Dr. Ajay Chrungoo 

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   Kashmiri Writers

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Towards Understanding the War

By Dr Ajay Chrungoo

Kargil intrusion has raised an array of fundamental questions about the functioning of our intelligence set up, strategic thinking to political decision  making. Terms of reference of the Committee declared by the Prime Minister to go into the various aspects of Kargil intrusion are broad enough to answer these questions. Only if the committee applies itself with integrity and the political leadership plays just a facilitator’s role. However the process of such an introspection may still fall short of the desired objectives of making nation wiser to evolve a comprehensive response to the Pak mechinations. The reason is the reluctance which the Indian nation state has been showing in  qualifying the ‘war form’ Pakistan has unleashed. The nation has to come to terms with this ‘war form’ if the aftermath of Kargil intrusion, which marked the upgradation of Pakistani agression at all levels, is to be handled properly.


The commonly used terminogologies for the Pakistani aggression of various forms during last decade have been ‘Proxy-war’ and ‘undeclard war’. Prox-war term, which is more commonly used, squarely fails to qualify the nature of this war because it creates a  misleading impression about the instrumentalities used in this war. The human factor involved through such a qualification, becomes an element devoid of any will, conviction as well as independence of action. Focus remains primarily on the external element.

The ‘undeclared war’ terminology is also grossly inadequate, but does at
least qualify one attribute of the ‘war form’ which is that the initiator of
the aggression maintains a leverage of deniability and never formally owns the responsibility for the aggression.

Both the nomenclatures are the product of the extant strategic paradigm of a low-intensity conflict which is neither able to perceive the gradual upgradation of the aggression at various levels from within nor visualise and pre-empt the quantum leap in the conflict from without. These commonly used qualifications of Pakistani war also do not encompass the various components of the aggression as well as its objectives long term or short term.

In the aftermath of Kargil intrusion the experts on strategic concerns
however, appear to be getting conscious of the limitations of the existing paradigm on security issues. They have  infact become highly critical of it.

‘A Kashmir policy must be invented supported by an operational doctrine that will persuade Pakistan to respect the ‘sanctity of LoC’, comments major Gen. Ashok Mehta a military expert of repute. Another analyst on strategic affairs Raja Menon reflects similar concerns while trying to explain reasons for Kargil intrusion. “A range of faulty signals from India created not so much by bad nuclear strategy but absence of any strategy conventional or nuclear”.


The deputy director of Institute of  Defense studies and Analyses C. Uday Bhaskar, one of the best known defense experts, describes the complexity of the war by Pakistan in Kashmir  as, “Kashmir symbolises a large range of issues  including terrorism, low-intensity coflict, concept of Jehad, Islamic terror and also the patterns of ISI’s destablising designs in different parts of our country.”

This statement, even though a little overlapping in its content, takes into account the broadest spectrum of attributes of the Paki-war. More
specifically the Pakistani aggression against our nation for last two
decades constitutes three forms of assaults-subversive, demographic and territorial. The distinguished political scientist from Kashmir, Prof.  MK Teng hits the core of the issue when he describes the undeclared war as the -‘War of Subversion’.

The aftermath of Kargil intrusion provides the defense and strategic
analysts of our country a very conducive national environment to go into various aspects of the failure which led to the intrusion in Kargil. It also provides a very excellant and crucial opportunity to understand the nature of the war being waged by Pakistan in its totality.

Kargil intrusion constituted the interplay of all the three forms of
assaults-subversive, demographic and territorial. Before the intrusion we
have seen the interplay  and impact of only the subversive and  demographic assaults. Inspite of the much drummed up Shia-Sunni divide a very significant part of the logistics for the Kargil intrusion was provided by the subversives within. Kargil crisis had also a very significant implication of rendering the security and manitainance of Kargil town untenable creating the potential for a severe demographic pressure on the Buddhist majority Leh. The territorial implications of the intrusion have been thoroughly debated and the dangers to entire Ladakh region highlighted.

The atypicality of the military operations in Kargil have been summed up by another expert on strategic analyses Sh Sreedhar, “for the first time in post independence India, the armed forces are fighting two types of armies of Pakistan. It is becoming clear that Pakistan’s regular army from Northern Light Infantry Divisiion is in action. At another level the Indian army is also fighting a regular-irregular army raised by Pakistan during the last two decades.”


The war by Pakistan as already discussed comprises of three main components - subversive, demographic and territorial. However, the subversive component constitutes core of the entire ‘war form’.

a)      Basic objective:- Basic objective of this war form is purely
ideological. Pakistan is an ideological state with a proclaimed
incompatibility with Indian nation state. This incompatibility is not
Kashmir specific as commonly believed. Kashmir is only an alibi for
expansion of Muslim power towards east taking the entire Himayalan barrier into its fold to ultimately overwhelm India.

The Comments of one of the leading authorities on contemporary Islam John Laffin should make our strategic analysts stand up and ponder, while they formulate approaches to deal with the Pakistani aggression. Laffin says, “The Sunni Muslim code of civil legislation according to Hanfi School of Islamic Law expresses the matter clearly. The Jehad is the normal and permanent state of  war between the Muslims and the people of Dar-al-Harb, the code points out. It can end only with domination over the unbelievers and the absolute supremacy of Islam throughout the world. All war like acts are permitted on the territory of the infidels ... As it is not feasible to fight against all the infidel people simultaneously, Jehad allows for the eventuality of a provisional suspension of hostilities. Such unavoidable truces constitute another form of holy war for they serve to reinforce the military potential of Darul-Islam.”

b)      Interim objectives:- This war of subversion, conditioned by its basic objectives, has interim objectives. The major flaw in our national discourse on security issues is that it continues to be territory centric. For an unconventional war we have been applying a conventional approach. This paradigm has lead to our failure to appreciate the non-territorial objectives of Pakistani aggresson in general and Kargil intrusion in particular.

Strategic thinkers within this country and outside have regarded Kargil
intrusion as a high quality military operation of ‘ingenuity’. Tony Clifton
who had reported 1971 war between India and Pakistan on both sides comments, “Ironically it has really been a brilliant operation on the part of the Pakistanis, but they can never say so, that is horribly for their morale.”

Indian military experts have also openly complimented this operation from the point of view of military  standards. Ironically there is a simplistic generalisation being offered in this country that the Pakistani think tank behind Kargil Operation was surprised by the high intensity response from India. We are spending two crores a day for defending a very remote area  of Ladakh - the Siachin Glacier, and even had successfully repelled more than a dozen bids to capture it in the year preceeding Lahore diplomacy. Yet we tend to believe that on the other side people were stupid enough not to judge our  reaction even when  the entire Srinagar-Leh axis was being jeopardised.

It is time our strategic analysts accord due respectability to such
objectives of Kargil intrusion which have been articulated but only  in a
way that they appear to be incidental to the main objective of endangering the entire Ladakh region. These objectives are essentially non-territorial from the short term perspective.

For example through the operation in Kargil, besides inflicting a heavy
cost on India Pakistan has also probed various strategic thresholds.
Specifically Kargil intrusion has lowered the threshold for international
intervention and at the same time raised the threshold of Indian
conventional reponse. But more importantly the intrusion has aimed to create a favourable environment for Dilution of Indian Sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the prelude to Kargil intrusion Pakistan’s support to district-wise
plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir state and almost simultaneous floating of proposals for reorganising the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir on communal lines with Indian control only on three subjects of defence, communication and foreign affairs, are perhaps not incidental happenings. During as well as after the Kargil operation we are witnessing  the veering round of the so called moderate liberal opinion both in Pakistan and India around various variants of the Dixon-Plan advocated vigorously by US think tanks on Kashmir.

Pakistani analyst Ayaz Amir’s remarks in Dawn provide a critical insight
which is worth consideration. He while making a critical apprisal of
Pakistani operation says, “to put the most charitable construction on what is going on in Kargil sector, if this was the opening move in a bid to liberate Kashmir by force, something could be said in its defence. It would be seen as part of a larger scheme of things even if this larger scheme was decried as foolish or foolhardy. But unless there are higher secrets yet to be revealed, the fighting in Kargil appear to stand all by itself...  A  war or even fighting of a limited kind as we are seeing in theKargil and Drass sectors, must have a political objective if the expenditure of blood and resources is to be justified. What is the political objective of the present fighting?

It cannot be the conqest or liberation of Kashmir because we lack the
strength for that. It  cannot be the desire to internationalise the Kashmir problem because it is a quixotic venture to risk a war for so paltry aim.”

Strategic security paradigm in India has to assimilate the fact that most
important interim objective of ‘war of subversion’ in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan is the Dilution of Indian Sovereignty over the state. Also what we are witnessing in the entire state is not a territorial surgery but
territorial dissolution. Relentless Demographic assault has considerably
narrowed down Indian social base in the state. This loss of demographic
leverage is aimed to facilitate the process of territorial dissolution to
critical levels where the front either will not exist or there will be
fronts all around.

c)      Response Control:- ‘War of Subversion’ through its subversive process has created,  sustained and perpetuated a reference frame work in our country which is crucial for its continuance and attainment of objectives. The contradictions between various nation building approaches in India are being used as the operating space . Military experts in India now admit that even without territorial gains Pakistani operations have attained a ‘strategic depth.’

With the upgradation of various components of Pakistani aggression,
subversive assault has assumed a critical dimension which if not controlled can be catastrophic. Upgradation in subversion has further brought  about a qualitative deterioration in the existing reference framework of Indian responses. For example before 1989 and forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, secular approach of various political regimes in valley was judged not by the secular content of their politics but by their approach towards accession with India. After 1989, the demographic composition of the exodus became the hall mark of the state of secular affairs. In recent times the pressures of subversion have pushed the secular paradigm to ridiculous clichés. Symbolic return of Pandits gave away to the tourism returning to valley as the basic parameter of the status of secularism in the valley.

Theories of ‘alienation’ have helped in the dangerous internalisation of
the crisis. Everything that happens gets attributed to the failures of the
state thereby creating  more alienation.

Most dangerous implication of the subversive processes is their  success in forcing a process of self-disinformation upon the Indian state. Kargil
intrusion becomes a fallout of returning tourism and normalcy in the valley. And intensification of violence in the valley becomes a  fallout of Kargil intrusion. Massacres in Jammu become a result of desperation of terrorists in the valley and the massacres in valley an outcome of their desperation in Jammu. Nation appears to have entered a vicious cycle of self-delusion and self-mortification.

d)      International Environment:- The ‘war of subversion’ is operating in a conducive international environment of unipolarity. India continues to be seen as a part of the other pole of the bipolar era which was dismantled.

The international environment has restricted the healthy expression of our sovereignty. Kargil war took place on the terms and conditions of the enemy which we could not alter because of our continued isolation on strategic matters.

The ‘war of subversion’ by Pakistan should be seen in   complementary
relations rather than contridiction with the international opinion which has restricted the expression of Indian sovereignity. American and western endorsement of Indian point of view came as late as when most of the military objectives were achieved by Indian forces at a very heavy cost. The belated support to Indian position in Kargil has not to be visualised as veering round of US and west to Indian view on Kashmir but only in the context of forestalling any new regional alignments. “No less extremist ones are those who have somehow convinced themselves that America’s abhorrence of Islamic fundamentalism combined with terrorism, more particularly the nefarious activities of Osma Bin Laden, the growing attraction of Indian market and the realisation  that in the Asian balance of power India matters, the US is now ready for a breakthrough in Indo-US relations even at the cost of its long term alliance with Pakistan”, these words of caution by Inder Malhotra are fully justified.

The interim objective of dilution of sovereignty in Indian Kashmir of the
‘war of subversion’ by Pakistan is in perfect harmony with the positions
taken by US and west on Kashmir. The vision of Asia in 21st century as
revealed by the Pantagon Papers envisages creation of an Independent
Kashmir. There are concrete reasons to believe that this vision has not been as yet disowned by the US Government.

e)      Economic support:- The war type by Pakistan is supported both by legal as well as illegal economy. Overemphasis on the state of affairs of official Pak economy may lead us to faulty conclusions. Illegal economy derived from the over all control of drug traffiking in particular and crime Mafias in general form the core of the support base of this ‘war of subversion’. It is mind-boggling that equal amount of Pakistan’s GDP in 1997-98-Rs 2,750 million was generated by the parallel economy. Sums generated by smuggling are at the disposal of armed forces and spending Rs 100 million or so for a Kargil type operation is not a problem.


The realisation of the totality of the war by Pakistan is a pre-requisite in
combating  it. Approaches  of self mortification have lead to the
internalisation of the problems which Pakistan has created. Approaches of externalisation have to be part of the future operational doctrine.
National sensitivity to Pakistani designs should not be only  territorial.
Subversive and demographic assaults are as crucial as the terrotorial one.

Nation has to develop a threshold for these assault  forms as well and let it be known to the world. There in lies  the key to contain and defeat this aggression.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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