Psy ops article
The Indians are Also Debating Their Kargil Failure
By Vinod Vedi
NEW DELHI, July 30: That an internal review by the Indian Army of the Kargil war was deliberately leaked to the Press with malice aforethought just before the anniversary was bad enough but its contents reveal a horrendous state of affairs within the military establishment raising grave doubts about off-repeated assurances that the nation is in safe hands.
The polemics that the leaked report has generated shows up the then apex military advisory body—the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee – in extremely poor light and raises apprehensions about whether the post-Kargil “improvements” like the institution of the post of Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and the insistence, by the Army in particular, on the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff will improve national security.
That there was a difference of opinion between the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of the Indian Air Force over the employment of the IAF to strike at the entrenched positions of the intruders in the Kargil heights is to be welcomed in the expectation that in this scenario of “let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend” Indian national security would have benefited.
It did not. And the outcome was finally decided on the basis of a self-confessed threat by the Chief of Army Staff that he would veto the Air Chief’s contentions within the conclave of the Cabinet Committee on Security which was to give sanction for air strikes. The intent and purpose of the leak was to blame the IAF for the delay in resorting to air strikes and, therefore, causing the heavy casualties that the Indian Army suffered during the duration of the war.
The new Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee was constrained to clear the air immediately on taking over that the high casualties were not because of the delay in deploying the IAF in Kargil. The former Cabinet Minister Jaswant Singh was quick to heave a public sigh of relief that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had been let off the hook for a botched campaign it was fond of describing as a “Great Victory”.
The irony of Pranab Mukherjee’s clarification escaped Jaswant Singh: That even though it could be said that the delay in deployment of the IAF did not result in heavy casualties on the ground the issue of why there were such losses is still very much alive.
Reading between the lines of the leaked report the following points emerge:
- Nobody in the entire military establishment had the faintest clue of who was lying in wait in the snowy heights.
- Nobody knew what aircraft to use or what procedures to follow because they did not know the nature of the enemy.
- Even after a guesstimate was made (after an aerial reconnaissance) that the intruders were Mujahideen guerrilla fighters nobody in the entire military establishment could conjure up the image of a fully equipped “mujahid” as he was in the Afghan battlefield or as he was in his Taliban reincarnation and come to the conclusion that he could very well be armed with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles and, given that the world knew that the Pakistan Army Inter-Services Intelligence handled and equipped the “Mujahideen”, that it could have laid out an air defence umbrella over its terrible progeny.
- The bald-faced admission contained in the leaked report that maps and charts of the terrain were not accurate raises the issue as to why they were in the possession of the Indian armed forces 52 years after the attainment of sovereignty from British rule and 15 years after Siachen? We are still quibbling whether point 5353 on the grid reference belongs to India or not.
- Another bald-faced admission that Pakistan was able to eavesdrop on the Indian communications network and knew of attack plans in advance underscores the dishonesty of the serving Brigadier’s contention that the Press was responsible for supplying Pakistan Indian military secrets.
Given that self-serving reviews are being prepared and leaked by the armed forces the Government of India needs to find out for itself the answers to the following questions:
1. Why, after Siachen, was Kargil left unguarded?
2. Why is it that a forward post does not produce proper charts and drawings of the area under its responsibility and should it not be the responsibility of Military Intelligence (which has a component in every company level unit if not in the platoon and section) to update these in the light of the long and arduous deployment after the Siachen experience?
3. Why is it that the Indian armed forces did not have secure communications facilities decades after newsmen were shown troposcatter and meteor-burst communications systems by the Defence Research and Development Organization? These are supposed to be useful in mountainous terrain.
4. Why, after it was decided that the intruders were Mujahideen did the IAF not equip its strike aircraft and helicopters with chaff dispensers and decoys to divert surface-to-air missiles which every group carries (at least one US supplied Stinger missile launcher was recovered in Kargil). This would have prevented the shooting down of the first aircraft that was sent to deal with the intruders and also the helicopter gun ship with troops aboard would have had a chance of escaping. To this extent, at least, the casualties were totally unnecessary.
So far as the total number of casualties in the Kargil war is concerned a great deal of destruction was caused by the fact that while Indian troops were rushing up the mountainside to uproot the entrenched Pakistani soldiers of the regular army, Northern Light Infantry, they were confronted, very literally, head-on with gunfire resulting in head injuries.
While it is acknowledged that there is no military headgear extant that will enable the soldier to survive a direct hit to the head it was clear from the moment the Cabinet Committee on Security ordered the armed forces to clear the Kargil heights of the intruders that the casualties would be very high because an attacking force under such circumstances is extremely vulnerable to fatal wounds.
If anything, it underscores in stark detail the bravery of those young men and their commanding officers (many a Lt-Col was killed while leading his battalion into battle) who were forced to fight under such adverse conditions when a proper military appreciation of the enemy mind set at Army Headquarters should have made it clear what was the true intent and purpose of the Pakistan Army to subject Dras and Kargil to heavy artillery bombardment the previous summer. “Intelligence failure”, therefore, is nothing but a red herring to divert attention away from this classic ineptitude.
The massive purchase of bullet-proof jackets from foreign sources and long-range anti-material rifles with sniper scopes accentuated this ineptitude because no one in the military hierarchy anticipated a war in the high Himalayas even though 10 divisions of the Indian Army are deployed there.
The Kargil war made it plain that the military thought that went into the design and development of the Indian National Small Arms Systems (INSAS) 5.56 mm caliber weapons with a range of 300 meters did not envisage the requirement for a longer range anti-material rifle as part of the infantry requirement in mountain warfare and this had to be rectified post-haste even as the battles were raging in the Kargil sector.
Further, in a pitiable show of trust the NDA Government gave the Pakistan Army time to withdraw its troops instead of insisting, as one journalist suggested at the time, that the International Society of the Red Cross take command of Pakistani troops and ensure their orderly repatriation. Instead, the Pakistani troops utilized the grace period to lay anti-personnel mines which added to the death list of Indian soldiers.
The Subramanyam Committee’s recommendations on Kargil have been expunged from public scrutiny and it may be in the national interest that they be kept a secret but it does not serve national interest if in-house reviews are leaked to the Press to serve some personal interests. The Government must by its own transparent study of what had happened before, during and after the intrusions were discovered, clarify why Indian defences were so ill-prepared.
That on the other side of the border divide, Kargil continues to be remembered for altogether different reasons is no comfort for India. The continued refusal of the regime in Islamabad to go for an inquiry into Kargil comes as no surprise, though. You cannot expect a General, who, according to a commentator, had planned the war keeping his own country and the prime minister in the dark, to face a judicial scrutiny. But why he is not claiming the bodies of over 100 Pakistani soldiers still on the Indian soil is a mystery.
These bodies are buried in and around the heights of Tiger Hill, Tololing and other sectors. Even by the Indian army accounts, these intruders had fought bravely and that should be reason enough for Pakistan to recognize their valor.
Is this neglect due to the fact that they were from Skardu, Gilgit and other mountain districts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir? That it could be and that there is a class divide in the Pakistan army is given credence to by the fact that, the Pakistani army took back the bodies of just five soldiers from Kargil heights. And all of them hailed from the plains. Look at the proof.
The bodies disclaimed are of 12 Northern Light Infantry's (NLI) Havildar Syed Hussain Shah of village Shigar, Skardu; his unit’s Lance Naik Ismail Shah of Astone village, Diormon district; Lance Naik Mir Baaz Khan of 4 NLI from Dahima village, Gilgit; Sipahi Mehboob Ali of 3 NLI from Gopas village, Gilgit, and Sipahi Fida Hussain of 6 NLI from Bangobashi village of Skardu were disclaimed and the Indian Army took it upon itself to bring most of the bodies down from the heights and give them the respect due to fallen heroes.
Even if the Pakistan Army does not want these ‘forgotten’ heroes, who had fought for a futile cause, India should welcome their families and relatives to visit the graves and to pay their last respects. Because, whether any body likes are not, any soldier who dies on the battle field is a gallant man. And he deserves respect!
- Syndicate Features
Nawaz Revealed National Secrets About Kargil, Says Shujaat Hussain
Special SAT Report
ISLAMABAD, August 6: Pakistan Prime Minister Choudhry Shujaat Hussain has accused exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharif of revealing national secrets about Kargil in his India Today interview some time back. Shujaat gave the magazine his own interview to counter Nawaz.
But the interim Pakistani PM stopped short of saying what exactly had been revealed by Nawaz Sharif because he denied everything Nawaz had stated in his interview. Shujaat's interview to India Today was published in its latest issue.
Shujaat also confirmed an earlier report published in the South Asia Tribune by Rauf Klasra in which Shujaat had disclosed the details of a meeting in which Nawaz Sharif got angry with General Musharraf for not telling him that his Kargil Plan could lead to an India Pakistan war.
Klasra had reported the following: "Shujaat said a Brigadier was briefing participants of the meeting including Sartaj Aziz, Shujaat, Nawaz and General Musharraf who was then the COAS.
"Shujaat claimed that at one stage Musharraf observed that Nawaz was not following what the Brigadier was trying to convey on Kargil. So Musharraf himself sprang from his seat, took the stick from the Brigadier and started to explain.
"According to Shujaat, when at one stage of the briefing by General Musharraf, the dismal picture of Kargil and its implications sank home, Nawaz Sharif almost shouted at Musharraf by saying: ‘This means an open war with India’.
"Nawaz genuinely complained to Musharraf as to why was he not told earlier that this kind of military activity on Kargil could lead to a war like situation with India, Shujaat continued.
“Upon this, Musharraf produced a pocket note book and started to give details of all those meetings in which, he claimed, Nawaz was given briefings about Kargil. But this further annoyed Nawaz." Click to Read Full Report of Rauf Klasra
In his India Today interview, Shujaat stated: "Just before Nawaz left for the US on July 2, there was a detailed briefing by the chiefs of army, navy and air force for the Defence Cabinet Committee. I was also there along with foreign minister Sartaj Aziz. At first, the briefing was conducted by a brigadier. Then General Musharraf stood up and took over. When he sat down Nawaz told him, ‘General Sahib, I didn’t know about these things before.’ Then Musharraf took out a diary, turned page after page and gave the dates on which he had briefed Nawaz."
Following is the full text:
Question: In his recent interview, Nawaz Sharif says he was not briefed by General Pervez Musharraf, then chief of army staff, about the 1999 Kargil War plans. You said he had been. What is the truth? When exactly was Nawaz briefed?
Answer: Nawaz lies when he claims that he knew about the Kargil intrusions only when he got a call from Prime Minister Vajpayee. I was interior minister during that period and there were six separate occasions when he was briefed on Kargil. It began when Nawaz visited Skardu on 29 January 1999. He was again briefed by the army on February 5 (just two weeks before Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore). Then he along with some cabinet colleagues, including me, was updated by senior military officials on March 12. I went late for it. At the end of it, Nawaz asked all of us to pray for the success of the mission.
Q: What was the nature of the plan?
A: Nawaz used to be very sketchy in telling his cabinet colleagues about important issues. But in a meeting at the office of the director-general of military operation (DGMO) on 17 May 1999 (day before the full-fledged war began), I remember Nawaz asking whether the Dras-Kargil road led to Srinagar. He also said the Kashmir issue could not be resolved through bus journey and the military should keep up its operations.
Q: Isn’t it strange that just three months earlier he had signed a historic peace agreement with Vajpayee at Lahore?
A: Nawaz wanted to move on both tracks. He was not so interested in Kargil as much as he was in getting his name associated with the success in Kashmir.
Q: But Sharif was categorical that barring a few generals no one, even the chiefs of air force and navy, was briefed.
A: Nawaz is just trying to confuse the issue. Musharraf didn’t embark on this mission on his own. It is practically impossible. Now Nawaz says the air force and navy chiefs did not know. But were not the three services meeting regularly? Also when something is happening in the country and the prime minister does not know of it, then what kind of a prime minister is he? For Nawaz to say that he knew absolutely nothing about the Kargil War plans is wrong. As a Punjabi saying goes, he may want to close his eye like a pigeon but the cat will not go away.
Q: Sharif claims General Musharraf had mentioned to him only about a mujahideen-like operation and never talked about employing the Pakistan Army to attack the Indian posts.
A: Just before Nawaz left for the US on July 2, there was a detailed briefing by the chiefs of army, navy and air force for the Defence Cabinet Committee. I was also there along with foreign minister Sartaj Aziz. At first, the briefing was conducted by a brigadier. Then General Musharraf stood up and took over. When he sat down Nawaz told him, ‘General Sahib, I didn’t know about these things before.’ Then Musharraf took out a diary, turned page after page and gave the dates on which he had briefed Nawaz. To this, Nawaz had no answer. Then I said this should be the last meeting on this issue. That instead of blaming each other, the message should go out to the public that it was a joint effort and a collective responsibility. Nawaz did not respond to my suggestion. He just got up and shook hands with everyone seated on his left. I was on his right side, he didn’t shake hand with me.
Q: Sharif, however, remains categorical that he had been kept largely in the dark by General Musharraf on all Kargil plans.
A: During detailed briefings, Nawaz would listen but he didn’t seem to register anything-he had an attention span of five minutes. He also had a cavalier style of taking decisions. At the start of cabinet meeting, he would go through the agenda items and say ‘1,2,3,4 - all approved’ without consulting us. In the corridors, he would at times reverse cabinet decisions soon after they were approved. Nawaz also has had a history of memory lapses. In 1992, he ordered an operation against the MQM in Karachi but when he was out of power he denied any involvement and instead blamed it on the then army chief.
Q: Nawaz says there is a need of a commission on Kargil to examine who was responsible for the war.
A. Nawaz was prime minister for four months or so after Kargil and he could have easily set up a commission during that time. Why didn’t he do so? He had the powers to sack Musharraf with the stroke of a pen. But he did not use it. Instead, he misused his powers by trying to divert the aircraft carrying Musharraf from Sri Lanka and precipitated events. It doesn’t behove a former prime minister to undermine national interests by revealing state secrets while sitting in a foreign country. He acts like the prime minister of a hostile country. He should not have gone to this extent.
Q: Why don’t you set up a Kargil commission?
A: Will the Kargil Commission end unemployment? Will it provide bread or remove poverty? Will it bring prices down? If the only purpose is to make political gain, then why raise this dead issue? There is a time and place for everything. This is an attempt to sabotage the Pakistan-India dialogue at a time when we are all moving toward peace. A Kargil commission would lead to allegations and counter allegations and the peace process will get derailed. Far from being patriotic, the call for a Kargil commission is a conspiracy.
Q: Nawaz says he had not entered into any deal for going into exile in Saudi Arabia.
A: There is no doubt that he left the country as part of a deal. There were two types of deals. One was for a pardon against his conviction which he signed along with his brother Shahbaz and Abbas and his son Hussain. The other deal was between the government of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in which Nawaz gave a list of 30 people or so and it was agreed that they go into exile in Saudi Arabia for a period of 10 years. It was also decided that this deal would not be made public and if the matter ended up in Supreme Court, the judges would be briefed about the deal in the chambers. Nawaz convinced the Saudis that they should ask President Musharraf to let him go since he feared he would be hanged. The Saudis guaranteed that he would not take part in any political activity while in exile.
Q: Sharif complains that the Pakistan government refuses to renew his passport though he has been twice prime minister.
A: Is General Musharraf a passport officer? The fact of the matter is that the passports of Nawaz and his entourage were seized by the Saudi authorities on their arrival. How can Nawaz apply for renewal of the passport when he doesn’t have it?
Q: Nawaz says he is willing to join hands with Bhutto to come back to Pakistan and bring about a change.
A: It is curious that they want to join hands while in Parliament their parties accuse each other every month of creating security risks for the country. When you call a person an enemy of the country, how can you make friends with them even in politics?
Q: If Sharif comes back, will he be arrested.
A: He himself doesn’t want to come back. According to the deal, he cannot go out of Saudi Arabia without the joint permission of Saudi and Pakistani governments. Even if he wants to come back there is only one proviso for that-both the governments should amend the agreement. On the other hand, Benazir Bhutto can come back any time but she will have to face the legal cases. By the way, Nawaz shares this trait with Benazir in that when they are in power everything is hunky-dory. Once they are out of it, everything in Pakistan looks terrible.
Q: Sharif also says there is a deep resentment about the way General Musharraf has increased the role of the military in running the things.
A: Why is he talking about military interference? In 1981, he himself was introduced to politics by Punjab Governor Gen Gilani, a military man. Musharraf has taken steps to end the repeated imposition of martial law by setting up a National Security Council. The majority in this council is of civilians. Also, the army is not an enemy-they are Pakistanis first and they are relevant to Pakistan. Their main purpose is to defend the country from both internal and external threats.
Q: The other big issue is whether Musharraf will give up his post as chief of army staff by December 31 as agreed upon with the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
A: Now they have made an issue out of Musharraf’s uniform. The 17th Amendment carries everyone’s signature, including mine. It is an unnecessary demand to get Musharraf to say right now at what place and at what time he will take off his uniform. I assure you that the decision will be made in accordance with the provisions in the amendment. It can be interpreted in many ways and only the Supreme Court can do it.
Q: Did differences between Musharraf and Zafarullah Khan Jamali lead to the latter’s resignation as prime minister?
A: There was no bad blood between the two. Even after Jamali’s resignation, the families invited each other for dinners and they are still doing so. I don’t want to go into the reasons of his resignation except that they were personal.
Q: Why did you accept a limited term of 45 days as prime minister?
A: I didn’t accept the post earlier when I was leader of the parliamentary party. Jamali himself had proposed my name. There were two reasons why I didn’t do it then. We had the example of one brother being prime minister at the Center while the other was chief minister of Punjab when the Sharif family was in power. (Pervez Elahi, Shujaat’s first cousin, is now chief minister of Punjab). Secondly, I insisted from day one that I wanted the prime minister to come from the smallest province. Jamali from Baluchistan was the most suitable candidate. Regarding my 45-day tenure, in our culture if someone offers you something, you don’t want to seem ungrateful and turn it down. When Musharraf embarked on this new experiment, I went along with his new thinking. Moreover, Shaukat Aziz (the prime minister-designate) is a senator and has to be elected as member of the National Assembly to become a prime minister.
Q: Are you happy with the pace of Pakistan-India peace talks?
A: I look at the talks in a positive way and I am very hopeful. The chances of a war between the two countries are less than one per cent now. I give full credit to India for its willingness to have a dialogue on the Kashmir issue after a lapse of 30 odd years. We are also ready to discuss other issues. We need to break down these walls of hatred quickly. If we do not find a solution now, then maybe we never will.
Sharif wanted to wrest Srinagar: Pak PM
Monday, 09 August , 2004, 21:25
New Delhi: In a startling disclosure, Pakistan's interim Prime Minister Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain has debunked former premier Nawaz Sharif's claim that he was kept in the dark about the 1999 Kargil intrusion by Gen Pervez Musharraf, who was then the Chief of Army Staff.
Nawaz Sharif had not only given the go-ahead for the Kargil operation, but also wanted to wrest Srinagar, Hussain told Aaj Tak news channel in an interview at Islamabad.
''Nawaz Sharif wanted to reach Srinagar. It was his desire. People should keep one face. Sharif has kept a dual face,'' said Hussain, who was Interior Minister in the Nawaz Sharif government.
Hussain said he was a part of the meeting where Sharif was briefed about the Kargil situation. ''I was present there.''
Asked to elaborate on Nawaz Sharif's mission in 1999, Hussain said Sharif's sole mission was ''he, himself.''
''He was very self-centred, casual in his dealings, and thought he could take on anyone since he had enormous powers,'' Hussain added.
Asked why no commission of inquiry was instituted by Pakistan on Kargil, as being demanded by Nawaz Sharif, Hussain gave President Musharraf a clean chit, stating that this should have been ordered by Sharif, who remained prime minister until five months after the war.
In reply to a question on the likelihood of Kargil conflict leading to a nuclear conflagration between India and Pakistan in 1999, the interim Prime Minister said this was highly unlikely.
''I'm happy that even now, there is no such possibility since both countries are aware of each other's nuclear capabilities,'' he said.