CIRCULATED ENGLISH MONTHLY OF J&K
A News Magazine of Kashmiri Pandit Community
|| Home | August 1st-31st, 1999 ||
VOL. 5, NO: 13-14
Part 1 of 2
Go to Part 2 of 2
OPERATION MUSHTARITHE descalation of War in Kargil has been followed by the worsening of the ground
situation in the Kashmir Valley. Terrorist groups have begun taking on paramilitary
forces and army directly. During the last 10 days there have been more than 15 attacks
on the camps of security forces, resulting in more than 30 deaths of the security
personnel. These attacks had an element of surprise and point that the ISI has been
able to build a highly efficient underground command structure for subversion.
Planting of car bombs and IEDs have become a common occurence even in the high security
zones of Srinagar city. Convoys of armed forces are being targetted under a definite plan.
Counter-insurgents’ and political activists’ killings have also seen a sharp increase.
Reports say that during the last two months ISI has pushed more than 2000 mercenaries
into the Kashmir Valley, while another 3000 have been massed along the border for
It would be naive to think that the escalation of terrorist violence is simply aimed at
disrupting the election process or is an act of desperation on the part of Pakistan in
the aftermath of debacle in Kargil. A close look on the operation topac reveals that the
new qualitative upgradation represents a higher phase i.e., Zarb-e-Kamil/ Operation
Mushtari Phase. The main features of this higher phase have been outlined as repeating
Kargil type intrusions in different parts of J&K to occupy lateral valleys, engaging
Indian armed forces directly to create multiple fronts within, use of remote controlled
land mines to make highways and movement of security forces unsafe etc.
Pakistan under a plan is raising the political and military cost for India in this
proxy-war. There are three imperatives for India to counter this Operation Mushtari.
One to stop the infiltration of subversives from across the border. It means creating
a 5 kilometer seucirty belt with effective mining of the borders. Second the strategic
protection of the highways. And lastly the element of surprise has to be snatched from
the terrorists. India must go on offensive against the foreign mercenaries on the pattern
followed by Britishers in their Malaya campaign.
Any dithering on these imperatives can be highly deterimental for our security stakes in Jammu and Kashmir.
Minorities in J&K
EVOLVE A ‘DOCTRINE OF SURVIVAL’
By Dr. Ajay Chrangoo
SECESSIONISM IN BORDER STATESThe secessionist movements have been the characteristic of only the border
states in India. And without exception such states either have a non-Hindu
population as the majority social group or the dominant Hindu identity has
suffered a crippling erosion over the years. The importance of the absence
of secessionist tendencies in the main heartland in maintaining the Unity of
India cannot be overemphasised. The political culture as has evolved in the
mainland India has in many ways than one contributed to the growth of
secessionism in the border states as also the marginalisation and exclusion
of Hindu minority groups living there.
While as the growth of separatism in North-Eastern states can be mainly
attributed to socio-economic reasons as will as concerted campaigns to bring
about dilution and cultural alienation of Hindu social groups, same does not
hold true for the growth of secessionism in the northern border states of
Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The patronisation and legitimisation by the
Indian State and the mainstream political establishment of the
religious-subnationalism in these two states has created a situation where
secessionist politics has assumed international ramifications and an intense
war from within.
CLEANSING OPERATIONS IN J&KThe dimensions of this internal war have frightening proportions
particularly in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Hindu minority in this
border state has borne the main brunt of this war. Suffering a systematic
process of ruthless marginalisation and exclusion since independence, the
Hindus in the Jammu and Kashmir State are now face to face with an
attrition of genocidal proportions. Terrorist operatives in this state,
unlike Punjab, are of the nature of a demographic assault. Indian State as
well as political mainstream have yet to acknowledge this stark reality.
Kashmir valley has already been cleansed of its Hindu population. Continuing
massacres of the Hindus in Jammu province are neither a diversionary tactic
employed by the terrorists nor a sign of their desperation under the
supposed pressure mounted by the security forces. They have a very clear cut
objective of bringing about a blatant demographic change not just in some
parts, but in the entire Jammu region.
‘Cleansing operations’ in the form of selective or mass killings of Hindus
form only the obvious component of the demographic assault in the state. The
less talked about, but not so hidden, components are engineered purchase of
land and properties in targeted areas of Jammu region, fraudulent and
illegal grab of Hindu properties and most significantly the demographic
invasion, of Jammu city. Creating a ‘New Jammu City’ with a transformed
demographic profile, relegating the existing city to the backyards, is no
longer being talked in hushed tones.
These demographic campaigns besides being crucial to the Islamisation of the
state to facilitate extension of Muslim power further towards east have also
immediate implications. Such machinations narrow down the social support
base for India in the state, thus critically impairing the leverage of the
Nation in any negotiated settlement in the light of mounting international
pressures to settle the Kashmir issue. Efforts of the entire nation to
stand up to concerted international pressures on the Kashmir issue stand
nullified in the long run if the demographic character of the state is
allowed to be transformed at a pace at which it is happening in the present
Dispersal of displaced Kashmiri Pandits from Jammu to other parts of the
country, regular internal displacement of Hindus from the vulnerable border
areas of Jammu province to smaller towns as well as the main Jammu city
should ring the alarm bills loud enough for evolving a more comprehensive
thinking on the issue. Strategic thinking should take a serious notice of
the fact that even though Indian security prowess may be able to enforce a
status quo on the borders but as a result of this blatant change of
demographic profile of the state the borders of the nation are very
in-conspicuously receeding back.
RESPONSE OF INDIAN STATEThe response of the Indian State to this serious development since 1989 can
be at the most termed as an approach of mere ‘physical retention’ of Hindus.
The main features of this policy of retention are that:
i) it seeks to maintain pluralism in the state only in symbolic terms.
Attempts at the phased return of the displaced Hindus is a classical example
of this symbolism.
ii) it ignores the reality that Hindus in the state in general, and in
vulnerable pockets were they are having not a significant presence in
particular, are the basic targets of destabilisation.
iii) attacks on Hindus in the state continue to be visualised in terms of
attempts to vitiate communal atmosphere in the mainland rather than in terms
of effecting a demographic transformation of that particular area and
pushing back the civilisational frontiers of the nation.
iv) it seeks to discourage fresh displacement only through administrative
coercion in the form of presenting a fiat accompli to the victims that
displacement may bring a worse situation of economic ruin and wilderness.
The victim is presented a choice between devil and the deep sea.
It is no exaggeration that Hindus in Jammu
and Kashmir constitute the
SURVIVAL DOCTRINEIt is time that problems of minorities in the State of the J&K are addressed
not in piecemeals and puny political posturings. Indian State can no longer
afford to shy away from evolving a comprehensive ‘Doctrine of Survival’ for
minorities in the Jammu and Kashmir State. Any delay in its formulation may
only imperil the minorities with serious implications for overall security
integrity and stability of the already weakened northern frontiers of the
This security Doctrine should form one of the main components of India’s
Kashmir policy and should be based on the specific threats to the minorities
in the regions of the state they inhabit. It also should take into account
the role of political elites in the state towards the survival and
development of the minorities. The main presumptions for this security
doctrine have to be as:
protection measure for the minorities under assault in the state can
The father of the nation had opined
helplessly in 1934 that a Hindu prince
TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING THE WAR
By Dr Ajay ChrungooKARGIL intrusion has raised an array of fundamental questions about the
functioning of our intelligence set up, strategic thinking to political
decision making. Terms of reference of the Committee declared by the Prime
Minister to go into the various aspects of Kargil intrusion are broad enough
to answer these questions. Only if the committee applies itself with
integrity and the political leadership plays just a facilitator’s role.
However the process of such an introspection may still fall short of the
desired objectives of making nation wiser to evolve a comprehensive response
to the Pak mechinations. The reason is the reluctance which the Indian
nation state has been showing in qualifying the ‘war form’ Pakistan has
unleashed. The nation has to come to terms with this ‘war form’ if the
aftermath of Kargil intrusion, which marked the upgradation of Pakistani
agression at all levels, is to be handled properly.
WAR FORM AND DEFECTIVE STRATEGIC PARADIGMThe commonly used terminogologies for the Pakistani aggression of various
forms during last decade have been ‘Proxy-war’ and ‘undeclard war’. Prox-war
term, which is more commonly used, squarely fails to qualify the nature of
this war because it creates a misleading impression about the
instrumentalities used in this war. The human factor involved through such a
qualification, becomes an element devoid of any will, conviction as well as
independence of action. Focus remains primarily on the external element.
The ‘undeclared war’ terminology is also grossly inadequate, but does at
least qualify one attribute of the ‘war form’ which is that the initiator of
the aggression maintains a leverage of deniability and never formally owns
the responsibility for the aggression.
Both the nomenclatures are the product of the extant strategic paradigm of a
low-intensity conflict which is neither able to perceive the gradual
upgradation of the aggression at various levels from within nor visualise
and pre-empt the quantum leap in the conflict from without. These commonly
used qualifications of Pakistani war also do not encompass the various
components of the aggression as well as its objectives long term or short
In the aftermath of Kargil intrusion the experts on strategic concerns
however, appear to be getting conscious of the limitations of the existing
paradigm on security issues. They have infact become highly critical of it.
‘A Kashmir policy must be invented supported by an operational doctrine that
will persuade Pakistan to respect the ‘sanctity of LoC’, comments major Gen.
Ashok Mehta a military expert of repute. Another analyst on strategic
affairs Raja Menon reflects similar concerns while trying to explain reasons
for Kargil intrusion. “A range of faulty signals from India created not so
much by bad nuclear strategy but absence of any strategy conventional or
QUALIFICATION OF THE WAR FORMThe deputy director of Institute of Defense studies and Analyses C. Uday
Bhaskar, one of the best known defense experts, describes the complexity of
the war by Pakistan in Kashmir as, “Kashmir symbolises a large range of
issues including terrorism, low-intensity coflict, concept of Jehad,
Islamic terror and also the patterns of ISI’s destablising designs in
different parts of our country.”
This statement, even though a little overlapping in its content, takes into
account the broadest spectrum of attributes of the Paki-war. More
specifically the Pakistani aggression against our nation for last two
decades constitutes three forms of assaults-subversive, demographic and
territorial. The distinguished political scientist from Kashmir, Prof. MK
Teng hits the core of the issue when he describes the undeclared war as the
‘War of Subversion’.
The aftermath of Kargil intrusion provides the defense and strategic
analysts of our country a very conducive national environment to go into
various aspects of the failure which led to the intrusion in Kargil. It also
provides a very excellant and crucial opportunity to understand the nature
of the war being waged by Pakistan in its totality.
Kargil intrusion constituted the interplay of all the three forms of
assaults-subversive, demographic and territorial. Before the intrusion we
have seen the interplay and impact of only the subversive and demographic
assaults. Inspite of the much drummed up Shia-Sunni divide a very
significant part of the logistics for the Kargil intrusion was provided by
the subversives within. Kargil crisis had also a very significant
implication of rendering the security and manitainance of Kargil town
untenable creating the potential for a severe demographic pressure on the
Buddhist majority Leh. The territorial implications of the intrusion have
been throughly debated and the dangers to entire Ladakh region highlighted.
The atypicality of the military operations in Kargil have been summed up by
another expert on strategic analyses Sh Sreedhar, “for the first time in
post independence India, the armed forces are fighting two types of armies
of Pakistan. It is becoming clear that Pakistan’s regular army from Northern
Light Infantry Divisiion is in action. At another level the Indian army is
also fighting a regular-irregular army raised by Pakistan during the last
WAR OF SUBVERSION-ATTRIBUTESThe war by Pakistan as already discussed comprises of three main components
- subversive, demographic and territorial. However, the subversive component
constitutes core of the entire ‘war form’.
a) Basic objective:- Basic objective of this war form is purely
ideological. Pakistan is an ideological state with a proclaimed
incompatibility with Indian nation state. This incompatibality is not
Kashmir specific as commonly believed. Kashmir is only an alibi for
expansion of Muslim power towards east taking the entire Himayalan barrier
into its fold to ultimately overwhelm India.
The Comments of one of the leading authorities on contemporary Islam John
Laffin should make our strategic analysts stand up and ponder, while they
formulate approaches to deal with the Pakistani aggression. Laffin says,
“The Sunni Muslim code of civil legislation according to Hanfi School of
Islamic Law expresses the matter clearly. The Jehad is the normal and
permanent state of war between the Muslims and the people of Dar-al-Harb,
the code points out. It can end only with domination over the unbelievers
and the absolute supermacy of Islam throughout the world. All war like acts
are permitted on the territory of the infidels ... As it is not feasible to
fight against all the infidel people simultaneously, Jehad allows for the
eventuality of a provisional suspension of hostilities. Such unavoidable
truces constitute another form of holy war for they serve to reinforce the
military potential of Darul-Islam.”
b) Interim objectives:- This war of subversion, conditioned by its basic
objectives, has interim objectives. The major flaw in our national discourse
on security issues is that it continues to be territory centric. For an
unconventional war we have been applying a conventional approach. This
paradigm has lead to our failure to appreciate the non-territorial
objectives of Pakistani aggresson in general and Kargil intrusion in
Strategic thinkers within this country and outside have regarded Kargil
intrusion as a high quality military operation of ‘ingenuity’. Tony Clifton
who had reported 1971 war between India and Pakistan on both sides comments,
“Ironically it has really been a brilliant operation on the part of the
Pakistanis, but they can never say so, that is horribly for their morale.”
Indian military experts have also openly complimented this operation from
the point of view of military standards. Ironically there is a simplistic
generalisation being offered in this country that the Pakistani think tank
behind Kargil Operation was surprised by the high intensity response from
India. We are spending two crores a day for defending a very remote area of
Ladakh - the Siachin Glacier, and even had successfully repelled more than a
dozen bids to capture it in the year preceeding Lahore diplomacy. Yet we
tend to believe that on the other side people were stupid enough not to
judge our reaction even when the entire Srinagar-Leh axis was being
It is time our strategic analysts accord due respectibility to such
objectives of Kargil intrusion which have been articulated but only in a
way that they appear to be incidental to the main objective of endangering
the entire Ladakh region. These objectives are essentially non-territorial
from the short term perspective.
For example through the operation in Kargil, besides inflicting a heavy
cost on India Pakistan has also probed various strategic thresholds.
Specifically Kargil intrusion has lowered the threshold for international
intervention and at the same time raised the threshold of Indian
conventional reponse.But more importantly the intrusion has aimed to create
a favourable environment for Dilution of Indian Sovereignty in Jammu and
In the prelude to Kargil intrusion Pakistan’s support to district-wise
plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir state and almost simultaneous floating of
proposals for reorganising the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir on communal
lines with Indian control only on three subjects of defence, communication
and foreign affairs, are perhaps not incidental happenings. During as well
as after the Kargil operation we are witnessing the veering round of the
so called moderate liberal opinion both in Pakistan and India around various
variants of the Dixon-Plan advocated vigorously by US think tanks on
Pakistani analyst Ayaz Amir’s remarks in Dawn provide a critical insight
which is worth consideration. He while making a critical apprisal of
Pakistani operation says, “to put the most charitable construction on what
is going on in Kargil sector, if this was the opening move in a bid to
liberate Kashmir by force, something could be said in its defence. It would
be seen as part of a larger scheme of things even if this larger scheme was
decried as foolish or foolhardy. But unless there are higher secrets yet to
be revealed, the fighting in Kargil appear to stand all by itself... A war
or even fighting of a limited kind as we are seeing in theKargil and Drass
sectors, must have a political objective if the expenditure of blood and
resources is to be justified. What is the political objective of the present
It cannot be the conqest or liberation of Kashmir because we lack the
strength for that. It cannot be the desire to internationalise the Kashmir
problem because it is a quixotic venture to risk a war for so paltry aim.”
Strategic security paradigm in India has to assimilate the fact that most
important interim objective of ‘war of subversion’ in Jammu and Kashmir by
Pakistan is the Dilution of Indian Sovereignty over the state. Also what we
are witnessing in the entire state is not a territorial surgery but
territorial dissolution. Relentless Demographic assault has considerably
narrowed down Indian social base in the state. This loss of demographic
leverage is aimed to facilitate the process of territorial dissolution to
critical levels where the front either will not exisit or there will be
fronts all around.
c) Response Control:- ‘War of Subversion’ through its subversive process
has created, sustained and perpetuated a reference frame work in our counry
which is crucial for its continuance and attainment of objectives. The
contradictions between various nation building approaches in India are being
used as the operating space . Military experts in India now admit that even
without territorial gains Pakistani operations have attained a ‘strategic
With the upgradation of various components of Pakistani aggression,
subversive assault has assumed a critical dimension which if not controlled
can be catastrophic. Upgradation in subversion has further brought about a
qualitative deterioration in the existing refrence framework of Indian
responses. For example before 1989 and forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits,
secular approach of various political regimes in valley was judged not by
the secular content of their politics but by their approach towards
accession with India. After 1989, the demographic composition of the exodus
became the hall mark of the state of secular affairs. In recent times the
pressures of subversion have pushed the secular paradigm to rediculous
cliches. Symbolic return of Pandits gave away to the tourism returning to
valley as the basic parameter of the status of secularism in the valley.
Theories of ‘alienation’ have helped in the dangerous internalisation of
the crisis. Everything that happens gets attributed to the failures of the
state thereby creating more alienation.
Most dangerous implication of the subversive processes is their success in
forcing a process of self-disinformation upon the Indian state. Kargil
intrusion becomes a fallout of returning tourism and normalcy in the valley.
And intensification of violence in the valley becomes a fallout of Kargil
intrusion. Massacres in Jammu become a result of desperation of terrorists
in the valley and the massacres in valley an outcome of their desperation in
Jammu. Nation appears to have entered a vicious cycle of self-delusion and
d) International Environment:- The ‘war of subversion’ is operating in a
conducive international environment of unipolarity. India continues to be
seen as a part of the other pole of the bipolar era which was dismantled.
The international environment has restricted the healthy expression of our
sovereignity. Kargil war took place on the terms and conditions of the enemy
which we could not alter because of our continued isolation on strategic
The ‘war of subversion’ by Pakistan should be seen in complementary
relations rather than contridiction with the international opinion which has
restricted the expression of Indian sovereignity. American and western
endorsement of Indian point of view came as late as when most of the
military objectives were achieved by Indian forces at a very heavy cost. The
belated support to Indian position in Kargil has not to be visualised as
veering round of US and west to Indian view on Kashmir but only in the
context of forestalling any new regional alignments. “No less extremist ones
are those who have somehow convinced themselves that America’s abhorrrence
of Islamic fundamentalism combined with terrorism, more particularly the
nefarious activities of Osma Bin Laden, the growing attraction of Indian
market and the realisation that in the Asian balance of power India
matters, the US is now ready for a breakthrough in Indo-US relations even at
the cost of its long term alliance with Pakistan”, these words of caution by
Inder Malhotra are fully justified.
The interim objective of dilution of sovereignty in Indian Kashmir of the
‘war of subversion’ by Pakistan is in perfect harmony with the positions
taken by US and west on Kashmir. The vision of Asia in 21st century as
revealed by the Pantagon Papers envisages creation of an Independent
Kashmir. There are concrete reasons to believe that this vision has not been
as yet disowned by the US Government.
e) Economic support:- The war type by Pakistan is supported both by legal
as well as illegal economy. Overemphasis on the state of affairs of official
Pak economy may lead us to faulty conclusions. Illegal economy derived from
the over all control of drug traffiking in particular and crime Mafias in
general form the core of the support base of this ‘war of subversion’. It is
mind-boggling that equal amount of Pakistan’s GDP in 1997-98-Rs 2,750
million was generated by the parallel economy. Sums generated by smuggling
are at the disposal of armed forces and spending Rs 100 million or so for a
Kargil type operation is not a problem.
BEYOND KARGILThe realisation of the totality of the war by Pakistan is a pre-requisite in
combating it. Approaches of self mortification have lead to the
internalisation of the problems which Pakistan has created. Approaches of
externalisation have to be part of the future operational doctrine.
National sensitivity to Pakistani designs should not be only territorial.
Subversive and demographic assaults are as crucial as the terrotorial one.
Nation has to develop a threshold for these assault forms as well and let
it be known to the world. There in lies the key to contain and defeat this
KARGIL ADVENTURE: DESTINATION WAS SIACHEN
Special CorrespondentTurtuk is the strategic underbelly of Siachen, being sandwiched between the
Northern areas of PoK and Aksai Chin/Karakoram frontier on the east. Over
two-thirds of the route to Turtuk is the same as that for Siachen. Any
Pakistani advance down the Shyok valley would put pressure on the flanks of
the Siachen route. Also, Pakistani pressures in the Turtuk sector could have
them control over the high altitude Thoise airbase and open up the
possibility of establishing a direct axis to Batalik (via Chorbatla) and
from there on to Kargil.
Turtuk was captured by the Indian Army in the 1971 war under the leadership
of Col Chewang Rinchin. Under Simla agreement it was delineated with India.
Kargil aggression by Pakistan was a grand design to incorporate Turtuk and
its adjoining areas. This has been confirmed from the interrogation of the
arrested militants, who revealed that Pakistan had planned to execute
‘Operation Turtuk’. By occupying Turtuk and its adjacent areas, Pakistan
wanted to make India’s retention of Siachen untenable.
Pakistan has an obsession that occupation of Siachen by Indian troops
threatens the Sino-Pak Karakoram Highway, which is actually at a distance of
180 km from the Siachen across severely broken terrain. In 1983 intelligence
reports had warned India of Pak preparations to occupy the Siachen area.
This move was forestalled by Indian troops in April 1984. They swiftly
occupied the dominating heights and important passes on the Saltoro
ridgeline. India fears that occupation of Siachen by Pakistan would provide
an opportunity to Pakistan and China to operate in collusion and threaten
Northern Ladakh. It is in this context that some seasoned Indian military
experts have been talking of Chinese collusion in the Kargil aggression by
Pakistan. “The airborne troop concentration and force accretion in Skardu
point to a larger sinister design.. to grab a large area,” said the
Director-General of Military Operations at a press-briefing in early June.
Three-Phase Plan: Informed sources reveal that Pakistan’s Kargil game-plan
was to be accomplished in three-phases.
In the first phase, it attempted to weaken Kashmir’s link with Ladakh. Its
intrusion in Drass was aimed to cut Ladakh’s supply lines from the Kashmir
valley through the Zojila pass. Simultaneously Pakistan was making concerted
efforts to entrench itself along the fulcrum of Chorbatla and Turtuk,
northeast of Kargil.
Pakistan was putting intense pressure on Battalik. Through its strategic
hold on Battalik it could drive a wedge between north and south of the
Indus. Pakistan would then have been in a position to delink the Kargil
brigade, which looks after the area from two other brigades located to the
north of the Indus. Chorbatla and Turtuk area, located north and north-east
of the Indus, would be isolated.
Having isolated the Chorbatla-Turtuk alignment from Batalik, Pakistan wanted
to mount pressure on the Indian brigade at Chalunka on the river Shyok.
Positioning of Pakistan’s forces along the Chorbatla-Turtuk sector also
threatens India’s defence of Siachen Glacier on two counts. First, the
pressure on the Chalunka brigade can mean the diversion of troops from the
Siachen brigade headquarter at Partapur. This could result in lower
concentration of forces for Siachen’s defence. Secondly, Pakistani troops at
Chorbatla can hit the supply lines of the southern Siachen glacier. This can
effect the Indian weapon and ammunition reserves for this segment.
The second phase of Pakistani gameplan was to follow once consolidation in
the Chorbatla-Turtuk area was complete. Pakistan then would have a good
chance of fighting their way along the descent of the Shyok valley, overrun
Thoise and sit at Khalsar on the junction of the Nubra and Shyok rivers.
Any Pak consolidation at Khalsar would result in squeeze on the glacier
since troops from Khalsar can be sent through the Nubra river, whose source
lies in the Siachen glacier itself.
In the phase three Pakistan intended to build pressure on Leh after the
takeover of Khalsar. Entrenchment in Khalsar would make the road link
between Leh and Kargil quite vulnerable through a pincer movement. While one
body of troops advances from the Khalsar side, another force cuts through
the Batalik alignment. The Pakistani objective for threatening Leh was
two-fold a) capture Siachen-Turtuk-Kargil tract b) bargain in overall
Some arrested militants have as per media reports, revealed that Pakistan’s
operation Turtuk was to be executed in four phases. In the Phase-I, the
Pakistani Army had decided to infiltrate the area through militants in order
to subvert the locals and initiate insurgency. This would be followed by the
launching of operations to occupy critical areas around Turtuk and the
adjacent areas. The logistics would be maintained by helicopters, with
temporary helipads built across the LoC. An Army spokesman claimed that in
the third phase Pakistan Army was to launch heliborne operations in the rear
areas, to facilitate operations of the advancing ground forces. The last
phase was to declare Turtuk and its adjacent areas, as part of their
“Operation Turtuk”: Pakistan began implementing its ‘Operation Turtuk’ plan
in 1994, when it hooked Ibrahim, a native of Turtuk. Ibrahim had been
working as an undercover agent for the Intelligence Bureau. He crossed over
to Pok with his family and got arms training at Hizbul Mujahideen centre in
Skardu. ISI made him HM chief in Turtuk. In 1996, he is reported to have
sent six local boys for arms training. Intelligence reports say that most of
Turtuk population got training through Ibraham. He has now turned out to be
a major conduit of arms and ammunition in Turtuk. Ibraham had stored these
arms and sophisticated communication equipment stealthily at hill tops and
in walls of houses and some religious places, to be used when Pakistan would
give a go ahead signal.
It was come to light that Pakistan had planned a major “mass” insurgency in
the villages along the LoC, with Ibrahim running the show. Earlier
intelligence reports had said that several young men of the border villages
had crossed over to Skardu in PoK for arms training spread over several
The arrest of 24 people hailing from the border villages of Thang, Tyakshi,
Pachathang and Turtuk in the first fortnight of June by Leh police virtually
created a sensation. It revealed much than was known about the ramifications
of Pak subversion in Ladakh. The conspiracy came to light with the arrest of
Ibrahim’s brother, Ali Bhutto. The police also seized a large cache of
sophisticated arms and ammunition, including 25 AK-47 and 56 rifles, one
LMG, one MMG, plastic explosive, one rocket launcher, three rockets, 15 hand
grenades, three batteries, fuse wire and a sniper rifle. Most of the
subversives arrested were in the age group 20-25, while a few were in their
40s. Significantly all the arrested people used to act as porters of Army
and they were paid fake Indian currency between Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 by
What is alarming is that these young men after receiving arms training in
PoK would infiltrate the ranks of the armed forces, state police and other
civilian agencies. Leh police arrested two constables-Mohammed Ali and Ahmed
Shah from Thang village. The two are said to have been involved in hiding
some of the arms and ammunition brought in by Ibrahim. According to police,
Mohd Ali had been to PoK for training in 1997 before joining the force.
Ibrahim would be in constant touch, as per reports, with his relatives and
friends in Turtuk and other villages. He came often to the Indian side to
meet them and supply them with arms. Among the arrested people were also an
employee of Food and Supplies department-Abdul Hamid.
The busting of this subversive group is significant. How did Ibrahim manage
to infiltrate so much arms, ammunition and sophisticated communication
equipment onto the Indian side without catching the eye of security forces?
Why did people in Turtuk fall in Pakistan’s trap? People of Turtuk have the
highest literacy among the surrounding villages. It has the maximum
percentage of State government jobs in the entire Nubra valley. Turtuk
always received the best attention of the State government. Whenever the
Chief Minister visited Leh or Nubra, he made it a point to visit Turtuk.
Obviously there was no scope of any alienation. And surprisingly, it were
the illiterate Turtuk shepherds who were the first to report the presence of
Pak intruders in the mountains.
Also arrests in Turtuk have brought to attention the presence of “double
agents” in the border areas of Ladakh district. Earlier, in Drass, radio
intercepts made at the Army’s ‘Tropo Radio Intercepting Station’ ascertained
the presence of torchmen. In Drass a mysterious torch light would be
switched on and off from a remote village to direct Pakistan shelling on
targets on Indian side.
In Kargil also the Army and the police were baffled by the Pakistani
shelling knocking out vital targets frequently and so accurately. Targets
chosen were also significant-underground ammunition dump on Baru hills,
residence of SP, and DC, office of SP, offices of ration and clothing depot,
fuel dump of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at Khurbatang Plateau. It was
so badly damaged that it had to be shifted to Kargil. The shells also hit
the office of ITBP.
After the police launched an investigation, it found 20 local spies were
directing the Pakistani firing from this side of the border. And most of
them turned out to be Observation Posts (OPs) sources for various Indian
intelligence outfits, double crossing the Indian agencies. The porters
involved in the game would gather information about locations and in turn
supplied it to Pakistan enabling it to go for its targets accurately. A
special police team nabbed Ghulam Mohammad, a school teacher and Hassan, an
army labourer on charges of spying in Batalik along with eight bundles of
dynamite and two metres of special detonator wire, called cordex. A mole in
the local telephone exchange was found directing the Pakistani shelling. END
KARGIL INTRUSION - WAS IT PLAN - X
Special CorrespondentIn 1987, immediately afterthe Exercise Brass Tacks, Pakistan government
asked its Joint Chief of Staff Committee (JCSC) to Siachen glacier. After
prolonged deliberations, JCSC submitted a comprehensive plan to make India
recoil from the Saltoro crestline and Siachen glacier. The aim of this
operation, codenamed Plan - X, was to seize and hold logistics support bases
vital for maintenance of troops deployed on theSaltoro Crest Line, Siachen
and Southern Glaciers by surprise attck with a view of trapping all Indian
troops deployed in the glacier areas and enabling Pakistan to negotiate
withdrawl of Indian forces from Siachen Glacier from a position of strength.
The details of this plan were published in a leading Indian defence Journal
in 1992. Plan - X visualised capture of forward positions of Partapur
garrison along axis Siari-Tortuk and logistic support bases for Southern
Glaciers by infiltration across the LC, capturing Thoise Air field Complex
and Siachen base camp through heli-landing of troops, simulation of major
attacks in Drass, Kargil, Tangdhar, Pooch to tie down Indan reserve
formations and stepping up terrorist and guerrilla activity in the Kashmir
Plan - X was shelved because of the prolongation of Taliban war in
Afghanistan and Benazir government appeared to be totally against such
military adventure in Siachen. Some Pakistani Generals did not agree with
Benazir in postponement of Plan - X. They took India’s support to Dr
Najilbullah’s regime in Afghanistan as an excuse to attack Siachen. On a
note of prophetic warning, the author of ‘OP. Topac-Kashmir imbroglio’
warned, “these Generals may not have their way immediately but it cannot be
assumed that they will not have their way in the future”. END
KARGIL: THE WIDER RAMIFICATIONS
By Shailendra AimaThe wider conflict in Kargil seems to be over with the withdrawal of
Pakistan troops and the mercenaries backed by it. The political observers as
well as the strategic analysts have heaved a sigh of relief at the averting
of a full-fledged military conflict between India and Pakistan, with a
possible nuclear fall out in South Asia. There is a talk, now, of conflict
resolution on bilateral basis in the spirit of the Simla Agreement. An
opinion seems to be gaining ground that the support to the militants from
across the border must stop forthwith. Another premise which is getting
projected simultaneously is that LoC be converted into International Border,
that the long standing promise of autonomy of Kashmiris be fulfilled and
that movement of Kashmiris from the Indian to Pakistani side, and vice
versa, be liberalised.
It seems that the entire solution, in this case, hinges on the assumption
that the bone of contention between India and Pakistan is Kashmir and once
there is a resolution of the Kashmir problem, the hostilities between the
neighbours will cease and that peace shall prevail in the sub-continent,
giving both India and Pakistan the opportunities to utilise their resources
on development and economic growth.
An analysis of the claims and counter-claims of both India and Pakistan in
the matter shows the Pakistani belief that a logical conclusion of the two
nation theory (the basis for Pakistan’s creation) should have been accession
of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan; it being a Muslim majority
state. The Pakistanis also demand that Kashmiris be given the right of
self-determination, as proposed by no less a person than Pt. Jawahar Lal
Nehru. The Pakistanis also say that the denial of the right of
self-determination amounts to suppression of the people of Kashmir and
therefore it shall continue to support popular movements against India in
The argument put forth by the Indians is that the state of Jammu and Kashmir
legally and constitutionally acceded to India when it was facing an
aggression by the Pakistani regulars and its sponsored tribesmen. That
plebiscite became impossible when Pakistan refused to vacate one third of
Kashmir’s territory and that the people of Kashmir put their stamp of
approval on accession by electing a popular government, by participating in
elections from time to time and by the Resolutions of their Constituent
Assembly. The Indians also argue that India is a secular state and the fact
that India has a much larger Muslim population than the entire Pakistan,
negates the two nation theory. For India, therefore, Pakistan is the product
of a two-nation theory which it refutes and debunks; and for Pakistan,
Kashmir is a logical corollary and continuation of the process of the two
In addition to these claims and counter-claims, there is a need to
understand the nature of conflict between India and Pakistan. Creation of
Bangladesh was a serious physical as well as an ideological setback to
Pakistan. Ever since then, it renewed its attempts to annex Kashmir and to
weaken the multiethnic, multilingual and secular fabric of the Indian
polity. This would serve to avenge Bangladesh as well as to weaken the
ideological basis of the Indian nation state. Pakistan after the 1971
experience started banking more on subversive, diplomatic and political
machinations to achieve this end. As a consequence India is face to face
with a proxy-war not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but through a strong network
of ISI operatives, is being pounded in entire north-east and as far south as
Tamil Nadu. The reverberations of Punjab are still producing tremors, not to
speak of what is happening in Bombay, Coimbatore, Chennai, Gujarat and
As a diplomatic and strategic initiative, Pakistan provided a no-hold, free
landing to the Americans for intervention in Afghanistan and diverted its
spill-over to Kashmir. A low-cost involvement for Pakistan has developed
into a festering sore for the Indian body politic and is demanding a heavy
price. A pan-Islamic Jihad serves the imperialist as well as
religio-civilisational imperatives of Pakistan and provides it an
ideological basis for existence. Emboldened by these ventures, Pakistan
visualizes itself as the eastern arm of the Afro-Arab Islamic fraternity
with a well defined agenda of expansion in India and further eastward. The
Himalayas and the Himalayan hinterland are crucial to its strategic and
global interests. An so is its nuclear and missile programme.
What happened in Kargil, therefore, is neither an isolated event nor any
kind of a misadventure by Pakistan. The only difference this time is that
India chose to confront it with its full might and the Pakistanis were made
to vacate this side of the LoC. As the reports suggest, the Pakistanis
during this period have succeeded in infiltrating about 1600 hard-core
Islamic mercenaries into Kashmir who have renewed their attacks on the
security establishments in J&K as well as selective minority killings. While
the proxy-war stands upgraded, Pakistan is also renewing its peace
offensive. It is expressing itself to talk to India for a final solution of
the Kashmir problem and also regrets India’s putting preconditions for such
talks. India on the other hand, struck up with a mid-term poll, finds its
political leadership divided and the entire opposition demanding its pound
of flesh. India moves into elections with prospects of a bloodier terrorists
offensive. All claims of normalcy in Kashmir stand falsified, today.
Pakistan has relentlessly pursued its agenda over the last two decades. It
has achieved a decisive depth within the Indian system through subtle ISI
operations. It has succeeded in creating a situation for India where India
is engaged in self-containing exercises a situation for India where India is
engaged in self-containing exercises at the cost of its own sovereignty.
“India shall not cross the LoC even in the wake of grave provocation”
reveals the state of Indian mind, where LoC is sacrosanct, granting autonomy
to J&K is pious, toeing the American initiatives is a compulsion but where
National sovereignty and integrity are matters of compromise.
Peace in the present circumstances is impossible. India may decide on
quantum of autonomy to J&K state, but that bears no relation to the
Pakistani offensive; as it would neither prevent its agents from
ethnic-cleansing of the minorities nor shall the militarised pan-Islamic
groups relent in their pursuit of Jihad. On the contrary, if the Indian
state persists with its misplaced priorities of package and concessions for
the so-called “misled youth”, and refuses to acknowledge the war or the
proxy-war or the war-like situation (whatever nomenclature it likes to give)
and keeps on harping on non-issues like “autonomy”, the days shall no be far
away when autonomy for LTTE in Tamil Nadu, Baabar Khalsa in Punjab,
Nexalities in Andhra, ULFA in Assam and other militant outfits in Bihar,
Nagaland and Tripura shall become inevitable.
The time has come to get out of this mind-set, call a spade a spade and
demonstrate the eye for an eye approach while dealing with the aggressor. In
Kashmir, it is the national sovereignty which is under attack. Either we
lose to Pakistani design and disintegrate or we preserve ourselves and
defeat the enemy.
KARGIL: THRESHOLD OF CRUSADES
By Prof MK TengThe war in Kargil, contrary to the view unexpectedly held by the Indian
government and which found favour with those who claimed expertise on
Indo-Pakistan relations, was not an isolated eruption of a border conflict
or a military expedition of the Pakistan army across the Line of Control. In
India, a prismatic sense of self-mortification prevails in the government,
as well as in the minds of those who run it that there is always, a cause
which has its origin outside the Muslim community for whatever, happens
inside its folds. Perhaps, the right of self determination which Pakistan
alleged, had been denied to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, was also an
alibi, which had its origin in India, and which was perhaps, devised for the
convenience of Pakistan. For the fact, that neither the transfer of power in
the British India, nor the lapse of the Paramountcy in the States, accepted
self-determination for any of the peoples in India: those inhabiting the
British India, which was divided and those inhabiting the India of the
princely States. Indeed, the partition was a denial of the right of
self-determination of the Indian people, who except the Muslims-a small
minority in the Indian population, opposed the division of India.
For whatever, was accomplished after the partition to locate the blame for
the communal divide, the censure fell, partly on the British and partly on
the Hindus of India, who were erroneously believed to have determined the
policies of the Government of India, providing a clean chit to the Muslim
League and the Muslims of India: the real force which brought about the
partition of India. Pakistan cried hoarse and rightly that the Muslims in
India and not the British had created the Muslim homeland for Pakistan,
concieved as a major step in the direction of the freedom of the Muslim
Umah. Indeed, the British acted as catalysts.
The objective of Pakistan was delineated by the Indian Muslims. Sir Mohammad
Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah provided the ideological content to the Muslim
movement for Pakistan, a fact, which is clearly revealed by the
correspondence Iqbal had with Jinnah till his death. The major tactical
manoeuvre the Direct Action, which overwhelmed the Congress leadership, and
brought it down to its knees to accept the partition, was envisaged by the
Muslims of India. The British did not divide India. The Muslim of India
Sooner than expected, however, a conscious effort was made, first, to put
the blame for the partition of India on the British and after that was
achieved, put a part of the blame on the Congress leadership. The Muslims in
India could do no wrong, and therefore, they could not be accused of having
done the wrong of dividing the country.
The Indian perspectives continued to be warbled and the separatist demand
for a Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, to exclude it from the
secular constitutional organisation of India on the basis of the Muslim
majority character of its population looked for its rationale, not in Muslim
communalism, which it blatantly reflected, but in the quest for a
sub-national identity which was claimed to represent a secular ideal.
Much worse, the long secessionist struggle, spearheaded by the Plebiscite
Front, in search for the self-determination of the Muslims, was insistently
characterised as a movement which did not support Pakistan and the so-called
two-nation theory of the Muslim League. The demand for a second Muslim state
of Jammu and Kashmir, which the Plebiscite Front and the other secessionists
organisation made, was justified as a secular movement because it did not
underline this demand for the accession of the Jammu and Kashmir State to
Pakistan, but claimed a second partition of India to create another
independent Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir. After the front leaders
formally adorned the garb of secular patriotism in 1975 they were suddenly,
hailed as the harbingers of a new age of secular history in India. However,
they pursued their own agenda and as Afzal Beg, the President of the Front,
had promised his cadres, that the Front would enter the government “to wreck
India from within”, they followed their objectives with meticulous care and
ruthless effect. The leadership of the militant flanks which launched the
war of attrition in the state against India in 1989, came from the two
generations of the Muslims, who were socialised to secessionism and Pakistan
for two and half decades of the movement led by the Plebscite Front in the
The Muslim international underlined by the Islamic revolution provided the
secessionist movement in the state, with a new basis for pan-Islamic unity
and a new thrust for the achievement of the freedom of the Muslims in Jammu
A self conscious Indian leadership, driven by compulsions beyond ordinary
human comprehension, sought to camouflage the fundamentalist, communal and
separatist content of the Muslim militancy by offering theoratical
explanations, like the “alienation syndrome”, “poverty” “unemployment” and
of course”, the inducement of Pakistan to misguide the Muslim youth”. The
Janata government, which owed much to the most irridentist leadership of the
Indian Muslims, for their support in the elections, blamed everyone, except
the Muslims, for the militant violence in Kashmir. They blamed the Hindus in
Jammu and Kashmir as well as in India for having scuttled the aspirations of
the Muslims to autonomy, political participation and economic prosperity.
They blamed the successive Congress governments of having rigged the
elections in the State to userp political power and oppress the Muslims.
The Congress which returned to power after the Janata broke up, gave its
own version of the eruption of the Muslim militancy in Kashmir and with an
abject sense of self-condemnation, blamed its own leadership of having
deprived the Muslims in Kashmir of the autonomy which their illustrious
predecssors had promised them. Some of the Congress leaders carried their
argument to absurd extremes, claiming that the crusade carried on by the
militants and their Muslim supporters in Jammu and Kashmir, did not support
the two-nation theory, on which Pakistan was based and the version of the
Islamic Revolution the militant regimes in Jammu and Kashmir advocated was
basically secular in character, and upheld the “tradition of tolerance and
amity”, of the Muslim society in Kashmir.
The Congress government indeed, had no qualms to inform the National Human
Rights Commission that half a million of Hindus had migrated out of their
homes of their own volition, visibly seeking to convince the Commission that
the Muslims in Kashmir were in no way involved in the ethnic cleansing of
the Hindus from Kashmir. The Congress leaders avoided to refer to the
genocide of the Hindus and their ethnic cleansing from Kashmir, lest they be
rightly understood or misunderstood for what they said. For a long time, the
Indian government and the Indian leadership, reluctantly referred to the
complicity of Pakistan in the war of attrition in the State, using vague and
often misleading chiches, to evade an indictment of the Muslims whether in
Jammu and Kashmir or in Pakistan.
The Indian Muslims, who had stakes in the secular integration of the Muslims
of Jammu and Kashmir in the constitutional organisation of India and who
vigorously supported the secularisation of the state and society in the rest
of India vigorously aplauded the demand for Islamisation of the State under
the garb of its sub-national identity. They insisted upon guarantees to
secure the Muslims in India against the religious precedence of the Hindu
majority and demanded the enforcement of the right to equality and right to
protection against discrimination on the basis of religion. But they opposed
the secularisation of the Jammu and Kashmir State and its integration in the
Indian political structure. While secularism was necessary to protect the
Muslim minority in India, religious precedence of Islam was necessary to
protect the Muslims majority in Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim majority
State in India.
The violence, with which the Muslims backed up their demand for Pakistan in
1946, when the League launched the ‘Direct Action’ campaign, was
characterised by Jinnah himself as the Muslim struggle for freedom from
India. The long war of subversion unleased by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir,
is not different in its objectives as well as its character from the ‘Direct
Action’ campaign, which led to the partition of India. The Muslim struggle
in Kashmir is relatively a wider phenomenon and involves the commitment of
the Muslim international with Pakistan as one of its epicentries to force a
second partition on India, and cut off its northern regions, Jammu and
Kashmir, followed by the planes of the Punjab and hills of Himachal Pradesh
and make way for the Muslims to expand eastwards. Expansion to the east
which the Nazis in their time, claimed for Germany as the inevitable Drag
Natch Osten’, has ominous forebodings for India. Pakistan is an ideological
state, and not different from the ideological states, fascism, nazism and
communism reared. India is on the frontline of the Muslim expansionist
movements towards the east.
The eruption of the military activity in Kargil, which Pakistan claimed was
a part of the crusade in Kashmir, carried by the Muslim Mujahideen
represented the Islamic international, should leave no one in doubt about
its objectives. The Kargil war, is a part of the long war Pakistan is waging
against India to grab the Jammu and Kashmir, with a measured purpose: the
de-Sanskritisation of the Himalayan frontier to integrate the Himalayas in
the Central Asian Complex, which is dominantly Muslim. The Islamisation of
the warm Himalayan hinterland, would ensure the emergence of the Muslims as
the main power in Central Asia. And once they establish their power over
Central Asia, they will extend their sway over South Asia and South East
Asia. Placed along the soft frontiers of Russia as well as the turbulent
Muslim majority border states of Western China, including Sinkiang, they
would be able to force a realignment of power in Asia.
The de-Sanskritisation of the Himalayas is the most crucial achievement
Pakistan seeks to accomplish. For if the Himalayas are lost, the entire
northern India will lose its geo-strategic defences against the invasion
from the north.
Kargil is not an isolated act of military activity of Pakistan. For the
ideological state of Pakistan, the soldiers of its army, the Afghan Taliban,
the Sudanese and the Arab Mujahideen, are all pioneers of the Muslim
crusade, indistinguishable from the Mujahidin raised from among the Muslims
in Jammu and Kashmir. Kargil war is an integral part of the ideological war,
which Pakistan has carried on against India for the last five decades.
Crusade is the character of an ideological state and Muslim crusade in Jammu
and Kashmir should be viewed as a real threat to the national security of
India. Kargil is a warning of the growing danger, India is faced with in its
north. Ideological crusades assume varied forms, and the liberation armies,
which lead the crusades follow their own agenda. They are not subject to the
civilisational values, which India claims to be the basis of its secularism.
The genocide of Hindus and their ethnic cleansing from Kashmir has amply
proved that END
By Prof Hari OmIrrespective of their political leanings and religious beliefs, the Ladakhis
had hailed the October 1989 tripartite agreement as the crowning triumph of
their 47-year-long crusade, which included the threat of leaving India for
Tibet to end the Kashmir valley’s hegemony over the State’s politics and
economy. The agreement promised to achieve and exercise equal rights for
Ladakhis with the Kashmiris in all spheres.
Under the 1989 accord, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council
(LAHDC) was set up as a means to evolve and empower the Ladakhis to mould
their future and compensate for their losses since 1947, owing to the
discriminatory policies of the Kashmiri rulers. The belief of the Ladakhis
that they would be armed with adequate powers to regenerate their
socio-cultural and politico-economic life was not based on something
abstract. It had stemmed from the President’s Act, 1995 itself, under which
they were to obtain a modified dispensation.
The language of the Act clearly stated that the LAHDC shall have unbridled
“executive powers” to control fully the region’s land and administration,
formulate and finalise the budget for the Leh area, generate employment and
alleviate poverty, promote tourism in the cold desert, set up educational
institutions and small-scale cottage industries, open up health centres etc.
However, to say all this is not to suggest that everybody in Ladakh shared
the same feeling that the President’s Act would harmonise inter-regional
relations, and that the politics of confrontation between Ladakh and the
Valley would become a story of the past.
There was a section which then warned that the LAHDC was not a permanent
solution to the kind of ills afflicting the Ladakhis. It stated that
differences may surface again as soon as the President’s rule ended and
power was transferred to the leaders in the Valley. In effect, this group
told the Ladakhi Buddhist Association (LBA), who had been spearheading the
“empower Ladakh movement”, that the key to the age-old Ladakhi problem lay
not in a dispensation within the State but in a total segregation of the
trans-Himalayan region from the Valley into nothing short of a “Union
The developments in the Leh area after the end of President’s rule in 1996,
leave no doubt whatsoever that the apprehensions expressed by the ardent
believers in the concept of “Union Territory status” were legitimate. But
some of the noteworthy things are the unambiguous resolve of well
established political formations like the LBA, the LMA and the Congress, of
taking extra-constitutional methods to revive their demand for Union
Territory status. Total boycott of the officially organised Republic Day
celebration at Leh in 1998 and 1999, massive strike throughout the Leh
district in January 1999 and the rise of a feeling among comparatively more
radical Ladakhis that they do not have any future in the present
geographical dispensation are some of the disturbing developments in the
All these developments point to the fact that the euphoria of 1989 and 1995
has given way to despair, and that a strong anti-Valley sentiment is
sweeping the cold desert region. Known for its October 1989 unprecedented
violence, these developments also suggest that the problem has serious
The question arises: what aggravated the Ladakhi political scene and
provoked the people there to look beyond India? The most important of all
reasons is what the Ladakhis call repudiation of their 13 immediate demands
by the Valley’s “ruling elite”. They had even vehemently opposed New Delhi’s
move of setting up an autonomous hill council at Leh, denouncing the step as
a deliberate move to hurt the Kashmiri psyche and jeopardise the interests
of the alienated people of the Valley.
Some of the demands of the Ladakhis, which were put down by the Valley
leaders were: A free hand to LAHDC to administer all the 45 subjects placed
under its jurisdiction by the Presidential Order, 1995; Financial autonomy
and more funds to the council to enable it to undertake developmental
activities in the extremely backward area which remains cut off from the
rest of the country for more than six months in a year; reversal of the
policy being pursued by the Kashmiri leaders to undermine the authority of
LAHDC and render it defunct; finalisation of some General Business Conduct
Rules and Executive Council Rules; ratification of rules pertaining to land
otherwise vested in the LAHDC and control over Government employees serving
in the Leh district, including the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chief Executive
Officer of the Council; and implementation of the Master Plan notified three
Besides this, they also demanded increase in the number of blocks in the Leh
district from the existing five to nine; Cabinet Minister status to the
chairman of the LAHDC on the Darjeeling pattern and minister of state status
to its executive councillors; continuation of the pre-October 1996 practice
under which the chairman of the Council used to take salute at Republic and
Independence Day functions; reappointment of Bashrat Ahmad Dar as the
Deputy Commissioner of Leh district, who was removed from office by the
State government following boycott of the officially-held Republic Day
celebrations by all Ladakhis; revision of the Councillors’ salary and
It is obvious that the State government’s attitude towards the far off
Ladakhis is apathetic and provocative. The fact is that it has practically
wrecked the 1995 reform scheme as originally conceived and has
systematically minimised the concessions made available to the Ladakhis to
conciliate them and retrieve the situation in the sensitive border region.
The generation of aggressive thinking among the Ladakhis has to be viewed in
the context of the impatience with stagnation and an urge for developments
as well as the difficulties which are created by the Valley-based leaders at
every step and their unwillingness to shed off what may be termed as their
archaic bias against non-Kashmiri.
Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah would do well to sit up and
dispassionately review the political situation as it is developing in Leh
and take appropriate steps to strengthen the LAHDC so that it is able to
mitigate the hardships of the Ladakhis. The people of this region
undoubtedly deserve a special treatment and extraordinary attention. For,
they have been suffering since ages from abject poverty, illiteracy, endemic
unemployment and, above all, depredations of the Valley rulers.
Not to meet their demands (and these appear quite petty and
non-preposterous) would be to play with dangerous tools in the sense that
the suffering Ladakhis appear determined not to allow anyone to take them
for a piggy-ride any longer. Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah must act before
it is too late. The Centre should also step in as the developments in Leh
have the potential of harming the national interests as well.
Source: The Pioneer END
HOW MUSLIM WORLD REACTED ON KARGIL
Diplomatic CorrespondentQazi Hussain Ahmad, Chief of Jamaat Islami, Pakistan, while speaking on
Kargil developments, said that Pakistan stood isolated internationally and
OIC was almost dead. Given its highly sectarian agenda and dubious
functioning, OIC has never commanded respect among the global community.
Since 1990, with the outbreak of Islamist insurgency in Kashmir, the
statements issued by OIC have been quite embarrassing to India and Pakistan
exploited these for building the publicity focus on Kashmir. This year’s OIC
meet at Burkino Faso was quite different. Strong indictment of Pakistan’s
action in Kargil made OIC countries cautious. Two anti-Indian resolutions
were passed but individually almost all OIC members assured India that they
understood its position. At the same time they expressed their helplessness
and lack of clout in breaking the consensus. Most of the OIC countries
issued usual proforma statements of concern at the “escalating tension”.
Egypt and Iran offered for mediation initially but preferred to remain
silent subsequently. Egypt, itself plagued by the fundamentalist militancy
called for peaceful settlement of the dispute. Iran’s role on Kargil is
influenced by its own compulsions. Pakistan-backed Taliban regime is
strongly anti-Iran and has conducted many programmes against Iranian
population (Hazara) in Afghanistan recently. State-sponsored religious
militias of Pakistan have been pursuing anti-Shia campaigns. This cannot be
to the liking of Iran. Lastly, Kargil is a Shia-majority area. Iran would
not like Pakistan, with a sectarian agenda to harass Kargilis.
Reliable reports say that even Saudi Arabia, the traditional backer of
Pakistan privately told it to settle its dispute with India by peaceful
means. It conveyed that the use of force in Kashmir would result in
large-scale human and material losses in both the countries. On
Clinton-Sharif communique Saudis remained non-committal.
Pakistan and Saudi collaboration has a history that dates back to late
sixties and was dictated by commonality of interests. Both the countries
have remained frontline states for Americans in the cold war and had common
interest in fomenting Pan Islamist movements across Asia. In 1971 Gen Zia
himself launched action against Palestinians in Jordan at the instance of
Saudis. Pakistani elite commandoes guard Saudi monarchy. Saudis have
financed heavily (one-billion dollars) Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. Currently
the international community is concerned over a possible Pakistan-Saudi
nuclear collaboration, which covers transfer of prohibited sensitive
technology. Saudi Defence Minister recently visited Pakistani defence
Does Saudi Arabia’s soft stance on Kargil mark a shift? And what was the
purpose, behind Sharif’s holding of a full-fledged cabinet meeting in Riyadh
around the time Kargil war was coming to close. Nearly ninety people, which
included cabinet ministers, bureaucrats, Army chief, top brass of the Army,
ISI chief and supremos of some militant religious groups had descended on
Riyadh for a four day trip. This was an unusual meeting, where all the
factions of Pakistan’s power structure were represented-Army, ISI, religious
militias and the Prime Minister.
In the Kashmir secessionist campaign, Saudis have been remote controlling,
mainly through their linkages with religious militia groups based in
Pakistan. This has been in full knowledge of Americans. As long as it served
their interests, they remained silent. Since Americans did not want to push
India into a tight spot, whereby they will lose all the leverage in
influencing future diplomatic moves on Kashmir-the new missive to Saudis was
to rein in the “Mujahideen” groups. Americans also warned Riyadh that it
would not tolerate any situation, where renegade Wahabi-fundamentalist
groups e.g. Bin Laden become threat to US interests. With reports coming in,
that these renegade groups are in the process of managing dangerous
chemical/biological/nuclear weapons, made available with break-up of Soviet
Union, Americans have become quite cautious. Moreover, these renegade groups
are anti-status-quoist. They have challenged the Saudi Monarchy as well.
Clinton not only wanted Saudis to sort out the “Mujahideen” factor in Kargil
but it also asked it to ensure the total implementation of US formula on
Kargil. That was precisely the purpose of Sharif’s cabinet meeting in Riyadh
PAK OBJECTIVES IN KARGIL
Diplomatic CorrespondentPAKISTAN’s intrusion deep inside the Indian territory in Drass-Batalik
sector was not a reaction by hawks in the army to sabotage the so-called
peace process initiated at Lahore. Pakistan staked so much and had been
putting logistics into action atleast and from the middle of 1998. What did
Pakistan gain from this misadventures? Did it not anticipate the global
isolation and the domestic humiliation in embarking upon this aggression?
Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Prime Minister had even punished General Jehangir
Karamat for not agreeing to the adventure. What were the core objectives
Pakistan wanted to accomplish through this action.?
TAKBEER, an Urdu weekly published from Lahore describes Kargil aggression as
the brainchild of Lt. Gen. Azizuddin. Since 1984, when India defeated
Pakistani gameplan to annex Siachen, Pakistan has never been at ease. In May
1985 a serious conflict took place between India and Pakistan on the
glacier. Gen. Azizuddin, then Brigadier was put in charge of a Brigade in
PoK in 1985. He surveyed the entire area and drew a preliminary plan for
capturing Siachen. General Zia-ul-Haque had already put OPERATION TOPAC in
action. Meanwhile,Gen. Azizuddin was recalled back to the headquarters at
Rawalpindi. In 1994 he was promoted and sent back to PoK as head of the
Northern Command. It was during this tenure that he drew the final gameplan
for making India’s position in Siachen area vulnerable. In 1998 he became
Major-General. After 1998 nuke tests, conducted by both countries.
Pakistan-Army leadership concluded in case Siachen annexation plan was put
into action, India cannot retaliate through a full scale war.
The selection of General Pervez Mushraff and putting Lt. General Azizuddin
as incharge of Kashmir Operation is significant. Both are rabid
fundamentalists and known for anti-India hate. General Azizuddin was the
chief architect of Siachen annexation plan with vast experience of serving
in PoK. It was he who developed, nurtured and implemented the Taliban’s war
fighting docrine in Afghanistan. Gen. Mushraff and Azizuddin have spent
their entire career working with one Mujahideen group or the other during
the last two decades.
From 1994, Pakistan had been probing Indian defences in Kargil and building
infrastructure for subversion. It began enticing border youth in
Kargil-Turtuk area since 1994 by cultivating one Ibrahim of Turkuk.
Exfiltration and infiltration of terrorists had been going on since 1992 in
this sector. In 1992, reports appearing in Tribune and Quami Azad spoke
about the existence of a fundamentalist group, which was creating an
anti-Indian atmosphere. This group, receivng foreign funds was also engaged
in sending youth across for training. Cashing this situation, Pakistan tried
to build a support structure for subversion.
That Pakistan was seriously engaged in pursuing Gen-Azizuddin’s gameplan is
clear from the sabotage activities, which took place in this sector
regularly. On Sept. 30, 1997 Pakistan pounded Kargil leading to many losses.
In October, there was a major flare-up. In April 1998 ISI-trained
subversives put IEDs on Drass road. Army lost some vehicles and few Army
officers were also killed. In this incident links of some local politicians
with infiltrators were suspected.
Since September 1998 attacks on Indian posts in Siachen have been taking
place regularly. Only a week after Lahore talks Indian positions were
attacked in Siachen. During Kargil war and recently on 11th August Pakistan
launched full scale attacks in Siachen area.
Mushraff a couple of months after being appointed during visit to Siachen
said, “we are not talking of winning the war, we are taking of the degree of
difficulties you can create for the other”.
There is definite envidence that Pakistan’s basic objective in Kargil
aggression was to threaten Siachen by cutting off Indian garrisons at Turtuk
and Siachen before launching an all-out attack on Siachen. It wanted
penetration into Indus-Valley through Batalik and Chorbatla and then enter
into Shyok valley to recapture 254 sq miles of Turtuk and its adjoining five
villages. Plan was link Kargil with Siachen. After Jhelum and Chenab-Valley,
Pakistan’s aim is to dominate Indus-Valley.
Gen. Mushraff’s elevation was linked with Kargil plan. He had served in the
elite SSG Corpos twice. Mushrraf had stint in Siachen and had remained DG
Statements by Pakisan army officers and the Foreign Minister also point to a
conspiracy to grab Siachen. Tahir Mehmood, a brigade commander operating in
Kargil told Nawa-ie-Waqt that aim was to isolate Ladakh and destroy India’s
strategic control in Siachen area. Lt. Col. Muhammad Nawaz, who commanded a
battalion in Shingo sector along LoC told Dauid Orr of the Times that
purpose of Kargil intrusion was to starve Indian forces on Siachen of
supplies. Gen. Hamid Gul (retd) former ISI chief said if Pakistan could hold
in Kargil for two months, India would lose hold over Siachen. General Aslam
Beg, former Army chief also agreed that purpose was to sever line of
communications and supplies to troops in Siachen. The Pakistan Foreign
Minister told the visiting US mediator Gen. Zinni that respect for LoC means
India should withdraw from Siachen.
Second objective for Pakistan was to tie down Indian security forces along
the LoC in order to defuse the intensity of anti-militant drives in
hinterland and then stepping up miliant strikes in interior area, picking up
soft targets as well as convoys of security forces. After the end of Kargil
war Kashmir valley in particular has seen regular and dare-devil attacks on
police stations, and army camps.
The Central objective of Pak ISI is to bleed Indian military and state
through hundred cuts. It implies forcing dispersal of Indian secuity forces
over the wides possible area. Pakistan through Kargil aggression has
compelled India to have Siachen type (Siachenisation) security for
Drass-Turtuk sector also.This imposes an additional financial burden of Rs
four to five thousand croes. ISI gameplan is to raise economic, political
and military costs for India in the proxy war. So for India has been
reacting from a defensive mode.
Thirdly, Kargil operations, may have been a part of Pakistan’s ‘riposte
doctrine’. It involves making thrusts through narrow corridors, advancing
and holding Indian territory and bargaining afterwards. Pakistan wanted to
isolate Kargil and thereby to strengthen her position for talks with India
if that stage ultimately came. Then she would stake claim over Doda, Rajouri
and Kargil. Paksitan belives that ultimate solution would be around LoC, so
Pakistan was trying to question the validity of LoC politically and
cartographically. Its aggression was also aimed at shifting the alignemnt of
LoC further east into Indian territory. During Kargil war, Pakistan Foreign
Ministry oficials repeatedly said that LoC was not properly demarcated. As
part of the ‘riposte doctrine’ Pakistan made attacks on Nikkial (Poonch)
Aknnoor, Uri, Gurez, Kupwara, RS Pura capturing lateral valleys also
indicates that Pakistan’s proxy war has been upgraded.
Wider anti-India conspiracy was also behind the intrusions. Big powers
desirous of bringing India under NPT regime wanted Kargil to escalate into a
nuclear flashpoint thus forcing India into an acquiscense to a treaty
objective of Pakistan and its western collaborators was to internationalise
the Kashmir dispute against the backdrop of a nuclear region after tactical
gains have been made in Kargil sector. The statement of Pakistan’s Foreign
Secretary, Shamshad Ahmed that “we will not hesitate to use any weapon in
our arsenal to defend our territorial integrity,” was sheer blackmail.
Pakistan’s brandishing of Kashmir as a nuclear flashpoint guaranteed to US a
leverage it would not surrender Pakistan linked time bound talks on Kashmir
with withdrawal from Kargil.
Pakistan was also using intrusion as a probing exercise to assess the
thresh-hold for Indian military and national response. It wanted to see at
what point India will cross LoC and launch full scale war. Mr Brijesh Mishra
Senior advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security said, “in Kargil a
new situation has arisen where our capabilities are being tested.” In Kargil
there was a firm reply by India that it will not tolerate any territorial
inrusion. Pakistan miscalculated the Kargil plan. It did not visualise air
strikes and total war with India.
Lastly, through Kargil plan Pakisfan was trying to put Taliban factor to use
in Kashmir. The methodology of the operation mirrored that of Pakistan led
Taliban forces in Afghanistan where a 60:40 mix of irregulars and regular
soldiers are employed with regular army providing leadership element down to
sectional level.General Azizuddin, who conducted Taliban, operations in
Afghanistan, his choice as incharge of military operations in Kashmir, needs
to be viewed in this context END
BEYOND THE INTELLIGENCE FAILURE
LAPSES IN LADAKH
By P.StobdanTHE Pakistani intrusion in Kargil is reminiscent of the Chinese intrusion of
1962 in Ladakh’s eastern flank, when the PLA caught the incometently-led and
ill-equipped Indians by surprise. Internally, the issue of intelligence
failure was raised then too. The Chinese troops withdrew to positions north
of the McMohan Line under strong international condemnation. The same way,
the intruders may withdraw now to the LoC position. But questions will
continue to haunt the people as to why Indian territory repeatedly gets
encroached upon and the Indian security forces are caught napping.
In 1948 also, the day was May 9, when the Pakistani Ibex and Eskimo Forces
captured Kargil and Drass and advanced further up to Leh and pushed back
towards the onset of winter in November. Military history since the 13th
century has proved Kargil to be the most critical strategic point. The very
name Kargil has a strategic meaning: kar (white) akhil (location/place) in
Tibetan also spells as gar-gil meaning a cross-junction. The name signified
its location at the cross-point between Skardu and Leh and Kashgar and
Srinagar. Kargil has a unique strategic position which opens up four valleys
(Drass-Suru-Wakha-Indus). The Pakistani military always considered Kargil a
check-point for operation in Ladakh.
The three-pronged strategy this time was to cut off Drass and Kargil from
Leh and Srinagar, before Zojila is opened, enter the Indus Valley through
Batalik and Chorbatla to capture areas upto Khaltse, and enter Shayok Valley
to recapture 254 sq miles of Turtuk, comprising five villages, Chalungka,
Thang, Tyakshi, Pharol and Turtuk. But for the early opening of the Zojila
in April, the Pakistani Army would have certainly accomplished its
Pakistan has been eyeing Ladakh for years, primarily to regain areas it lost
to India since 1971. However, it has faced difficulties on two accounts.
First, unlike in the Valley, Ladakh was not ripe for an Islamic revolution,
though efforts had been made to communalise the region through subversive
means. Secondly, the topographically feature (naked mountains) was not
favourable for guerrilla operation.
To overcome these, since the summer of 1997, Pakistan has resorted to
large-scale occasional artillery shelling in Kargil. The aim was to
terrorise the sequestered people so as to push and scare them away from the
high ridges. This tactic has helped the Pakistani Army significantly in
undermining Indian intelligence-gathering abilities.
Pakistan has also been using the battle-hardened Afghan militia who fought
the opposition in the Hind Kush and Pamir heights. Pakistan also has a
militia raised locally to suit the terrain and climate. The objective was to
disrupt communications, destroy supply dumps and gain the aid of the local
populace in a hope-for general uprising.
New Delhi’s assessment has been that the area north of Valley along the
frontier with Baltistan is not prone to infiltration and subversion. On the
surface, it has appeared that the Shia Purig-pa and Wahabi Shinas of Ladakh
would be averse to Pakistani game plan. The situation on the ground,
however, reveals as well-thought-out Pakistani plan for an Islamic uprising
in Ladakh too-a plot hatched nine years ago.
What made it worse was the Indian government’s own decision to separate
Kargil from Ladakh as a separate administrative zone. This was done on July
1, 1979, a year after the Iranian Revolution. The step has helped the
Pakistani cause considerably.
By the early eighties, the Shias of Kargil not only refused to support a
Union Territory status for Ladakh but also rejected the offer of an
Autonomous Hill Council status, essentially to mark their solidarity with
the Kashmiri cause. The communal division of Ladakh has created a host of
issues with wide implication for national security.
The Kargil crisis, therefore, is not a case of intelligence failure but an
utter intellectual failure. The faulty military command and deployment
strategy has been evident. To have left the entire stretch of over 75
kilometres of a vulnerable border to a sole brigade in Kargil was a criminal
mistake, though the trend of the Pakistani thrust in the Ladakh sector was
clear since 1997.
While intruding into Kargil, Pakistan has opened qualitatively a new front
vis-a-vis India. While gaining control over the mountain heights, it has
managed politically to widen the scope of Kashmir conflict on the ground.
Pakistan has also the impression, as evident from the broadcasts from Radio
Azad Kashmir and Radio Skardu, that the Buddhist Ladakhis too are getting
averse to India’s rule. In the absence of India’s inaction to regain the PoK
through offensive means, the Pakistanis would only like to alter the
existing LoC to their own advantage. Particularly in view of what is
regarded as an erosion of India’s ability to checkmate Pakistan after the
Soviet collapse. India has been pushed on to a geopolitically defensive
position after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Pakistan has certainly
managed to gain a “strategic depth” for its rivalry against India.
The trend also indicates Pakistan’s ideological agenda beyond Kargil--and
into China’s Xinjiang. The attempt by Pakistan-based Islamic militant
outfits to penetrate western China has been foiled by Central Asian states,
especially by Uzbekistan when it threatened Islamabad with severe
consequence should it try to push the Islamic agenda beyond Afghanistan.
There are reports about hundreds of Chinese Ughur militants trained by the
Jamaat-e-Islami and the Tablik-e-Jamaat stranded in Pakistan due to China’s
strict vigilance. The possibility of the militants looking for a passage via
Kargil into Xingjiang cannot be ruled out.
Clearly, the government’s naive policies with regard to Ladakh have
contributed to Pakistani designs. New Delhi’s shortsightedness to bifurcate
Ladakh on communal grounds will have disturbing implications for national
security for a long time to come. New Delhi’s policy of giving a free hand
to Srinagar to deal with Ladakh’s affairs has only compounded the security
Reversing the situation may not be an easy task as Pakistan has devised
sufficient ways and means to sustain high-altitude guerrilla warfare tactics
in Ladakh ranges. If India is serious about defending Ladakh, it will have
to reshape its policy not only by politically regaining the confidence of
the people but also by gearing up military preparedness while raising and
strengthening the existing local armed forces, the Ladakh Scouts. This could
only be done if the Ladakh infantry units are conferred with a regimental
status. After all, India can live with the Kashmir problem but neglecting
Ladakh will be suicidal.
The author is Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New
GEN. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: HIS PAST & PRESENT
By B.RamanIn an article (the “International Herald Tribune” of June 16) on Pakistan’s
proxy invasion of Indian territory in the Kargil sector of Jammu and
Kashmir, Mr Selig Harrison, the well-known American analyst, says:” Recent
information makes clear that the newly-installed Army Chief of Staff
(COAS), Gen Pervez Musharraf, has long-standing links with several Islamic
fundamentalist groups.” Analysts, the attention it deserves, if one has to
have a clearer understanding of his role in the proxy invasion.
Gen Musharraf, a Mohajir of Azamgarh/Karachi origin, had subsequently
settled down in the Gujranwala in Punjab and prefers to project himself more
as a Punjabi than as a Mohajir He was commissioned in the Pakistan Army
Artillery in 1964. He had an undistinguished career till the 1980s, when he
caught the eye of Gen Zia-ul-Haq and Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, another Mohajir
COAS. Gen Zia, who preferred devoutly Muslim officers in important
positions, chose Gen Musharraf for advancement as he was, like Gen Zia
himself, a devout Deobandi and was strongly recommended by the
The first assignment given by Zia to him was in the training of the
mercenaries recruited by various Islamic extremist groups for fighting
against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. It was during those days that Gen
Musharraf came into contact with Osama Bin Laden, then a reputed Civil
engineer of Saudi Arabia, who had been recruited by the USA’s Central
Intelligence Agency (CAI) and brought to Pakistan for constructing bunkers
for the Afghan Mujahideen in difficult terrain.
Usama Bin Laden initially made his reputation in Afghanistan not as a
Mujahideen or terrorist, but as a civil engineer who could construct bunkers
in any terrain. He also developed the technique of constructing long tunnels
to isolated Soviet and Afghan military posts. The Mujahideen used to
suddenly emerge from these tunnels and surprise the Soviet and Afghan
troops. The links, which Gen Musharraf developed with Bin Laden in those
days, have subsequently remained strong.
It was alleged that Gen Musharraf also developed a nexus with the narcotics
smugglers of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Even though the CIA
valued his services in Afghanistan, the Narcotics Control officials of the
US had reservations about him because of suspicions of his contacts with the
narcotics smugglers. That is one of the reasons why of all the senor
Pakistani Army officers of today, Gen Musharraf has had the least
interactions with the US military establishment--in the form of nomination
for higher training in the US, participation in seminars and exercises and
visits to US military establishments. His bio-data issued by the Pakistan
Army HQ. in October last at the time of his appointment as the COAS show
that he has done two training courses in the UK. There was no mention of any
course in the US.
Gen Zia chose Gen Musharraf (then a Brigadier) in 1987 to command a
newly-raised Special Services Group (SSG) base at Khapalu in the Siachen
area. To please Gen Zia, Gen Musharraf with his SSG commandos launched an
attack on an Indian post at Bilfond La in September, 1987, and was beaten
back. Despite this, he continued to enjoy the confidence of Zia. Gen
Musharraf has since then spent seven years in two tenures with the SSG and
prides himself on being an SSG commando and projects himself as the greatest
expert of the Pakistan Army in mountain warfare. When he recently received
Gen Anthony Zinni, the Commanding officer of the US Central Command, he was
dressed as an SSG Commando.
In May, 1988, the Shias, who are in a majority in Gilgit, rose in revolt
against the Sunni-dominated administration. Zia put an SSG group commanded
by Gen Musharraf incharge of suppressing the revolt. Gen Musharraf
transported a large number of Wahabi Pakhtoon tribesmen from the NWFP and
Afghanistan, commanded by Bin Laden, to Gilgit to teach the Shias a lesson.
These tribesmen under Bin Laden massacred hundreds of Shias.
In its issue of May, 1990, “Herald”, the monthly journal of the “Dawn” group
of publications of Karachi, wrote as follows: “In May, 1988, low-intensity
political rivalry and sectarian tension ignited into full-scale carnage as
thousands of armed tribesmen from outside Gilgit district invaded Gilgit
along the Karakoram Highway. Nobody stopped them. They destroyed crops and
houses, lynched and burnt people to death in the villages around Gilgit
town. The number of dead and injured was put in the hundreds. But numbers
alone tell nothing of the savagery of the invading hordes and the chilling
impact it has left on these peaceful valleys.”
Gen Musharraf started a policy of bringing in Punjabis and Pakhtoons from
outside and settling them down in Gilgit and Baltistan in order to reduce
the Kashmiri Shias to a minority in their traditional land and this is
continuing till today. The “Friday Times” of October 15-21, 1992, quoted Mr
Muhammad Yahya Shah, a local Shia leader, as saying: “We were ruled by the
Whites during the British days. We are now being ruled by the Browns from
the plains. The rapid settling-in of Punjabis and Pakhtoons from outside,
particularly the trading classes, has created a sense of acute insecurity
among the local Shias”.
Zia became the first victim of the carnage unleashed by Gen Musharraf on the
Shias of Gilgit. Though the Pakistani authorities have not released the
report of the committee, which enquired into the crash of Zia’s plane in
August, 1988, it is widely believed in Pakistan that a Shia airman from
Gilgit, wanting to take revenge for the May, 1988, carnage, was responsible
for the crash.
During his days with the SSG in the Siachen area and in the Northern Areas
(Gilgit and Baltistan), Gen Musharraf developed a close personal friendship
with Lt Gen (now retd.) Javed Nasir, Director-General of the Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI), during Mr Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure as the Prime
Minister and now his Adviser on intelligence matters, Maj Gen
Zaheer-ul-Islam Abbasi, then a Brigadier, Lt Gen Mohd Aziz, former No: 2 in
the ISI till February this year and now the Chief of the General Staff
(CGS), and Mr Mohd Rafique Tarar, then a Judge and now the President of
Pakistan. All the four of them were devout Deobandis with strong links with
Islamic fundamentalist parties and particularly with the
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM, also known for some years as the
Harkat-ul-Ansar), which was declared by the US as an international terrorist
organisation in 1997. Along with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the HUM is a member of
Bin Laden’s International Islamic Front for Jihad against the US and Israel.
Lt Gen Nasir was also an office-bearer of the Tablighi Jamaat, even while in
In the late 1980s, Brig Abbasi was posted as the Military Attache in the
Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. He was expelled by the Government of
India in 1989 after he was caught by the New Delhi police while receiving
classified papers from a government employee. On his return to Pakistan,
Brig Abbasi was posted to the Siachen. Like Gen Musharraf, he had a
reputation of taking rash and irresponsible actions without the clearance of
his superiors. He launched an attack on an Indian army post, which was
repulsed with heavy Pakistani casualties. The late Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua,
the then COAS, recalled him to Rawalpindi and wanted to dismiss him for
launching the attack without his orders, but Lt Gen Nasir saved him from any
On September 8, 1995, the Pakistani Customs stopped a car carrying heavy
arms and ammunition near Kohat in the NWFP and arrested its driver and
Saifullah Akhtar, the then patron of the HUM. On interrogation, they
reportedly told the Customs authorities that the weapons had been procured
by Brig Mustansar Billa of the Pakistan Army at Darra Adamkhel for supply to
the Kashmiri extremist groups. The Pakistani army then took over the
investigation and arrested a group of 40 army officers and 10 civilians
headed by Maj Gen Abbasi. Mrs Benazir Bhutto, then Prime Minister, alleged
that this group had conspired to kill her and senior military officers,
stage a coup and proclaim an Islamic state. They were secretly tried by a
military court and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Sections of
the Pakistani press had alleged that the plotters had wanted to instal Gen
Musharraf as the head of the Islamic State, and that Gen Aziz was also
involved in the plot, but no action was taken against them for want of
Mr MH Askari, a well-known columnist, wrote in the “Dawn” (October 18, 1995)
as follows: ”It is said that the plotters had close links with Hizbul
Mujahideen and the Harkat-ul-Ansar, which are known for their involvement in
international terrorism. It is also said that the arrest officers wanted
Pakistan to become militarily involved in the Kashmir freedom struggle.”
“The Nation” (October 20, 19995) reported that Maj Gen Abbasi had close
contacts with the Harkat-ul-Ansar. The “Khabrain” alleged that two of the
arrested officers belonged to the ISI and that one of them had worked as the
staff officer to Lt Gen Nasir, when he was DG, ISI.
“The Nation” of November 15, 1995, reported: “Almost all the arrested
officers are followers of the Tablighi Jamaat based in Raiwind.” Raiwind,
which is in the Punjab, is the hometown of the Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz
Sharif. It is also the headquarters of the HUM.
Pakistani analysts were surprised when Mr Sharif appointed Gen Musharraf as
the COAS on October 8, 1998, superseding Lt Gen Ali Kuli Khan, a Pakhtoon,
who was the CGS, and Lt Gen Khalid Nawaz, a Punjabi, who was the
Quarter-Master General. Mr Sharif’s choice of Gen Musharraf was attributed
to the following:
l He was strongly recommended by President Tarar and Lt Gen Nasir
l He had ingratiated himself with Mr Sharif by keeping the latter informed
of the criticism of the government’s functioning by Lt Gen Ali Kuli Khan and
Khalid Nawaz at the Corps Commanders’ conference when Gen Jehangir Karamat
was the COAS.
l Though a Mohajir, Gen Musharraf disliked Mr Altaf Hussain and his
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Mr Sharif, therefore, wanted to use him to
crush the MQM in Karachi.
Mr Sharif and Gen Musharraf got along very well till March. As desired by Mr
Sharif, the new COAS set up special military courts in Karachi to try the
MQM cadres on charges of terrorism. Several of them were sentenced to death
and two executed before the Pakistan Supreme Court, acting on a petition,
declared these courts unconstitutional. It was alleged that Mr Sharif was
also planning to have Mr Asif Zirdari, the husband of Mrs Bhutto, tried as a
terrorist by the military courts and sentenced to death for allegedly
killing Murtaza Bhutto, her brother, in September, 1996.
Mr Sharif also made the Army in charge of the Water and Power Development
Authority (WAPDA) to put an end to corruption and labour trouble and to
improve efficiency. After the visit of Mr Strobe Talbott, US Deputy
Secretary of State, to Pakistan in the first week of February, Mr Sharif
also approved a plan submitted by Gen Musharraf for shifting Bin Laden’s
terrorist brigade from the Jalalabad area of Afghanistan to the Kargil area
of India by taking advantage of the absence of the Indian army from this
area during winter. It is reported that while Lt Gen Nasir strongly backed
the plan, Lt Gen, Ziauddin, the Director-General of the ISI, expressed
strong reservation over it and pointed out that it could create problems for
Pakistan with the US.
Gen Musharraf transferred Lt Gen Aziz from the ISI to the Army HQ as his
CGS and made him responsible for its implementation through the Directorate
of Military Intelligence. Lt Gen Nasir was kept in the picture about the
implementation, but not Lt Gen Ziauddin.
While outwardly supporting the Lahore Declaration, Gen Musharraf, with the
backing of Lt Gen Nasir, went ahead implementing the plan. Bin Laden’s
terrorist brigade was transported to Skardu in the Northern Areas and from
there infiltrated into the Kargil area along with a large number of
Pakistani army regulars. Mr Sharif was allegedly not kept in the picture
about sending the army regulars into Indian territory along with the
In the February-March, 1999, issue of the Pakistan “Defence Journal”, Lt Gen
Nasir had written an article titled “Calling in Indian Army Chief’s Bluff’.
While ostensibly supporting the Lahore initiative, Lt Gen Nasir wrote in the
most contemptuous manner of the capabilities of the Indian army and said:
“The Indian army is incapable of undertaking any conventional operations at
present, what to talk of enlarging conventional conflict.”
A perusal of the writings in the Pakistani media and professional journals
since January, 1999, shows that these irrational religious elements in the
Pakistan army headed by Gen Musharraf and senior retired officers who have
been supporting Gen Musharraf have embarked on this adventure in the Kargil
area on the basis of the following assumptions:-
l The morale in the Indian armed forces is low due to the “bad leadership”
of Mr George Fernandes, our Defence Minister. Lt Gen Assad Durrani, former
DG of the ISI, has sarcastically referred to Mr Fernandes as the “best
Indian Defence Minister that Pakistan can hope to have.”
l The BJP is party of paper tigers, known more for their “verbosity” than
for their actions.
l Pakistan’s nuclear and missile capability has ensured that India would not
retaliate against Pakistan for occupying the ridges in the Kargil area.
l The fear of the possible use of nuclear weapons would bring in Western
intervention, thereby internationalising the Kashmir issue.
l Pakistan should agree to a cease-fire only if it was allowed to remain in
occupation of the Indian territory. There would be no question of the
restoration of the status quo ante.
The interviews and speeches of Gen Musharraf since October, 1998, show his
thinking to be as follows:
l The acquisition of Kashmir by Pakistan can wait. What is more important is
to keep the Indian army bleeding in Kashmir just as the Afghan Mujahideen
kept the Soviet troops bleeding in Afghanistan.
l Even if the Kashmir issue is resolved, there cannot be normal relations
between India and Pakistan because Pakistan, by frustrating India’s ambition
of emerging as a major Asian power on par with China and Japan, would
continue to be a thorn on India’s fresh. And, so long as it does so,
Pakistan would continue to enjoy the backing of China and Japan.
From March, Gen Musharraf, to the discomfiture of Mr Sharif, started coming
out in his true colours. He issued an order that the army, as the
supervisory authority, would conduct all future negotiations with the
independent power producers, thereby denying any role in the matter to the
politicians and civilian bureaucrats. When Mr Sharif objected to this order,
he declined to cancel it.
The COAS made out a list of all payment defaulters of the WAPDA and leaked
to the press that Mrs Abida Hussain, a Shia Minister of Mr Sharif’s Cabinet,
was one of the major defaulters, thereby forcing her to resign. He has also
been hinting to the press that the business enterprises of Mr Sharif’s
family top the list of defaulters.
He then insisted that he should be given concurrent charge of the post of
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, even though it was the
turn of Admiral Fasih Bokhari, the Chief of the Naval staff, to hold this
charge. His argument was that since the army was the most important
component of the armed forces, the Chairman should always be from the army.
While not accepting this argument, Mr Sharif gave him concurrent charge for
one year only, as against the normal three years. He also got himself
nominated as the Strategic Commander of Pakistan’s nuclear force.
By May, Gen Musharraf found to his surprise that the BJP-led government was
reacting vigorously to the invasion and had ordered the Indian Air Force to
go into action against the invaders. It was only then that he reportedly
told a shocked Mr Sharif that he had sent in a large number of Pakistan army
regulars with Bin Laden’s terrorist brigade and that the regulars were
likely to incur heavy casualties. The demand of the US and other Western
powers for the withdrawal of the invaders and for the restoration of the
status quo ante came as another surprise to him.
Despite this, he seems to be insisting that Pakistan should not agree to any
NEW US TROUBLE-SHOOTER ON KASHMIR
Diplomatic CorrespondentRecently Mrs Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistan Prime Minister had been
flexing her muscles against the regime of Nawaz Sharif. Her statements on
Kargil and Kashmir have been welcomed by the Indian public opinion as
reflective of the existence of a moderate political opinion in Pakistan.
Mrs Bhutto in an interview to a Calcutta weekly described Kargil as the
biggest blunder, nearly provoking a nuclear war in South Asia. She asked,
“why did Sharif have to go on a bus diplomacy when this is what he had
planned.” About the presence of Pakistani regular Army personnel in Kargil
operation, Mrs Bhutto wondered, “can a democracy have unaccountable regime
that operates in a secretive manner.” She disclosed that earlier during her
tenure also she had given similar briefing, where by militarily certain
objectives could have been achieved. Arguing that these could have triggered
a wider conflict, she added, “I had vetoed them saying that Pakistan lacked
the political and diplomatic support.”
Earlier in a lecture at Woodrow Wilson International centre, Mrs Bhutto
remarked that it was a mistake on her part to hold relations with India
hostage to Kashmir issue. She said that she did it to pander to the Punjabi
constituency and hawkish elements within the military. Mrs Bhutto said that
she should have listened to the liberals who had urged her to seek
reconciliation with India and cooperate on trade, commerce and such matters
while keeping Kashmir as top priority on the agenda.
Mrs Bhutto had been more articulate on Kashmir through her write-ups in the
American press during the Kargil war. She had been floating baloons on
resolutions of Kashmir dispute on the lines suggested by Americans. Holding
camp David like talks on Kashmir and forcing India and Pakistan to concede
greater autonomy to their respective parts as the first step is the real
game-plan through which Americans intend to create a foothold in this
strategic region. Michael Krepon, Head of the influential US think tank
Henry L Stimson Centre, whose policies on Kashmir are currently the US
unofficial view came out with outlines of solution in the leading daily,
Washington Post. The three components of peace process, according to him
a) Greater autonomy to Kashmiris on both sides of LoC.
b) An open border applicable to local residents.
c) Investing bilateral talks with more seriousness.
It is more or less a version of earlier US proposals on semi-independent
Kashmir. This packaged is being touted as the road map to a permanent
solution to Kashmir problem. Krepon warns that the alternative is “highly
worrisome”. He said that otherwise Pakistan can always set up militant
training camps, push insurgents and country (India) will be helpless to
counter this without making war-like noise and lose the international
goodwill it earned recently. As a thinly veiled comment, he adds that the
bilateral talks have not progressed because Delhi has not been very
enthusiastic about clinching the issue.
The association of the leading newspaper and the sharp and unambiguous
comment of the specialist are highly significant. In America it is a common
practice to float new policy initiatives by administration through
researchers. The leading Pakistan daily Jang in a special commentary on Aug
2, 1999 said Pakistan was seriously considering US formula for resolving its
Kashmir problem with India. Solutions proposed by US according to the daily
a) Greater autonomy to Kashmir (minus Gilgat, Baltistan and Ladakh, which
would go to Pakistan and India respectively)
b) Open the dividing military line of control to Kashmiris living on either
side of it.
c) After five years of self-rule and free interaction, the Kashmiris on two
sides should elect separate assemblies which should decide the future of the
The Jang said these “initial proposals” could be amended in the talks that
Clinton promised to promote between Pakistan and India to end their fifty
years of hostility.
In its lead editorial, “War of Peace in South Asia”, the Washington Post
proposed, “India can sustain this rigid posture, if at all only by
systematically and credibly widening the openings for democratic
self-government in the part of Kashmir that, with two-thirds of a million
troops it holds.”
What are Benazir’s new proposals on Kashmir? Like US she raised the ante of
a nuclear war and demands, “It is time for the world, and especially the
United States, to turn its diplomacy to crisis prevention”. Benazir invokes
a parallel with Kosovo and says, “Kosovo warns us that the world should try
to put out a potentially dangerous fire before it explodes”.
Responding to “Dampening the Fires of Kashmir”, by an influential US think
tank, Teresita Schaffer, in the Washington Post, Benazir presented her
perspectives on Kashmir. These are:
a) Satisfying the aspirations of the people of Kashmir is essential to
solving the dispute and if the coalition representing the Kashmiri people
were to accept internal autonomy under India with a representative political
process, Pakistan would have no complaints.
b) Instead of determining whether Kashmir should go to India or Pakistan,
the Pakistani opposition suggests that India, Pakistan and APHC accept open
borders between India and Pakistan. As a part of this peace package, India
would withdraw its troops from Srinagar and Pakistan from Muzaffarabad.
c) Pending a final solution, the two assemblies could meet independently and
d) ...devolution of decision-making in our region would provide more
effective government to our people. Greater regional autonomy also would
help our people make the best use of available resources from within the
country and from donors, in tackling the problems of poverty, illiteracy and
Schaffer’s write-up saw autonomy for J&K as a first step towards expanded
autonomy within other parts of India.
In an interview to Sunday Benazir while reiterating demanded for open
borders asked India to withdraw troops from Kashmir and begin a dialogue
with APHC, whom she describes as the real representatives of Kashmiris from
Pakistan’s perception. She is more explicit on US intervention and remarks,
“if India and Pakistan cannot do it between themselves, then I think it’s a
good idea to get some outside help, so that all of South Asia is not
punished because of the political leadership of the two countries.”
Benazir during her Europe tour had been talking of a spectacular return to
Pakistan. What assurances has she received and from Whom? Ten years back US
had arranged her return and helped her win elections. Is she acting as US’s
new trouble shooter on Kashmir precisely for the same game again? If India
is looking for a moderate opinion in Benazir, then it is heading for another
round of self-deception END
ROLE OF SHRIDHAR KAUL DULLU IN LADAKH WARLATE Shridhari Kaul Dullu lived in Rainawari, a suburb of Srinagar. He was
truly a renaissance figure in the contemporary history of Kashmir.
Masterji, as he was popularly called was trained to teach. He admired
Buddhism and became a Buddhist by conviction. Masterji knew that Ladakh was
the ancient seat of learning and culture so far as Buddhisim was concerned
and also Ladakhis were simple people. When he was transferred to this
desolate region as ADI schools, he didnot grumble. He felt happy. Masterji
loved Ladakhis, their culture and simplicity. He created educational
awareness among them and till his last days many Ladakhi students used to
stay with him at Rainawari and seek his help in admissions. Ladakh’s
educational and political renewal is linked with his name.
Masterji was gifted with unique insights into cultural and political
processes of J&K. His magnum opus “Ladakh Through The Ages” amply reflects
this. He was a good organiser for mobilising public and building public
opinion on crucial issues. In May 1948, during Ladakh campaign, he prepared
a report on the defence of Ladakh. Braving the inhospitable terrain of
Leh-Manali track, Masterji presented this report in person to Pt Jawahar Lal
Nehru, Prime Minister. So impressed was Nehru with this assessment that he
prevailed upon Masterji to get in touch with Gen. Cariappa, then C in C and
Sardar Baldev Singh, the Defence Minister of India.
In 1947-48 Masterji found himself in a strange role. He had an appeal
cutting across communities. This aspect and his great organising abilities
made him the natural choice as organiser of National Guards for the defence
of Ladakh. National Guards proved a decisive factor in turning the tide of
war in favour of India.
The fall of Gilgit had caused serious concern and fear among Buddhists of
Ladakh. Actuely aware of the fate of non-Muslims in Skardu, Buddhists
decided to raise their own defences for Leh till Indian Army could arrive.
Masterji and the President of Young Buddhist Association, Mr K Poan Chewang
Rigzin played a crucial role in this. They prevailed upon the emergency
administration at Srinagar to take immediate steps for organising local
people in a militia, irrespective of religious affiliation as National
Guards. Fortunately DP Dhar was in-charge of Defence of Frontier. He had
keen understanding of the frontier security and wasted no time in getting
immediate State government clearance. Wazir was directed to take necessary
steps to implement this scheme and the Garrison commander at Leh was ordered
to train the recruits.
These orders were sabotaged at the local level by the Tehsildar, Abdul
Khaliq. A native of Skardu, Khaliq was alleged to be highly sectarian and a
Muslim League backer. He tried to give it a sectarian colour. Subsequently
the State government appointed Masterji as organiser of National Guards.
Masterji in this mission toured extensively all over Ladakh impressing upon
the people to enrol themselves as National Guards. He asked the people to
realise the perilous situation and undergo necessary arms training to
inflict heavy punishment on the enemy. Initially people were slow to react.
Masterji utilised festival occasions to enroll them. His efforts soon bore
fruit. In few weeks he raised about 500 volunteers. In the first week, fifty
volunteers underwent arms training. Masterji’s persuasive skills saw even
Muslims joining National Guards in the Ladakh countryside.
While the campaigning of recruitment was in full swing, the legendary Ladakh
campaign hero, Lt Col Prithvi Chand and his able assistant Jamadar Bhim
Chand reached Leh. They had come to train the National Guards recruits.
Their timely arrival infused new hope into the hearts of defenders of Leh.
The persistent pressures of the Buddhist leadership and the personal efforts
of Masterji in Delhi saw more military reinforcements reaching Leh. 2/8
Gorkhas, numbering 150 came via Leh-Manali route. It was Masterji who as
organiser of National Guards arranged transport, food and looked after other
logistics of this detachment.
It was Masterji’s decision to shift the headquarters of the administration
to Martselang, a village 25 miles south of Leh. This was to ensure its
security. In those uncertain days Masterji’s presence in Leh had became
synonymous with high morale of the people. Whenever he stepped out of Leh
suddenly, serious misgivings would arise among the people. A community hall
in Leh stands in his memory.
We reproduce below here the note which Pt. Sridhar presented to Pt. JL Nehru
Prime Minister of India. The note is an ample testimony of Master Ji’s
grasp of the situation in Ladakh END
COL CHHEWANG RINCHEN-THE SAVIOUR OF LADAKHIt was a touch and go situation in 1947 in Ladakh. The efforts of legendary
heroes-Brig. Sher Jung Thapa, Col. Prithvi Chand and Col Chhewang Rinchen
made possible what looked impossible. Defence of Ladakh looked difficult
because the only route i.e. Zojila was closed.
Col. C. Rinchen, then a young boy of seventeen held the fort in Nubra and
was instrumental in the defence of Leh. In 1971 he captured for India the
strategic Turtuk-which is the tough underbelly of Siachen Col. Rinchen went
on to win for his extraordinary valour double Mahavirchakra, the highest
gallantry award besides a Sena medal. From a guerrilla warrior in 1947, Col
Rinchen retired as a full Colonel in 1984. His younger brother, P Namgyal
who also participated in 1948 campaign represented Ladakh Parliamentary seat
many times and also served in the central cabinet.
For his military skills, Col Rinchen has received rare tributes from top
generals. Col Prithvi Chand says, “Rinchen turned out to be an inspiring
leader. He was a fearless man and highly patriotic. He volunteered to take
part in several battles and raids.” Lt Gen ML Chibber (Retd.), too had great
regards for Col Rinchen’s military skills. He says, “...I noticed the
uncanny mountain sense he displayed while moving for an attack on an enemy
picket. He had God given instinct to choose the most appropriate, even the
most hazardous route, to surprise the very vigilant enemy. I realised his
being a man who comes into his own in battles”. Col Rinchen was the youngest
winner of MVC in the Indian Army or for that matter in nearly two hundred
years of history of the British Indian Army.
Col Rinchen belonged to a celebrated Warrior family of Sumur in Nubra
Valley. One of his forefathers in eighteenth century had distinguished
himself against raiders from Turkistan. STAKRE (in Ladakhi ‘Lion) title was
conferred on him by King of Ladakh for this bravery. The personality of Col.
Rinchen was true to the literal meaning of his name. In Ladakhi Chhewang
means hero and Rinchen full of life. For her compassion, Col Rinchen’s
mother is known as the mother of Nubra valley.
Col Rinchen received his primary education from Mr Stanzin, a Ladakhi
Christian missionary. His childhood hobbies were to make pistols, guns and
bombs. He enjoyed playing with improvised weapons. For secondary education
Col Rinchen was sent to Leh, where he stayed with the elitist Kalon family.
It was here that he heard stories about world war I and II accounts of
bravery from State Force Army Officers, who often visited Mr Kalon’s house.
Col. Rinchen was the first volunteer to join the National Guards. He was
then a school boy of eighth class. Rinchen himself says, “I know that the
safety of my land was more important than my studies”. It was April 1948.
After a period of ten days training he was sent with Subedar Bhim Chand to
raise a local force in the Nubra valley known as Nubra Guards. Within a
period of one month a company strength was raised and trained. They were
immediately deployed in La Chhurk and Chhangmar area (between present Thoise
airfield and Turtuk).
Pakistani invaders had overrun Baltistan (except Skardu) and Biagdango. They
were advancing along the Shyok river. Col Rinchen’s task was to defend
Chhangmar and the northern bank of Shyok river.
He took 28 boys with him. Over the next few days he crossed rivers and
scaled different peaks to reach the enemy picket at La Chhuruk. Nubra guard
party totally surprised the Pakistanis and killed all enemy soldiers holed
up in the picket. Post was captured along with arms and ammunition left
behind by the enemy.
Of all the achievements of 17 year old Rinchen, the most decisive was his
stand on the Skuru Nullah. Pakistani invaders were only ten miles away from
Leh. Had Rinchen failed, Ladakh’s fate would have been different. Col
Mohammad Yusuf Abadi, then Pakistani commander leading Gilgat scouts in his
memoir titled Baltistan Par Ek Nazar recalls, “our intelligence revealed
that our repeated attacks were foiled by the personal valour of a 17-year
old boy named Chhewang Rinchen had we succeeded at Skuru, there would then
have been no real obstacle to our capturing Leh.”
Taru front was only eight miles from Leh. Since Lt Col Prithvi Chand had no
reserves and threat to Leh loomed large, all troops were ordered to rush to
Leh. Subedar Bhim Chand also left Nubra along with the arms and ammunition
issued to Nubra guards. In Nubra, only the irregulars under the command of
Chewang Rinchen were left to guard the Valley. They had just 20 rifles and
50 rounds of ammunition per rifle.
The Pakistanis were unaware of the withdrawal of Indian forces from Nubra
for nearly a month. Soon they came to know that only locals with matchlock
guns were deployed in Nubra. To give an element of deception to the enemy,
Rinchen’s group would come down the hill and fire on Pakistanis from the
north. This would give an impression to the enemy that Indian regulars armed
with .303 rifles were in hiding nearby.
Withdrawal of Indian regular troops from Nubra created scare and panic among
locals. They began fleeing to Leh. Col Rinchen was caught in a strange
predicament. He himself recalls, “I was a witness to this mass exodus and it
became unbearable for me to witness our land being offered to the enemy
without resistance, virtually as a gift.”
Chewang Rinchen was too great a patriot to yield so easily. He prevailed
upon the local resistance leaders in Leh to motivate Nubra youth to return
for the defence of their motherland. Given the shortage of weapons and
ammunition, Lt. Col. Prithvi Chand was hesistant to release these to a mere
17-year old boy. Rinchen had requested for 100 rifles and some LMGs to
defend Nubra. With the intervention of Mr Kalon, Col. Prithvi Chand on the
assurance that no arms and ammunition will be allowed to fall in the hands
of enemy, finally released 28 rifles, one sten gun and a few boxes of
Back in Nubra, Rinchen began organising the defence of Nubra, the gateway of
Leh. He recalled all the Nubra Guards for duty and armed them to the extent
possible, many with muzzle loading guns. Rinchen’s guards reached the
village Skampuk on the banks of Skuru, a deep and fast flowing nullah. As
Pakistan forces learnt about the Indian withdrawal from Nubra, they began
preparations for crossing Shyok river in local boats, to reach Khardung La.
Learning about this plan, Chewang Rinchen decided to ambush them while they
were crossing the river.
At ten O’clock in the morning, about 12 Pakistanis boarded the boat. When
the boat reached midstream, Rinchen’s guerrillas opened fire. All the
Pakistanis were either killed or drowned. The enemy on the opposite bank
returned the fire but were totally outwitted by Nubra Guards resistance.
After a while, Pakistanis withdrew towards Hundiri village on the northern
Rinchen left some men to guard the crossing point and himself headed towards
Skuru nullah. He evacuated the civilian population of Skuru village to
Thoise and enrolled all the young men in his Nubra Guards. Subsequently he
destroyed the Skuru nullah bridge to thwart Pakistani plans for crossing the
nullah. Meanwhile more reinforcements reached from Leh and Nubra Guards
force swelled upto 300 men. The whole of Nubra valley was now galvanised for
its defence. The Pakistanis misjudged this force as being the Indian Army
and did not attack Indian positions for few days.
It was after eight days of waiting and preparation that Pakistanis launched
heavy mortar-machine gun attack. Rinchen’s men inflicted heavy casualties on
them. After this setback, the Pakistanis occupied a defensive position on
the opposite bank of Skuru nullah. Through deception, Rinchen wanted to give
the impression of inflated strength to the enemy. He carried out raids from
different points and directions. After a few days, Pakistanis launched
another attack at about midnight using hand grenades. Despite casualties,
Nubra Guards held their position and the attack was beaten back. Pakistanis
called for further reinforcements and also wanted to capture or kill
Chhewang Rinchen who had become terror for them. Sniping and shooting
continued between the two sides.
Soon good news reached Rinchen. It was August. Col Pritvhi Chand informed
him that he had brought a platoon of newly raised 7 J&K Militia along with a
company of 2/8 Gorkha Rifles under the command of Major RC Mathur. He
directed Rinchen to take them to Skkuru defences and apprise them about
military position. After holding the position for 23 days, Rinchen finally
handed over the post to Subedar Ishar Singh of 7 J&K Militia. Gorkhas were
also deployed. A few days later Pakistanis launched a major attack and
captured the Skuru post. They also captured a section post of 2/8 Gorkha
company. Indian troops fell back to Skampuk village.
On 25 August 1948, Lt Col Prithvi Chand appointed Rinchen as a Naib-Subedar
in 7 J&K Militia. He became the youngest ever JCO in the Army. For the first
time he wore the Army uniform now. Rinchen was assigned the task to once
again raise a full company of Nubra Guards and select 50 men to operate as
Guerrillas. These specially selected men were given training in the use of
LMGs, 2-inch mortar and all types of grenades. On completion of their
training Rinchen was asked to take over command and undertake a number of
As in-charge of this group, the first task Rinchen was given was to capture
the Lama House. The route to it lay through very hard terrain. Rinchen’s
force eliminated the major portion of the enemy platoon (25 in number) and
many ran away in their under-clothes. Among the dead was their platoon
commander, Sargeant Major Mota Hassan of Gilgat Scouts. Rinchen had killed
him in hand to hand fighting with a bayonet and captured his sten gun. This
sten gun was later presented to the Hall of Fame at Leh and lies there. When
Nubra Guards reached Pak headquarters in Lama House, they found it deserted.
Meanwhile, Skuru position had fallen to Pakistanis but the troops of Indian
Army ensured that Pakistanis made no further progress.
Indian Army’s next attack on Pakistan position at Tarche did not succeed.
Rinchen in view of his great military feats, was specially ordered to bring
back the Pakistani medium machine gun, which was firing at India’s recently
captured post in the Lama House. Rinchen nearly succeeded in this task.
Subsequently the Nubra Guards while advancing methodically on both banks of
Shyok river, occupied Chhangmar La, Chhurk and Baigdangdo. Pakistanis had
occupied Black Rock picket and Takkar Hill. While Gorkhas wrested back
Black Rock position Rinchen captured Takkar Hill with the Nubra Guard
troops. His men inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and Pakistanis fell
back to Chalunka.
Pakistanis now dug in the Tebe Hill area on the South of the River Shyok.
This position dominated the whole Nubra valley and the Indian advance was
On 22, December Chewang Rinchen was ordered to capture Tebe Hill position
and to reach Tebe nullah. This was Rinchen’s last battle and the most
spectacular one in 1948 Ladakh campaign. Speaking about this, Rinchen
recalls, “It had been a long, exhausting and hazardous operation lasting for
six days, of which nights and days were in contact”. This battle was fought
in snow at the mountain top, with an altitude of 21,000 feel.
At this Pakistani Post, a section strength was on duty. Rinchen took
Pakistanis by surprise. With his first LMG shot, Rinchen killed 6 or 7
Pakistanis and the remaining ran into bunkers. He then shifted to 2-inch
mortar and the enemy started running. After the enemy was fully pounded,
Rinchen ordered a bayonet charge and set out in pursuit of the enemy. Many
Pakistanis died in the assault and some wounded soldiers were captured.
Rinchen’s next destination was Tebe Nullah, the Pakistani company
headquarter. At midnight, when Rinchen’s force reached the company
headquarters, they found it deserted. On January 1, 1949 cease-fire was
declared and India lost the opportunity to recover Baltistan. At a time,
when our defence of Ladakh-our northern frontier, has been threatened, it is
time to pay homage to those heroes who fought for Ladakh and saved it.
COL. CHHEWANG RINCHEN, DOUBLE MVC, SM, AND NUBRA VALLEY“In August, 1948 the enemy had thrown all his reserves to capture the Nubra
Valley. Naib Subedar Chhewang Rinchen with only 28 untrained National Guards
held the enemy at Skuru nullah for 23 days.
In September, he was detailed to capture the enemy position at Lama House;
this was an extremely difficult task and entailed four days of march through
treacherous country, including crossing a mountain feature over 1700 feet.
He succeeded in capturing the objective with heavy casualties to the enemy
and the capture of 13 rifles and one sten gun.
On 15 December, 1948, when ordered to capture a hill feature near Biagdangdo
he walked through snow for three days and succeeded in forcing the enemy to
Again on 22 December, 1948, he was detailed to attack the enemy’s last
position in Leh Tehsil area. It took him six days to reach his objective. He
had to go over a mountain feature 21000 ft and though his platoon suffered
50 percent casualties from frost-bite, he kept his men going through his
outstanding and exemplary leadership. He attacked the two enemy posts and
captured them; the enemy suffered heavy casaulties.
This JCO displayed exemplary courage, inspiring leadership, initiative and
the ability to plan and carry out his schemes successfully under most
--Citation of Maha Vir Chakra