999, Puri was informed that his term, along with that of the RAC, had expired. Then, on March 4, the State Government issued orders retrospectively extending the term of the RAC. The order revived the terms of all members except, mysteriously, the working chairman. In just three months, the new Report was assembled. Curiously, the final RAC Report tabled in the J&K Assembly, bears neither the signatures of its chairman – the Chief Minister – nor of Narbu.

The strange history of the RAC, and its equally bizarre recommendations, suggest that meaningful democratic change is the last thing on the National Conference’s mind. Indeed, the proposal to set up smaller Provinces will erode the powers of the existing ones, since each in itself will simply not have the resources to engage in large-scale developmental work. Nor will local bodies like Panchayats and block-level bodies be democratised and empowered. The sole outcome of the RAC proposals will be to enable National Conference politicians in the Jammu region to represent themselves as defenders of local Muslim communities against a largely fictional hegemony of Jammu’s largely Hindu urban trading communities.

What then, was on the RAC’s mind? In the wake of the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998 May, and the subsequent ill-fated romance between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee, the US political establishment offered some insights into its vision of a final settlement on J&K. This came in the form of a report, Kashmir: A Way Forward, circulated by a high-profile think tank, the Kashmir Study Group. The Kashmir Study Group is controlled by a non-resident Indian, Farooq Kathwari. Two Indian establishment figures, former Foreign Secretary N.K. Singh and retired Vice Admiral S.K. Nair, have been associated with the Kashmir Study Group, although both deny they endorse the report’s thrust. The Report advocated that "a portion of the former princely state of Jammu & Kashmir be reconstituted as a sovereign entity enjoying free access to and from both India and Pakistan". Widely circulated among politicians in the State, the Report said the new entity would have its own legislature, citizenship and internal law and order force, with its defence guaranteed by both India and Pakistan. The portion referred to was self-evidently the Kashmir valley itself, that being the area under most bitter dispute. Interestingly, Kathwari visited India shortly after the report was released, and met a wide spectrum of the political hierarchy.

The Kashmir Study Group-proposals in effect meant a sundering of Kashmir from Jammu, and a division of the State on communal lines. In 1950, Owen Dixon, the United Nations mediator on Kashmir, had suggested an essentially similar plan. The Dixon Plan called for the international border to run broadly north of the Chenab river, cutting apart predominantly Muslim Doda, Rajouri and Poonch from Jammu, and joining them to the Kashmir valley. Hindu Kathua and Jammu would have stayed with India. The proposal, for a variety of reasons, and not all of them predictable ones, in the end proved unacceptable to India’s political establishment. The United States’ revival of the idea had obvious significance in the context of a meeting between two right wing Prime Ministers. Shortly afterwards, Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz chipped in with an intriguing off-stage performance calling for a district-wise referendum in J&K, a sharp but little-noticed departure from his country’s historic position.23 Finally, figures on the Hindu Right, ranging from Dogra royal family patriarch Karan Singh to Ramesh Gupta, businessman and brother of Udhampur’s Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament, Chaman Lal Gupta, called for varying forms of seperation of the Province of Jammu from Kashmir.24 

Significantly, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been making express what appears to be a US–approved formula for what she describes as a "deliberate, incremental advances" for a final settlement in J&K. Bhutto advocated that "the two sections of Kashmir should have open and porous borders", a proposition remarkably similar to that advocated by Kathwari’s Kashmir Study Group. Prior to a final period when "the parties commence discussion on a formal and final resolution to the Kashmir problem, based on the wishes of its people and the security concerns of both India and Pakistan":

Both sections would be demilitarised and patrolled by either an international peace-keeping force or a joint Indian-Pakistani peace-keeping force. Both legislative councils would continue to meet seperately and on occasion jointly. The people on both sides of divided Kashmir could meet and interact freely and informally. None of these steps would prejudice or prejudge the position of both countries on the disputed areas.25 

But as important as national and international-level sponsors of the enterprise to create a US-backed protectorate in J&K are actors firmly entrenched in the State’s own political apparatus. Since at least 1996, influential figures in the National Conference have been pushing hard to transform the character of Jammu, a communally diverse but culturally coherent region which is the principal barrier to Kashmir-centred secessionist claims. Rajouri MLA and School Education Minister Mohammad Sharief Tariq, Surankote MLA Mushtaq Ahmad Bukhari, Mendhar MLA and Agriculture Minister Nisar Ahmad Khan, and Uri MLA and Finance Minister Mohammad Shafi Uri are among the powerful figures who have been arguing for a restructuring of the basis of regional identity in the State. All the four National Conference leaders come from the predominantly Muslim areas of Jammu broadly north of the Chenab river, slated to be part of Pakistan had the Owen Dixon plan succeeded. In 1996, National Conference leaders from the region demanded the creation of a new Pahari (mountain) region, separating the predominantly Muslim Rajouri-Poonch belt from Jammu province, and integrating it with Uri to the north in the Kashmir province.

Similar demands for separation from Jammu province have come from the National Conference in the sprawling district of Doda. Indeed, in the wake of last year’s tragic massacre of Muslim villagers at Karara in Doda, local MLA Khalid Suhrawardy chose to share a platform with the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sayyidullah Tantrey.26 Both parties are bitter enemies in the Kashmir Valley. These alliances are in part driven by short term political considerations. The demand for a Pahari region, for example, was designed to undermine the influence of Gujjar and Bakerwal leaders in the region, communities who have traditionally backed the Congress (I). But they also rest on the wholly ridiculous proposition that these regions have no common culture with Jammu. Clearly, events since 1998 have driven political forces committed to some variant of the Owen Dixon plan to believe that it was possible to engineer a renewed partition of J&K. The string of communal massacres that has exploded on the landscape of J&K over the past two years forced new movements of population accross the river Chenab, preparing the grounds for such a partition.27 These developments had serious military and strategic consequences. In New Delhi, however, there was little comprehension of these events, and even less interest: what passed as India’s Kashmir policy in the spring of 1999 could, at best, be described as a polite bureaucratic yawn.

From Pokhran to Kargil, via Lahore

It has strangely been little commented upon that US diplomacy was placed firmly in the context of international concern on J&K in the wake of the Pokhran II tests. Indeed, the blast of hot air that emanated from Pokhran II, nuclear and polemical, blew firmly north towards Kargil.

On June 4 1998, not many weeks after Pokhran II, a Joint Communiqué of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council addressed for the first time in decades the question of J&K. If Indian observers were elated by the fact that the Security Council did not make explicit reference to the need for third-party mediation in the Kashmir conflict, or to Kashmiri representation in the India-Pakistan dialogue, US diplomats made it clear that Kashmir had de facto been made a subject for international attention. After the release of the Communiqué, for example, US Defence Secretary William Cohen suggested that multilateral discussion on India was necessary, despite the fact that "India has strongly objected to any kind of international consideration of that issue". All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairperson Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in his second post-Pokhran address at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, displayed a clear understanding of what was to follow. "Whenever there was international pressure on it", he argued, "New Delhi agreed to bilateral talks…. But when these were held, New Delhi made these exercises purposeless by repeating that Kashmir is an integral part of India…. Now that there are apprehensions of a nuclear war, the world powers must intervene".28 

Those apprehensions had not a little to do with Union Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani's curious decision to make a linkage between the Pokhran II tests and the future of J&K. On May 18, after emerging from the government’s first major policy meeting on J&K, Advani argued that India’s "decisive step to become a nuclear weapon state has brought about a qualitative new state in India-Pakistan relations, particularly in finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem". "Islamabad", he said, "has to realise the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region and the world" as a consequence of the Pokhran II tests. Although "we adhere to the no-first-strike principle", Advani continued, "India is resolved to deal firmly with Pakistan’s hostile activities".29 Several secondary BJP leaders followed in their leader’s footsteps, with former Union Minister Madan Lal Khurana inviting Pakistan to join battle "at a place and time of its choosing". Such machismo evaporated rapidly after Pakistan’s own nuclear tests at Chagai, but the ideas that generated it continued to shape policy.30

Pakistan's military strategists clearly understood that Pokhran II offered them an opportunity to force a conventional military conflagration in J&K, and ensure international intervention on the issue. India’s security establishment, by contrast, largely refused to even engage with this possibility. In some senses, it could not. To acknowledge that the Pokhran tests had been a strategic misjudgement would have been to admit the absurdities of the BJP’s core politics. Under pressure from the US, both the Pakistani and Indian governments began what has come to be known as the Lahore process this February. At the outset, it was clear the Indian government was considerably more desperate for results from the dialogue than Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s famous ‘half hug’ greeting stood in sharp contrast with his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee’s soap-opera mawkishness. Pakistan Army Chief Parvez Musharraf’s absence at the Wagah border along with his service colleagues, too, made it clear the military establishment he represented was less than enthusiastic about the new dialogue. As one observer noted of bus diplomacy in the wake of the Kargil War, the "hawks in India have clearly been taken for a ride by the hawks in Pakistan".31

This political blindness to Pakistan’s emerging objectives had several military consequences. In the autumn of 1998, Pakistani shelling along the LoC escalated to levels unknown since the war of 1971. Kargil town itself was devastated, and 17 civilians lost their lives. In a desperate effort to ensure the conflict did not escalate to the point where it would sabotage nascent efforts for a rapprochement with Pakistan, V.P. Malik is believed to have been instructed to ensure his troops did not retaliate to Pakistan-fire with heavy calibre guns, including 155-millimetre Bofors howitzers. Pakistan Army Analyst's in all probability, drew the obvious inference. If India was both unwilling and unable after Pokhran II to risk an escalation along the LoC despite deliberate and escalating provocation, larger enterprises could now be considered by Pakistan’s military establishment. By at least some accounts, a limited territorial incursion by Pakistan to force an international intervention on J&K had been considered, and rejected, several times in the past. No conventional restraints now operated.

Events from August 1998 underlined the absence of a strategic paradigm within which Pakistan’s post-Pokhran II objectives could be read. In the autumn that followed the Pokhran II series of tests, credible reports emerged of Pakistan-backed terrorists having acquired shoulder-held surface-to-air missiles (SAM). The then Air Force Chief, M.K. Sareen, offered the use of Jaguar aircraft with photo-reconnaissance kits for surveillance. Perhaps driven by a misplaced sense that J&K was his force’s exclusive concern, V.P. Malik declined the offer. Both Vajpayee and Fernandes, the sources said, believed that intelligence inputs on the SAMs were fiction. While the SAM story may perhaps have been dubious indeed, events after Pokhran II should themselves have made the case for heightened surveillance. Had use of the Jaguars been institutionalised last year, the first movements of irregulars and troops across the LoC would almost certainly have been picked up early.

For reasons which have still to be explained, no preparations appear to have been made in the Kargil area even for the kind of shelling seen in 1998. Heightened exchanges of artillery continued throughout the winter of 1998 - 1999, and several Indian forward posts faced sustained bombardment. Yet, no special stocking of supplies and ammunition appears to have been carried out. Had the Zoji La Pass, which blocks the route from Sonmarg to Leh, not opened early this year, India would have faced serious logistics and troop problems in Kargil. While Malik bears some responsibility for these failures, he appeared to have been facing his own problems. Through last year, some officials say, the Indian Army Chief’s repeated calls for upgrading signal intelligence capabilities, and for the introduction of new direction finding and interception facilities, met a wall of Defence Ministry disinterest. The new equipment Malik asked for arrived late, and in very small quantities.32  There has been no denial of this sequence of events by Army authorities so far.

The Research and Analysis Wing’s Aviation Research Centre [ARC] also proved generally hostile to requests for cross-LoC area surveillance through this period, saying it needed political clearance for such use of its 40-aircraft fleet, which includes an especially fitted Boeing 707 and several twin-engine Beechcraft. These aircraft are designed to fly at extremely high altitudes to avoid detection. It is unclear whether any specific request for surveillance in the Kargil area or elsewhere along the LoC was made. The fact that no such flights were carried out in itself raises several questions.

Within J&K, the ARC had proved more co-operative. In October and November 1998, just as training for the Kargil offensive was underway at Olthingthang, ARC aircraft were stationed at Jammu to verify reports that large numbers of terrorists had gathered on the mountain heights of Doda. The photographs obtained, police officials engaged in the operation say, were "extremely useful". But no flights were carried out along the Line of Control, presumably because the ARC was not ordered to do so.

What this set of events makes clear is that in the wake of Pokhran II, there was no cogent understanding of the new strategic opportunities for Pakistan. After the initiation of the Lahore process, the political establishment in New Delhi and an often submissive military leadership concurred that Pakistan’s sustained aggression in J&K would now be slowly subverted. US pressure, business interests, and, above all, the a priori assumption that nuclearisation would ensure conventional peace were among the many asinine reasons offered for the ridiculous assumption that Pakistan would choose to ignore the best opportunity it had in two decades to force an international initiative on the future of J&K. This postively imbecilical faith in nuclear deterrance rested on profoundly flawed assumptions. As N. Ram has pointed out:

Claims that peace, in terms of preventing major conventional conflicts, has been assured in the sub-continent have become stock-in-trade with the champions and apologists of India’s nuclear weaponisation, especially following the first successful foreign secretary - level meetings and the Lahore exercise. Kargil seems to demonstrate precisely the opposite: given nuclear weaponisation, esclation is built into a bilateral situation marked by tension, animosity and distrust; a crisis can escalate into a conventional conflict; and a conventional conflict poses the risk, unless very great care is exercised, of going out of control and escalating further.33

Predictably, officials in New Delhi responded with disdain when hard reports first came of a major offensive being planned by Pakistan in the Kargil area. It has now been widely reported that the Leh station of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) sent out two specific warnings in the third week of October 1998. The head of the Bureau’s Leh office said in his first report that irregulars were being trained at two camp’s adjoining Pakistan’s forward headquarters at Olthingthang. The group, his report made clear, planned to cross the border in April 1999. The Leh reports were based on information provided by a Skardu-based informant reporting to the young and well regarded in-charge of the IB’s Kargil post. The Leh station’s second report, again based on field intelligence from the Kargil post, pointed to the use of remotely-piloted photo-reconnaissance vehicles by pilots along the Srinagar-Leh national highway. Both reports, IB officials say, reached the office of the their Director, Shyamal Datta, and were presumably passed on to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). While there has been no denial of the existance of the reports, there has been a studied silence from the high quarters they eventually reached.34

Emerging and plausible evidence suggests the Kargil field operative of the IB shared the information from Olthingthang with the Kargil-based 121 Brigade’s Military Intelligence (MI) apparatus. Officials claim Major Bhupinder Singh of the Brigade Intelligence Teams (BITS) and Major K.B.S. Khurana of the Intelligence and Field Security Unit [IFSU] were kept aware of the IB’s flow of information. BITS and IFSU are belived to have set up two reports on the Olthingthang build-up, the first in September 1998, classifying the information as non-reliable, and a second, later in the winter, marking it as highly reliable. Despite flat denials by the Army that it was made aware of the IB’s reports, these claims appear plausible, since field-level information is routinely shared among several concerned agencies. If Khurana and Singh did indeed send up such reports, it is certain they would have been received both by the 15 Corps Headquarters in Srinagar, and by Army Headquarters. With what seriousness they were taken is, of course, another business altogether.35

More corroborative evidence was to follow. Azhar Shafi Mir, a Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin operative, was arrested by Border Security Force (BSF) troopers in the Poonch area on December 20 1998. What he told BSF interrogators was enough to arouse an unusual interest in the intelligence community in Srinagar. Mir had tired of a long career as a Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin footsoldier, and set up shop as an auto-rickshaw driver in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). His vast experience in J&K, however, led the ISI to push him back into the State. In mid-1998, he was picked up in Muzaffarabad on fabricated charges of rash and negligent driving. Mir was then offered a simple choice: spend an indefinite period in jail, or head back into India. By August, Mir was completing his training in a camp on the Munshera-Gilgit road. The camp, he said, housed 110 Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin recruits, some 30 of them Pakistani and Afghan nationals. On September 1, 1998, five sections from this camp were launched across the LoC at Athmuqam. After a somewhat precipitate retreat, provoked by fear, Mir was launched again, this time with a stern warning that cowardice would mean death.36

Mir’s group was in itself unexceptional, but its objectives were startling. It was tasked, in the words of his interrogation report, "to cause extensive damage to the Bandipore-Gurez road, and to ensure the isolation of the Army Division in Gurez so that a full-fledged front could be opened against them…. Similarly, the group would cause extensive damage to the Kangan-Leh road to prevent vital supplies from reaching forces in the area". This left little to doubt. It hardly served the interests of terrorists in the Uri-Gurez area to cut off the Indian Army’s 19 Division, since those soldiers would continue operating against them locally. The objective, clearly stated, was to prevent reinforcements from being moved from the Gurez area and elsewhere into "somewhere on the Kangan-Leh road". This could only have meant the Dras and Kargil areas. Maps of these areas had been found on the body of Ali Mohammad Dar, a Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin commander killed in Srinagar by the J&K Police’s Special Operations Group on August 9, 1998.

Sadly, there was no effort to interpret and act on this body of information. While some officials did express concern, with the Officiating Commander of the 15 Corps, Major General A.S. Sihota, warning on January 11 of the "possibility of Pakistan trying to capture some of our posts", no institutional introspection took place.37 Posts that were not engaged in returning Pakistan fire fire appear to have been vacated in winter, as they had been for years, with no sense of the bitter consequences that would follow. Army officials have been obfuscatory in the extreme about just when posts were vacated, resorting, on occaision, to crude and easily falsifiable claims. Some transparency on this issue, like others, is desperately needed. In the absence of hard evidence, however, it seems probable posts were held in most areas until relatively late this winter. The first snows fell in the Kargil sector on October 16, 1998, just one day after the formal closure of the Zoji La for civilian movement. But after two days of moderate snowfall, there was a respite until the night of January 4. January and February saw only light and intermittent snow, not enough to force positions off the Kargil heights. March 8, however, witnessed severe weather, and it is plausible that most high-altitude positions, like the Bajrang Post in Kaksar and others around Marpo La in Drass, were starting to run short of supplies by this time and were probably vacated with an intention to reoccupy them in summer. This would have been the time the intrusion began to be put in place.38

Interestingly, high-altitude positions in the Drass sub-sector, where fighting had been among the most bitter seen through the Kargil region, were routinely held through the winter until 1982. Troops of the BSF had been assigned control of the Drass sub-sector until that year. Even positions like Marpo La at 5,353 metres and Sando at 4,268 metres were occupied by BSF soldiers despite near-impossible operating temperatures. An altered political and strategic environment appears to have led the Army, which replaced the BSF in 1982, to decide that no significant purpose would be served by holding on to high altitude pickets in the winter. Despite growing border tensions, and regular artillery exchanges in the Kargil area from 1997, a certain inertia of the imagination evidently ensured that there was no review of the earlier policy. Had troops been positioned on Marpo-La and Sando through the winter, intrusions by Pakistani irregulars and troops could have been detected early. Equally important, Indian troops would have then held commanding positions, making it difficult for Pakistan to supply its positions on Tololing, the Tiger Hills and the Mushkoh Valley.

Significantly, the BSF appears to have continued with its pre-1982 policy in areas it was assigned in the Kargil area. BSF troops remained on the Bravo-1 post on Chorbat-La through the bitter winter cold. Positions over 4,500 metres at Alpha Tekri and Punjab Tekri, both in the Kargil sector, were also held. Had BSF troops not been at Chorbat La, Pakistan’s effort to cut off Turtok by moving a brigade down the Mian Langpa gully may well have met with success. The BSF troops at Chorbat La were under sustained fire, but have succeeded in repulsing attacks. For reasons which are not entirely clear, Army regiments to which the BSF’s companies are attached chose not to stay up at their positions in the winter. The 3 Punjab Regiment, to which the BSF company at Chorbat La is attached, does not for one appear to have separately held any significant number of posts in the area. While the soldiers and officers of the regiment can in no way be held responsible, their top leadership clearly has some questions to answer. Secondly, while a succession of alleged experts have been claiming special Siachen - style equipment will be needed to sustain such winter positions, it is worth noting that the BSF uses no special equipment at its posts, and supplies them using little other than mules and porters.39

Writing in The Sunday Times, defence journalist Manoj Joshi has argued that the mere fact of reports having being filed means little "because they are couched in generalities" and that only a high level probe can "determine whether there indeed was forewarning of what was to come".40  Leaving aside the minor point that the field offices of RAW have made no claims that they detected plans of a Pakistan instrusion, Joshi’s argument requires consideration. It is, indeed, true that the flow of intelligence is neither tidy nor unidirectional. But this, rather than being a failure of some kind, is inherent in the business of intelligence gathering. Disparate intelligence flows acquire coherence only when analysed through ideological, strategic and political filters. Those clearly did not exist. Joshi cites the opinion of a former special secretary with RAW, V. Balachandran, stating that the problem may not have been so much as an "absence of intelligence" as inadequate "strategic assessment". To put it simply, information might have been there in bits and pieces, but there was no one to put it together and make sense of the larger picture.41

But why was there "no one to put it together and make sense of the larger picture"? Observers have been curiously reticent to place blame where it belongs. The deeply held ideological beliefs of the political and bureaucratic establishments have not been understood with clarity. These ideological beliefs shaped the filtering of information, and the process of vesting certain inputs with importance and consigning others to the dustbin. For the political hierarchy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP, nuclear deterrance has been something of a credo. In his March 15, 1999, statement, Vajpayee outlined a not-so-new doctrine for India.

Now both India and Pakistan are in possession of nuclear weapons. There is no alternative but to live in mutual harmony. The nuclear weapon is not an offensive weapon. It is a weapon of self defence. It is the kind of weapon that helps in preserving the peace. If in the days of the Cold War there was no use of force, it was because of the balance of terror.42

This was the body of beliefs that cost India more than a thousand casualties – dead, injured, or maimed for life. Ahmed has pointed to the actual and profound implications Pokhran II had for the Right-wing political establishment in Pakistan.

Pokhran II was a gift to Sharif as the Afghan War had been for Zia ul- Haq. Since 1971, Pakistan had been trying, unsuccessfully, to overcome its strategic inferiority in conventional warfare. By opening the way for nuclear parity and competetive weaponisation, the Vajpayee government gifted to Pakistan a strategic parity that it could not otherwise achieve. To the extent that the possession of nuclear weapons capability by both sides tends to put serious constraints on a full-scale conventional war, to that same extent it facilitates the institutionalisation of low-intensity, localised wars. The more the two countries move toward nuclear weaponisation, the more Kargils we shall have. In this sense, the present reality in Kargil is not only the other face of the rhetoric of Lahore, it is also a precise, necessary, repeatable consequence of Pokhran II.43

The Kashmir War After Kargil

The real war is the one in J&K: in this larger conflict, Kargil is just something of a footnote. But Kargil’s impact on security in the rest of J&K might be mildly described as a calamity. 58 battalions of the Army engaged in counter-terrorist operations have been withdrawn for border deployment in the war’s wake. 36 of these have been withdrawn from Kashmir and 22 from the Jammu Province. Just 14 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and 6 BSF battalions have been moved in to take their place. A further six have been sent in for the Amarnath Yatra, and these may stay on until the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. With the prospect of a permanent manning of the LoC, no one has any cogent idea of just how the shortfall will be met in the long-run. During the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, moreover, 354 additional companies, each of approximately 125 men, had been deployed in J&K. This time round, at least 500 companies will have to be brought in to even meet the 1998 security levels.44

At least two significant elements of the war in J&K have already become evident. First, since last summer, the mountain heights of the State, areas of little political significance, have seen large concentrations of Pakistani and Afghan terrorists, as well as an assortment of other "freelance seekers of martyrdom".45  Received military wisdom has it that these groups lack the motivation or resources to fight a losing battle in the Kashmir Valley. But a more plausible possibility also exists. By building-up numbers on the heights dominating Doda, Banihal, the Rajouri-Poonch belt and Kupwara, terrorist groups will dominate the principal lines of access to the Kashmir Valley. Read in the context of recoveries of increasingly heavy weapons in recent months, ranging from mortar and anti-aircraft guns to a Grail anti-tank missile launcher, some argue that current deployment patterns suggest terrorist groups are preparing to support Pakistan troops in a conventional engagement.

The second key element of terrorist activity in months to come is certain to be the engineering of a deterioration in communal relations, pushing Muslims out of Hindu-dominated areas south of the Chenab river, and Hindus from the predominantly Muslim areas to its north. Such migrations will give a de facto demographic legitimacy to Pakistan’s objective of securing some variant of the Owen Dixon plan. These processes have been in place at least since 1997, although they gathered momentum after the Pokhran II tests and Advani’s promise of a "pro-active" policy in J&K. In a broader sense, revanchist groups in Pakistan believe the communal war they are engaged in is merely part of a larger struggle against supposedly-Hindu India. These faultlines, ironically but unsuprisingly, are precisely those that shape the mentalité of the Hindu Right.46

Even as much of J&K finds itself without security cover, there is substantial evidence that cross-border infiltration of terrorists has been unusually high in summer 1999. Field intelligence officials in Kupwara and Baramulla estimate that at least six hundred terrorists have moved in since March, often occupying positions at heights above 4,000 metres. Anantnag, too, has seen sharp rise in the numbers of Pakistan and Afghan terrorists active in the district, with over two hundred reported to be based in the district. While most groups of terrorists have been avoiding frontal engagement with state forces, there is little doubt that the period since the Kargil conflict broke out has seen a marked escalation in violence in the State.47

A secondary thrust of terrorist activity 1999 summer unveiled itself with the murder of Deputy Inspector General S.K. Chakravarty, Joint Director G-Branch Mahendra Raj, and Sub Inspector K. Bhaskar during a raid on the BSF’s Sector Headquarters at Bandipore on July 13. Evidently, the increased targeting of security force personnel represents, at once, a shift in strategy as well as a radical enhancement in weapons capabilities and the proficiency of the foreign militants who have come to dominate the movement in J&K. This has been a progressive trend of the past three years, as the steadily worsening ratio of security force personnel to militants killed demonstrates. This ratio has declined from 1:5.79 in 1997, through 1:4.54 in 1988, to 1:3.20 in 1999. Worse, with the thinning out of security forces in the wake of Kargil and the escalation in Pak-backed militant activity, this ratio fell to 1:2 in June 1999 year, as compared to a ratio of 1:5 in June 1998.

If the massacres and violent attacks this summer mark a vertical escalation in the conflict in J&K, there are also signs of a generalised horizontal escalation in the Leh region. Last month’s arrest of a twenty-five member terrorist cell from the Turtok area of Leh, led by local resident Ali Bhutto, has made it clear that conflict can be expected in this until-now quiet region. Bhutto’s arrest, outside Leh, has been treated with little concern. But terrorism had similar low-key origins elsewhere as well. In Poonch, the first sign of an offensive was the arrest of Ayub Shabnam in May 1990. Shabnam, who went on to spend five years in jail, was believed to be responsible for the training and distribution of weapons to several local operatives. But he, like Bhutto, had little knowledge of Pakistan’s broader objectives. Few took the incident seriously, until Poonch went up in flames after 1993.

Bhutto was picked up along with his cell, which included two police constables, in a series of raids that began on June 7. The group had hidden 25 Kalashnikov assault rifles, one heavy machine gun, one general purpose machine gun, a sniper rifle, a rocket propelled grenade launcher and several kilogrammes of explosive material, brought in by Bhutto’s Skardu-based brother, Ibrahim Sangsang. Sangsang, interrogators of the Turtok cell discovered, had made several trips accross the LoC in 1998, handing over weapons to relatives and associates in five villages. All the five villages, Turtok, Pachathang, Thakshi, Thang and Chalungpa were captured by India in the war of 1971. Bhutto’s father had been instrumental in asking villagers, against Pakistan Army advice, to stay in India on the grounds that it was wrong to leave the land of their birth. Interestingly, dozens of villagers in nearby Bogdang village were issued rifles by the Pakistan Army in 1971 to wage a guerilla war against advancing Indian troops. Few complied, and the rifles were instead put to use poaching mountain goats.48

Ibrahim Sangang’s story illustrates the rich relationship between broad ideological factors and purely local issues in the emergence of terror. Sangsang had, by local accounts, been intimate with local officials and the military authorities, even having been sponsored to visit New Delhi for a Republic Day parade in 1987. But by 1994, Sangsang found himself embroiled in a series of legal disputes. Most emerged from a criminal assault on a police officer, the outcome of a violent dispute over the use of a diesel generator set that powered several villages. Under pressure from the criminal justice system, Sangpapa fled accross the LoC, where the ISI appears to have offered him a better deal as against several years in jail. But several larger factors appear to have been at play in the five villages. The Noor Baksh sect that historically dominated the region, an eclectic Sufi-inspired faith drawing both from Sunni and Shia custom, has been under sustained seige from ultra-conservative Ahl-e-Hadis prosletysers. The Ahl-e-Hadis have been closely associated with terrorist groups in J&K, notably the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Tehreek-ul-Mujaheddin.

The near-unchallenged growth of revanchist religious groups both in Pakistan and in J&K is certain to prepare the real ideological agenda of events to come. In J&K, as the RAC Report illustrates, the National Conference has begun to tear away from its historic character as a secular, modernising force, and recast itself as a Muslim communal formation. The tendency has been most marked in Jammu where, as I have pointed out earlier, leaders of the far-Right Jamaat-e-Islami have shared platforms with the National Conference. These trends will be reinforced from across the border as, most disturbingly, the future of Pakistan’s establishment elite has never been more unsure than in recent years.

Back home, economic hardship and the inability of a corrupt government to bring relief has made Pakistan’s Islamic fundamentalists more popular with ordinary folk and – crucially – with the military, which for decades has helped the Westernized elite to curb Islamic fervour. As Jamaat [e-Islami] leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad pointed out at a well-attended convention in Islamabad in October, the income gap between junior and senior officers has been widening as the economic crisis worsens.49 

In the first of his seminal articles on the Kargil War, Aijaz Ahmad had written, "The Pakistan we are dealing with was born not once but twice". He outlined the crisis of identity that emerged from the creation of Bangladesh, and the reinvention of Pakistan not as the home of sub-continental Muslims, but of a mythically pure Islam, subsidised by West Asian wealth.

Nothing worked as magically in restoring the self-confidence of the Pakistani state and its privileged classes as the infusion of petrodollars. But this new sort of money brought with it a new and curiously effective commodity as well: petro-Islam. A hybrid thing, born of centuries of ferocious conservatism so characteristic of the desert, but also of the unprecedented levels of wealth that was newly gained but was the product neither of a settled history nor of accumulated labour but of chance, that the black gold flowed here rather than elsewhere. It was a curious kind of Islam, equally ferocious in its piety and in its consumerism.50

To those who have noted the organic links between the emergence of a new middle class through the 1980s, and the rise of the Hindu Right through India, Ahmad’s description of petro-Islam will be disturbingly familiar. In both India and Pakistan, the forces of reaction are far from spent, driven, as both now are by nuclear power. The end of the war on the Kargil heights, it is almost certain, is profoundly unlikely to mark the begining of peace.

Notes & References

*Praveen Swami is Chief of Bureau, Mumbai, for Frontline magazine and has extensively reported on terrorism in Punjab and J&K. He covered the war in Kargil as well.

  1. Aijaz, Ahmad, "Mediation by any other name’ Frontline, Madras, July 30, 1999, p. 22.
  2. Sumit Ganguly, "Avoiding War in Kashmir", Foreign Affairs, New York, Winter 1990-1991, p. 72.
  3. A.G. Noorani, "Questions of accountability", Frontline, July 2, 1999, p. 24.
  4. Praveen Swami, ‘Unknown heroes of Batalik’, Frontline, July 30 1999, p.7.
  5. Dinesh Kumar, "What it took and the run up to Operation Vijay’, Times of India, New Delhi, July 19, 1999.
  6. Praveen Swami, "War in Kargil", Frontline, June 18, 1999, p. 4.
  7. Praveen Swami, ‘The final assault and the withdrawal’, Frontline, July 30, 1999, p. 6.
  8. Ghulam Hasnain, "Under Cover of Night" Time, New York, July 12, 1999, p. 21.
  9. ‘In Enemy Territory: A Soldier’s Story’, Time, July 12, 1999, p. 21.
  10. Letter of Army Public Relations Officer Colonel Shruti Kant. See , "Of Strategic Follies", Frontline, July 16, 1999, pp. 116 - 117.
  11. "Kargil has witnessed an invasion", Hindustan Times, New Delhi, July 18, 1999.
  12. For an excellent compendium of Fernandes’ statements on the Kargil war, including those cited here, see " Govt doublespeak on Kargil", Tribune, Chandighrh, June 5, 1999.
  13. Transcripts of conversations between General Pervez Musharraf and Lieutenant General Aziz Khan, released by the Union Ministry of Defence, New Delhi. Also see Praveen Swami, "A Long Haul Ahead", Frontline, July 2, 1999, pp. 12 - 13.
  14. Aijaz Ahmad, "Mediation by any other nam", Frontline, July 30, 1999, p. 20.
  15. Praveen Swami, "Pak Shelling Near Venue of PM’s Visit in Kargil", Business Line, Madras, June 13, 1999.
  16. Seema Guha, "Pak unlikely to heed G-8", Times of India, June 22, 1999.
  17. "The US Angle", The Washington Post, Frontline, July 16, 1999.
  18. Ahmad, "Mediation by any other name?", op. cit., p.20.
  19. Cited in Ibid., p. 18.
  20. Sridhar Krishnaswami, "A firm American demand", Frontline, July 30, 1999, p. 16. For the full text of the Clinton - Sharif joint statement, see "The Joint Statement", Frontline, July 30, 1999, p. 17.
  21. Aijaz Ahmad, "Mediation by any other name", op. cit. p. 18.
  22. Balraj Puri, "Signs of Distress", Frontline, July 16, 1999, p.127. Puri notes that "When 150 refugees from Kargil took shelter in Buddhist - dominated Leh, they were greeted with demands for their repatriation. The youth wing of the Ladakh Buddhist Association warned that "our people will be the last to play host and extend hospitality" to illegal intruders.
  23. Balraj Puri, op. cit., p.126.
  24. Praveen Swami, "‘Pro - Active’ After Pokhran" , Faultlines, New Delhi,Vol. 1, May 1999.
  25. Benazir Bhutto, "Comment" The New York Times, June 8, 1999, republished as "For a Camp David for Kashmir", in Frontline, July 2, 1999, p. 22.
  26. Praveen Swami, "Blood on the Chenab", in Frontline, April 11, 1998, p. 20.
  27. Praveen Swami , "Pro - Active’ After Pokhran", op. cit.
  28. Praveen Swami, "Kashmir at a Crossroads", Frontline, July 3, 1998, p. 14.
  29. Praveen Swami, "Flashpoint Kashmir", Frontline, August 28, 1998, p. 8
  30. Praveen Swami, "The Bungle in Kargil", Frontline, July 2, 1999, p. 5 - 6
  31. Amit Baruah, "Pakistan’s strategy", Frontline, June 18 1999, p. 15
  32. Praveen Swami, "The Bungle in Kargil", op. cit., p. 6 - 7
  33. N. Ram, "The Pokhran - Kargil Connection", Frontline, July 2, 1999, p. 9
  34. Praveen Swami, "War in Kargil’, op. cit., p. 6 and 9
  35. Praveen Swami, "The final assault and the withdrawal", Frontline, July 30, 1999, p.10.
  36. Praveen Swami, "War in Kargil", op. cit., p. 6 and 9
  37. A.G. Noorani, "Questions of accountability", Frontline, July 2, 1999, p. 26.
  38. Praveen Swami, "The final assault and the withdrawal", Frontline, July 30, 1999, p. 10
  39. Praveen Swami, "Strategic follies", Frontline, July 2, 1999, p. 12.
  40. Manoj Joshi, "Our soldiers succeeded. Where did we fail?", The Sunday Times, July 18, 1999.
  41. Cited in Ibid.
  42. Cited in Prakash Karat, "Kargil and beyond", Frontline, July 16, 1999, p. 16
  43. Aijaz Ahmad, "The many roads to Kargil", Frontline, July 16, 1999, p. 25.
  44. Praveen Swami, "Another summer of killings", Frontline, July 30, 1999, p. 29
  45. N. Ram, op.cit.
  46. See Praveen Swami, "’Pro - Active’ After Pokhran", op. cit.
  47. Praveen Swami, "Another summer of killings", op. cit., pp. 27 –29, details this summer’s massacres and other data used in this section.
  48. Praveen Swami, "The other victims of Kargil", Frontline, July 16, 1999, pp. 128 - 129, recounts events relating to the Turtok terrorist cell.
  49. Ahmed Rashid, "Raise the Crecent", in Far Eastern Economic Review, Hongkong, December 3, 1998. Internet download: no page number available.
  50. Aijaz Ahmad, "The many roads to Kargil", op. cit., p. 21.





Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved.