Pakistani General's views on the Kargil War '99.
Air Commodore M Kaiser Tufail (Retired)
"While the Indians were prompt in setting up an Inquiry Commission into the Kargil fracas, we in Pakistan found it expedient to bury the affair in ‘national interest’. Compared to the Indians, Pakistani writings on the Kargil conflict have been pathetically few and, those that did come out were largely irrelevant and in a few cases, clearly sponsored. The role of the PAF has been discussed off and on, but mostly disparagingly, particularly in Army quarters. Here is an on-scene airman’s perspective, focusing on IAF’s air operations and the PAF’s position."
Operational Planning in PAF
Since an important portion of this write-up pertains to PAF’s appreciation of the situation and the decision-making loop during the Kargil conflict, we will start with a brief primer on PAF’s hierarchy and how operational matters are handled at the Air Headquarters.
The policy-making elements at Air Headquarters are made up of four-tiered staff officers. The top-most tier is made up of the Deputy Chiefs of Air Staff (DCAS) who are the Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) of their respective branches and are nominally headed by the Vice Chief of Air Staff (VCAS). They (along with Air Officers Commanding, the senior representatives from field formations) are members of the Air Board, PAF’s ‘corporate’ decision-making body which is chaired by Chief of the Air Staff (CAS). The next tier is made up of Assistant Chiefs of Air Staff (ACAS) who head various sub-branches and, along with their Directors, assist the PSOs in policy-making; they are not on the Air Board, but can be called for hearings and presentations in the Board meetings, as required. A fourth tier of Deputy Directors does most of the sundry staff work in this policy-making hierarchy.
The Operations & Plans branch is the key player in any war, conflict or contingency and is responsible for threat assessment and formulation of a suitable response. During peace-time, war plans are drawn up by the Plans sub-branch and are then war-gamed in operational exercises run by the sister Operations sub-branch. Operational training is accordingly restructured and administered by the latter, based on the lessons of various exercises. This essentially is the gist of war preparedness methodology in the PAF.
In early 1999, Air Chief Marshal Pervez Mehdi Qureshi was at the helm of the PAF. An officer with an imposing personality, he had won the Sword of Honour at the Academy. During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, as a young Flight Lieutenant, he was on a close support mission in erstwhile East Pakistan when his Sabre was shot down and he was taken POW. He determinedly resumed his fighter pilot’s career after repatriation and eventually rose to command PAF’s premier Sargodha Base. He was later appointed as the AOC, Southern Air Command, an appointment that affords considerable interaction amongst the three services, especially in operational exercises. He also held the vitally important post of DCAS (Ops) as well as the VCAS before taking over as Chief of the Air Staff.
The post of DCAS (Ops) was held by Air Marshal Zahid Anis (late). A well-qualified fighter pilot, he had a distinguished career in the PAF, having held some of the most sought-after appointments. These included command of No 38 Tactical Wing (F-16s), the elite Combat Commanders’ School and PAF Base, Sargodha. He was the AOC, Southern Air Command before his appointment as the head of Operations branch at the Air Headquarters. He had done his Air War Course at the PAF’s Air War College, another War Course at the French War College as well as the prestigious course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in UK.
The ACAS (Ops) was Air Cdre Abid Rao, who had recently completed command of PAF Base, Mianwali. He had earlier done his War Course from the French War College.
The ACAS (Plans) was Air Cdre Saleem Nawaz (late), a brilliant officer who had made his mark at the Staff College at Bracknell, UK and during his War Course at the National Defence College, Islamabad.
There is no gainsaying the fact that PAF’s hierarchy was highly qualified and each one of the players in the Operations branch had the requisite command and staff experience. The three top men had also fought in the 1971 Indo-Pak War, albeit as junior officers.
Last edited by dredger14; 05-28-2009 at 02:08 PM.
As Director of Operations (in the rank of Gp Capt), the first occasion when I got an opportunity to interact with the Army’s Director of Military Operations (DMO) was over a phone call, some time in March 1999. Brig Nadeem Taj called with great courtesy and requested some information that he needed for a paper exercise, as he told me. He wanted to know when did the PAF last carry out a deployment at Skardu, how many aircraft were deployed, etc. Rather impressed with the Army’s interest in PAF matters, I passed on the requisite details. Next day, Brig Taj again called, but this time his questions were more probing and he wanted some classified information including fuel storage capacity at Skardu, fighter sortie-generation capacity, radar coverage, etc. He insisted that he was preparing a briefing and wanted his facts and figures right, in front of his bosses. We got on a secure line and I passed the required information. Although he made it sound like routine contingency planning, I sensed that something unusual was brewing. In the event, I thought it prudent to inform the DCAS (Ops). Just to be sure, he checked up with his counterpart, the Director General Military Operations (DGMO), Maj Gen Tauqir Zia, who also had the same to say as his DMO and, assured that it was just part of routine contingency planning.
Not withstanding the DGMO’s assurance, a cautious Air Marshal Zahid decided to check things for himself and despatched Gp Capt Tariq Ashraf, Officer Commanding of No 33 Wing at PAF Base, Kamra, to look things over at Skardu and make a report. Within a few days, Gp Capt Tariq (who was also the designated war-time Commander of Skardu Base) had completed his visit, which included his own periodic war-readiness inspection. While he made a detailed report to the DCAS (Ops), he let me in on the Army’s mobilisation and other preparations that he had seen in Skardu. His analysis was that ‘something big is imminent.’ Helicopter flying activity was feverishly high. Troops in battle gear were to be seen all over the city. Interestingly, Messes were abuzz with war chatter amongst young officers. In retrospect, one wonders how Indian intelligence agencies failed to read any such signs many weeks before the operation unfolded.
After hearing Gp Capt Tariq’s report, Air Marshal Zahid again got in touch with Maj Gen Tauqir and, in a roundabout way, told him that if the Army’s ongoing review of contingency plans required the PAF to be factored in, an Operations & Plans team would be available for discussion. Nothing was heard from the GHQ till 12 May, when Air Marshal Zahid was told to send a team for a briefing at HQ 10 Corps with regard to ‘Kashmir Contingency’.
Air Cdre Abid Rao, Air Cdre Saleem Nawaz and myself were directed by the DCAS (Ops) to attend a briefing on the ‘latest situation in Kashmir’ at HQ 10 Corps. We were welcomed by the Chief of Staff (COS) of the Corps, who led us to the briefing room. Shortly thereafter, the Corps Commander, Lt Gen Mehmud Ahmad entered, clad in a bush-coat and his trademark camouflaged scarf, cutting an impressive figure. After exchange of pleasantries, the COS started with the map orientation briefing. Thereafter Lt Gen Mehmud took over and broke the news that a limited operation had started two days earlier. It was nothing more than a ‘protective manoeuvre’, he explained, and was meant to foreclose any further mischief by the enemy, who had been a nuisance in the Neelum Valley, specially on the road on our side of the Line of Control (LOC). He then elaborated that a few vacant Indian posts had been occupied on peaks across the LOC, overlooking the Dras-Kargil Road. These would, in effect, serve the purpose of Airborne Observation Posts (AOP) meant for directing artillery fire with accuracy. Artillery firepower would be provided by a couple of field guns that had been heli-lifted to the heights, piecemeal, and re-assembled over the previous few months when the Indians had been off-guard during the winter extremes. The target was a vulnerable section of Dras-Kargil Road, whose blocking would virtually cut off the crucial life-line which carried the bulk of supplies needed for daily consumption as well as annual winter-stocking in Leh-Siachen Sector. He was very hopeful that this stratagem could choke off the Indians in the vital sector for up to a month, after which monsoons would prevent vehicular movement (due to landslides) and, also suspend all airlift by IAF. “Come October, we shall walk in to Siachen – to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,” he succinctly summed up what appeared to be a new dimension to the Siachen dispute. It also seemed to serve, at least for the time being, the secondary aim of alleviating Indian military pressure on Pakistani lines of communications in the Neelum Valley that the Corps Commander had alluded to in his opening remarks. (The oft-heard strategic aim of ‘providing a fillip to the insurgency in Kashmir’ was never mentioned.)
When Lt Gen Mehmud asked for questions at the end of the rather crisp and to-the-point briefing, Air Cdre Saleem Nawaz opened up by inquiring the type of air support that might be needed for the operation. Lt Gen Mehmud assured us that air support was not envisaged and that his forces could take care of enemy aircraft, if they intervened. “I have Stingers on every peak,” he announced. Air Cdre Saleem tried to point out the limited envelope of these types of missiles and said that nothing stopped the IAF from attacking the posts and artillery pieces from high altitude. To this, Lt Gen Mehmud’s reply was that his troops were well camouflaged and concealed and, that IAF pilots would not be able to pick out the posts from the air. As the discussion got more animated, I asked the Corps Commander if he was sure the Indians would not use their artillery to vacate our incursion, given the criticality of the situation from their standpoint. He replied that the Dras-Kargil stretch did not allow positioning of hundreds of guns that were required, due to lack of depth; in any case, it would be suicidal for the Indians to de**** artillery firepower from any other sector as defensive balance had to be maintained. He gave the example of the Kathua-Jammu Sector where the Indians had a compulsion to keep the bulk of their modern Bofors guns due to vulnerability of the vital road link to our offensive elements.
It seemed from the Corps Commander’s smug appreciation of the situation that the Indians had been tightly straitjacketed in Dras-Kargil Sector and had no option but to submit to our operational design. More significantly, an alternate action like a strategic riposte by the Indians in another sector had been rendered out of question, given the nuclear environment. Whether resort to an exterior manoeuvre (diplomatic offensive) by the beleaguered Indians had crossed the planners’ minds, it was not discernable in the Corps Commander’s elucidation.
Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air Cdre Abid Rao to famously quip, “After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!” as we walked out of the briefing room.
Back at the Air Headquarters, we briefed the DCAS(Ops) about what had transpired at the 10 Corps briefing. His surprise at the developments, as well as his concern over the possibility of events spiralling out of control, could not remain concealed behind his otherwise unflappable demeanour. We all were also piqued at being left out of the Army’s planning, though we were given to believe that it was a ‘limited tactical action’ in which the PAF would not be required – an issue that none of us agreed with. Presented with a fait accompli, we decided not to lose any more time and, while the DCAS (Ops) went to brief the CAS about the situation, we set about gearing up for a hectic routine. The operations room was quickly updated with the latest large-scale maps and air recce photos of the area; communications links with concerned agencies were also revamped in a short time. Deployment orders were issued and, within the next 48 hours, the bulk of combat elements were in-situ at their war locations.
IAF – By Fits & Starts
IAF deployments in Kashmir, for what came to be known as ‘Operation Safedsagar’, commenced on 15 May and the bulk of operational assets were positioned by 18 May. 150 combat aircraft were deployed, as follows:--
• Srinagar 34 (MiG-21, MiG23, MiG-27)
• Awantipur 28 (MiG-21, MiG29, Jaguar)
• Udhampur 12 (MiG-21)
• Pathankot 30 (MiG-21, MiG-23)
• Adampur 46 (Mir-2000, MiG-29, Jaguar)
One-third of the aircraft were modern, ‘high-threat’ fighters equipped with Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles. During the preparatory stage, air defence alert status (5 minutes to scramble from ground) was maintained while Mirage-2000s and Jaguars carried out photo-reconnaissance along the Line of Control (LOC) and aging Canberras carried out electronic intelligence (ELINT) to ferret out locations of PAF air defence sensors. Last minute honing of strafing and rocketing skills was carried out at a local air-to-ground firing range.
Operations by IAF started in earnest on 26 May, a full 16 days after commencement of Pakistani infiltration across the LOC. Strafing and rocketing of intruders’ positions by MiG-21, MiG-23BN and MiG-27 was the salient feature of this initial phase. All operations (except air defence) came to a sudden standstill on 28 May, after two IAF fighters and a helicopter were lost – a MiG-21 and a Mi-17 to Pak Army SAMs, while a MiG-27 went down due to engine trouble caused by gun gas ingestion during high altitude strafing. (Incidentally, the pilot of the MiG-27 Flt Lt Nachiketa, who ejected and was apprehended, had a tête-à-tête with this author during an interesting ‘interrogation’ session.)
The results achieved by the IAF in the first two days were dismal. Serious restraints seem to have been imposed on the freedom of action of IAF fighters in what was basically a search-and-destroy mission. Lt Gen Mehmud’s rant about a ‘Stinger on every peak’ seemed true. It was obvious that the IAF had under-estimated the SAM threat. The mood in Pak Army circles was that of undiluted elation, and the PAF was expected to sit it out while sharing the khakis’ glee.
The IAF immediately went into a reappraisal mode and came out with GPS-assisted high altitude bombing by MiG-21, MiG-23BN and MiG-27 as a makeshift solution. In the meantime, quick modification on the Mirage-2000 for day/night laser bombing kits (Litening pods) was initiated with the help of Israelis. Conventional bombing that started incessantly after a two-day operational hiatus, was aimed at harassment and denial of respite to the infiltrators, with consequent adverse effects on morale. The results of this part of the campaign were largely insignificant, mainly because the target coordinates were not known accurately; the nature of the terrain too, precluded accuracy. A few cases of fratricide by IAF led them to be even more cautious.
By 16 June, IAF was able to open up the laser-guided bombing campaign with the help of Jaguars and Mirage-2000. Daily photo-recce along the LOC by Jaguars escorted by Mirage-2000s, which had continued from the beginning of operations, proved crucial to both the aerial bombing campaign as well as the Indian artillery, the latter in accurately shelling Pakistani positions in Dras-Kargil and Gultari Sectors. While the photo-recce missions typically did not involve deliberate border violations, there were a total of 37 ‘technical violations’ (which emanate as a consequence of kinks and bends in the geographical boundaries). Typically, these averaged to a depth of five nautical miles, except on one occasion when the IAF fighters apparently ‘cocked-a-snoot’ at the PAF and came in 13 miles deep.
The Mirage-2000s scored at least five successful laser-guided bomb hits on forward dumping sites and posts. During the last days of operations which ended on 12 July, it was clear that delivery accuracy had improved considerably. Even though night bombing accuracy was suspect, round-the-clock attacks had made retention of posts untenable by Pakistani infiltrators. Photo-recce of Pakistani artillery gun positions also made them vulnerable to Indian artillery.
The IAF flew a total of 550 strike missions against infiltrator positions including bunkers and supply depots. The coordinates of these locations were mostly picked up from reconnaissance and communications intelligence missions which totalled about 150. In addition, 500 missions were flown for air defence and for escorting strike and recce missions.
While the Indians had been surprised by the infiltration in Kargil, the IAF mobilised and reacted rapidly as the Indian Army took time to position itself. Later, when the Indian Army had entrenched itself, the IAF supplemented and filled in where the artillery could not be positioned in force. Clearly, Army-Air Joint Operations had a synergistic effect in evicting the intruders.
PAF in a Bind
From the very beginning of Kargil operations, PAF was entrapped by a circumstantial absurdity: it was faced with the ludicrous predicament of having to provide air support to infiltrators already disowned by the Pakistan Army leadership! In any case, it took some effort to impress on the latter that crossing the LOC by fighters laden with bombs was not, by any stretch of imagination, akin to lobbing a few artillery shells to settle scores. There was no doubt in the minds of PAF Air Staff that the first cross-border attack (whether across LOC or the international border) would invite an immediate response from the IAF in the shape of a retaliatory strike against the home base of the intruding fighters, thus starting the first round. PAF’s intervention meant all-out war: this unmistakable conclusion was conveyed to the Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif by PAF’s Chief of Air Staff in no equivocal terms.
Short of starting an all-out war, PAF looked at some saner options that could put some wind in the sails after doldrums had been hit. Air Marshal Najeeb Akhtar, the Air Officer Commanding of Air Defence Command was co-opted by the Air Staff to sift the possibilities. Audacious and innovative in equal parts, Air Marshal Najeeb, who had an excellent knowledge about own and enemy’s Air Defence Ground Environment (ADGE), focused on fighter sweep as a possible option. To prevent the mission from being seen as an escalatory step in the already charged atmosphere, PAF had to lure Indian fighters into own territory, ie Azad Kashmir or Northern Areas. That done, a number of issues had to be tackled. What if the enemy aircraft were hit in own territory but fell across, providing a pretext to India as a doubly aggrieved party? What if one of our own aircraft fell, no matter if the exchange was one-to-one (or better)? Finally, even if we were able to pull off a surprise, would it not be a one-off incident, with the IAF wisening up in quick time? The over-arching consideration was the BVR missile capability of IAF fighters which unfavourably impinged on the mission success probability. The conclusion was that a replication of the famous four-Vampire rout of 1st September 1965 by two Sabres might not be possible. A fighter sweep thus came to be a non-starter.
While the PAF looked at some offensive options, it had a more pressing defensive issue at hand. The IAF’s minor border violations during recce missions were not of grave consequence, in so far as no bombing took place in our territory; however, the fact that these missions helped the enemy refine its air and artillery targeting, was, to say the least, disconcerting. There were constant reports of our troops on the LOC disturbed to see (or hear) IAF fighters operating with apparent impunity. The matter was taken up by the GHQ with AHQ and it was resolved that Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) would be flown by the F-16s operating out of Minhas (Kamra) and Sargodha. This arrangement resulted in less on-station time but was safer than operating out of vulnerable Skardu, which had inadequate early warning in the mountainous terrain; its status as a secondary turn-around facility was, however, considered acceptable for its location.
F-16 CAPs could not have been flown all day long as spares support was limited under the prevailing US sanctions. Random CAPs were resorted to with a noticeable drop in border violations only as long as the F-16s were on station. There were a few cases of F-16s and Mirage-2000s locking their adversaries with the on-board radars but caution usually prevailed and no close encounters took place. After one week of CAPs, the F-16 maintenance personnel indicated that war reserve spares were being eaten into and the activity had to be ‘rationalised’, a euphemism for discontinuing it altogether. That an impending war occupied the minds of the Air Staff was evident in the decision by the DCAS (Ops) for F-16 CAPs to be discontinued, unless IAF activity became unbearably provocative or threatening.
Those not aware of the gravity of the F-16 operability problem under sanctions have complained of lack of cooperation by the PAF. Suffice to say that if the PAF had been included in the initial planning, this anomaly (along with many others) would have emerged as a mitigating factor against the Kargil adventure. It is another matter that the Army high command did not envisage operations ever coming to such a pass. Now, it was almost as if PAF was to blame for the Kargil venture spiralling out of control.
It also must be highlighted that other than the F-16s, PAF did not have a capable enough fighter for patrolling, as the minimum requirement in the scenario under discussion was an on-board airborne intercept radar, exceptional agility and sufficient staying power. The F-7s had reasonably good manoeuvrability but lacked an intercept radar as well as endurance, while the Mirage-III/5 were sitting ducks for the air combat mission (even though an odd squadron had been retrofitted with a first-class radar which made it fit for the night interceptor role).
In sum, the PAF found it expedient not to worry too much about minor border violations and instead, conserve resources for the larger conflagration that was looming. All the same, PAF gave no pretext to the enemy for retaliation in the face of any provocation, though this latter stance irked some quarters in the Army which were desperate to ‘equal the match’. Might it strike to some that PAF’s restraint in warding off a major conflagration may have been its paramount contribution to the Kargil conflict?
It has emerged that the principal protagonists of the Kargil adventure were the COAS: General Pervez Musharraf, Commander 10 Corps: Lt General Mehmud Ahmed and Commander Force Command Northern Areas: Maj Gen Javed Hasan. The trio, in previous ranks and appointments, had been associated with planning during paper exercises on how to wrest control of lost territory in Siachen. The plans were not acceptable to the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to whom the options had been put up for review more than once. She was well-versed in international affairs and, all too intelligent to be suckered by the chicanery. It fell to the half-wit of her successor, Mr Nawaz Sharif, to approve the Army trio’s self-serving presentation. “General sahib, bismillah karen…” is how he is supposed to have given the go ahead, not withstanding the denials he keeps issuing every solar eclipse.
In an effort to keep the plan secret – which was the key to its successful initiation, so it was thought – the Army trio took no one into confidence, neither its operational commanders, nor the heads of the other services. This, regrettably, resulted in a closed-loop thought process which engendered a string of oversights and failures:---
• Failure to grasp the wider military and diplomatic ramifications of a limited tactical operation that had the potential of creating strategic effects.
• Failure to correctly visualise the response of a powerful enemy to what was, in effect, a major blow in a disputed sector.
• Failure to spell out the specific aim to field commanders, who acted on their own to needlessly ‘capture’ territory and expand the scope of the operation to unmanageable levels.
• Failure to appreciate the inability of the Army officers to evaluate capabilities and limitations of an Air Force.
• Failure to coordinate contingency plans at the tri-services level.
The flaws in the Kargil Plan that lead to these failures were almost palpable and, could not have escaped even a layman’s attention during a cursory examination. The question arises as to why all the planners got blinded to the obvious? Could it be that some of the sub-ordinates had the sight but not the nerve in the face of a powerful superior? In hierarchical organisations, there is precious little cheek for dissent, but in autocratic ones like the military, it takes more than a spine to disagree, for there are very few commanders who are large enough to allow such liberties. It is this fear of annoying the superior – which also carries with it manifold penalties and loss of promotion and perks – that the majority decide to go along with the wind.
In a country where democratic traditions have never been deep-rooted, it is no big exposé that the military is steeped in an authoritarian, rather than a consensual approach. To my mind there is an urgent need to inculcate a more liberal culture which accommodates different points of view, a more lateral approach, so to speak. Dissent should be systemically tolerated and, not taken as a personal affront. Unfortunately, many in higher ranks seem to think that rank alone confers wisdom and, anyone displaying signs of intelligence at an earlier stage is, somehow, a precocious alien in their ‘star-spangled’ universe.
Kargil, I suspect, like ‘65 and ‘71 Wars, was a case of not having enough dissenters (‘devil’s advocates’, if you will) during planning, because everyone wanted to agree with the boss. That single reason, I think, was the root cause of most of the failures that were apparent right from the beginning. If this point is understood well, remedial measures towards tolerance and liberalism can follow as a matter of course. Such an organisational milieu, based on honest appraisal and fearless appeal, would be conducive to sound and sensible planning. It would also go a long way in preclusion of potential disasters.
Wow...this might be better suited for the History and Tactics forum.
Originally Posted by RxOnco
Regardless, thanks for the post Dredger
Excellent post. Is there any Army version of any commission for the Kargil war ? Since the war was planned and executed by the Pakistan army, have they ever set up any commission to find the faults?
It was a highly foolish miss-adventure as both the countries Indian and Pakistan are very populous and have very high concentration of population in urban areas. Any nuclear exchange would have been very bad.
exellent post, but i think its a repost....big one....ADUX have posted this before
Great post, thanks you dredger.
Kaiser tufails article
i am glad that you guys are reading my blog.
this article was first posted on my blog whose URL you have quoted above.
below are two articles that i wrote and were published in pakistani papers during musharraf rule and were not challenged.
http://military-security-review.blogspot.com/,Kargil a Military Debacle-As per Pakistani ex Corps CommanderPosted: Jun 2, 2008 Mon 11:04 am Views: 1363 Interacts: 3 Lieutenant General Jamshed Gulzar Kiani's forthright revelations on a TV channel about Kargil prove what this scribe stated more than 5 years ago.Lieut General Jamshed Gulzar Kiani called Kargil a debacle:--
The Kargil Conspiracy
The Nation 29 May 2003
There is general consensus on the fact that military juntas are convenient agents of change employed by larger powers to bring desired policy changes in smaller countries.This is more true for Pakistan where the USA has had a record of using the military juntas as agents of change . Ayub was cultivated in the 1950s and proved his worth as USA’s collaborator par excellence in destroying democracy in Pakistan . The Zia coup was US inspired and had complete US blessings since the USA viewed Mr Z.A Bhutto as a dangerously charismatic leader capable of uniting the Islamic/Third World ! Thus Operation Foul Play of 5th July 1977 ! When Liaquat Ali Khan the then prime minister of Pakistan warned the US Ambassador to Pakistan that the Graham Report on Kashmir must be presented in the UN by 15th October 1951 he was assassinated on 16th October 1951 ! Raja Ghazanfar Ali then Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran noted that Liaquat had planned an Islamic conference to discuss Kashmir , Anglo Iranian Oil Company and Palestine !
Keeping this background in mind the fact that a deliberate conspiracy with a design to control and manipulate Pakistan’s geopolitical future with Kargil as the key point cannot be ruled out.It is possible that Kargil may have been designed as the catalyst to create a civil-military political conflict in Pakistan and as a future launching pad of a military coup.
In 1998 Nawaz Sharif often criticized as a man with limited IQ took one of Pakistan’s most decisive strategic command decisions defying USA , not appeasing it as Musharraf took in September 2001 ! It is on record that Nawaz Sharif did not surrender on one telephone call from US president like General Musharraf did and defied US threats not to go on with the nuclear tests despite four telephone call threats from US president Clinton and resolutely went on with Pakistan’s Nuclear blasts ! Recently Dr Qadeer Khan speaking at a function in Karachi on 3rd April 2003 stated that Nawaz even refused an offer of bribe from Clinton wherein Clinton had offered to deposite 100 Million USD in Nawaz Sharif’s personal bank account !
All evidence proves that Nawaz Sharif’s decision to go on with the Nuclear blast was a political decision and the role of the armed forces was merely that of a technocrat consultant ! It appears that from May 1998 the US policy makers came to the conclusion that Nawaz was an irresponsible man and must be taken to task..
By September 1998 it appears that the Americans had succeeded in their manipulations . The then Army chief General Karamat at this stage started pressurizing the political leadership to include the army in the political decision making .
Nawaz had done his homework well.With the ISI firmly under the prime ministers command under Lieutenant General Ziauddin one senior officer Zulfiqar presently chairman WAPDA had been sent to Ukraine to find details of kick backs given to General Jahangir Karamat in the Ukraianian tank deal with Pakistan.Full evidence was prepared of Jahangirs complicity in taking kick backs.Once Karamat asserted his political ambitions Nawaz threatened him with prosecution for taking kick backs ! Thus Jahangir Karamat’s unceremonial exit from power ! USA’s likely agent of change had been removed !
Now comes Kargil. With the appointment of Musharraf as army chief the more Machiavellian geopolitical moves were planned ! Major general Javed Hassan Khan previously military attaché to Washington where many military attaches are successfully cultivated by US intelligence was posted as Commander FCNA incharge of the forces in Gilgit ,Northern Areas including Kargil.The readers may note that this officer presently the commandant of the Pakistan Army’s National Defence College , back in early 1990s made Mughal Emperor Humayun fight in Second Battle of Panipat in his book “India- A Study in Profile” ! The fact is that Humayun was dead while Panipat was fought and Humayun had no connection with Second Battle of Panipat !
The men who planned Kargil military operation using Pakistan’s 80 Brigade to infiltrate Indian positions in Kargil Sector were instruments of a grand conspiracy to destabilize Pakistans political government which had defied the USA and wanted to make peace with India without US involvement !
Ambition of General Musharraf and his team while planning Kargil had infected the entire military thought process ! The Kargil plan was adventurist,superpower manipulated and its intrinsic violence penetrated and cut open the very arteries of the Pakistani state, spurting out in civil military strife and finally a military coup !
The heroes of those rocky pinnacles are all dead ! Sacrificed in vain ! Diabolically launched into the valleys of death by men who now are dead earnest to make peace with India but propelled by promiscuous and unadulterated ambition wanted to sabotage Nawaz Sharif’s Lahore Peace move in 1999 ! Once Vajpayee came to Lahore on Nawaz’s initiatiave in 1999 he was a vampire but once Musharraf went to Agra later Vajpayee was an angel !
At the super power level Kargil was planned with a view to ridicule Pakistan’s political leadership , embarrass the Pakistani prime minister and to create a civil military divide aimed at a military coup in Pakistan ! Why ! Someone may ask naievely ! Because the USA views the military junta in Third World countries as a more reliable collaborator agent of change than a prime minister who repeatedly defies US threats of retaliation and a 100 Million USD bribery offer !
Thus Kargil operation was launched with an ulterior motive to divide Pakistan’s political and military leaderships ! It is an unfortunate fact of history that Nawaz Sharif was mot aided by a good defence analyst team ! Those who were with him and supposedly considered defence experts were either in secret league with Nawaz’s handpicked military man or too naieve to understand the military intricacies of Kargil !
Kargil in the final analysis stands out as the meticulously planned conspiracy catalyst employed to trigger a chain of events that led to the primacy of the military junta on 12 October 1999 !
So far the Americans have succeeded ! The Pakistani Nuclear programme is in safe hands ! Pakistan , the beautiful woman in words of General Habibullah has sold herself to , not the highest bidder , but the only bidder at a relatively low price !
The military junta has divided the society ! Bought the pillars of state ! Balkanised the political parties ! Marginalised the society introducing unjust ethnic domination in the army , reduced the Sindhis into a political minority , pitched Punjab against Sindh by Machaievellian agreement to Thal Canal and is all set to strike a deal with India which would ensure that Pakistan’s military junta is given a permanent share in the political hierarchy simply because it is USA’s best and most reliable agent of change ! Life goes on !
Kargil-A Military Analysis
15 June 2003
Kargil stands as perhaps the final military effort on Pakistans part to settle the Kashmir dispute by military means.
Analysis has mostly centred around political aspects of the operation while the military aspects have been largely left to the imagination of the public.Lately it has been claimed that Kargil was launched to bail out Mujahideen as a last resort ! This is an insult to the memory of the Pakistani armed forces "Volunteers" who died in that Himalayan wasteland without a funeral and in circumstances of unimaginable misery !
Kargil operation cannot be understood unless the personalities and motives of the principal characters are examined ! Every action in history is the final culmination of a personality's self perception,ambition and subconscious as well as conscious urges.
In this context the Kargil operation was born out of two key factors ! One was the personality of general Pervez Musharraf and the second was the unceremonial manner in which Nawaz Sharif ousted General Jahangir Karamat Musharraf's predecessor army chief of Pakistan Army.
Musharraf as those who have served with him know which includes this scribe also has always been an intensely ambitious man ! One hallmark of his personality is that he wants to stand out as a great military commander ! Propelled by an enormous ego wherever he served he endeavoured to do something extraordinary ! However fate did not allow him the glory in battle which his other coursemates like shabbir sharif achieved ! In 1965 Musharraf was a subaltern in an artillery unit which saw little action apart from supporting operatiions by indirect fire ! The 16 SP unlike 3 SP which fired on Indian tanks with direct gunsights at Chawinda stayed in conventional artillery role ! In 1971 Musharrafs commando company was not involved in action ! Nevertheless Musharraf compensated for this lack of combat laurels by achieving laurels in army courses and in various command assignments ! His final opportunity came when he ascended to the post of army chief in a situation when the army was in a subservient position vis a vis the civilian head of state , something which was regarded by the military herarchy as worse than blasphemy !
The forced retirement of General Karamat by prime minister Nawaz Sharif was regarded as a personal defeat by the Pakistani military brass and by Musharraf who felt that he would be a far weaker army chief under a strong prime minister who had asserted civilian control over the military machine !
These two factors were the fathers of the Kargil operation ! Ambition accompanied by a perception that the Pakistani public must be convinced that the soldiers were better than politicians.
Kargil at the military level was the brainchild of three men i.e General Musharraf the army chief ,Aziz the then army Chief of general Staff and Mahmud the then corps commander 10 Corps ! Musharraf and Mahmud were motivated by intense ambition to achieve military glory and Aziz was motivated by his Kashmiri ancestry plus military ambition.The person they selected to execute the operation was again one distinguished by out of proportion ambition i.e Major General Javed Hassan , author of a book in 1990s that claimed that India was on its way to disintegration and in which mughal king Humayun was resurrected from the grave to fight at Second Battle of Panipat !
In November December 1998 just one month after Musharraf's elevation to the post of army chief volunteers were asked for at the army level for an operation in Kashmir ! Many thousand volunteered including both officers and men from various units !
At no stage did any Mujahideen enter Kargil ! This is a piece of fiction and has no veracity !
These were attached to NLI units in the 80 Brigade sector for training.The principal idea of the plan was to infiltrate four battalions of NLI (Northern light Infantry) stationed in 80 Brigade Sector into Kargil Heights overlooking and dominating the Srinagar Ladakh road the lone Indian link with the Siachen and Leh Sectors ! The idea being to cut the lifeline of Indian supplies to Leh and Siachen Sectors ! Indian held heights in Kargil were to be occupied in February 1999 while Indian infantry had abandoned these heights at the approach of winter snow as an annual routine since 1948.In occupying the heights no fighting was involved ! The real issue was that of supplying Pakistani troops holding these heights which was far more difficult from the Pakistani side than from the Indian side !
Plans were kept secret and even the Commander 10 Corps Engineers of was not allowed to enter the Operations Room in 10 Corps Pindi.
The distance involved in reaching the heights varied from 15 to 35 kilometres from Pakistan side over mountains as high as 13 to 19,000 feet .To do this each battalion was divided into two parts , one acting as porters taking supplies forward and one half occupying the heights .
The heights were occupied as per the plan but the four units while doing so were severly exhausted ! In March-April the Indians discovered the Pakistani presence and reacted severely ! Severe fighting continued till July once the Indians finally re-captured the heights after Pakistani troops had been left to the mercy of Indian artillery and overwhelming troop concentrations as a result of the Blair House Accord !
A brief military examination of the plan reveals following weaknesses.(1) Failure to assess strategic repercussions of the operation at geopolitic and national strategic level .(2) Logistic failure in incorrect appreciation of supplying the troops . (3) Failure to understand that by occupying the heights the Indians were driven into a corner and had no choice but to retaliate , not for glory as was the Pakistani military's case but for pure military survival . (4) At a more subtle level the use of the Chora-Batalik Sector as a future spring board for Pakistani operations against India was sealed since Indians heavily fortified this sector for any future war.
The Pakistani planners failed to assess that war as an instrument of policy is no longer in vogue at the international level and their temporary military success would only bring greater international censure and a negative war mongering image without any corresponding military gain at the strategic level.
This scribe interviewed a former commander of FCNA and 10 Corps about logistics and General Imtiaz Warraich replied as following :--
" We initiated this operation but failed to support it with comprehensive operational planning and above all buildup for essential logistic support without which no operation can succeed"......'" the principal reason for our heavy casualties and lack of progress was unimaginative and callous logistic operations to support the units".
At one point the sepoys who had volunteered to fight and had come from many other infantry units to the NLI units refused to act as porters carrying supplies over 15 kilometres and were so exasperated that they defied Javed Hassan's personal orders in unit durbars to carry supplies and when Javed Hassn threw his cap on the ground threatened to march over it unless they were not employed as porters ! One such volunteer told this scribe that we had volunteered to fight ,not to act as porters ! The same fact was also mentioned in ISI chief Ziauddin Butt's secret report to Nawaz Sharif prepared by an Engineer officer on Zia's staff in ISI !
The failure to assess the "Enemy" factor was another strategic planning failure at the highest level .I asked General Warraich this question and he stated " Capture of Kargil Heights would totally stop all Indian movement to Leh and Ladakh Sectors unlike Pakistan in Siachen and Indians had no option but to do and die " !
Lust for glory and honour in battle are perfectly reasonable aspirations as long as they are accompanied by commensurate military talent in the generals who are at the helm of affairs ! This was sadly lacking in the Musharraf team who planned the operation. Their egos were many times larger than their real military talent !
By promoting an intensely ambitious man to the rank of army chief Nawaz did a favour which could only be repaid by betrayal ! The plan was based not on sound military reasoning but on burning ambition and an unrealistic desire for glory by men far away from the heat of battle ! No one above major level died , yet in a report to the military secretarys branch Javed Hassan recommended retiring 75 % of officers involved in the operation below colonel level !
The prime minister was not fully briefed because of ulterior motives ! Had the operation succeeded it would have been projected as a proof of Musharraf's Napoleonic brilliance and if it failed as it did Nawaz Sharif would have been made the scapegoat !
The operations planners were distinguished neither by loftiness of thought,nor audacity in the conduct of battle athe operational or strategic level.Thus boldness at tactiacl level was sacrificed because of operational and tactical timidity at the highest level.
No one appreciated that the army men who were employed , and it is a fiction that there was a single Mujahid in Kargil , had flesha nd blood ! These men mourned by a few hundred families were sons husbands fathers and brothers !
The Kargil operation at the military level is a watershed ! Idealism that propelled many hundred to die in those Himalayan wastes is buried for good ! Now there is a new breed which dominates the army ! The ones who aim at going on lush UN secondments or to KESC,WAPDA or as well paid consulatants !
What can one conclude ! It was the human heart that failed in Kargil and this heart which failed was housed in the ribcage of men sitting in the GHQ and not on the rocky pinnacles of Kargil ! Once the supply lines were closed under Indian threat of a counter attack , these brave men all Pakistan Army regulars were abandoned to die , pounded by artillery fire , bayoneted by overwhelming numbers , weakened by starvation ! Who can hear their cries ! Our ears are covered with heaps of lies ! Truth died at Kargil ! What remains is a body guard of lies!
javed hassan the kargil divisional commander as commandant national defence college was so sensitive and embarrased about kargil that the name kargil was not to be uttered in any discussion.
thus when an upright airforce officer doing war course wanted to discuss kargil in a discussion he was immediately told to get out of the room by javed hassan and banished back to airforce from the course the next day
javed hassan continues to enjoy life thanks to sycophancy with musharraf as principal of the state owned university of administrative sciences in lahore
hypocrisy par excellence , what a farce
Nice writing Air Commodore. I have followed your blog for a while.
Originally Posted by transoxiana