Preparing for Limited War

Patron Air Marshal (Retd) AYAZ AHMED KHAN makes a detailed analysis of the 'limited war' concept

In recent weeks Indian political and military leaders have been talking of a limited war as a natural follow-up of a proxy war. Indian Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Army Chief are issuing threatening statements that Bharat is ready for war, which shall be a limited war. A few days ago India's Chief of the Army Staff General Ved Prakash Malik in a TV interview was categorical that a war limited in time and space has to follow a proxy war. This concept was tested out on January 22 at 0330 hrs when a Company of the Indian Army attacked a lone Pak Army post after midnight from three directions in the Iftikharabad sub-sector in the Chamb area. This somewhat solitary post between two tributaries of river Tawi was overwhelmed by intense artillery fire before the infantry assault. In the hand to hand fighting seven Pakistani Army jawans were martyred. This unprovoked enemy offensive has to be avenged. In another artillery clash the same day in Sunderbeni near Palanwala both sides suffered casualties.

Elsewhere in Azad Kashmir Indian artillery pounded a village in Nikial sector of Kotli killing three civilians and seriously injuring 13. Same day Indian artillery fired on a passenger jeep in the Neelum Valley near the LoC. Eight innocent passengers were killed. This prelude to possible Indian imposed limited wars is both hideous and cowardly.

Recently General Ved Prakash Malik has threatened to cross the LoC in 'hot pursuit'. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Shillong on January 22 said that 'Pakistan as an enemy country... India is ready for war if necessary'. Indian threats and attacks across the LoC could be precursor of the trumpeted limited war. War clouds have started gathering over South Asia. General Pervez Musharraf's reposte is that the enemy will be taught a lesson if it crosses the LoC. With India as the war-monger the outcome of the next Indo-Pak war is anybody's guess. Will India be able to contain the war to its advantage is unlikely.

Earlier on January 5, 2000 Indian Army Chief advised his government that limited wars is the order of the future, and national security should be a part of foreign policy. He said that, 'Military operations, diplomacy and domestic environment would have to be orchestrated with fine judgement for a decisive outcome'. Addressing the final session of a seminar on the, 'Challenges of a limited war' organized by Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis - New Delhi, General V.P Malik said that, 'In the future there was greater likelihood of limited wars, and they could take place without warning. The rationale of limited wars is economic considerations, risk of high casualties, international pressure and the nuclear factor. It is axiomatic therefore that we are better prepared and maintain a higher state of readiness than hither-to-fore. In the Indian context a limited war could range from the icy heights of Siachin, the world's highest battlefield to Kargil and the kind of country where Indian and Pakistani troops have been regularly trading gunfire since the eighties'. This blunt statement seen in the light of Indian threats proves that planning for limited war along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir is the main occupation of Indian strategic and military planners. He spoke about linkage between deterrence and escalation, and said that 'not withstanding the trend towards limited wars, it would be prudent for India to be ready for drawn out wars.'

The same day in a joint session the National Security Council and the federal cabinet took serious note of India's hostile posture and veiled threats. But General Pervez Musharraf the CE- Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chief of the Army Staff is deeply engrossed along with all the Corps commanders in running the country. Nearly one hundred thousand troops are involved in national building activities including cleaning the canals. Pakistan Army's dedication is laudable but the security situation demands that the Army should extract itself from civil affairs and concentrate fully on military training and fighting the limited wars that India is threatening us with. The Iftikhar ambush has to be avenged and the enemy taught a lesson as promised by the CE. General Musharraf is a professional general whose high military expertise at this juncture must be utilized for preparing the Army for the military challenges that lie ahead.

Earlier George Fernandes the Indian Defence Minister had publicly stated that limited wars are a distinct possibility. After the Kargil fighting which India has termed as a limited war. India and Pakistan are back on the same freeze that has characterized their ties for the last five decades. Having used Kargil for political mileage to win the elections, the BJP government has maintained the war hysteria to denounce Pakistan domestically and globally as a terrorist state. The motive is to cover-up on Kashmir and brand Pakistan as an irresponsible state and de-arm Pakistan's nuclear capability. Jaswant Singh's globe trotting has no other purpose except to create conditions globally and regionally to harm Pakistan. In his recent BBC interviews while hood-winking over Kashmir India's External Affairs Minister dwelt on Prime Minister Vajpayee's 'Bus diplomacy' adding 'Islamabad had highjacked the Lahore Bus to Kargil'. Kargil is India's xenophobia. Indian affectation and calculated stance is that Pakistan's involvement in Kargil was a stab in the so-called peace process. The bus diplomacy and the consequent peace process was a hoax, because India became more rigid on Kashmir after Vajpayee's bus ride to Lahore.

Presently, India is moving on two fronts. One to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and second to corner it militarily. Indian print and electronic media is continuously blasting Pakistan, and Indian diplomats including External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh have intensified the propaganda to dub Pakistan as a terrorist state. Immediately after Kargil India announced the formation of No 14 Indian Army Corps at Leh Ladakh. With four divisions under command Indian Army now has sixty thousand troops north of Zojila pass. In addition to the Mountain Division at Siachin, two Divisions with several heavy artillery regiments (155mm Bofors) have been deployed in the Drass, Kargil, Batalik sectors. Besides concrete bunkers underground storage facilities are being built in the entire area. Zojila pass remains closed for seven months i.e. from end October to early June due to heavy snowfall and blizzards. The Indian Army plan is to stockup at least for seven months to fight a future limited war more effectively.

In addition, 15 and 16 Corps in Kashmir have been reinforced with regular Indian Army formations. The estimated strength of these two Corps is twelve mountain and infantry divisions including several armoured regiments and independent armoured brigades. All divisions in the Occupied State are manpower intensive i.e. twenty thousand men and officers in each. The estimated strength of Indian Army in IHK is over four hundred thousand. Added to this are fighter squadrons and air defence units of the Indian Air Force. In addition thirty six Rashtriya Rifle battalions, three hundred thousand para-military forces (BSF-CRPF), thirty thousand intelligence personnel (RAW-IB. Military Intelligence) and seventy thousand J&K Police personnel. With these there are 750,000 Indian security forces personnel in the Occupied State. With this buildup India is in a position to ignite clashes at selected places along the LoC.

There is one armed Indian soldier for every seven unarmed Kashmiri man, woman and child. Inspite of this the tempo of Kashmiri armed resistance has intensified. Indian Security Forces had suffered three thousand casualties i.e. eight hundred dead and 2,200 seriously injured during the two month Kargil war. Since, then i.e. in the last five months Indian forces have suffered as many casualties. Unable to absorb such heavy losses the Indian cabinet in an emergency session on January 18, 2,000 chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and attended by key ministers, Governor Girish Saxena, puppet Farooq Abdullah, Army Chief VP Malik, and senior military and intelligence officers decided that:

(a) Indian security forces should be proactive in crushing dissent and ensure total submission of the population, (b) Round the clock military operations to be carried out to break peoples will, (c) Special operations to be launched against the freedom fighters with the help of retired Indian Army soldiers and renegades (members of village defence committees), (d) Enhanced deployment of troops along the LoC in Kashmir and all along the international border, (e) Divide the counter militant grid into 49 sectors as part of the three tier command (f) and a Unified Command Headquarter for forces in areas north of Zojila Pass. India clearly intends to unleash a new wave of terror in Occupied Kashmir. India is ready to strike on and across the LoC at places of its own choosing for limited gains at limited cost.

India has convinced Washington and London, that Pakistan Army had intruded into Kargil mountain tops, which are within Indian territory. Pakistan has failed to disprove and controvert Indian lies. The thrust of Pakistani diplomacy should be that IHK is occupied by brutal force. Indian Forces are on the rampage killing and terrorizing Kashmiris for over a decade. That Kashmiri freedom fighters occupied the 160 mountain tops in the Kargil Dras sector to avenge the slaughter of their kith and kin and stop the genocide by the Indian Army and para-military forces. The haste with which Nawaz Sharif flew to Washington on 4th of July 1999 and forced Kashmiri freedom fighters to withdraw from Kargil was contrived as a propaganda victory by the BJP government to tarnish Pakistan worldwide. Nawaz Sharif has served the Indian designs by his ill-conceived visit to Washington. Since then the BJP government has been on the war path. Insinuating most provocatively and propagating world wide that Pakistan be declared a terrorist state, in effect is a proclamation of war. Vajpayee has said many times that Pakistan is an enemy state. The Kargil war, and the highjacking hysteria has been purposely intensified to create a war psychosis domestically, regionally and globally to settle scores with Pakistan. The preparation for limited war and the brutal Indian attack on the Iftikhar post and shelling all along the LoC has compelled the Chief Executive to declare red alert. Clearly the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee being aware of the situation has put the Army, the PAF, the PN and the Strategic Command on maximum alert. This directive implies that India is all set to exercise the option of hot pursuit and may ignite limited conflagrations along the LoC. PAF Air Defence by now must have ordered the F-16 fighters in combination with other air superiority fighters to fly cap missions over nuclear installations, strategic targets and important VP's. With sizeable strength of the Army deployed on canal cleaning, monitoring duties and seconded to Wapda the common man is worried that the Army having retreated from forward locations, Indian Army may strike across the international border in sensitive areas of Reti Rahimyar Khan and Sind. The situation will turn grim in the event of crossing of the international border or the LoC by enemy forces. Bulk of canal cleaning has been accomplished, and monitoring activity should be postponed till the security situation stabilizes. The country needs to be properly prepared to meet the Indian challenge both on the conventional and nuclear levels. The military leadership must have the confidence that the nation is behind them in the defence of the fatherland. Defence of the country now needs priority over nation building activities of Pakistan Army.