Kargil war: 1999

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An overview

July 27, 2023: The Indian Express

The Kargil War

The Kargil War officially ended on July 26, 1999, with the eviction of the last remaining Pakistani troops and infiltrators from positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC).

The conflict was triggered when infiltrators from Pakistan crossed the LoC and occupied high positions in Ladakh’s Kargil district. First reported to the Indian Army on May 3, the infiltrators were initially thought to be jihadis. But over the first few weeks, as the sheer scale of the invasion came to light, the role of the Pakistani state became undeniable.

Between mid-May and July, the Indian forces slowly recaptured critical positions from the Pakistanis, in the face of heavy casualties and numerous strategic and logistic difficulties, culminating with the Army announcing the complete withdrawal of all Pakistani regular and irregular troops from Kargil on July 26.

As per official figures, Indian casualties at the end of the War stood at 527 dead, 1,363 wounded and 1 PoW (Fl Lt K Nachiketa, whose MiG-27 was shot down during a strike operation).

Challenging conditions

The Kargil War posed multiple challenges to the Indian armed forces. On one hand, were the enemy infiltrators, well armed and supported by non-stop shelling by Pakistani artillery from across the border. On the other, were the conditions of Kargil itself.

As MP Acosta, a US Army officer, wrote in his dissertation “High Altitude Warfare: The Kargil Conflict and the Future” (2003), “The high altitude environment determined the nature of the conflict and shaped the conduct of the campaign.”

Kargil is located at the northern edge of the LoC, some 200 km northeast of Srinagar and 230 km west of Leh. While the town of Kargil is itself at an altitude of 2,676 m (8,780 ft), Dras lies at a height of 3,300 m (10,800 ft) and the surrounding peaks rise to altitudes of 4,800 m (16,000 ft) to 5,500 m (18,000 ft).

These are extremely high altitudes, which cause severe physiological effects on the human body while also posing logistical and strategic challenges.

Problems faced during high altitude warfare

“The combination of thin air, cold weather and rugged mountains has dramatic effects on men and their equipment.,” Acosta wrote.

First is the crippling cold. The Kargil battlefield lies in a cold desert with winter temperatures going as low as – 30 degrees Celsius. While the summers are more pleasant, chilly winds and the barren landscape still make the battlefield highly inhospitable. The cold impacts both the men and the machines – guns jam while their operators expend great amounts of energy to keep the body warm.

The high altitudes also pose the challenge of reduced Oxygen levels in the air, which causes a wide range of physiological effects and illnesses – some of which can even be fatal. The most common altitude related illness is acute mountain sickness, which leads to headaches, nausea, appetite loss, muscular weakness and general fatigue.

In addition to its effect on men, low air pressure alters the accuracy and performance of both weapons and aircraft. While lower air pressure increases the range of the projectiles fired, accuracy and predictability suffer. Aircraft engines typically produce less power and helicopters lose rotor efficiency. Lastly, the terrain itself dictates military strategy and imposes significant restrictions on soldiers. The terrain reduces mobility, often provides cover to the enemy, and limits the scope of operations. During the Kargil War, the Indian Army was at a particular disadvantage with the enemy occupying high positions overlooking the positions held by Indians.

“Faced with a foe atop dominating heights [an army] may have no choice but to take the hill.” Acosta writes. That is what the Indian forces did. Against relentless enemy fire and unforgiving conditions, the Indian Army slowly, but certainly freed the peaks of Pakistani intruders.

How the Army conquered Kargil’s conditions

The initial stages of the War taught some valuable lessons, as both the Army and the Air Force discovered that it was unprepared for such high-altitude combat at this scale. Many soldiers suffered from altitude sickness which even caused a few casualties. The lack of equipment for fighting in such cold weather was another challenge. On the other hand, the terrain and Pakistan’s constant shelling on the crucial NH 1A caused major logistical challenges.

Eventually, the Army modified its methods to overcome these challenges. Units initiated acclimatisation and training programs to better prepare the soldiers for the conditions. Better cold-weather equipment was procured (though the Army remained lacking in this regard throughout the War). Techniques for high-altitude assault were further honed. Instead of daytime frontal attacks, assaults increasingly featured small groups scaling near-vertical terrain.

“Most importantly, the Army coordinated overwhelming firepower with daring manoeuvres. Massive artillery fire preceded all attacks.,” Acosta wrote. With limitations of providing air cover to the ground forces due to the altitude and the terrain, the Army eventually leaned heavily on artillery, especially the controversial Bofors gun whose range nearly doubled in the thin air of Kargil.

India’s hard-fought victory in the Kargil War illustrated the timeless challenges posed by combat at high altitude – challenges which are as deadly, if not more, than the enemy itself.

In brief

India Today December 29, 2008

For the country’s intelligence and military establishment, lulled into complacency by the cross-border warmth generated by prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Lahore bus journey in February 1999, the nasty surprise sprang up three months later from the heights of Kargil and lasted for six weeks . “By the time the army got its act together, more than 100 soldiers had been killed, many of them mowed down because the enemy’s firepower was grossly underestimated,” wrote India Today in September 1999.

The sequence of the war

How India recovered the occupied territory

How Kargil was won back

The Times of India Jul 26 2014 <> The Times of India 26 Jul, 2016

The main issues

In the summer of 1999, as the snow began to melt in Kargil's heights, shepherds reported presence of intruders deep inside Indian territory, in strategic positions that overlooked the only road link between Srinagar and Leh. The intruders had occupied fortified posts, many routinely vacated by the Indian Army during winter. The intruders had artillery cover from Pakistan Army positions in the rear.

The war began in May 1999 and went on for two months. By July, the Indian forces emerged victorious in the war and the Pakistani intruders were completely evicted.

What led to the war

During the first week of May 1999, India received reports of infiltrators from across the border coming into Kargil occupying it. The security forces initially thought they were Mujahideen, but they soon realized that it was the Pakistani army that had occupied some of the posts. In reaction to the infiltration, India launched Operation Vijay to drive the Pakistani troops out of Kargil.

What was Pakistan's agenda

One word: Kashmir.

How many were killed and injured in the war?

As many as 527 Indian soldiers were killed in the war and more than 13,300 people were critically injured. How did India use its army, navy and air force to win the war?

India positioned five infantry divisions, five independent brigades and 44 battalions of paramilitary troops in Kashmir. It also deployed as many as 60 frontline aircraft. The Indian Navy launched Operation Talwar to blockade the Karachi port. The operation was later joined by the Indian Air Force (IAF) too. However, the IAF did not cross the Line of Control (LOC). It launched bomb attacks within its boundary.

Treacherous terrain

The 'Ghatak Platoon' of the Indian Army climbed the most treacherous route, and reached the top of Tiger Hill using just ropes.

What was the international response to the conflict

Global leaders heavily criticized Pakistan inciting the war. A joint statement issued by the then US President Bill Clinton and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif talked of the need to respect the LOC and resume bilateral talks to resolve the disputes between India and Pakistan.

The war heroes who received the Param Vir Chakra

Sanjay Kumar, Naib Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav, Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey and Captain Vikram Batrawere were awarded the Param Vir Chakra for their exemplary courage, their gallant acts and their determination under extreme conditions.


May 3

(Muslim) Bakerwal Shepherds (who have shown their patriotism to India in every war, 1965 onwards) report the presence of Pakistani intruders on higher reaches. The Army sends out several patrols over the next few days. Reconfirm presence on May 7.

May Second Week | A patrol of the 4 Jat Regiment, led by Captain Saurabh Kalia, and five other soldiers: Sepoys Arjum Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh, is taken captive by Pakistan troops. On May 15, the patrol is reported missing

June 9 | The mutilated bodies of these soldiers are handed over to Indian authorities

Operation Vijay

Initial assessments that infiltrators are militants and number a few is proved wrong. Almost 200 sq km of Indian territory is now in the custody of Pakistani soldiers in the garb of jehadi militants. Over 1,700 men of the Northern Light Infantry of Pakistani Army, supported by Special Forces, and artillery, engineers elements are involved. Reinforcements are also on the way.

After initial burst of confusion and surprise, India launches Operation Vijay, mobilizing almost 200,000 troops. About 30,000 soldiers directly involved in the operation.

May 9 | Two acclimatized battalions returning from Siachen are moved to Batalik sector, and over the next few days, another three battalions move from Kashmir Valley to Kargil sector

May 24 |, Two additional brigades also move into the area

By May-end, an additional divisional HQ inducted, to take over command of a portion of Kargil sector from Leh-based 3 Infantry Division May 25 ,

May 25| IAF authorized to launch “offensive air operations“ under Operation Safed Sagar with strict instructions to not cross Line of Control. By now, India has lost around 35 soldiers.

May 26 | MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters go in waves to fire rockets at enemy fortified positions. Srinagar airport is shut to civilian flights, while armed MI-17 helicopters are deployed in Tololing sector

May 27 | An MiG-27 fighter suffers an engine flame-out. Its pilot Flt Lt K Nachiketa ejects. Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, flying a MiG-21, tries to trace the lost, MiG-27 despite antiaircraft guns. Within minutes he is shot down by a Stinger missile. Ahuja's body later returned with point-blank bullet wounds, indicating he probably was captured alive and shot dead. Nachiketa is paraded on Pakistan TV

May 28 | An Mi-17 helicopter shot down by Stinger missiles, killing all four crew members. IAF withdraws helicopters from offensive operations

May 30 | IAF inducts Mirage-2000 fighters armed with laser-guided bombs into battlefield. They launch strikes on Tiger Hill, Point 4388, Muntho Dhalo (a major ammunition and supply dump) among other targets

Launching Operation Talwar, Indian Navy send submarines on patrols close to Karachi harbour. Entire Eastern Fleet moved to join Western Fleet in the Arabian Sea

About 250 Bofors artillery guns are inducted and play a crucial role in all major operations during the Kargil conflict June ,

June Starting first week, Indian military launches aggressive operations to recapture key strategic heights, mounting operation after operation to evict the well-entrenched Pakistani soldiers.

Aim to secure the highway, den access to Siachen Glacier and drive out the infiltrators

July 4 ,| Recapturing Tiger Hill, the steep height that became a byword during the operations, proves extremely difficult till finally it falls on July 4. Tololing and other heights witness intense fighting, both sides lose lives. Point 4590, the nearest point with full view of the highway, and Point 5353, the highest feature in Drass sector, among those taken back after bloody battles

Tiger Hill: The decisive battle

Tiger Hill is a formidable but majestic mountain range across the Drass and Mushkoh valley. The snow-clad virgin peak and slopes of Tiger Hill were marauded by Pakistani infiltrators. They had occupied major vantage points. Still, India drove out the infiltrators from Tiger Hill on July 4, which was a major blow to Pakistan. Tiger Hill is now under Indian control.

July 11, F aced with determined Indian response and international pressure, Pakistani intruders begin to pull out

July 26 | India Army announces complete eviction of Pakistani intruders. Over 520 Indian soldiers are killed in the entire conflict.

Four Param Vir Chakras (PVCs), nine Maha Vir Chakras (MVCs) and 53 Vir Chakras, among other medals, are awarded for conspicuous bravery

Victory Day

On July 14, India and Pakistan ceased firing and the Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared 'Operation Vijay' a success.

On July 26, the Indian Army announced it had thrown out all Pakistani intruders from the Indian side of LOC.

The battles

Point-5353: Did the Army try to retake it?

Ajay Sura, July 26, 2019: The Times of India

As the country celebrates two decades of its victory in the Kargil conflict, there is ambiguity about a contentious area known as Point-5353 — one of the highest and strategic peaks near Line of Control in Drass sector of Jammu & Kashmir.

The top Army commanders who led the Indian response 20 years ago have claimed that Point-5353 was occupied by the Pakistan army prior to the Kargil conflict and that the Indian Army never attempted to capture it in 1999. However, the Kargil war despatches, accessed by TOI, have indicated that the Army had made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the important geographical feature.

The despatches, exchanged regarding military operations, have revealed that a team led by Major Navneet Mehta of 16-Granadiers had tried to capture Point-5353. The post was used as an artillery observation post by Pakistan troops.

Col Puspinder Oberoi, the then commanding officer of 16 Granadiers regiment, in a communication to his superiors during the war, said: “Two attacks were made by troops of my battalion on Point-5353. Maj Navneet Mehta and 30 men carried out attack.”

In a handwritten statement, a copy of which is with TOI, Mehta had stated that he was to capture Point-5353 by May 18, 1999/600 hours.

“We reached the base of the cliff and tried to go up... We ended up having 13 casualties … The attacking column developed chest congestion … along with wounds due to continuous attempts. Thus, the attack had to be called off...,” says the communication sent by Mehta to his commanding officer.

When TOI contacted General VP Malik, who led the Kargil war, he claimed: “The LoC in this area was drawn in 1972 by joining several heights (points) with straight lines. The line went over Point-5353. Sometime after 1972 — well before Kargil war — the Pakistan army had occupied it. During the war, 8 Mountain division made no attempt to capture it.”

Lt Gen AN Aul, who was heading 56 Mountain Brigade, said: “No army was occupying these posts before the war. Pakistan had occupied it before the war and it was not in our area…” Aul added that no attempt was made to capture Point-5353.

War heroes

3 India, 1 Pakistani heroes

July 21, 2019: The Times of India


Along with five other soldiers of his patrolling team, Saurabh was captured alive, brutally tortured, and killed by the Pakistan Army In the small hill town of Palampur, you don’t need addresses to reach the houses of martyrs. All I do is put my head out of the window and ask, ‘Kya aapko Capt. Saurabh Kalia ka ghar maloom hai?’ [Do you know Capt. Saurabh Kalia’s house?]’ People smile and guide me with gestures of the hand and tilts of the head, leading us in no time to a house with a sign at the gate that tells us we have reached a family that has borne personal loss. It is the internationally recognized icon of an upside-down rifle with a war helmet placed on top — a tribute to fallen soldiers. The dates 29 June 1976 to 9 June 1999, inscribed on black marble beneath Capt. Saurabh Kalia’s name, are a reminder that he died before the best years of his life.

The Kalias tell me how Naughty, as his parents called him, was as a boy — quiet and reticent, fond of cooking for his family and friends. They joke about how difficult it was to wake him up in the mornings and how when Mrs Kalia was told that in the IMA early risers were ordered to wear boots and run on top of late risers, she quickly got Saurabh an alarm clock, telling him worriedly, ‘Tu toh subah uthta hi nahi hai beta; tere upar toh woh roz boot waale ladke daudayenge. [You can never wake up early, son; they will make boys with boots run on top of you every day.]’ He had called home on 30 April 1999 to wish Vaibhav (his younger brother) on his twentieth birthday. He had said he was going ahead to the forward posts and might not be able to stay in touch for a while. ‘Don’t worry about me if I don’t call or write. I shall be home for my birthday (29 June),’ he had said. And then there had been silence. Saurabh Kalia was never to call the family he loved so much again. Mrs Vijaya Kalia, who suffered a heart attack the day she heard Saurabh had gone missing, gave up her government job soon after his death but says she did not shed a single tear for him. ‘It would have diluted the magnitude of his sacrifice. I am very proud of my son. He gave his life for his country.’ A shattered Dr Kalia vowed that he would fight for the human rights of his son and five comrades who were subjected to torture for more than three weeks and make sure that the guilty were punished. Dr Kalia’s journey has been long and painful with roadblocks at every stage. ‘It doesn’t matter whether I get any success or not. I shall continue to fight for these soldiers till I die.’

A brave mother who didn’t want another soldier to risk his life for her son’s body


Awarded Vir Chakra posthumously; Subsector West was renamed Subsector Haneef in his honour

The Shyok, river of death in Yarkandi Uyghur, meanders through these vast forgotten lands before slipping into Pakistan and merging with the Indus at Skardu. Adjacent to Subsector Haneef, named after the young officer who died on this craggy mountainside exactly two years after he had passed out of the IMA. It is poignant that this young boy with a Hindu mother and a Muslim father, who grew up celebrating both Eid and Diwali, died in a war between two countries that had been split on the basis of communal ideologies. He had gone to fight for 11 Rajasthan Rifles whose war cry is ‘Raja Ram Chandra ki Jai’.

Haneef ’s body lay under the open sky and falling snow for 43 days, his handsome face frozen into a cold mask. When then Army Chief Gen. Ved Prakash Malik visited Mrs Hema Aziz, Haneef’s mother, in her small Mayur Vihar apartment in Delhi and told her the body could not be retrieved because the enemy was firing constantly, she met his eyes bravely and said she did not want another soldier to risk his life to get her son’s body back. ‘After the war is over I would like to go and see where he died,’ she said. Haneef ’s body was eventually retrieved. He was buried with full military honours in Delhi. Hema Aziz made the pilgrimage with her other two sons to Turtuk, to see where her son, who used to laughingly complain that she never had time for him, had given up his life for his country. This time, he was not around to see her.

A soldier’s last letter


Posthumously awarded a Vir Chakra

‘Dearest Papa, Mama, Birdie and Granny,’ begins the last letter that Vijyant (Robin) wrote to his family from Kargil in June 1999. ‘By the time you get this letter I’ll be observing you from the sky, enjoying the hospitality of apsaras. I have no regrets. In fact, if I am reborn as a human I will join the army again and fight for my nation,’ he writes on the purple Forces Inland letter, his neat handwriting filling up the page. ‘If you can, please come and see where the Indian Army fought for your tomorrow.’ He adds that whatever organ can, should be taken; he asks his parents to donate money to an orphanage and asks them to give Rs 50 every month to Ruksana, a three-year-old Kashmiri girl he had befriended in Kashmir during his short stint there. He signs off with a brave, ‘OK, then it’s time for me to join my clan of the Dirty Dozen. My assault party has twelve chaps. Live life kingsize. Your, Robin.’ Vijyant had written this letter to his family just a few days before he went to battle. It’s the reason Col. Thapar comes to Knoll each year to commemorate the death anniversary of his son. And though it is becoming more and more difficult for Col. Thapar to make the treacherous climb to Knoll every passing year, he plans to honour that commitment for as long as he can.

Bravery goes beyond borders


Martyred at Tiger Hill

Soldiers recognize and respect bravery, even if it is the enemy. A perfect example of this is the case of the late Capt. Karnal Sher Khan of the Pakistan Army. Very few people know that the Indian Army was instrumental in the officer being awarded the Nishan-e-Haider, Pakistan’s highest gallantry award, which is equivalent to India’s Param Vir Chakra.

In July 1999, Capt. Sher Khan was holding five strategically located posts in the Tiger Hill area, touching a height of 16,700 feet. It was so well-defended that General V P Malik stated in his book, Kargil — From Surprise to Victory, that it appeared almost impossible to capture. According to an officer of 8 Sikh, ‘After a fierce battle, we recovered Tiger Hill on 4 July. For the next four days we were gradually advancing to recover other features — the Helmet, India Gate and Rhino Horn. Soon after the soldiers of 8 Sikh recovered the feature on 7 July around 8 am, Capt. Karnal Sher launched a swift counterattack with just a handful of Pakistani soldiers. It was suicidal for him to do so in broad daylight because we could see his movements. Yet in the highest of military traditions, he launched an attack.’ Such was the ferocity of his attack that 8 Sikh had to be reinforced by a platoon of 18 Grenadiers. Karnal Sher Khan fought till the end and finally fell when a hail of bullets hit him. Even in his last moments his hands were holding his rifle. The Indian Army wrote to the Pakistani government citing the bravery of the young officer. On the basis of this recommendation, Capt. Karnal Sher Khan was posthumously awarded the Nishan-e-Haider.

Edited excerpts from ‘Kargil-Untold Stories from the War’ with permission from Penguin Random House India

A Brigadier and his son were brothers in arms

Ajay Sura, July 26, 2019: The Times of India

Lt Gen A N Aul probably can claim to be the only commander who fought the Kargil conflict alongside his son, Colonel Amit Aul. On Thursday, the father-son duo was back again at Lamochan in Drass to revive those memories and pay homage to the soldiers who laid down their lives.

Lt Gen Aul was commander of the 56-Mountain Brigade that captured the strategic Tiger Hill at the Drass sub-sector in the 1999 conflict. The ridgeline of the conflict, including Tiger Hill and other strategic features, that are clearly visible from Lamochan brought back many memories of those days. Lt Gen Aul retired as chief of staff, Western Command.

Lt Gen Aul (then brigadier) was leading 56-Mountain Brigade that captured Tololing and Tiger Hill and Amit (then Second Lieutenant with 3/3 Gorkha Rifles) was operating in Marpo La area. The Auls, who live in Panchkula, were also decorated for their gallantry —Gen Aul was awarded Uttam Yudh Sewa Medal (UYSM) and Amit received the Sena Medal (gallantry).

“My father had advised me not to tell everything to my mom. ‘You’re a soldier meant for the war’ he told me,” Amit told TOI. Amit said he never interacted with his father during the conflict and both met almost after a gap of more than two months once the conflict ended.

“I had even posted my last letter to my unit,” Amit said. Such last letters are delivered to families in case soldiers are killed in battlefield.

When asked about his concerns about his only son, Gen Aul said, “There are no such concerns in the conflict. He was a soldier and was following orders, which a soldier is supposed to do. I am proud that he fought well and was even decorated for his achievement.” Gen Aul’s wife Bina Kaul said she had made all her life’s supplications during those two-and-a-half months in 1999.

The view of the Indian Army

Kargil war of 1999- The view of Indian army
From: July 25, 2021: The Times of India

See graphic:

Kargil war of 1999- The view of Indian army

‘We should have been allowed to capture Pak territory’

Himanshi Dhawan, July 26, 2021: The Times of India

Kargil war of 1999- An adverse situation was turned into an emphatic win
From: Himanshi Dhawan, July 26, 2021: The Times of India

General V P Malik, who was Indian Army chief when the Kargil conflict broke out in the summer of1999, tells Himanshi Dhawan how the conflict changed the rules of combat and India’s relationship with Pakistan

It’s been 22 years since the war. As you look back, what has been the biggest learning from it?

Operation Vijay was a blend of determined political, military and diplomatic action, which enabled us to transform an adverse situation into an emphatic military and diplomatic victory. Pakistan failed in its aims with considerable political and military costs. The Indian military, on account of poor intelligence and inadequate surveillance, took some time to reorganise and take appropriate counter action. But with military successes on the battlefield and a successful politico-military strategy, India was able to achieve its political aim and enhance its international image as a responsible, democratic nation, determined and capable of defending its territorial integrity.

It was a lesson to see that an irregular or proxy war could escalate into a limited conventional war. Although possession of nuclear weapons has made an all-out war on the subcontinent less likely, so long as we have border and territorial disputes, Kargil-type military conflicts cannot be ruled out.

The Kargil war also highlighted several weaknesses in the Higher Defence Control Organisation (HDCO), our state of intelligence and surveillance, weapons and equipment. These were noted by the Kargil Review Committee and the Group of Ministers report.

How did Kargil change India's outlook towards Pakistan?

It was a major turning point in Indo-Pak security relations. There was near total breakdown of trust and a realisation in India that Pakistan can easily resile from any agreement, like the Lahore Declaration which it had signed only two months earlier. It was a big shock to Prime Minister Vajpayee (and the cabinet) who took quite some time to believe that the intruders were not Pakistani irregulars but Pakistan regular army personnel. Vajpayee told Nawaz Sharif: ‘Aapne pith men chhura ghonp diya’ (You have stabbed me in the back).

With the benefit of hindsight what do you think India could have done differently?

When the war began, we were reacting to a total ‘surprise situation’ created by Pakistan. Due to intelligence and surveillance failure, there was considerable confusion about the identity of the intruders within the government. Our frontline formation had failed to detect intrusion and had no clues on their location. Therefore, getting adequate information, stabilising the situation and then regaining the initiative became essential. After some time when the Indian armed forces were confident of military success in Kargil, they should have been allowed to capture some Pakistani territory across the LoC before agreeing to the ceasefire.

Since there was an element of surprise, there was a lot of jugaad required. What were some of these on-the-spur-of-the moment innovations?

Some years before Kargil, we had been starved of funds. As a result, we were functioning on 70% of our authorised budget. In the Kargil sector, we did not have clothing or shoes that were required for high altitude. We did not have surveillance devices or radars. In order to see what is going on the other side, our helicopters would go to 20,000 ft altitude to be able to see for themselves. Today, you have satellite photography and UAVs for that. One of the artillery commanders even decided to take the Bofors gun uphill in three pieces, one by one and place them on a height so that soldiers could take direct shots at the enemy. This is how we tried to overcome whatever shortages that we had.

If there was another 26/11 kind of attack, do you think India’s response would be different in view of the Uri and Balakot strikes?

I had retired when 26/11 took place but even then I was of the opinion that India needs to retaliate. If Pakistan creates such a situation again, we should retaliate. And we should retaliate strongly. It would be a deterrent and I think Pakistan requires deterrence from time to time. What kind and what type of retaliation that is for the military and politicians to decide on.

The view from Pakistan: 1

Kargil misadventure

January 28, 2007

REVIEWS: The most awkward of situations

Reviewed by Qurat ul ain Siddiqui


Kargil misadventure

This may be “the most comprehensive document published so far in Pakistan on the Kargil misadventure.” It is an endeavour to present the author’s side of the picture, clarify his version of truth and bring to light his facts before a nation that “has been deliberately kept in [the] dark about the bitter facts in this regard.”

Siddique-ul-Farooque also questions the idea that before launching the Kargil Operation, General Musharraf had taken the then prime minister into confidence and that it was Nawaz Sharif who had turned it into a defeat by calling the troops back, despite the fact that much of the international community very clearly demanded that Pakistan withdraw its Northern Light Infantry troops and mujahideen from Kargil. The fiasco led to over 3,000 deaths of officers and jawans of the NLI and mujahideen. Statistics indicate that this was a greater loss than the one suffered by Pakistan during the 1965 war. Farooque also points out that no commission was set up to enquire what actually led to the defeat at Kargil and what the real causes were, so that similar mistakes are not made in the future.

The author presents four different hypotheses to the reader, one of which, he believes, can serve as an explanation as to what ‘prompted’ General Musharraf to launch the operation just when Pakistan had become a nuclear power and the Lahore Declaration had been signed with India to solve the lingering Kashmir dispute without having to give up on “national honour and prestige.” Farooque also refers to as the planning that went into the Kargil Operation, which supposedly began to take shape during Zia’s regime when India had occupied Siachen during his rule and he planned to occupy Kargil as a kind of vengeance. However, that did not come about then due to various political pressures. The plan was reconsidered during the second reign of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto but she vetoed the move because she “knew we would have to surrender the territory when the matter was brought to the international community and that’s exactly what happened,” she said to a television channel.

Farooque goes to the extent of saying that the Kargil war was started so that the general with a “weak profile” and an average track-record would attain some sort of “prestigious military award,” in order to strengthen his case. However, another point of view is that the Kargil front was opened to attract the international community’s attention toward the Kashmir issue with the hope that “huge losses” might be inflicted on India and that the United Nations may step in to put an end to the war.

The impression given revealed that Pakistani troops did not initiate the attack and that it was actually the mujahideen who started it. However, another point of view says that the weapons and technology used against India “could never be in possession of the mujahideen.” The political wing of the government of Pakistan was then requested to devise some way out of the looming full-scale war with India and find a “diplomatic solution” to the crisis. This lead to talks with China and foreign minister’s level talks with India on June 12, 1999 where Sartaj Aziz was given a cold shoulder. The following day the prime minister was told as how the situation was deteriorating further as a result of which the leadership began to work on a “withdrawal plan.”

Farooque also quotes the editors of various newspapers to substantiate his claim on how mounting pressure from the United States led to the withdrawal of the troops. One of the editors said in his report: “On June 27, General Musharraf broke this news to the nation that a Nawaz-Clinton meeting was about to take place, meaning that he [the general] was trying to reach this target through the good offices of the Centcom chief … had already been worked out during the Musharraf-Zinni meeting in Islamabad.”

Pakistan was thus dragged into the most awkward of situations by seeking negotiations and a diplomatic solution while at the same time imposing war on India: “He (Nawaz Sharif) refused to accept the allegation of the Indian prime minister that Pakistan has back-stabbed India,” and instead urged “the Indian leadership to respond to our efforts of peace so that there is no more bloodshed and there is no more bloodshed of the Kashmiris” as “dialogue was the only way out to resolve differences between the two countries,” (Dawn, July 13, 1999).

A report in another local newspaper said that not only was Pakistan facing imminent political isolation from the United States but the Pakistan Embassy in Paris “was told that because of the perception in the French government that Pakistan was responsible for backing intruders in Kargil, France may not be able to fulfil its commitment for the delivery of Mirage III jets that were to be delivered to the Pakistan authorities in the next few days.” Along with the G-8 states and Japan, China also hoped that “India and Pakistan will respect the LoC and resume negotiations at an early date in accordance with the spirit of the Lahore Declaration,” the then Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Quiye said in Beijing.

Regarding the dark in which the public was kept as far as Pakistani casualties were concerned, Farooque quotes Dr Shireen Mazari, who said that “the information war was lost from the start because of the decision of not informing the public at home … clearly the lack of coordination at the highest level of decision making was the major factor.”

The book also contains a chapter titled ‘Coup d’etat’, which gives the writer’s perspective as to what led to the October 12 coup that toppled the Nawaz Sharif government, and somewhat predictably throws a negative light on the course taken by Pervez Musharraf and the alleged reasons at the back of that course: “General Musharraf feared court martial … decided to topple the government. This was the only course of action to save their skin.”

Understandably so, Farooque’s analysis holds a soft corner for Sharif’s “attempts” at bringing forth lasting peace between India and Pakistan. He also quotes former Naval Chief Admiral Fasih Bokhari, who resigned a week before October 12, saying to a US-based investigative news website: “I resigned … because I had come to know that he had decided to topple the Sharif government … because he feared he will have to face a court martial for masterminding the Kargil,” while on the other hand the then Director ISPR, Major General Rashid Qureshi said that Nawaz showed his ignorance toward the decision-making that lead to the Kargil Operation just when “he was sentenced to life imprisonment and his other accounts” were opened.

The book also refers to what General Anthony Zinni wrote in his book Battle Ready that Pakistan’s civilian leadership did not wish to withdraw as that would have meant complete humiliation — nothing less than political suicide.

Also included in the book is ‘American Diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil summit at Blair House’, a paper by Bruce Reidel, Clinton’s Secretary on South Asian Affairs who also happened to attend the July 4 meeting between Clinton and Sharif. The paper reveals that Sharif, who desperately wanted to save Pakistan’s face, was left with no choice but to withdraw troops from the Kargil front.

Since Kargil, the relations between India and the United States became increasingly cordial and Pakistan was alienated. However, relations improved with the US as Pakistan emerged as a crucial ally in the war against various disruptive forces in the South Asian region.

The book also contains an abridged version of the Kargil Committee report issued by the Indian government along with contents of five historic and most crucial agreements signed between India and Pakistan since 1947.

Kargil: Adventure or Trap! is based on a particular bias and the author is entitled to his subjective perception of the events and the political dynamics that led to them. However, despite the devotion to his own point of view, he does not refrain from raising the most essential of queries and, even if reluctantly so, leaving it open ended: “Why did Pakistan open this front after the signing of the Lahore Declaration?”

Kargil: Adventure or Trap! (White Paper) By M. Siddique-ul-Farooque Sagar Publishers. Available with Mr Books, 10-D Super Market, F-6/2, Islamabad Tel: 051-2278843-5 mrbooks@isb.comsats.net.pk www.mrbooks.com.pk 263pp. Rs400

The view from Pakistan: 2

Kargil war


Ex-general for making an example of Musharraf

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

RAWALPINDI: Lt Gen (Retd) Jamshaid Gulzar Kiyani has stressed the need for making an example of President Pervez Musharraf to block the emergence of future dictators in the country.

Talking to Dr Shahid Masood in the Geo TV programme Meray Mutabiq, he said General Musharraf had committed basic mistakes such as the Kargil debacle, surrender to the US threat of pushing Pakistan into the Stone Age and the Lal Masjid destruction.

He said no power could stay in the face of the power of the people. He said he had seen the period of Ayub Khan, who could not face the wrath of the people. When asked whether the Army was with Musharraf, he said the armymen would never say anything about it and such things were never discussed in the Army.

He ruled out the imposition of martial law, saying that the president could not use Article 58-2(b). Gen Gulzar said Musharraf's departure from power was close at hand. He said the president should not have given in to the US threat in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. He said the Pakistan Army was the best professional Army in the world. He said Musharraf had options at that time and he should have held a referendum to ascertain the will of the people.

Gen Gulzar said the referendum Musharraf held for himself was a fake exercise as Gen Zia did the same during his rule. He said Musharraf was clearly told about this mistake and afterwards he accepted his mistake.

He said today everybody believed that Gen Musharraf was fighting the American war on the soil of Pakistan and "we are paying for that today." departure from power was close at hand. He said the president should not have given in to US threat in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy.

He said the threat to push Pakistan into the stone age was delivered by the then secretary of state Colin Powel and not by the American president. He said the president arrested and handed over Pakistanis to the US. Where have these unknown people gone? he asked.

He asked what was the crime of Mullah Zaeef and as a diplomat did he deserve such insulting behaviour? He said the ISI was used to commit wrong acts. He said he was in the ISI and advised against such acts but his advice fell on deaf ears. As a result today Musharraf was the most unpopular president. If he had accepted the advice, he would have been the most successful president of Pakistan today.

He said suicide attacks that were beyond imagination before 9/11 are difficult to control now, he said. He said he was not a supporter of suicide attacks but these reflect an easy reaction that cannot be stopped by anyone.

He said there were suicide attacks one after the other in the wake of the Lal Masjid and the Jamia Hafsa operation. He said if there were foreign elements in Lal Masjid, where did they go? He said innocent students were targeted with phosphorus grenades, that he added come in the fold of chemical weapons.

He said he had never seen such an act of tyranny. He said when a bullet crosses the body it is not a wrong use of power but that is a tyrannical act. It tantamounts to killing an ant with a hammer.

He said ex-servicemen should have come forward a long time ago but they have not been an organized body that could be activated on one call. About the economic situation, General Gulzar Kiyani termed the present period the worst when it was difficult for the poor to get even one meal.

When asked about his appointment and expulsion as Chairman Federal Public Service Commission, Gen Kiyani said the real differences started after the 9/11 episode. “After retiring from the Army on Oct 14, 2004, when I reminded General Saheb his commitment to doff his uniform during a meeting, he said that the nation needed him.”

He said it was a reaction to his policies that suicide attacks started in the country. He said force was used in South and North Waziristan and 80 students were killed in a Bajaur Madrassa in an American operation. What was the crime of these students, he asked.

He said he remained Chairman of the Public Service Commission for three years. At that time the prime minister was Jamali whose first demand was to give power of appointments in CBR and FIA to ministers. He said if this power was given to ministers they would have gotten their own way.

He said one of the two officers approved by former prime minister Shaukat Aziz faced a NAB corruption case while the other had no chance of promotion. “I requested them that this would cause great demoralisation among the bureaucracy. I humbly submitted to them that this was a wrong step but in a short period the chairman’s tenure was reduced from five to three years under the PCO to remove me.”

He expressed regret over the suicide attack outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad adding there was no conception of suicide bombings before 9/11. The policies of President Pervez Musharraf in the post-9/11 scenario led to suicide attacks in Pakistan.

Pulling the curtain off past events, Lt Gen (Retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani denied a hand in the removal of Nawaz’s government on October 12, 1999. “I was major general then and I was promoted on November 1, 1999. After that I took the responsibility of corps commander Rawalpindi and successfully held the post for two years.”

Commenting on the 9/11 events of 2001, he said undoubtedly a hell was unleashed on New York but he never reconciled with the practical course President Pervez Musharraf adopted after the incident.

To a question, he said no aspersion could be cast on the loyalty of the Army and so on the corps commander. A corps commander also remains loyal to the army chief. However, different views came up at the corps commanders meetings in the wake of 9/11. Big differences emerged then. When General (Retd) Musharraf asked as to what were their views to the threats of pushing Pakistan into the stone age, a difference of opinion emerged in the views of the corps commanders. It was three to four days after 9/11.

Some commanders openly told Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf that they had reservations. These pertained to an outright and open support to the US. They believed that the US should not be extended support blindly. The corps commander is a professional soldier and ignoring his advice leads to losses.

Regarding the 1971 war, he said he was on the eastern border but never became a prisoner of war. He said there is no doubt that excesses were committed against the people of Bengal. He held then General Yahya Khan responsible for the same. General Niazi totally failed in East Pakistan and his role was very embarrassing which is a matter of regret.

General (Retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani said according to his information Nawaz Sharif did not know anything about the Kargil episode. He was never thoroughly briefed on the same. He supported holding of a probe into the Kargil fiasco, adding factors behind the scene, about which people do not know, would also come into the limelight.

Asked what was his plan, General Kiyani said he had briefed Nawaz Sharif and told him that it was a very sensitive issue and he could not unveil all the details to him. He was only apprised of the ongoing situation. Nawaz time and again asked about the truth from senior officials including Sartaj Aziz who was the foreign minister. He also tried to persuade the chief of army staff. General Majid spoke in detail on the issue. General Mahmood was the corps commander then.

Kiyani said our Jawans (soldiers) bravely fought the Kargil War. I think they revived the memories of the 1965 war. Our officers fought more fiercely than in the 1965 War and repulsed enemy attacks time and again. Despite the fact that supplies were disrupted due to extreme cold, the Jawans continued the war. He repeated that arguments will come up when there will be a probe.

He termed Nawaz’s travel to the US a bid to save the prestige of the Pakistan Army. He said in the meeting of May 17 Nawaz gave a green signal to the operation. He assured conditional support to General Musharraf that the government would back the operation when he successfully moved forward. If unfortunately the same failed, he would not be in a position to support him (Musharraf). When the army was caught in an awkward situation, he again travelled to the US to save the symbol of the country, the Pakistan Army.

To a question about the use of nuclear weapons in the war, General Kiyani said the war could have not been kept limited to the Kargil sector or a particular front particularly when the two countries possessed nuclear weapons.

Referring to the book authored by General Musharraf, Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani said whatever has been written there is against logic. If you catch your enemy by the jugular vein he would react with full force. If you cut enemy supply lines, the only option for him will be to ensure supplies by air.

That situation the Indian Army was unlikely to confront and it had to come up to the occasion. It is against wisdom that you dictate to the enemy to keep the war limited to a certain front.

After that Nawaz went to the United States. But an attempt was made to create the impression in the print media that Nawaz Sharif was at fault to surrender there. He said this impression was created by General Pervez Musharraf which was totally wrong.

Other countries’ role

They overcharged India for satellite images, arms

Ajay Sura, Dec 14, 2019 Times of India

CHANDIGARH: Former Indian Army chief, General VP Malik (retd) claimed on Friday that some foreign countries had overcharged India for satellite images, arms and ammunition needed to meet the sudden military requirements during the Kargil conflict two decades ago.

"In every urgent purchase during the Kargil war, no matter from which country, they exploited us as much as they could. When we approached one country for few guns, initially they promised us, but later supplied refurbished old weapons. We were short of some ammunition and when approached another country, we were given 1970 vintage ammunition," Gen Malik revealed during a panel discussion on ‘Make in India and the Nation’s Security’ on the first day of the Military Literature Festival here.

Gen Malik, who headed the Indian Army during the Kargil conflict, disclosed that for each satellite image India purchased at the time, it had to pay Rs 36,000 each and those images were not even the latest ones — the images were from three years earlier.

Elaborating about the notion that the Indian Army was fond of importing weapons from abroad, Gen Malik categorically said abject failure of public sector units to fully deliver the required weaponry was the only reason for this.

He warned that unless India becomes self-reliant in defence, its security forces would become vulnerable. "Technology today is running fast, problem of our system is that equipment needed at particular time is delayed and supplied at a time when that technology become redundant," he added and asserted that too much protection has been given to public sector in India and the private sector has not been given a level playing field.

Cautioning against the temptation to tag defence matters with mere sloganeering, Lt Gen Arun Sahni, former Army commander, South Western Command, urged for allocation of more funds for upgradation of equipment.

Too much focus on buying process

The problem in our system is that too much focus is on process of procurement but no focus is on the end results. We need a more serious approach where accountability is fixed for producing unusable products at the public sector institutions working in the sphere," he added. The former Army commander also said that more and more private companies should also be involved in defence-related production.

Amit Cowshish, former financial adviser (acquisition), ministry of defence, questioned the ambiguity and mistrust around objectives laid down under ‘Make in India’ as far as defence acquisitions were concerned. There is no clear cut policy and framework to achieve avowed goals under the new slogan, he said, adding that indigenization cannot be the sole criterion to reduce costs. He advocated a dedicated overarching organisation to process and deliver on defence needs in a timebound manner.

Moderating the session, Rahul Bedi said the problem in Indian defence production is that they want to hasten slowly and the guidelines are extremely bureaucratic. Pointing out the gross mismatch till now, he said, "On one side we have launched ballistic missiles but we still can’t make INSAS Rifles.”

Defeat declared Victory

Col J P Singh , Defeat declared Victory "Daily Excelsior" 14/7/2016

July month every year reminds us of Kargil War and the national papers, almost each day, flash remembrances of brave hearts who laid down their precious lives fighting one of the bloodiest military campaign in the Indian history over an obscure place. It also reminds us that on 14 July 1999, prime minister Vajpayee flashed a big Victory Sign declaring ‘Op Vijay’ as success. By then the hills overlooking the highway had been cleared of the intruders but the war was not yet over. Sitting in HQ Northern Command, officers of my level were taken by surprise as the daily situation reported bloody attacks and counter attacks. Thereafter army pounced on depth positions and gained the desired victory on 26th July 1999. The day has since been christened as Kargil Vijay Diwas and is celebrated with great fervor for those who enabled Vajpayee to flash a Victory Sign.

From 1995 militancy in the valley was on the decline and this was the cause of concern to the Pakistan Army and the ISI. Kashmir was returning to peace and stability. Pak feared total decimation of militancy and its irrelevance. Hence the last war of the century was forced on India by Pakistan. Kargil episode exposed Pak deep rooted hostility towards India. Every summer stories of anguish, pain, emotions, loss, pride, triumph and military victory reverberate and add to our anguish against an adversary who follows no rules of the game. It is also the first military conflict that entered Indian drawing and bed rooms, thanks to the fledgling Indian TV news industry. Many books have been written and lot else reported about the war. Kargil 1999 therefore is very well chronicled. Hence there hardly is any need to revisit it. But despite inflicting most ignominious defeats to the perpetrator of this treacherous military misadventure and before this in 1971, bigger dangers loom large. Lessons learnt have been confined to the files. Hence the review is necessary despite the risk of repetition. Like a geo-political crisis engulfed the Himalayan borderlands of J&K at the fag end of the bloodiest 20th century, 21st century has come with blood in its wings. ISIL is threatening to destroy non-believers of Islam. India is on its radar. Under the circumstances keeping Kargil in mind would keep us alert.

The genesis of Kargil Yudh lies in Pakistan’s repeated failure to annex Kashmir. 3 conventional wars, 15 years of war in Siachen and 12 years of proxy war had led her to exasperation. Present no-win situation is even more frustrating for them. On 3rd May 1999, a grazier informed the army about intrusion in Batalik. On May 5 a patrol led by Capt Saurab Kalia was sent to confirm it. It was ambushed, decimated and all tortured to death confirming large scale infiltration. This misadventure of a rouge nuclear state alarmed the world. Before the partition of 1947, Kargil was part of Baltistan District now under illegal Pak occupation. Pak ingress in Kargil could be a ploy to tell the world that Kargil being part of Baltistan called for its merger in it. Since it was treachery at its worst, world rapped Pakistan for it. Pakistan has become immune to such criticism. Hence continues fomenting troubles in the valley. (Present violence in the valley by furious mobs is distinctly Pak abetted).

Before the beginning of summer in 1999, Pakistan infiltrated their Special Operations Groups and Northern Light Infantry sub units to covertly set up bases on vantage points on the Indian side. According to some reports these sub units were backed by Afghani and Kashmiri mercenaries. Pak intrusions took place in the (i) lower Mushkoh Valley along the Marpo La Ridge near Dras (ii) Batalik Sector East of Indus River, (iii) Chorbat La where LOC turns North and (iv) in the Turtok Sector, South of Siachen. On 9 May, Pak Artillery shelled ammunition depot at Kargil which caught fire resulting into greater loss of ammunition and panic in the township. Their objectives were to lay claim over Kargil, severe links between Srinagar and Leh, to force vacation of Siachen by doing Siachen in Kargil and to internationalise Kashmir issue hoping to secure a speedy resolution.

Leh to Srinagar was two lane road. Pakistanis carried out direct firing on the army convoys inflicting heavy casualties. The protection of this route and the recapture of the forward posts remained objective throughout. This involved clearing Tiger Hill and Tololing in Dras, soon to be followed in clearing Batalik-Turtok sub-sectors. Hence Indian Army reacted promptly to capture Tololing on 13 June 1999, Pt. 5060 & Pt. 5100 on 29 June, Tiger Hill on 4 July after 11 hours bloody battle, Jubar Heights on 7 July and key Peaks of Batalik on 11 July. This tilted the combat in India’s favor and enabled Vajpayee to declare victory.

World watched mesmerized as the Indian soldiers fought yard by bloody yard in the most inhospitable terrain. The young officers and men did a splendid job on the ground. 527 brave soldiers and 7 civilian Porters of ‘Tanda Tiger Force’ laid down their lives. Another 1363 soldiers were disfigured and maimed for life. Triumph Cry of Capt Vikram Batra, of 13 JAK Rifles “Dil Mange More’ echoed from the towering mountains of Kargil. It thundered all over India and Pakistan. Young Capt Vikram came into limelight when he captured Pt. 5140 at 3.30 AM on 20th June. This set in motion his trails of achievements. Thereafter he captured Pt. 5100, Pt 4700, Junction Peak, Three Pimples and finally, with his fellow Capt Anuj Nayyar, MVC (Posthumous), Vikram led his men to victory with the capture of Pt. 4875 where he made supreme sacrifice on 7 July. It is to the sacrifices and heroic tales of such young victors and Batras that this article is dedicated to, in all earnestness and humility.

Most of the analysts are of the view that it was a war of India’s making. Generally peace follows a war. In this case it was other way round. After 1971 war there has been no war till 1999. To seek everlasting peace, Vajpayee took a bus journey to Lahore in February 1999 and signed a peace deal named ‘Lahore Declaration’. Ironically, while India was sleeping, Pak army was covertly infiltrating in Kargil. In this case a war followed a major peace initiative of an Indian statesman premier. Least Vajpayee could have done is to allow army to open another front or let the army go that much deep in Northern Areas and bargained his cherished peace deal from a position of strength. Pt Nehru accepted ceasefire in 1948 without evicting Pak intruders allowing 1/3rd of J&K to go. Mrs Gandhi released 93,000 Pak PsOW in 1972 without securing a firm peace deal from Bhutto. Similarly Vajpayee did not allow army to avenge Pak treachery. Hence it was Vajpayee’s self proclaimed victory, not in the true military sense. No lesson had been learnt.

Each battle and campaign leaves certain lessons for the posterity and perspectives for future. The Kargil war is no exception. China wanted to annex Ladakh through its proxy. This annoyed America. Clinton called Nawaz Sharif to the White House to tell him to pull out of Kargil. But that has not changed Pakistan’s strategy of inflicting thousand cuts every day. In the last decades India has faced a host of military and non military threats from within and outside. Therefore, in future, India will have to be prepared for conventional war, proxy war, terrorism, militancy, chemical & biological and nuclear war. It is too much for a developing nation which has unpredictable neighbours like China & Pakistan. Nepal may be another surprise. It brings out another dilemma, how should India prepare to secure itself for its sustained economic growth; by military or illusory peaceful means.


The war sites, revisited in 2019

Vikram Jit Singh, July 26, 2019: The Times of India

Clockwise from left) Hooker’s irises growing near an abandoned Pakistani bunker at Point 4355 in Mashkoh LOC sector; A honeybee on a Red poppy at an artillery gun position along the Indus. From this location, 130 mm field guns had fired onto the Jubar and Khalubar ridges during the Kargil conflict; Flowers collected from battlefields of 15,000-16,000ft from Bhimbet LoC sector, Drass and Khalubar ridge during the conflict and sent in letters to Chandigarh
From: Vikram Jit Singh, July 26, 2019: The Times of India

The hill that takes its name after the tiger stands quietly, like a solemn sentinel above Drass. There is no sign on the horizon and beyond that Tiger Hill was the site of a fearsome battle 20 years back and brought dramatically to Indian homes via television. Brown bears have returned to the nullahs at the base of the hill and tiny blooms of prostrate vegetation dot the slopes today. There is no Indian post at Tiger Hill or further westwards to Point 4875 in Mashkoh, the site of another epic battle. Indian Army deployments are now strung forward like a string of pearls on the LoC.

This writer, who as a war correspondent with a national daily in 1999, had climbed the high-altitude battlefields at 16,000 feet in Bhimbet, Drass and Khalubar ridge, Batalik sectors with assault troops then, gathered flowers from there amid shelling and sent them enclosed in letters to his fiancée in Chandigarh.

This July, TOI’s correspondent collected flowers and photographed them during a pilgrimage with infantry expeditions to the same battlefields that tower thousands of feet above the valleys of Drass, Mashkoh and the Indus, where the Army’s various headquarters, administrative bases, mediacorps and thin populations were confined during the conflict.

Tololing’s ascent, from the eye of a flower

The Tololing ridge towers above the Drass bowl. The ascent to the top at 15,137 feet begins from the fields adorned by lush, big blooms of yellow and pink wild roses growing around streams emptying into the bowl from Tololing, Bhimbet and Sando nullahs. Botanists describe the Drass’s floral biodiversity as an “intermediate” one — a region wedged into the transition between the lushness of Kashmir and the arid vegetation of Leh.

The flowers get sparser and smaller as one moves towards the top. Then, there is no colour to discern on the ground except the Indian Tricolour. Tololing’s fall was a shot in the arm for the Army. As Army COAS Gen V P Malik would recall: “In the space of a few days, after Tololing fell, we were able to conquer Point 5140 (also in Drass sector) and Point 5203 in the Batalik sector. That gave me the confidence that we can do it, ie, the Army can evict the intruders from everywhere.”

Stealing into the heart of Khalubar flowers

Collections of floral specimens from the inner ridges of the Batalik sector by botanists are mainly from along roads traversing the broad river valleys or the sketchy bags from the era of the British rule. The ridges of Point 5203 — Hansubar, Khalubar, Kukarthang and Jubar running south from the LoC — were occupied by the enemy while the nullahs in between were dominated by fire and shelling.

Dilip Kumar’s intervention

Oneindia | 7th Oct, 2015

Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar intervened to defuse Kargil crisis, says ex-Pak minister Kasuri

Filmistan actor Dilip Kumar spoke to then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to help defuse the 1999 Kargil crisis, this has been revealed by Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, the former foreign minister of Pakistan.

"Then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee gave the phone to Dilip Kumar when he was talking to his Pakistani counterpart," said Kasuri citing an aide of Sharif as confiding with him.

"The prime minister did not believe it was his hero on the phone," Kasuri said.

Kumar expressed his concerned to Nawaz Sharif about the Kargil crisis and urged him to help defuse the crisis quickly as that would be the right thing to do in the interests of the people on both sides.

In an interview earlier, Kasuri claimed that a US delegation led by former US presidential candidate John McCain had met him in the aftermath of 26/11 terror attacks expressing apprehensions that India may carry out surgical air strikes at the headquarters of terror outfits JuD and LeT near Lahore.

Gen. Kayani kept in the dark

Musharraf kept Kayani in dark about Kargil plan, book claims

PTI | Mar 5, 2015 The Times of India

Pakistan's [then] army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf kept [then Lt?] Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the dark about the Kargil operation in 1999 despite the latter heading forces responsible for guarding Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, according to a new book by a former general.

In his book 'Ham Bhi Wahan Mojod Thay', former minister Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Majeed Malik asserts that Kayani headed the 12 Division that was responsible for guarding Kashmir (PoK) but he was not taken into confidence over the operation which brought Pakistan and India on the brink of a nuclear war.

Kayani was later handpicked by Musharraf as his successor in 2007 as the army chief and he served for six years as head of army.

In his book, Malik said that Gen Musharraf did not keep Kayani in the loop, who later opposed the operation.

Malik said only Musharraf was entirely responsible for the operation and even Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not told about the complete Kargil plan.

Sharif maintains that he was cheated by his army chief over Kargil. But Musharraf has repeatedly denied it and said that the prime minister was properly briefed before operation.

In the book, Malik claimed that Musharraf called on the phone his chief of general staff from China to discuss the Kargil operation which was tapped by Indian intelligence agencies.

It was a grave breach of security to discuss such a sensitive issue on a telephone call, Malik said.

He also criticized Sharif for appointing General Ziauddin Butt after dismissing General Musharraf in 1999 who refused to step down and removed Sharif instead and grabbed power.

The book also shares how Pakistan conducted atomic tests.

Malik has given full credit to Nawaz Sharif, who, according to him, was mentally ready to go for atomic tests despite opposition from certain close cabinet members.

Malik was once very close to Sharif but later switched sides to join Musharraf after the 1999 coup.

Nawaz says position on Kargil vindicated

By Dawn Staff Reporter

LAHORE, June 3: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif claimed that his position had been vindicated by Lt-Gen (retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kyani’s assertion that he had not been taken on board on the Kargil operation.

Talking to the media at Lahore airport before leaving for London, he said he had always maintained that he was not fully informed about details and possible repercussions of the operation and he had rushed to the US to save the army from humiliation.

“Now even an army general is backing up my claims of not being fully informed about the operation and I demand an inquiry into the matter,” he said.

About the proposed constitutional package, he said his party would respond in two or three days.

“The party firmly believes that judges should be reinstated through an executive order, instead of a constitutional package.”

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