The much quoted military dictum that “Wars are fought by nations and not just their armed forces” has often escaped the attention of Army Generals in Rawalpindi.
That is perhaps why as India celebrates yet another anniversary of ‘Vijay Diwas’, there is a renewed though muted, debate in Pakistan about the wisdom of launching such an ambitious military manoeuvre, in the frozen icy heights of Kargil.
On our papers and maps in the GHQ, “Operation Koh e Paima” (Mountain Climber) appeared to be a perfectly bold tactical manoeuvre with enormous potential of creating strategic effects. So where did it fall apart? Did we underestimate the resolve of Indian Army, or was it our political dispensation that let us down? Some of us though still feel that this unique operation wasn’t a complete military disaster as it is made out to be.
No war in modern human history had been fought in such an unfriendly, and unforgiving, terrain. For its sheer audacity therefore, its planners deserve some credit. The secretly devised plan by Major General Javed Ahmed, GOC FCNA, along with Lt Gen Mehmood Ahmed, Commander 10 Corps, and Lt Gen Aziz Khan, Chief of General Staff (CGS) had the complete blessings of COAS Pervez Musharraf.
It basically aimed to exploit gaps in Indian positions in the Dras-Mushkoh Sect and capture the unoccupied heights across the Line of Control so that we could interdict movement on the Leh – Kargil National highway. Such was the cloak of secrecy that leave aside the political leadership even our Air Force and Navy were kept in dark.
It all began slowly but steadily in the month of December 1998. Having achieved a strategic surprise by establishing over hundred posts in Indian territory