Kargil: An Operational Update

03 Jul, 1999    ·   218

Maj. Gen. Ashok Krishna (Retd) points out that the final outcome of the Kargil conflict will eventually be influenced by the internal dynamics of Pakistan's political process,and by the contrary pulls and pressures within the military and civilian hierarchies




The Indian Army has made gradual progress in the last seven days to recapture dominating heights in the Dras-Kargil-Batalik sector.  Air attacks were selectively launched to soften positions and destroy logistic dumps.  Pakistan moved additional troops into Skardu.








The Pak Army has moved a division  from its Peshawar based corps to Skardu to forestall any Indian attempt to attack Pakistan 's main launch pad. Should the situation escalate, these forces would be available for offensive operations as also to reinforce or relieve the two Pakistani  brigades engaged on the Indian side of the  Line of Control [LoC] for the last five weeks.



In 1984, the Indian Army pre-empted the Pakistan Army in occupying the Saltoro Ridge west of the Siachen Glacier.   Ever since, wresting back the area has become an obsession with Pak generals.  To this end,  Pakistan had infiltrated its agents into the Turtok-Batalik-Kargil-Dras areas in the early 1990s to subvert the population and win them over.  During the premiership of Deve Gowda and Gujral, India was perceived as a weak and divided nation, and plans were finalised to carry out the current intrusions.



The development of roads, tracks and helipads was done in 1997  as part of normal military activity.  Logistics and artillery build up was completed in 1998.  Occupation of ground on the Indian side of the LoC was done in February/March 1999; according to some reports certain positions were occupied as early as 1998.



It is worth noting that the first Pak intrusions into Indian territory occurred in the late 1980s when encroachments of a few hundred metres were made in Shangruti and Chorbat-La in the Batalik sub sector, and the Dhalulang feature overlooking Kaksar was occupied in the Kargil sub sector.  Local efforts to evict the adversary were repulsed, hence., these intrusions were contained by the establishment of Indian posts around them.








The Indian Air Force has been softening strongholds of the Pak Army, especially prior to Indian attacks.  Their lines of communication have been interdicted where possible by causing avalanches.  Logistic dumps at Mantho Dhalo and Kukarthang in the Batalik sub sector and another in the Dras sub sector have destroyed.








Having contained  the intrusions, the Indian Army has been continuing its attacks to evict the Pak Army.  The latest operational situation, is as follows:



(a) Turtok: Timely action by Indian troops foiled Pakistan plans to turn Indian positions by ground, airborne and heliborne assault so as to cut off Siachen and the bases supporting it.  Pakistan recently made another abortive attempt to occupy a ridge line in southern Siachen glacier, south of NJ 9842 and north of Turtok.  Since then, this sector has been quiet.



(b) Batalik-Chorbat La:  Two major heights have been captured in Jubar Hills in the Batalik area.  The next objective here is the securing of Jubar Hills and  the Shangruti feature complex.  Chorbat La is quiet and firmly in Indian control.



(c) Kargil-Dras-Mushkoh Valley .  In Dras the army is continuing its advance towards Tiger Hill (the highest point in the area). The capture of Points 5100 and 4700 and three other features in the last two days will facilitate these  operations.  They had been very strongly  fortified with several heavy and universal machine guns and rocket launchers.  Operations to evict the adversary from heights north of Kaksar (east of Kargil) have been launched.  The Pak Army continues to hold two vital heights in the Mushkoh Valley ; this is the main infiltration route leading to the Srinagar Valley .



The Indian Army's casualties till date are 590; 201 soldiers including 14 officers killed; 384, including 25 officers,wounded; and 9 including 2 officers missing.   On the Pak side 428 army personnel and 184 militants and mercenaries have been killed.  Indian casualties would have been considerably less had the army been allowed to cross the LoC.








12 migrant workers were shot in Anantnag (near Srinagar ) on  30 June and 12 personnel were injured in a blast in the Doda area.



Pakistani artillery and mortars have been pounding areas north of Jammu and the approaches to the Srinagar Valley .  Keran, Macchal, Uri, Poonch, Krishnaghati, Bhimbergalli, Naushera, Sunderbani and Palanwala have also been subjected to firing.  This is a prelude to infiltration.








The Pak Army has still to be evicted from about 40 per cent of the area into which it had intruded.  Operations are likely to go on till the approach of winter.



Whilst Pakistan 's strategic and diplomatic motive was to internationalise the Kashmir issue and invite mediation, its military motivation is the isolation and capture of Siachen.  Therefore, Pakistan may still make such an attempt now that it has more troops in Skardu.  Such an action is possible  when hostilities begin to peter out: cessation of hostilities between India and Pakistan has always been marked by attempts at land grab.



The final outcome of the Kargil conflict will eventually be influenced by the internal dynamics of Pakistan 's political process,and by the contrary pulls and pressures within the military and civilian hierarchies.