IMPACT OF KARGIL WAR IN INDIA
To resolve the continuing decade long conflict between the two countries, the Prime Minister of both the countries signed the Lahore Declaration in February 1999 but after some months of the declaration, both countries got tangled into a horrible episode of conflict that virtually brought the world on to the brink of first clash between two nuclear states. For getting control of a main route to Kargil by Kashmiri militants let to the conflict between India and Pakistan. These episodes were significant because both the countries were nuclear countries ago and this episode proved to be the first argument between the two armies equipped with atomic arsenal. How this conflict arose and what are the consequences and what was the impact on India will be observed.
In the 60 years of conventional conflict in the Indian subcontinent, operations in Kargil during 1999 marked a turning point in the evolution of Indian war-fighting. For a war which lasted for less than 60 days from contact to severance between opponents, this may seem an overstatement. The overall context, reactions, impact and consequences attributable to the Kargil Conflict would substantiate this proposition. Kargil also marked the turning point in Indo- US relations. India got regarded as a responsible nuclear actor in the international arena leading to the next step in Strategic Partnership, Culminating in the Indo-US Nuclear Deal and Agreement.
Kargil also marked a significant shift in conventional doctrinal thinking in the Military, which was subsequently refined after the experience of Operation Parakram, to the Cold Start. An examination in of this transformation and its impact in the conventional warfare discourse in the years ahead needs consideration. Kargil, thus provides an important benchmark to flag a number of issues in perspective. This paper posits that while operations in Kargil in 1999 were restricted in scopes but their impact have been far reaching. The paper would cover the issues, including setting the trend in security sector reforms; implications of the Line of Control (LoC) as the international border; Kargil episode; Kargil area.
1 B.A.LL.B., III Sem., Indore Institute of Law
The Kargil Complex comprises of rugged mountains and their height varies from 8500 ft to 18500 which are spread across155x75 kilometers. The area is bounded by Zojila pass on the West, Shyok River in the East, LoC on the North and scattered villages like- Sanko, Mulbek, Khalsi, Zojila and Partapur on the South. The area is thinly populated and scarcely cultivated.
Heavy snowfall on the mountain starts by the end of September and goes up to April next year. During winter temperature remains between minus 20 to minus 40 degree centigrade. There are two major roads leading to Kargil, besides other fair-weather tracks for transportation in Kashmir. The main route starts from Srinagar goes up to Kargil and then ends up at Leh. The road is called NH1(National Highway 1).
This road remains closed for all sorts of traffic from mid-November to Mid-May. This is the main supply route (MSR) for the Indian troop deployed along LoC. The second important road is Manali Leh road, which starts from Himachal Pradesh along Pathankot to Upshi in Ladakh. This road passes by Jammu and Kashmir Valley. It is more difficult to travel as it runs on the peaks of mountains as high as 14000ft. The major advantage to Indians is that it is far away from LoC.
On Pakistan’s side the road link is comparatively weak. There are only two mountain tracks leading toward Kargil, one is Skardu-Kargil road that passes through Dewsai plains, the other is Burzil- Gultari – Piyal – Shaqma – Kargil. There are un-melted tracks that are used for lighter traffic, only in the summers. The road Burzil- shaqme is used as MSR for Pakistan Army as well as for civilian population.
Besides the most Famous Himalayan ranges that extends up to Kaobal Gali, there are other smaller ranges in the area neighboring Kargil. Firstly, there is Pir Punjabi Range. It starts from Akhnoor and goes upto Punch. The highest peak is 9000 ft. High. There is another small range called Shamsa Bari Range. The highest feature is Hab-i-Khatoo. The next important range is Ladakh range which goes up to Republic of China. There are other ranges which have more significance. One of them is Sultoro range, having Sultoro pass at 21000ft. Another is Majestic Karakoram Ranges.
KARGIL AND CONFLICT IN SOUTH ASIA
Since the end of British rule in 1947, SouthAsia has witnessed various kinds of conflict in the area. Here four categories are most prevalent than others. These are Inter-state conflict (including insurgency), communalconflict, sectarian conflict and terrorism. Two major countries in South Asia- Pakistan and India – have been involved in Interstate conflict over the dispute of Kashmir valley since their birth.
The claim of both states for the control over this strategically and economically important valley has aroused a perpetual conflict in SouthAsia. This permanent political and diplomatic conflict emerged itself in various episodes when it turned into a Military Conflict also.
After the military exchange between Pakistan And India over Kashmir, in 1948, a Cease Fire Line (CFL) was established through UN-brokered negotiation that led to India-Pakistan Agreement signed on 1949 in Karachi. After next some years both countries continued to have conflicting terms. The conflict heightened to the extent of Military clashes which later turned into war between two countries in 1965. And, moreover the claim over full Kashmir could not be decided.Both India and Pakistan again clashed in 1971.
This time the military clash was not directly because of the Kashmir issue, though indirectly India’s action in East Pakistan the reaction to the Pakistani Moral and political advances in the perpetual conflict that was continued over Kashmir.
Pakistani forces were defeated in the battlefield of East Pakistan in the war of 1971 and not only East Pakistan was converted into an independent and Sovereign State of Bangladesh, the West Pakistan was also endangered for the time being.Therefore, the Shimla Agreement in January 1972, which was inked by the Premiers of Pakistan and India – Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto- in the result of the war of 1971, not only decided the destiny of East Pakistan but also left its deep impacts on the conflict over the Kashmir.
The CFL was accepted by both countries with minor alterations as Line of Control, which continued to be respected and accepted by both of the countries during the conflict that persisted in the later years. It is, however, also a fact that the armies and people of both countries as well as of the valley of Kashmir never accepted this LoC practically.
Often the Actual control and Military decided the effect and status of the LoC.The LoC defines the highest areas in the world. Because of this it is not demarcated on many places where human approach is difficult to the extent of impossibility and surveys could not be conducted properly.
In order to fulfill the desires to having control over the undefined regions in the area of Kashmir and armies of Pakistan and India often remain in moving conditions. One of the series of violation, or in other words effort to extent the control over the LoC, on the behalf of India took place in 1992 when Indians military began a regular campaign of interdiction of supplies along the Neelum valley on the Muzzaffarabad Kel Road, with Pakistan subsequently having to build that alternative Kiran and Laswa bypass. These moves of both the countries were in fact to strengthen their position in the Siachin Glaciers that was the highest Glacier which could not be defined until then and now.
In 1994, the Indian Military interdiction was on Such a scale that the Neelum Road, which was a supply route for the Pakistani Forces, had to be closed. Pakistan, therefore had to construct the alternate route in order to restore its military and strategic links with important points of Kashmir and Siachin. In 1996 Pakistan was able to respond more effectively to continuing Indian Interdictions. At this Juncture Pakistan Targeted the Dras-kargilRoad, which negatively impacted Indian Supplies to Siachin.
In Early1999, conflict between India and Pakistan which was going on in Siachin and Kashmir on limited grounds, broadened when Pakistan Gaining an obvious strategic position over Indian Troops. Kashmiri militants, with support of troops of Pakistan’s NLI, crossed the line of control and occupied strategic mountain peaks in Mushkoh Valley, Dras, Kargil and Batalik sectors of Ladakh. The master plan was apparently to block the Dras-kargil high way,cutLeh off from Srinagar, which trapped the Indian forces on the Siachen glacier, raise the militants banner of revolt in the valley, question in the sanctity of the Line of control and bringing the Kashmir issue firmly back to the forefront of international agenda.
With this move in Kargil, the valley of Kashmir once again become the flashpoint of conflict between Pakistan and India. This move was not new and unbelievable in the consent of the continued conflict between Indian military and Pakistan military yet it was unexpected in the
wake of friendship moves and dangers of nuclear war. Nobody could expect a military clash before July 1998 which could play a deterrent for the war between two nuclear test and the visits of Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan has also diminished the dangers of military clash.
Even the July and August 1998 saw the most powerful spell, regarding of military exchanges along the LoC in a decade. According to news of The Times, Pakistan had lodged complaints of ceasefire violations and unprovoked firing by the Indian army with the UNMOGIP. Indian sources on the other hand claimed that the Pakistan’s move was not abruptly in response of Indian violations on the LoC.
India also claimed that the Pakistan’s army had planned the invasion of the Kargil- Dras region 14 years ago to cut off India’s road connection to Siachen. The brainchild behind this strategy was Brigadier Azizuddin, he was given charge ofthe Pakistan’s Brigade in Kashmir in 1985, the year Pakistan and India talked on a war on a no war pact proposed by Pakistan and a treaty of peace and friendship proposed by India.
The brigadier conceived the invasion plan after an intensive tour and study of the topography of Kashmir but was called back to Rawalpindi before he could implement it. The Pakistan’s Army plan over Kargil was also testified through another clue that when PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto became the Prime minister for the second time, the Pakistan army generals sought her green signals to go ahead with the plans.
The Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said that President Musharraf, when he was Director General Military Operations, had brought the Kargil plan to her when she was the Prime Minister but she said “Kargil was an Absolute Disaster”. During a continued Disastrous conflict between two rival countries like India and Pakistan, it is no matter to call any military plan a disaster when it is just a plan. Nor can any country be blamed for starting a war on the pretext of having such plans when a conflict is already in progress.
Indian plans related to the occupation on Siachin and Concerning the blockade of the routes of PakistanArmy towards major theatres of war can also be mentioned in this regard. The real danger is the implementation of the plan the conditions when the normality in the conflict was being brought with the efforts of negotiations, talks, reconciliation and conflict resolution. More dangerous is the context of the incident that such incident could erupt or destroy a nuclear conflict between two newly emerged nuclear powers.
Most of them were the eminent blow to the Indian Military presence in the upper Kargil area that made India go to extent of full-fledged war if the control of militant remained intact. India could not afford such a great loss of men and material and also a considerable area. India and Pakistan had declared themselves to be the nuclear powers after the successful nuclear test in May 1998. Nuclear tests were declared not only as a deterrent for the security of each country, they were also depicted as the guarantee of peace in this dander zone of the world as in the presence of the nuclear arsenal both responsible states would avoid to heighten the conflict to such an extent where actual war may start and use of nuclear weapons might be justified.
The Kargil war of 1999 was the first military confrontation in a nuclearized SouthAsia, and arguably the first real war between two Nuclear States. The Battle of Kargil showed that if any observer had believed that the development of Nuclear Capabilities would cool both sides “willingness to fight over Kashmir after 1998, they were sadly mistaken.”
In retrospective, Kargil episode, was the result of that confidence in the hardliners in both the countries which they got after their states became the nuclear power. In Pakistan the Hawks misjudged that India would not risk to broaden the field of war due to the fear of Nuclear War. It was also predicted that the danger of nuclear war will force the InternationalCommunity to prevent the Indians from widening the field of war.
Indian leaders like L.K Advani threatened to occupy Azad Kashmir by force.The Kargil episode of the conflict between India and Pakistan started, however, when militants from Pakistan side penetrated into Indian occupied territory and took control of the road which was only link for India to the Siachin’s arena of war. It was really embarrassing for Indian Army because on one hand they were being deprived of the area under their control.
Siachin was also lost and a heavy loss of men and material was also unavoidable in case of accepting the militant’s control in the area.From military perspective, Pakistan’s strategy may be divided into three main planks: Firstly, to occupy the dominating heights overlooking the Srinagar Kargil Leh road which was left vacant by the Indian Troops during the winters. Secondly, after establishing a firm base, the next strategy was to cut offthe line ofcommunication to Ladakh which would frustrate the operation of Indian forces at Siachin.
Thirdly, the strategywas the use ofthese bases to facilitate infiltration of militants and mercenaries into Kashmir valley. The militants claimed that they had liberated one hundred and twenty sq. Kilometers of Indian held Kashmir.
Pakistan, though appearing stronger in the field by occupying Strategically important military route, was in very much awkward position politically and diplomatically. It did not recognize the militant as its regular troops but could not also avoid supporting them because in reality they were supporting Pakistan and were also deployed with the full support of Pakistan’s forces. The biggest flaw militarily in the Kargil operation plan, Pakistan’s point of view, was that militants present in the territory under Indian control and they could not be given full air cover to maintain their position and save themselves from Indian bombing unless Pakistan launched a full-fledged war with India., which was not in the interest of Pakistan neither strategically nor diplomatically.
Pakistan, thus, could achieve less despite strong position in the actual military control. This diplomatic weakness of Pakistan became more evident with the support of world powers to Indian point of view. On the other side, Indians became justified to defend the land under their control. They, in a move which the hawks in Pakistan army had never thought of, took no time in opening the front with full force without caring of the danger of nuclear or full-scale war.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, Unlike the concealed support of Pakistan’s Government to militants, openly and clearly unleashed India’sArtillery andAir force to bombard the enemy posts in Kargil. By mobilizing its armed forces into a high state of alert and concentrating its Naval power in the Arabian Sea. India signaled that it was fully prepared for a full-scale war.
Pakistan’s Position was more awkward in the domain of communication between political leadership and army commanders of the operation. This lack of communication not only enabled Indian forces to bring Pakistan’s Troops into loss despite being in control of strategic route but also created problems for Pakistan’s leaders in compromises with international negotiators. It came to be known afterwards that the plan was a secret between General Staff Lt. General Muhammad Aziz, and General Mehmood and what to speak of the then Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif even the corps commanders and Naval and Air Chief were kept in total dark about it.
Nawaz Sharif learnt about the PakistanArmy’s involvement in Kargil from the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly put the entire blame of initiating the war on Pervez Musharaf. He also said, “I suppose I should have known about all this but frankly, I had not been briefed.” A righthand man of Nawaz Sharif, Chadhary Nisar Ali Khan, has also stated that the Prime Minister did not get to know about the Kargil- exercise at the right time the PakistanArmy very consciously only provided him the outline of the exercise in which the focus was totally different. It didn’t involve the armed forces or crossing the LoC.
In this awkward situation for Pakistan the Indian Political as well as military leadership was quite clear in their role and duty. The role of the Indian air force in the Kargil Conflict- called operation Safed Sagar was quite different from its conventional role in war. About 1200 air strikes were carried out which included reconnaissance sorties, search and destroy missions, close support tasks etc.
For Indians, it had a moral boosting effect on ground troops along with neutralizing the ‘Mujahidden’. It was perhaps for the first time that battlefield strikes were carried out at night. The whole operation named as “Operation Vijay”, aimed at recapturing Kargil From the Kashmiri Mujahideen.Towards the end of the Kargil fighting, the militants were forced to withdraw and according to Indian army sources, 464 militants and 725 Pakistan’s regular soldiers were killed.
The cost of Indian side was heavy 474 officers and men were killed with a further 1109 wounded. In this episode of conflict India proved to appear at the end not victorious military but politicallyand diplomatically. It bagged the moraland diplomatic liking ofmanygovernments.
SETTING THE TREND IN SECURITY SECTOR REFORMS
One of the first impacts post Kargil was a review of the National Security Structure and Responses. While such appraisals have been carried out earlier, for the first time, these were openly discussed, thereby denoting a new trend of transparency not just in the security sector but the overall functioning of the government in India. Kargil set the tone for 21st Century security sector reforms in the country. It was the very first time that the committee was set up and its findings were placed before the general public.
The Kargil Review Committee (KRC) report brought to light many grave deficiencies in India’s Security Management System, particularly in the areas of intelligence, border and defense management which were subsequently addressed by a Group of Ministers (GoM) to suggest institutional measures to overcome the drawbacks observed.The Impetus that the KRC and GoM provided to security sector reforms has set an important benchmark.
This led to recognition of NationalSecurity as a complex dynamic which needs to be addressed institutional. Many changes have been brought about over a period in security management. These organizational measures have been facilitated overall reorganizationof defense structures, streamlining multiple facets ofinternaland externalsecuritythough these maynot have manifested in the manner it was originally intended. Since, so much have been said and written about the reform’s security undertaken post the KRC, apart from Benchmarking it as an outcome of the Kargil Conflict, this is not being dwelt upon any further.
LINE OF CONTROL AS INTERNATIONAL BORDER
An outcome of the conflict between India and Pakistan was reaffirming the sanctity of the LoC as a de facto international border, thereby defining the geography of the conflict with Pakistan in the future. While the Lahore Declaration and the ShimlaAgreement had established the commitment of the governments on both the sides to do so, but surprisinglythe military in Pakistan seemed to believe that the LoC was alterable, albeit by an intrusion by the so- called,”Mujahideen”.
India had the option of questioning the status quo once this violation took place. This was an operationally desirable alternative providing space for maneuver by the Indian Forces to evict the intrusion. However, this option was voluntarilyabdicated. As Chief of theArmy Staff, Gen Ved Malik writes in Kargil: “from surprise to victory”, during the Kargil operations, the term of reference for not crossing the LoC was given in a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting and was one of the principal riders placed by then external affairs ministerMr. Jaswant Singh and reiterated by the National SecurityAdviser, Mr. Brajesh Mishra.This decision can be surmised to have been taken keeping in view the diplomatic and nuclear factors and consequent possibilityof major power intervention. The military accepted this decision without much discussion given the sound premise on which it was based.
For the international community, India’s decision not to cross the LoC also separated the victim, India, fromthe aggressor, Pakistan. While this was the imminent advantage that accrued, in the long term it seemed to convert the LoC into a de facto international border. It is not clear, however, if the intent of the Indian leadership in not permitting transgression ofthe LoC was to attain this objective or was for other reasons, as indicated above. Clearly, this unofficial status of the LoC as the internationalborder has dictated the course of Indo-Pakistan relations and possibly even resulted in a détente in the days ahead.
KASHMIR: MILITANCY TO PROXY WAR
In the domain of counter-insurgency, post Kargil, Pakistan increased the scale and level of proxy war in Kashmir. It is believed that on January 7, 2000, Gen Musharraf gave a directive to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to intensify terrorist activity in Jammu and Kashmir through the activities of the Lashkare-Taiyyaba and the Harkat-ul- Mujahideen. Thus, intensity of terrorist operations increased across the board and engulfed the Jammu region to cover Poonch, Rajauri and Doda, extending to Udhampur.
Another substantive shift was that of suicide attacks, with the first happening in July 1999 on a Border Security Force camp in Bandipore. There were other indications of increase of intensity of terrorist operations by Pakistan such as increase in incidents ofinfiltration in Kashmir from 1,611 in 2000 to 1,812, in 2001 and 1,604 in 2002 which started tapering to 770 in
However, the Indian reaction stymied the Pakistani intent by an effective counter- proxy war strategy with a comprehensive policy of sustained ant militancy operations, intelligence build- up, economic development and rehabilitation of the Kashmiri pandits. The results were evident in November-December 2008 with the people opting for elections despite vituperative propaganda by the separatists.
KARGIL, PARAKRAM AND COLD START DOCTRINE
The doctrinal aversion in the Indian military has been a bane of the past. In an interview with Praveen Swami, the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Padmanabhan during Operation Parakram lamented that lack ofan appropriate militarydoctrine and definition ofwar objectives undermined the overall impact of the long stand-off with Pakistan.
The use of defensive formations for a limited offensive role was also seen for the first time in Kargil, a concept which has been applied in Cold Start.Kargil demonstrated to the Indian military leadership that, Pakistan will continue to manipulate violence without leading to an escalatory conventional and/nuclear war.
Doctrinally too, the stability-instabilityparadox denoted that there was ample scope for Pakistan to wage a multi-dimensional proxy war. Thus, drawing a holistic doctrine which caters for all levels of war to counter Pakistan’s, “aberrant and errant behavior” was important. For a doctrine shy army, Kargil once again proved to be a turning point. The evolution of the Indian Army Doctrine 2004, Doctrine for Sub-Conventional Operations in 2006 and subsequently the Cold Start Doctrine are all trends in this direction.
Kargil war had deep impact on India. From the end of war until 2000, Indian stock market rose by 30%. The next Indian National Budget included major increase in military spending. There was a surge in Patriotism, with many celebrities expressing their support for the Kargil cause. Indians were angered by media reports of the death of pilot AjayAhuja. The war had produced higher than expected facilities for the Indian Military. Soon after theconflict, India also decided to complete the project, previously stalled by Pakistan, to fence the entire LoC.
As has been attempted to bring out in this paper, it also saw commencement of an extended dialogue on conflict scenarios in the Indo-Pakistan context which continues to this day. If Kargil established the futility of cross-LoC operations, hopefully other adventures such as Mumbai 26/11 may convince the Pakistani military the futility of such of “undeniable” acts of violence.
Then President Musharraf learnt his lessons, starting with Kargil and Parakram, combined with the salutary effect of control of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian Army, Trans-LoC engagements and extended deployment possibly led to convincing him to hold a composite dialogue with the Indian government, leading to the proposed détente. Today, it appears that we would have to reinvent the wheel to start the next round, post Mumbai 26/11.