New Delhi: India is celebrating the 21st anniversary of the historic 1999 Kargil conflict, which was termed ‘Operation Vijay’ by the Indian Army. It was on this day 21 years ago, Indian Army recapture the peaks occupied by the Pakistan Army and hoisted the tricolour atop the high-altitude Kargil, in Jammu & Kashmir. Also Read - EU Provides €1.65 Million Humanitarian Aid to Support Flood Victims of Bangladesh, India, Nepal

The Kargil war, which was fought for more than 60 days, began with the infiltration of both Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory. They wanted to sever the link between Kashmir and Ladakh, and cause Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier and force India to negotiate a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Also Read - COVID-19: India Records Over 60,000 Cases For Fourth Straight Day; Total Tally Crosses 2.2 Million, Deaths Near 45K

It has been said that the conflict was orchestrated by the then Pakistan army chief General Pervez Musharraf without the knowledge of the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. The former Pak PM had claimed that he first learnt about it after a call from his then Indian counterpart late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Also Read - India's COVID-19 Recoveries Cross 15-Lakh Mark; 10 States Contribute More Than 80% of New Cases, Says Health Ministry

The Pakistani troops and terrorists placed themselves at key locations which gave them a strategic advantage during the beginning. After getting information from local shepherds, the Indian Army ascertained the points of incursion and launched ‘Operation Vijay’.

For the Kargil war, which took place between May and July of 1999, the Vajpayee-led Government of India had recruited approximately 200,000 Indian troops. A total number of 527 soldiers of the Indian Armed forces were martyred during the war, while Pakistan had lost its 700 men.

Brig MPS Bajwa (retd) had revealed that Vajpayee had announced the victory in advance during a public rally in Haryana. ‘Vajpayee announced victory in advance, would’ve been embarrassing if we failed. It would have been very embarrassing (if things happened otherwise). However, we won later,” Bajwa had said.

How India Defeated Pakistan? 

The strategy of Pakistani troops was almost perfect, but there is an old proclamation which goes — ‘Good Strategy but poor tactics will lead to defeat’. However, the Indian Army, by its valour, had proved once again that they are proficient in accomplishing the near impossible mission when the country is in need of it. The courage and valour of the Armed forced 21 years ago had taken the country and countrymen by surprise.

One of the severest battles fought during the Kargil War was the Battle of Khalubar in the Batalik Sector. Despite the harsh terrain, the valiant soldiers of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles were successful in forcing the enemy to evict from his positions thus contributing a victory which will be remembered till times to come.

The battalion was awarded the Battle Honour “Batalik” and Theatre Honour “Kargil” and gallantry awards to include one Param Vir Chakra and three Vir Chakras.

Besides, former late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, through his significant diplomatic breakthrough, had made New Delhi’s biggest peace overtures towards Islamabad. Vajpayee is said to have always believed in giving diplomacy and talks a chance.

“He (Vajpayee) was prepared to go the extra mile for peace, but he was also prepared to use military force in defence of the country as he did during Kargil and thereafter the military deployment after the Parliament attack,” Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, the former Indian envoy to Pakistan had said.

In February 1999, he had travelled on a bus from Amritsar to Lahore with a delegation that included the likes of Bollywood legend Dev Anand, writer Javed Akhtar and cricket icon Kapil Dev.

He hugged his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif leaving an endearing image that symbolised hope in bilateral ties. The move was hailed as the dawn of a new era in Indo-Pak relations.

“I bring the goodwill and hope of my fellow Indians who seek abiding peace and harmony with Pakistan… I am conscious that this is a defining moment in South Asian history and I hope we will be able to rise to the challenge,” Vajpayee had said upon arrival at Lahore to a rousing welcome.

However, the bonhomie between India and Pakistan did not last long as just months after the visit, the Pakistan Army undertook a covert operation to send its troops into Kargil in Jammu & Kashmir that led to a limited conflict that Pakistan lost.

Post the war too, Vajpayee tried to build peace with Pakistan again by holding a historic summit in Agra with the then leader of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, in 2001.