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Kargil War

Pakistan's Real Intentions Behind Such an Adventure

By Yoginder Kandhari

IN the haze of victory in Kargil that has enveloped us, not many have yet analyzed India’s response. It would be incorrect to term Pakistani intrusions into Kargil sector a total fiasco. Pakistan’s leadership, both political and military, would have taken limited sustainability of such intrusions into account while planning Kargil operation. Pakistani aim, therefore, would not have been solely to annex territory but also to achieve larger politico-military objectives. On political plane, possible objectives were, firstly, to bring Kashmir back into sharp international focus, secondly, to expand area of conflict to Ladakh region, which  thus far had remained untouched and lastly, to silence Nawaz Sharif’s domestic critics and Islamic fundamentalists. For any operation to be successful, it is imperative that there is goal congruence at political and military levels. This principle would surely have been followed by the Pakistani military planners. Moreover, this operation offered military planners certain strategic spin offs like tying down additional Indian Army formations and in the bargain  restricting their alternate strategic employment, pushing in more battled hardened militants into Jammu and Kashmir and attempting a subtle psychological war against Indian security forces by engineering telling acts of sabotage in their rear. Pakistan achieved her political and military objectives to a great extent and that in no way is a mean achievement.

Now let us examine Indian response to Pakistani intrusions into Kargil. Firstly, our intelligence agencies failed to gather any information about the impending operation by Pakistan. This was a multidimensional failure. Not only did the agencies fail to gather any information, there was a huge failure on part of highest in the army hierarchy for it did not asses such an eventuality in Kargil Sector. It will be pertinent to mention here that intelligence activity is not limited merely to collection of hard information, it’s most important aspect is to carry out a balanced assessment of options available to the enemy commander given his strengths and constraints. It is here that our military leadership failed miserably. It failed to pick enemy intentions from loud and clear battle indications.  Firstly, it was no secret that we had considerably thinned Kargil sector of troops, during 1991-1992, when armed insurgency raised its ugly head in Kashmir Valley. An infantry division, less a brigade, was pulled out from Kargil sector to Kupwara for counter infiltration duty. Barely brigade strength of troops was left there to guard 150 km of Line of Control (LC).  Did it not occur to the military generals then that such a massive de-induction of troops amounted to exposing own rear to unchecked intrusions/infiltrations by the enemy? Furthermore, Kargil has two strategic connotations to it. One, it is flanked by Siachen, a permanent battlefield between two the countries, two; a strategically important highway runs through it.  This highway has constantly been interdicted by Pakistani artillery for last four years. These two strategic aspects should have been reason enough for our military planners to focus far more tactical attention to this area. On the contrary, we procrastinated and paid a heavy price in terms of loss of about 400 gallant soldiers.

Reports that Pakistani intruders purchased cement from Kargil town for construction of their bunkers in our area and about their frequent visits to Kargil town, probably on out-passes, add insult to injury. One wonders where those were highly paid and jet-set intelligence sleuths when all these enemy activities were going on, for almost a year, in our territory. May heads will have to roll in case we are serious to arrest increasing trend of criminal negligence to national security by those very people who have been entrusted to protect it.  Even militarily, we failed to carryout our basic tactical routine in an LC environment. It is just not acceptable to shift blame to non availability of latest surveillance equipment. Had we been professionally honest with accepted practice of sending long range patrols, especially during winter months, we would have been able to detect this intrusion much before first week of May. Removing a brigade commander and a unit commander would not be enough. Every one up the chain has to accept a portion of blame for management of LC continues to be a joint responsibility of commanders at all levels. How can one otherwise explain Northern Army Commander’s assertion, in third week of May, that intruders’ strength being just 150-200 when in actual fact 2000 plus were already parked in our territory.

Failure of intelligence agencies to forewarn military commanders of an impending hostile move by the enemy puts a fresh spanner into our mobilization planning for war. Essentially, all mobilization planning is based on the premise that two to three weeks advance warning about enemy’s belligerent   moves would be given by intelligence agencies to the defence forces. Obviously, military planners will have to look outside the realms of sand model discussions for there is no guarantee that even satellites can be depended upon fully, especially when even USA could be fooled by our own men during Pokhran-II. This shows human brain cannot be replaced by an artificial intelligence gadget.

Kargil intrusions also caught us on wrong foot as regards actual execution of our defence plans. Our build-up for counter offensive took longer than permitted by a fluid operational time-frame. One could find artillery build-up taking place till as late as mid June and wonders if such a luxury would have been available if whole of Indo-Pak border had been activated. Our initial response was quite strange. A mountain division, thickly involved in counter-insurgency operations in the Valley, was pulled out and moved to Kargil as a kneejerk reaction to the intrusion. This left a gaping tactical void in militancy infested Kashmir Valley. No sooner was this division moved out than militant activities rose to alarming levels. In a ridiculous move, Director General Rashtriya Rifles was directed to take charge of counter-insurgency operations in the Valley, thus compounding the confusion. For a long time now there has been a talk about reorientation of our combat effort in the Valley by establishing a counter-insurgency grid by Rashtriya Rifle battalions thus relieving Army formation for conventional role. But nothing has moved on ground and we were caught napping. This necessitates a fresh tactical appraisal and reassessment of our equipment requirement.

Shortage and inadequacy of basic warlike equipment in our armed forces too has been exposed during Kargil conflict. Here the blame lies mainly with the narrow vision of our political leadership. Concept of perspective planning has sadly been missing from our political monitors. It, surely, can not be given due attention if we have political leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav at the helm of national defence establishment. Such leaders, other than favouring a few from their own state or cast, can do precious little in casting a durable defence policy. Arming of defence forces can not be done overnight. Typical facet of Indian defence planning is that General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) get obsolete by the time equipment is introduced into service. Kargil episode exposed our soft under belly in this respect too.  We were found wanting in basic warlike equipment like LMGs, radio sets etc. Certainly, this shortage has not been created by our political masters. Army has been living in austerity for three decades as far as critical equipment is concerned. Commanders have been wary of declaring units unfit for war on account of equipment deficiencies. In such an organizational environment better results would appear to be distant dreams.

Kargil intrusions have put paid to our claims that insurgency is waning in the Valley and that normalcy was just round the corner. Pakistan by one clever maneuver injected a life booster to insurgency in the state. Pakistan has extended the conflict zone in Jammu and Kashmir to hitherto untouched Ladakh region, thus projecting entire state of J&K as disputed area. By pulling security forces’ combat attention to Kargil, it is estimated, that Pakistan has succeeded in pushing additional 2000 militants into the state out of whom 500 have specifically been tasked to take on security forces and their camps. Even militant engagements have shown qualitative improvement. From ‘stand-off’ engagements, militants’ activities have graduated to ‘pitched battles’. Recent militant attacks have shown signs of mature military acumen thus portending protracted combat in future. All these daring actions by militants are likely to be a psychological tonic for local Kashmiris to resist the Indian state further. In fact, Pakistan is fighting Indian Army on psychological plane in order to render her weak for a conventional engagement. With Kargil heights now likely to house a division plus troops permanently, Indian Army’s commitment in the Valley has tremendously increased thus restricting our strategic option elsewhere. Notwithstanding Indian political leadership’s statements to the contrary, Pakistan has been able to bring international focus back on Kashmir. Whole Kargil operation thus requires a fresh appraisal by our defence thinkers.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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