India planned twice to attack Pakistan, says report
By Jawed Naqvi
Dawn - 18 December 2002] - NEW DELHI, Dec 17: Indian leadership had planned twice to attack Pakistan
this year - first on Jan 14 and later on June 10 - but was deterred by
the prospect of a nuclear retaliation by Islamabad as well as the fear of
getting bogged down, during the proposed summer thrust, by the arriving
monsoons, India Today reported on Tuesday.
"Twice this year, India was on the verge of striking against Pakistan,"
the magazine said in its latest edition.
The winter strike plan was also called off because Indian war planes
would have to cross international borders as Pakistan, fearing strikes,"
moved terrorist camps from PoK (Azad Jammu Kashmir) to Northern Areas in
Pakistan," the report said.
The strike did not happen also because of Delhi's fear that Pakistan
would launch full-scale war and call for global intervention in occupied
Kashmir, the magazine, seen as close to India's rightwing administration,
"Last Christmas, fighter pilots of the Indian Air Force's No 1 Tiger
Squadron of Mirage-2000 H aircraft were not in celebratory mode," the
magazine said in its cover story.
At that time the Indian Army's para-commandos, armed with MP-5
sub-machine guns, infrared night-vision devices, Kevlar bullet-proof
jackets and hi-tech frequency-hopping radio sets had been secretly
conducting mock raids in the hills of Jammu and Kashmir.
The government directed the mobilization of its forces on December 18.
The defensive corps in the western and southern sectors was mobilised by
December 28, the largest build-up since the 1971 war, the magazine said.
Indian Air Force deployed 272 jets in the western sector; the navy moved
its eastern fleet to the Arabian Sea. A Mirage-2000 H and MiG-27 fighters
were to hit "PoK-based terror camps with precision munition," it said.
Artillery guns were to fire across the LoC targeting Pakistani troop
bunkers and "terrorist launch pads" with laser-guided bombs. Also under
cover of artillery fire and air support, special forces were to be
para-dropped behind " enemy lines to destroy terrorists and camps."
The objective of the winter assault was to use air-land battle to open
various fronts on the LoC and stretch Pakistani forces in Azad Kashmir.
It aimed also to push in a brigade of army commandos into Azad Kashmir
while regular troop formations would retain tactical heights on the LoC
against enemy offensive. It planned to gain control over "terrorist
infiltration routes in PoK, destroy terrorist communication network and
launch pads near the LoC," India Today said.
Pakistani forces would be stretched at the strategic Haji Pir pass and
try to link up the Uri-Poonch axis. Indian troops also planned to occupy
dominant heights on the LoC in Siachen, Kargil and in Poonch-Rajouri
One of the aims of the move was "to hold on to PoK territory near the LoC
and use it for future talks on Kashmir.
Deterring the move were fears that the operation would be hampered by the
US forces in Pakistan and in north Arabian Sea.
The United States also put the heat on President Pervez Musharraf to
publicly renounce terrorism in Kashmir, the report said. And finally, a
key reason that got Washington so nervous was that it feared Gen
Musharraf would use nuclear option after the Indian strike.
In the runup to the January 14 plan, orders were issued to mobilise
troops - more than those in the runup to the 1971 war, the report said.
The limited strike was a clever tactical option. The build-up indicated
to the world, especially the US, that India was serious.
"If Pakistan wasn't reined in, India would have no option," it was
India also stepped up the diplomatic offensive, recalling its high
commissioner and banning civilian flights from Pakistan.
"Picking up the war signals, Pakistan went into hypermode: it began
mobilising forces and exchanged frantic calls with the US, getting
President George W. Bush into the act. Secretary of State Colin Powell
called India and Pakistan to cool down temperatures," the report said.
As for the summer alert, the US conveyed to India it was unsure about
Pakistani nuclear threshold, particularly after President Musharraf and
his UN representative Munir Akram threatened to use nukes against India.
"India began exploring its second-strike options after Pakistan tested
N-capable Ghauri missile on May 25," the report said.
Intelligence reports indicated that Pakistan had mobilised strategic
assets post-Kaluchak. Despite Indian military's assurance, the nuke
threat bothered Delhi. Gen Musharraf's May 27 speech assuring nothing was
happening on the LoC; infiltration dipped to a new low in May and June.
"A big complication was the oncoming monsoons that could bog down the
forces," the report said.
Last week, Fernandes denied that India had been on the brink of war,
claiming that at no point had the CCS given directions to the armed
forces to take action against Pakistan.
He, however, did not put it beyond the army generals to prepare for
contingency plans. Mishra, on the other hand, reiterated that India had
indeed been "close to war" in January and May. While refusing to disclose
dates, he pointed out that on June 23, Vajpayee had said in an interview
to the Washington Postthat it was a "touch and go affair."