By Lt Col Rashid Zia Cheema (r), 2nd SSC
This is a very brief account of what happened in Kargil in 1999. It is meant for those readers who are totally unaware about the broad details of this operation. Ones interested in details about tactical and strategical aspects and lessons learnt etc., are requested to do their own research on the Internet.
The Kargil Conflict was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Occupied Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). The conflict is also referred to as “Operation Koh-e-Paima”.
The cause of the conflict was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC . Pakistani troops did not cross the International Borders at any stage of the conflict. Pakistan’s objective was to drive Indians out of Siachin and highlight Kashmir Issue in the eyes of the world.
In the spring of 1999, on the orders of Pakistan Army Chief, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani soldiers climbed up the snow-bound passes and occupied some high positions, including Tiger Hill and Point 5353, in the vacant area and infiltrated almost 10 km into the Indian territory ( still short of International Border). These positions overlooked Indian National Highway (NH 1 D). Pakistan was in a strong position to cut off supplies and winter dumping and thus force Indians to withdraw from the Siachin Glacier.
The Indians were caught off guard. They tried to evict the positions but failed miserably. They used a large number of Artillery guns and also used their air force against Pakistani positions. Two Indian aircraft were also shot down by Stinger Missiles. Indian aircraft violated Pakistani air space but they never admitted it openly. One of their pilots, Flight Lieutenant Nachiketa, who ejected after his aircraft was shot down, was captured from the Pakistani territory. Indians ultimately complained to the International community and finally on pressure by the USA, Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, ordered the withdrawal of troops. Most of the casualties of “Operation Koh-e-Paima” were inflicted during the withdrawal. In General Musharraf’s words “A military victory was converted into a political defeat.”
An Indian officer told in an interview (Video at the end of this page) that normally the ratio between the attacking force and the defending force is 3:1 but due to the high altitude of the battleground Indian Army Chief increased it to 15:1 but yet they were unable to capture the positions occupied by Pakistani troops. Point 5353 is the highest point in Drass-Kargil area. Its recapture was the most important objective for Indian forces during the Kargil Conflict. But they could never come close to it.
Point 5353 is still occupied by Pakistan, even 14 years after the battle. Pakistan has since fortified it with reinforced bunkers. After the end of the war, Indians tried many times to capture Point 5353 but all their efforts failed. India has now given up the post as ‘untenable’. Also read the article Near Tiger Hill, Point 5353 Still Pak-Occupied published in ‘The Indian Express’ on 13 July 2009.
Also read the following article published in ‘India Today’ on February 2, 2013:-
Please see a video which gives the real facts of Kargil Operation by Pakistani, British and Indian TVs. This video shows General Pervez Musharraf and Jaswant Singh, former Indian Foreign Minister, in the talk show “The Outsider With Tim Sebastian” hosted by the legendary BBC journalist Tim Sebastian. This video also includes a talk show of ARY News with Chaudhry Shujaat and General Musharraf. India TV gives glimpses of the War and tells about the destruction of Ammunition Depot by Pakistani fire which caused Rs. 100 Crore loss to India. Then lastly a brief interview conducted by a female host of ND TV of India with Musharraf where she asks him,”Do you have any regrets about Kargil now that you are such a welcome visitor in India?”
I am no fan of General Musharraf but I like the way he smilingly gave her a very apt reply,”Do you expect me to ever say that ‘Yes, I regret it’ ? If somebody was to ask Indian Prime Minister ‘Do you regret having divided Pakistan and made Bangla Desh?’, would he say ‘yes, we are very sorry’? How would you expect that I would regret?”
Army Blog (Retired Officers)
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