New Delhi: The country today celebrates Kargil Vijay Diwas. But many of us wouldn’t know what actually transpired between India and Pakistan in May-July 1999. Here’s all you need to know about the Kargil war or Kargil conflict:
Kargil is a district in Jammu and Kashmir where most of the action took place apart from along the LoC. It is located 205 km from Srinagar, facing the northern areas across the LoC. Like other areas in the Himalayas, Kargil has a continental climate. (Also read: Air Force Has Changed a Lot Since, Says IAF Chief)
A national highway (NH 1) cuts through Kargil as it connects Srinagar to Leh. The area where infiltration and fighting was concentrated is a 160 km stretch overlooking this only road linking Srinagar and Leh. Other areas near the frontline in the conflict were the Mushko Valley and the town of Drass, as well as the Batalik sector.
Kargil was targeted partly because the terrain was conducive to the seizure of several unoccupied military positions. It is also 173 km from the Pakistan-controlled town of Skardu so Pakistani combatants could be provided logistical and artillery support from there.
India called it Operation Vijay and what a victory it was! The Kargil war is one of the recent examples of warfare in mountainous terrain. It is also one of the few instances of direct, conventional warfare between these two nuclear states.
On Kargil Vijay Diwas, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said, “I am quite sure the adversary will never attempt this again. This (Kargil War) was a big misadventure by Pakistan Army in 1999…My warning to Pakistan is do not ever attempt such a misadventure anytime in future.”
During the winter of 1998-1999, Pakistani Armed Forces were training and sending troops, allegedly in the guise of mujahideen, into the Indian side of the LoC. Their aim was 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.
After the war, then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif claimed that he was unaware of the plans, and that he first learnt about it after a call from his then Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Following the outbreak of armed fighting, Pakistan sought American help in de-escalating the conflict. However, US President Bill Clinton refused to intervene until Pakistan had removed all forces from the Indian side of the LoC.
When Sharif agreed to withdraw Pakistani troops, most of the fighting came to a halt, but some forces remained in positions on the Indian side of the LoC. India launched its final attacks in the last week of July in its totally successful Operation Safed Sagar.
As soon as the Drass sub-sector had been cleared of Pakistani forces, the fighting ceased on July 26. The day has since been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day) in India.
By the end of the war, Pakistan had to withdraw under international pressure and due to pressure from continued fighting at the battle front.