In December 2001, Pakistani terrorists struck at the heart of Indian nationhood and democracy. The daring attack on our parliament showed just how far Pakistan was prepared to go to further its expansionist and evil aims. But it did not anticipate the swift reaction of the Indian Armed Forces under Operation Parakram(Might) - the largest deployment of Indian forces since the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The operation successfully thwarted Pakistans proxy war and put their armed forces on the defensive.
At 11.40 am on December 13, five Pakistani terrorists dressed as security guards attempted to storm the sanctum sanctorum of the world's largest democracy - Indian Parliament House in New Delhi. After breaching the massive security cordon around it, the terrorists started firing from AK-47 rifles and hurling grenades. The Indian security officers immediately confronted the intruders. In the ensuing gun-battle, all five terrorists, seven Delhi policemen and a Parliament employee were killed. More on the attack here.
CRPF jawans guard the Parliament following the attack.
This dastardly attack, the second after the bloody bombing of the Jammu & Kashmir(J&K) state legislature in October, greatly angered the Indian people. In a brief but unambiguous message to the nation within hours of the terrorist attack, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said, "The attack was not on Parliament, but on the entire nation. We have been fighting terrorism for the last two decades and the do-or-die battle is in the final stages. We accept the challenge and we will blunt every attack." As always in times of crises, Mr Vajpayee declared, "India is united and will fight terrorism unitedly." The PM also hinted at adopting a pro-active strategy aimed at nullifying the nurseries of terrorism.
On Dec 14, within 24 hours of the attack, the Delhi police made "silent breakthroughs" and had gathered enough “technical evidence” implicating the Pakistan based terrorist outfits of Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM). Foreign Secretary Chokila Iyer issued a verbal "demarche" to Pakistan High Commissioner Ashraf Jahangir Qazi asking Pakistan to : (1) Stop the activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, (2) Take their leadership into custody, and (3) Freeze their financial assets and stop their access to financial assets.
Indian army tanks in position on the border.
The next day, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee lashed out at Pakistan for encouraging and abetting cross-border terrorism and accused it of masterminding the Parliament attack. Vajpayee warned of dire consequences if "it (Pakistan) does not immediately stop sending terrorists to India for destabilising the country’s democracy" and hinted at possible military action in Pakistan occupied Kashmir(PoK).
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf rejected demands for action against the militant groups claiming the proof was inadequate. He also warned retaliation against any Indian misadventurism. “I would like to warn that any adventurism against Pakistan on this issue will be met with force. So I would like to warn against any precipitate action by the Indian government against Pakistan. This would lead to serious repercussions." The President said he had already condemned the attack and had written to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee expressing grief and sorrow over the attack.
An Indian army camp.
Pakistan's defence spokesman, Maj Gen Rashid Qureshi said, "We want to make it clear to India that irresponsible statements or ultimatums by the Indian leadership hinting at any action on the Pakistani borders or LoC will not be acceptable to us. India must understand that it will suffer huge losses if it resorts to any such action."
On Dec 17, following President Musharraf’s meeting with his senior corps commanders, the Pakistan Army started massing troops and heavy armour along the Line of Control(LoC) and the International Boundary(IB) in Jammu and Kashmir. The regulars from the 10 and 30 Corps of the Pakistan army deployed in the area were reinforced with additional troops, strengthening the offensive formation and consequently the build-up became a sizeable one.
Pakistani tanks being moved to the border.
Troops from 12, 31, 11 and 1 Corps which are specialised in combat operations were rushed in. The Special Service Group(SSG) of the Pakistani army, specialising in sabotage operations, were inducted in sensitive areas along the LoC in the Jammu-Poonch sector, including at the most sensitive Akhnoor-Pallanwala-Chammb sub-sector. More here.
This troop movement was backed by amassing of heavy arms, including Armoured Personnel Carriers(APC), tanks and other hardware, which signalled that their troops were being readied for combat operations. The Pakistan Government also cancelled the leave of army personnel, from the lowest to the highest ranks. It also ordered the troops, brought close to the border for winter war exercises, to stay put.
Pakistani soldiers on full alert in forward locations.
The Pakistani troop and armour buildup caused the Indian army to go on high alert. "What is particularly worrying is the fact that they have brought in heavy armour along both the LoC and the IB. They are trying to fortify their positions, and we are watching their moves closely and have also put our troops on heightened alert. What else do you do in such a situation?" a top Indian military official said.
On Dec 17, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee reviewed the security situation on the border and was briefed by the three service chiefs of the Indian military preparedness in the event of a flare-up. Mr Vajpayee conducted the strategic review at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS). Apart from the Prime Minister, Mr Advani and Mr Jaswant Singh, the CCS was attended by Defence Minister George Fernandes, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, Army Chief General S. Padmanabhan, Air Chief A.Y. Tipnis and Naval Chief Admiral Sushil Kumar. The CCS also reviewed the security measures taken by the government since the attack.
The three defence chiefs - A.Y. Tipnis, S. Padmanabhan and Sushil Kumar.
On Dec 18, Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked heavy mortar shelling and heavy-calibre fire from across the Nowshera sector in Rajouri district. Soon after mortar shells hit various spots in the Jhangar border area causing the residents of these areas to flee for their lives. The Indian troops retaliated effectively and destroyed more than six Pakistani bunkers.
On Dec 19, India asked Pakistan to take action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad responsible for the attacks and hand over terrorists like Ghazi Baba, Maulana Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim if Islamabad was serious about its credentials of being a responsible member of the international campaign against terrorism. Indian Home Minister Shri L.K. Advani charged the Pakistan-based terrorist outfits with crossing the "Lakshman rekha" by attempting to wipe out the entire political leadership of India. "There could be nothing bigger than this," he said, adding that the sacrifices of the security force personnel would not be allowed to go waste and that the people of India were determined to stamp out terrorism.
Indian Home Minister Shri L.K. Advani vows to stamp out terrorism.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee declared that all efforts would be made to "avert a war" but India would be keeping its options open in the fight against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. In an apparent disapproval of the USA and other countries counselling restraint on India's part, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said without naming any country that "those counselling us restraint should also give the same advice to our neighbour". The Prime Minister said there could be no two yardsticks in the campaign against terrorism and made it clear that New Delhi would fight the evil on its own strength. Members of parliament observed silence for a minute as a mark of respect to the security personnel who lost their lives in the attack.
Under Operation Parakram, additional troops from various parts of the country started reaching Jammu and other places, including border villages in Punjab, to meet any challenge from Pakistan. A large number of troops belonging to 11 Corps of the Army stationed in Jallandhar were reportedly moved to the border areas. Three divisions of the corps were stationed at Meerut, Amritsar and Ferozepore. Besides troops, heavy weapons and material required to meet any threat from across the border and for launching massive operations within the state were sent by scores of trains.
An Indian tank and armoured troop carrier being transported to the border.
Indian Army Chief General S. Padmanabhan assured that India had taken "appropriate" steps to counter any threat to its security. "There is build-up on the other side with Pakistan moving in troops. Certain forces which should have gone back have not gone back and there is some addition to that also," The Army chief avoided a direct answer to the question on possible plans to strike terrorist hide-outs across the Line of Control in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) by saying that it would be a political decision. " If I have to do it, I won't tell you ... In any case, it is a political decision." About India moving in troops to its border in the light of the Pakistani actions, he said, "I have acted in a manner that was appropriate for me."
General Padmanabhan said: "We have perfectly laid out procedures. We have a very clear idea of what we are doing and what we will do. There is no possibility of rapid changes(in our plans). We are not a flappy Army. We are a confident Army. We know our strengths and objectives and we know what to do." General Padmanabhan said India was closely monitoring the situation across the border. "We watch every activity across the border and round off our knowledge base accordingly."
General S. Padmanabhan briefs the media.
On Dec 21, following a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS) chaired by Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, India recalled its High Commissioner to Islamabad. It also decided to terminate the Delhi-Lahore bus service and the Samjhauta Express train running between the two countries for the past 25 years with effect from January 1, 2002. The hardening of the Indian stand was because the government had not seen any attempts on the part of Pakistan to take action against the terrorist outfits of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.
With the two sides locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball position, Pakistani troops started laying mines along the LoC to prevent the Indian forces from marching into their territory. The Indian forces too started to mine the border belt to check infiltration from across the LoC. Following the deployment of additional troops and mining of the border belt from Uri to Kupwara and from Kupwara to Rajouri the rate of terrorist infiltration from Pakistan markedly declined.
Indian soldiers prepare landmines for use.
On Dec 25, Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing in the Samba, Poonch and Rajouri sectors. In retaliation the Indian troops unleashed 82 MM mortar shells and heavy machine gun(HMG) fire. More than 12 Pakistani posts and 20 bunkers were blown to smithereens. At least 30 Pakistani soldiers were killed and more than 60 Pakistani troops wounded in the retaliatory action.
Taken back by the massive Indian counterattack, Pakistani troops moved high-calibre weapons across Poonch and Rajouri. It also deployed more than 15 medium range ballistic missile batteries along the LoC in almost all sectors from Akhnoor to Poonch while rushing in more troops from 1 Corps to reinforce the ranks of 10 and 30 Corps.
Pakistani medium range Ghauri missile.
On Dec 26, following the US declaration of LeT and JeM as terrorist organisations, the Pakistan government came under intense international pressure to act against these groups. Pakistan police put the chief of JeM, Maulana Masood Azhar under house detention and arrested 30 of his followers. It also froze the assets of Lashkar-e-Taiba. This was the first time Pakistan appeared to have taken a semblance of action against these terrorist groups after they were directly implicated in the parliament attack.
On Dec 27, India expressed its displeasure at the inadequate steps taken by Pakistan to rein in its terrorist groups. India cut its mission strength in Pakistan by half and banned overflights by Pakistani planes. In addition, the Indian Army started laying mines all along the International border and LoC and moved its troops closer to the border.
Indian High Commissioner Vijay Nambiar and diplomatic staff return from Islamabad.
Taken back by the Indian posturing, Pakistan deployed its Green Arrow missiles and moved another division of its troops on the border. It also started unprovoked shelling and firing on Indian posts along the border.
On Dec 28, India asked Pakistan to hand over 30 hardcore terrorists responsible for various terrorist acts on Indian soil. Asserting that Pakistani terrorists had crossed the "Laxman rekha" by attacking the Parliament House, Home Minister L.K. Advani said the war against terrorism waged by India would be decisive irrespective of whether the international community joined it or not. The next day, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh handed over the list of 30 terrorists to the US Ambassador Robert Blackwill.
The rising temperature in India-Pakistan relations was evident in the mood of spectators at the beating retreat ceremony at Wagha border post in Amritsar. The ceremony witnessed by thousands of people from all over India and Pakistan experienced a charged atmosphere with jingoistic slogans reverberating along with the thumping of the jawans feet. More here.
An Indian guard and his Pakistani counterpart put up an impressive display at Wagha.
On Dec 30, US President George Bush telephoned Pakistan President Musharraf asking him to take “additional strong and decisive measures” against “extremists” blamed for violence against India. Describing Islamabad's steps against terrorist outfits as "a joke", Home Minister L.K. Advani sought firm assurances from Pakistan that it would act against them. Defence Minister George Fernandes, meanwhile, told his troops to be ready for war with Pakistan.
Taking India's threat seriously, President Musharraf approves war strategy after meeting with top brass at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Anti-aircraft guns are deployed on all key installations. Nuclear capable F-16 fighter aircraft take up positions at airbases in Nawabshah, Badin, Sukkhar and Talhar. The leave of doctors and paramedical staff was suspended and the medical authorities were asked to store emergency medicines.
Pakistani anti-aircraft guns are deployed and camouflaged.
Feeling the heat, Pakistan arrested LeT chief Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed and JeM founder chief Masood Azhar. The offices of these terrorist groups were sealed and hundreds of their supporters were detained.
On Dec 31, the Joint Secretary in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Arun Kumar Singh, called in Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Jalil Abbas Jeelani and handed over a list of 20 wanted terrorists and criminals who were based in Pakistan. The government also made it amply clear to Pakistan that though the arrests of the terrorists were “a step in the correct direction”, New Delhi would settle for nothing less than the handing over of the arrested ultras to India.
Lashkar-e-Taiba's offices are sealed and its supporters detained.
On Jan 1, 2002, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf refused to hand over any of the 20 terrorists demanded by India. He said Islamabad would act against them only if credible evidence was provided by New Delhi and prosecute them under Pakistani laws. Pakistan also demanded more proof about the involvement of its terrorist groups in the attack on Parliament.
The Pakistan Army, meanwhile, continued its troops build-up along the border with India. It withdrew 50,000 of nearly 60,000 soldiers it had been deployed along the Afghan frontier and started redeploying them along the LoC with India.
Indian missiles deployed in the border regions.
The next day, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee ridiculed Pakistan's demand for more proof. "It is meaningless to argue about proof. The documents and the bullets recovered from the bodies of the five terrorists who had attacked Parliament prove beyond doubt that they were Pakistani nationals and there is no need at all to give any further proof," Vajpayee said. "What more proof you need other than the five bodies that were lying outside Parliament House and the bullet marks on the building," he added.
Lashing out at Pakistan for its double standards on tackling terrorism, Vajpayee said Islamabad cannot have two contrasting standards for its western and eastern borders. "You fought terrorism in Afghanistan but aided it in Kashmir. This is not done. There are no two definitions of terrorism. Terrorism cannot be categorised. One needs to take a holistic view of the problem of terrorism," he said.
Indian missiles deployed in the Kutch region.
On Jan 3, Defence Minister George Fernandes said India would wait to see whether various diplomatic initiatives succeed in getting Pakistan to take effective action against the the terrorist groups. "If they should fail, then we are left with only the option that the United States exercised to deal with terrorism," he said. "If we are pushed," Fernandes warned, "we'll have to take on the war against terrorism all by ourselves."
The Defence Minister said India would not be deterred from acting militarily by Pakistan's possession of nuclear arsenal. "I can't believe they would ever use it for the simple reason that they would be inviting a second strike. That could be devastating given Pakistan's size." India, he said, had contigency plans for various military actions against Pakistan. If diplomacy fails, "there will be options, but once you speak about them then they don't remain options."
Indian armour on the move in the border areas.
On Jan 4, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC) summit took place in Kathmandu, Nepal. On his arrival, Pakistan President Musharraf expressed willingness for a dialogue with Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. However India was in no mood for any talks. "The atmosphere is not conducive for such a dialogue now," external affairs ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao said. "Pakistan is well aware of India's position in this regard and the need for the creation of a climate conducive for this. We are yet to see satisfactory responses from Pakistan. That is where we stand at the moment."
At the inaugural session of the SAARC summit, President Musharraf sprung a surprise by shaking hands with Prime Minister Vajpayee, offering a "genuine hand of friendship". However, any expectations over breaking of ice in Indo-Pak relations was put to rest as Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee talked tough, accusing Pakistan of betrayal viz Kargil, IC-814 hijack, attacks on J&K Assembly and Parliament. Prime Minister Vajpayee urged President Musharraf not to permit any activity in Pakistan or any territory in its control which enabled terrorists to perpetuate mindless violence in India.
Pakistan President Musharraf shakes Vajpayee's hand.
On Jan 5, an accidental land mine explosion lead to the death of 18 Indian soldiers and 4 civilians. The soldiers had been unloading land mines from a truck near the Indo-Pak border at the village of Mahwa, about 20 kilometers northwest of Amritsar. The truck rolled back onto the mines causing them to detonate. More here.
On Jan 8, the Pakistan Airforce was reinforced by tens of brand new F-7MG fighter aircraft secretly shipped to it by long time ally China. Pakistan had ordered two squadrons, about 40 aircraft, to beef up its ageing fleet. Besides the fighters, a variety of airforce-related weapons and equipment were also delivered. More here.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres meets PM Vajpayee and Home Minister Advani.
On a visit to the country, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres offered India all possible support in its battle against terrorism. Peres, who held talks with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, following talks earlier with Defence Minister George Fernandes and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, said Israel is ready "in every way we can to help and support India." More here.
On a visit to the United States on Jan 10, Home Minister Shri L.K. Advani held talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other top US officials and put forward a four-point demand for Pakistan to comply with to show its sincerity in combating terrorism. The Home Minister said India would not take "another betrayal" this time by Pakistan which had "breached the limits of our endurance". More here.
Home Minister Shri L.K. Advani and US Secretary of State Colin Powell following their meeting.
On Jan 11, Indian Army Chief S. Padmanabhan warned Pakistan against any nuclear strike, vowing maximum retaliation against any such move by Islamabad. "The perpetrator of that particular outrage shall be punished, shall be punished so severely that the continuation of any form of fray will be doubtful. . .We are ready for a second strike. Take it from me that we have enough." More here.
The same day, an Army convoy of 250 ammunition trucks were moving from Bhatinda in Punjab to the Rajasthan border, near Bikaner, when there was a blast in one of the trucks parked near Udasar Army area. A major fire broke out in the convoy, setting off explosions and gutting 60 to 70 tank ammunition-laden trucks. Ammunition worth crores were destroyed. More here.
Ammunition trucks on fire.
On Jan 12, in a much awaited nationally telecast address, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf announced a series of decisions to crack down on Islamic extremism. He banned the Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT), responsible for the terrorist attack on Parliament but ruled out handing over their leaders to India. Musharraf said his country would continue to provide moral and political support to the "Kashmir movement" but will not allow "terrorism" in this regard. He also warned India that any attempt to cross the border would be met with "full force".
Musharrafs speech recieved a guarded response from India. External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh welcomed Pakistan’s declared commitment not to support or permit any more the use of its territory for terrorism anywhere in the world, including in Jammu and Kashmir. Home Minister L.K. Advani was not convinced. "There is so much skepticism among the people of India on the promises made by Pakistani leaders that only action, which makes the real difference, is acceptable," he said. More here.
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh welcomes Musharrafs speech.
In the following days, Pakistani police sealed all the offices of the five religious and sectarian groups banned by President Musharraf. They included Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan(SSP), Tehrik-e-Jaffria Pakistan(TJP) and Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammedi(TNSM). Hundreds of their terrorist supporters were arested. "Police have arrested 1,141 militants and sealed 390 offices of the banned parties across the country," Pakistan Interior Secretary Tasneem Noorani told reporters.
The Pakistan army, meanwhile, started laying thousands of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines in the border areas across the international border in the Samba, Akhnoor, Hiranagar and Ranbir Singh Pora sectors. Pakistan also increased ballistic missile production, constructed missile launch sites and moved a number of missiles towards the border with India. More here.
Offices of Sipah-e-Sahaba, JeM and TJP are sealed.
On Jan 20, on a visit to the US, Defence Minister George Fernandes ruled out any de-escalation on the border until Pakistan delivered on the two demands that New Delhi had made in the aftermath of December 13 Parliament attack, i.e. cross-border terrorism be stopped and 20 terrorists and criminals figuring in India’s list be surrendered. More here.
The same day, there was confusion and controversy over the transfer of Lt. Gen. Kapil Vij, commander of 2 Corps. One of the three strike corps of the Indian Army, 2 Corps is trained, equipped and tasked to launch offensive operations inside enemy territory. Gen. Vij was replaced after the US government presented evidence of Vij's troops amassing in strike areas near the Pakistani border. The 2 Corps includes the 111 missile regiment which is equiped with the nuclear capable Prithvi missiles. More here.
Prithvi ballistic missile.
On Oct 16, 2002, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee summoned a meeting of the National Security Advisory Board(NSAB), composed of India's top security and defense experts, to decide whether to withdraw hundreds of thousands of soldiers from its border with Pakistan. The meeting of the NSAB, the first in three years, came after Vajpayee's return from Europe, where EU leaders again pressed India for a pullback of troops from the border and dialogue with Pakistan. Indian Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said the security situation needed to be reviewed in light of the recent elections in Kashmir as well as Pakistan. More here.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee(R) talks with his deputy Lal Krishna Advani at the start of a National Security Advisory Board meeting in New Delhi.
The meeting of the Cabinet's Security Committee(CSS), which was held after the NSAB meeting, decided to withdraw some troops from the International Border(IB) with Pakistan, but not along the volatile cease-fire line(LOC). "Troops will redeploy from positions on the international border with Pakistan, without impairing their capacity to respond decisively to any emergency," Defence Minister George Fernandes said. The redeployment included the entire international border area, which includes five Indian states.
On Oct 23, 2002, India started pulling back its troops from the border with Pakistan. "The process has started," Defence Minister George Fernandes said of New Delhi's decision to recall tens of thousands of soldiers from the border in an effort to ease tensions with its neighbor. Fernandes did not disclose the number of soldiers being withdrawn, but said their relocation would be completed in two months. "I would like to see all our soldiers returning home to celebrate the festival of Diwali, but that is not going to be possible."