The Kargil Committee report
Against the backdrop of an animated public discussion on Pakistan's
aggression in Kargil, the Union Government vide its order dated July 29,
1999 constituted a Committee to look into the episode with the following
Terms of Reference:
To review the events leading up to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil
District of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir; and
To recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard
national security against such armed intrusions."
The Committee comprised four members namely K. Subrahmanyam (Chairman),
Lieutenant General (Retd.) K.K. Hazari, B.G. Verghese and Satish Chandra,
Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) who was also designated
Given its open-ended terms of reference, the time constraint and, most
importantly, the need for clarity in setting about its task, the Committee
found it necessary to define its scope of work precisely. To deal with
the Kargil episode in isolation would have been too simplistic; hence the
Report briefly recounts the important facets of developments in J&K
and the evolution of the LOC, Indo-Pak relations since 1947, the proxy
war in Kashmir and the nuclear factor. However, the Committee's 'review'
commences essentially from 1997 onwards coinciding with Nawaz Sharif's
return to office as Prime Minister of Pakistan. This has enabled the Committee
to look at developments immediately preceding the intrusions more intensively.
The Committee has sought to analyse whether the kind of Pakistani aggression
that took place could have been assessed from the available intelligence
inputs and if so, what were the shortcomings and failures which led to
the nation being caught by surprise. However, the actual conduct of military
operations has not been evaluated by the Committee as this lay outside
the Committee's mandate and would have called for a different type of expertise.
The Committee's recommendations for preventing future recurrence of Kargil-like
episodes are confined to the country's land borders. Since some of these
are generic in nature, they would have a bearing on future threats to the
country whether on its land borders or otherwise.
The Committee approached its task in a spirit of openness and transparency
with its focus on establishing the facts. It viewed its task as a cooperative
venture with the concerned Ministries, Defence Services, Intelligence Agencies
and other concerned organisations and avoided getting into adversarial
relationship with the officials and non-officials with whom it was required
to interact. Given this approach it was able to enlist the willing cooperation
of all concerned.
Although the Committee was not statutory in nature, as a result
of Cabinet Secretary's directions, it was able to secure the widest possible
access to all relevant documents, including those with the highest classification
and to officials of the Union and J&K Governments. In the pursuit of
its task the Committee sought presentations from the concerned organisations
and agencies. It held meetings with those who in its judgement were in
a position to throw light on the subject. In this process, it met former
President R. Venkataraman, Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee, ex-Prime Ministers
V. P. Singh, P.V. Narasimha Rao and I. K. Gujral), the Home Minister, External
Affairs Minister, Defence Minister, the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission,
the Governor and the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the National
Security Adviser, the Cabinet Secretary, the Defence Secretary, the Foreign
Secretary, the Home Secretary and a host of other officials and non-officials,
including media persons. The Committee held over a hundred meetings, the
records of which are appended to the Report. Detailed questionnaires were
prepared by the Committee to elicit information. It made four visits to
various parts of J&K to hold discussions with local officials and non-officials,
and to get a better sense of the terrain and the prevailing field conditions.
It undertook a visit to Bangalore to obtain a first hand knowledge of certain
defence research and development facilities and for discussions with experts
regarding technological options. The Committee invited reliable information
from the public pertaining to events leading up to the Pakistani aggression
in Kargil through a press note in the national dailies and the regional
media. It scanned a large number of news items and commentaries published
in the national dailies, journals and magazines. Apart from this, it perused
several books published in recent months on the Kargil episode.
The Committee's Findings are based primarily on official documents,
authenticated records and copies of documents, while other parts of the
Report draw on materials received by the Committee and views of experts
and knowledgeable persons who were invited to interact with it.
The Committee's Report comprises 14 Chapters in addition to a Prologue
and an Epilogue. Important documents referred to by the Committee are enclosed
as annexures with the main Report. Other relevant documents, Records of
Discussions and source materials have been put together in 15 volumes and
appended to the Report. The Findings and Recommendations of the Committee
are set out in the succeeding sections of this summary.
I - Developments leading to the Pakistani
aggression at Kargil
The Review Committee had before it overwhelming evidence that
the Pakistani armed intrusion in the Kargil sector came as a complete and
total surprise to the Indian Government, Army and intelligence agencies
as well as to the J&K. State Government and its agencies. The Committee
did not come across any agency or individual who was able clearly to assess
before the event the possibility of a large scale Pakistani military intrusion
across the Kargil heights. What was conceived of was the limited possibility
of infiltrations and enhanced artillery exchanges in this Sector.
A number of former Army Chiefs of Staff and Director Generals
of Military Operations were near unanimous in their opinion that a military
intrusion on the scale attempted was totally unsustainable because of the
lack of supportive infrastructure and was militarily irrational. In the
1948, 1965 and 1971 conflicts, the Indian Army was able to dominate the
Pakistani forces on these heights. This area has been the scene of fierce
artillery exchanges but minimal cross-LOC military activity. These factors,
together with the nature of the terrain and extreme weather conditions
in the area, had generated an understandable Indian military mindset about
the nature and extent of the Pakistani threat in this sector.
The developments of 1998 as reported in various intelligence inputs,
notably the increased shelling of Kargil, the reported increased presence
of militants m the Force Commander Northern Area (FCNA) region and their
training were assessed as indicative of a likely high level of militant
activity in Kargil in the summer of 1999 and the consequent possibility
of increased infiltration in this area. The Pakistani reconnaissance mission
in August 1997 in Gharkun village was noted and a patrol base established
in Yaldor. An operation was also planned to apprehend the infiltrators
if they returned in the summer of 1998. They apparently did not do so.
The nearest approximation to the events of May 1999 was a 15 Corps war-game
in 1993 which envisaged a Pakistani long range penetration group positioning
itself south of NH I A and bringing the Srinagar-Leh highway under fire
from troth sides. Even that assessment did not visualise an intrusion to
hold ground by hundreds of Pakistan Army regulars.
Intrusions across the LOC are not uncommon. Pakistan had in the
past intruded into the Indian side of the LOC and the Indian Army had responded
adequately. There had, however, been no intrusions since 1990. An attempt
to capture a post or two on the LOC was, however, anticipated as revealed
in the press briefing of the acting GOC 15 Corps on January 11, 1999. Even
this was not the kind of intrusion that actually took place in the Mashkoh,
Dras, Kaksar and Batalik areas.
The terrain here is so inhospitable that the intruders could not have
survived above 4000 metres for long without comprehensive and sustained
re-supply operations. They were even running short of water at these heights
towards the end of the operations. Though heavily armed, the intruders
did not have rations for more than two or three days in many forward 'sanghars'.
Re-supply could have taken place only if there was no air threat and the
supply lines could not be targeted by Indian artillery. In other words)
it would appear that the Pakistani intruders operated on the assumption
that the intrusions would be under counter attack for only a few days and
thereafter some sort of ceasefire would enable them to stay on the heights
and be re-supplied.
Such an assumption would be totally unsustainable in purely military
terms. It would only be logical on the expectation, based upon political
considerations, that Pakistan would be able to engineer international intervention
to impose an early ceasefire that would allow its troops to stay in possession
of the territory captured by them. Such an assumption could not have been
made without close consultation with the Pakistani political leadership
at the highest level. General Musharraf has disclosed that the operations
were discussed in November 1998 with the political leadership and there
are indications of discussions on two subsequent occasions in early 1999.
The tapes of conversations between General Musharraf and Lieutenant General
Aziz, Chief of General Staff, also revealed their expectation of early
international intervention, the likelihood of a ceasefire and the knowledge
and support of the Foreign Office.
In retrospect, such an expectation was unreal. The Pakistani establishment
has a long and consistent history of misreading India's will and world
opinion. In 1947, it did not anticipate the swift Indian military intervention
in Kashmir when it planned its raid with a mix of army personnel, ex-servicemen
and tribals under the command of Major General Akbar Khan. In 1965, it
took Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's advice that India would not cross the international
border to deal with Pakistan's offensive in the Akhnur sector. In 1971,
it developed high but totally unwarranted expectations about the likelihood
of US-Chinese intervention on its behalf. The same pattern of behaviour
was evident this time too. This is presumably the price the Pakistani leadership
has paid for its inability to come to terms with the military realities.
It has obviously been a victim of its own propaganda.
It is evident from Pakistani pronouncements and the writings of those
with access to the highest decision making levels, that at least from 1987
onwards, when Dr. A. Q. Khan conveyed a nuclear threat to India in a Press
interview to an Indian journalist, Pakistan was convinced that its nuclear
weapons capability would deter India's superior conventional forces. Written
accounts of foreign observers have highlighted that since 1980, the Pakistani
military establishment had entertained ideas of deterring Indian nuclear
and conventional capabilities with its nuclear weapons and of carrying
out a brash, bold strike to liberate Kashmir which would go unchallenged
if the Indian leadership was weak or indecisive.
Successive Indian Chiefs of Army Staff and Director Generals of Military
Operations told the Committee that bringing to bear India's assumed conventional
superiority was not a serious option in the last ten years for a variety
of reasons; commitments in Sri Lanka, subsequent deployments in Punjab,
the North East and Kashmir, and a drastic reduction in Defence outlay.
Pakistani writings over the years have highlighted the Indian Army's involvement
in counter-insurgency in Kashmir and its perceived degradation as an effective
Several Pakistani writers agree that the 'Kargil plan' was formulated
in the eighties in the last years of General Zia-ul-Haq. There are different
versions on whether it was sought to be operationalised during the tenures
of Benazir Bhutto and General Jehangir Karamat, Chief of Army Staff. General
Musharraf's disclosure that it was discussed with the political leadership
in November 1998 soon after he assumed office has been referred to in the
Report. It is difficult to say whether the initiative for this move came
from the Army or was politically driven. There was a heady combination
of circumstances and personalities. Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister, had
successfully removed from office the President, the Chief Justice and the
then Army Chief, General Karamat, in whose place he appointed General Musharraf
who superseded two others. General Musharraf himself served in Afghanistan
and had ties with Osama Bin Laden and other extremists. He is a Mohajir
and an ambitious, hard driving man. He had served in the Northern Areas
for several years and had been associated with the crackdown on the Shias.
He had commanded the Special Services Group (SSG) which launched an attack
on Bilafond La in Siachen but was frustrated.
Some Pakistani columnists claim that Nawaz Sharif thought that if he
succeeded in seizing a slice of Indian territory in Kashmir, he would be
hailed as a 'Liberator' and thereby enabled to gain absolute power through
amendment of the Shariat law. There is no clear evidence on the basis of
which to assess the nature and extent of Nawaz Sharif's involvement in
the Kargil adventure. The balance of probability suggests that he was fully
in the picture. This is borne out by the tapes referred to earlier and
the repeated assertions of General Musharraf. Those who know Nawaz Sharif
personally believe that he has a limited attention span and is impatient
with detail. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume that Nawaz Sharif
was at least aware of the broad thrust of the Kargil plan when he so warmly
welcomed the Indian Prime Minister in Lahore.
Influential sections of the Indian political class and media have been
outraged at the duplicity of the Pakistani leadership. Some argue that
Nawaz Sharif could not have been so duplicitous and therefore tend to absolve
him and lay all blame on General Musharraf. However, having a declaratory
policy different from that actually pursued is not unknown in international
realpolitik and diplomacy. This existentialist divergence between the two
necessitates diplomatic interaction, continuous political analysis, Track-11
diplomacy and intelligence collection, collation and assessment.
The Committee has not come across any assessment at operational levels
that would justify the conclusion that the Lahore summit had caused the
Indian decision-makers to lower their guard. This has been confirmed by
the discussions the Committee had with a number of concerned officials.
Nonetheless, there was euphoria in some political quarters, among leaders
in and out of office, though some others saw serious pitfalls in the Lahore
The Committee has attempted a partial reconstruction of Operation BADR
based on diaries and notebooks recovered from Pakistani personnel during
the operation as well as intercepts. It would appear that reconnaissance
parties comprising officers started crossing the LOG in late January/early
February 1999. They established a first line of administrative bases within
a limited distance across the LOG in February. March saw heavy snowfall
and so they could move further forward only in April. At that stage, more
men joined them and perhaps the bulk of the intruders entered Indian territory
in late April. This sequence of events appears logical as earlier induction
of larger numbers would have added to logistic problems and increased the
risk of detection. Care was exercised by the intruders to move only in
the gaps between the Indian winter posts and to avoid detection by Winter
Air Surveillance Operations (WASO). They were equipped for extreme cold
and snow conditions. In the initial advance, they used Igloo snow tents
and constructed 'sanghars' of loose rock. Perhaps late in April, they moved
up a further two to three kilometres. WASO helicopters and operational
reconnaissance flights repeatedly flew over them as is evident from one
of the diaries captured in Mashkoh Valley. A combination of factors prevented
their detection: camouflage clothing; helicopter vibrations which hampered
observation; opportunity for concealment on hearing the sound of approaching
helicopters; and peace time safety requirements of maintaining a certain
height above the ground and a given distance from the LOC. Since the effort
was largely to detect infiltration, most flights flew along valleys and
not across the ridges. All these factors made the WASO patrols of negligible
value as is also evident from the records of previous years.
After a lull in the winter from late December 1998, there was very heavy
snowfall in March 1999 which compelled 121 Infantry Brigade to vacate one
of its 25 winter posts in the South West Spur of Point 5299 in the Kaksar
sector, popularly known as Bajrang post. Winter patrols sent out in early
April 1999 were unable to carry out their task due to adverse snow conditions.
The Pakistanis creeping forward also suffered avalanche casualties in the
month of March 1999 as revealed by a diary captured in the Mashkoh Valley.
All the Indian military commanders the Committee met emphasised the point
that while it would have been possible for patrolling to be carried out
even under these conditions, it would have required the troops to be specially
equipped to withstand glacial conditions, as in Siachen, and a willingness
to accept possible casualties. Until now, this had not been considered
necessary or acceptable.
It would appear from the locations of 'sanghars' [ ] that the plan was
to avoid initially confronting the Indian forces by moving stealthily along
the unheld gaps. The Pakistani intruders were meant to disclose themselves
in the later part of May 1999 and demonstrate that they were in possession
of the Kargil heights along a "new LOG" before the normal opening of the
Zojila pass when regular patrolling by the Indian Army would commence.
Presumably they felt that with the advantage of the commanding heights,
their better acclimatisation and by now their more secure logistics, the
situation would be distinctly in their favour. The Indians would need time
to assemble their forces, acclimatise their troops and build up their logistics
which would be difficult before Zojila opened. They would also have to
suffer unacceptable casualties in attacking the heights. This would ensure
time enough for an internationally arranged ceasefire.
This was probably Pakistan's expectation. In fact, however, the
intrusion was detected on May 3 1999, by "shepherds" who are occasionally
retained by the Brigade Intelligence Team for forward information gathering.
The patrols sent out in the next few days confirmed the presence of intruders
on May 7. The Indian Army's response was very rapid and by May 9, two well
acclimatised battalions returning from Siachen had been concentrated in
the Batalik sector to contain the intrusion. In the next few days, three
more battalions were moved from the Valley into the Kargil sector to counter
known and possible intrusions in other sub-sectors. By May 24, two additional
Brigades had moved into the area and the Indian Air Force was committed
on May 26. By the end of May an additional divisional headquarters had
been inducted to take over command of a portion of the Kargil Sector from
3 Infantry Division. This rapid and strong Indian reaction was obviously
not expected by the Pakistanis. It was now their turn to be totally surprised
[ ]. Simultaneously, Pakistan tried to lobby with the international community
for a ceasefire, which would leave it with some Indian territory and thereby
justify its misadventure. Initially, there was support for a ceasefire
but once Tololing fell and the Indian Government and Army exhibited their
determination to clear the entire intrusion, the international community
called on Pakistan to withdraw from and respect the sanctity of the LOC.
The sitrep issued by 15 Corps on May 11, 1999 was explicit on eight
identified intrusions in the Batalik sector involving 160 to 240 intruders.
The Northern Command had already made a request for the use of helicopter
gunships on May 8. The Northern Command issued orders on May 12 that the
whole J&K theatre be put on alert and additional troops be inducted
into the Kargil sector. There are obvious discrepancies between the documented
responses of 15 Corps and the Northern Command and the information regarding
the nature and extent of intrusions at that stage, then available in the
Ministries of Defence and Home in Delhi as is evident from the statements
of concerned officials.
Movement of forces within a corps is entirely within the competence
of the corps commander and does not require clearance from any other authority.
For the 15 Corps, an operation on a single brigade front was a localised'
action. The record establishes that the 15 Corps Commander carried out
his deployment with commendable expedition and competence providing adequate
margins for all possible contingencies.
The Committee found that though the Corps Commander had moved adequate
forces to contain the intrusion in the Batalik sector and followed it up
with a similar deployment of forces in the Kaksar, Dras and Mashkoh valley
sectors, there was still no clarity in the assessment of the magnitude
of the intrusions and the composition of the intruders. This is evident
from the statement of the Corps Commander on May 19, [ ]. Pakistan insists
on projecting most of the intruders as Mujahideen) with NLI troops in a
supporting role. The assessment of the nature and composition of the intruders
was hampered by a number of factors. Pakistan deliberately violated the
normal rules of war by sending in servicemen as Mujahideen and obfuscating
their service identities. Secondly, as pointed out elsewhere, there was
inadequate coordination at the ground level among Army intelligence and
other agencies. This was lacking even at the Joint Intelligence Committee
(JIC) because of the low level of representation by DOMI at the assessment
process and the DGMI representative not coming fully briefed on the latest
situation. It is also apparent that the assessment was conditioned by the
two decade old mindset that Kargil was unsuitable for cross - LOG military
There are reports in the media, some of which are said to have originated
from young officers, JCOs and other ranks, that in the initial stages,
the Indian Army suffered avoidable casualties, taken as it was by surprise.
However, the progressive data of Indian casualties from May to July 1999
obtained by the Committee does not entirely support this hypothesis. The
Committee did not go into the matter further as its terms of reference
do not require it to do so.
There were also comments in the media that Army jawans were inadequately
equipped for the extreme cold and hazardous conditions when ordered to
assault the Kargil heights. Their weapons and equipment compared unfavourably
with those of the Pakistani intruders. The Army had prescribed extra-cold
clothing meant for heights between 9000-13,000 feet in this sector for
use in normal times, and special (glacial) clothing for heights above that.
Special clothing is issued for use in the Siachen area and certain limited
reserves were held in stock. When hostilities commenced, this reserve clothing
was issued to the men. Troops returning from Siachen duty discard their
special clothing which is then usually disposed of by auction. However,
in the previous year, the Corps Commander had ordered that part-worn serviceable
(PWS) Siachen clothing be preserved. This PWS stock was also issued to
the troops during the Kargil action. Despite this, there was still an overall
shortage. This warrants a review of standards of provisioning for reserves
as well as a policy of holding special clothing for a certain proportion
of other troops in the Kargil and other high altitude sectors.
Though the new light rifle (5.56 mm Insa) has been inducted into service,
most troops are yet to be equipped with light rifles. Adequate attention
has not been paid to lightening the load on infantry soldiers deployed
at high altitudes. In broader terms, increasing the firepower and combat
efficiency of infantrymen has also suffered as has the modernisation process
as a whole. This needs to be speedily rectified.
The Air Chief further maintained that if air power was to be used,
the country should be prepared for a Pakistani response. Therefore, the
relevant Air Commands and units were activated. The CCS finally authorised
the use of air power on May 25.
In order to ensure that Pakistan would be deterred from any adventurous
escalation, the Indian Armed Forces progressively moved to deploy in a
deterrent posture. These measures sent out a clear message to Pakistan
and the rest of the world that India was determined to oust the invader
by military means. The Western and Eastern fleets of the Indian Navy were
concentrated in the North Arabian Sea. From intercepted signals, it would
appear that these steps had a healthy restraining effect on the Pakistani
Armed Forces. This was implied by Nawaz Sharif in his address to the nation
on July 12, 1999.
The Kargil action saw the deployment of a limited number of troops and
aircraft on a restricted front in response to a shallow Pakistani penetration
across the LOG of no more than eight to nine kilometres at most. Nevertheless,
given the terrain and political implications were a "new LOC" to be created,
and in the background of nuclear capability on both sides, this was not
a minor skirmish but a short, sharp war in which the Indian Army and Air
Force suffered 474 killed and 1109 wounded (as of July 26, 1999). To regard
it as anything less would be mistaken. The consequences of its failure
for Pakistan are there for all to see.
II - Intelligence
It is not widely appreciated in India that the primary responsibility
for collecting external intelligence, including that relating to a potential
adversary's military deployment, is vested in RAW. The DGMI's capability
for intelligence collection is limited. It is essentially restricted to
the collection of tactical military intelligence and some amount of signal
intelligence and its main role is to make strategic and tactical military
assessments and disseminate them within the Army. Many countries have established
separate Defence Intelligence Agencies and generously provided them with
resources and equipment to play a substantive role in intelligence collection.
For historical reasons, the Indian Armed Forces are not so mandated. Therefore,
it is primarily RAW which must provide intelligence about a likely attack,
whether across a broad or narrow front. Unfortunately the RAW facility
in the Kargil area did not receive adequate attention in terms of staff
or technological capability. The station was under Srinagar but reported
to Leh which was not focussed on Kargil but elsewhere. Hence intelligence
collection, coordination and follow up were weak.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is meant to collect intelligence within
the country and is the premier agency for counter-intelligence. This agency
got certain inputs on activities in the FCNA region which were considered
important enough by the Director, IB to be communicated over his signature
on June 2, 1998 to the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Cabinet Secretary,
Home Secretary and Director-General Military Operations. This communication
was not addressed to the three officials most concerned with this information,
namely. Secretary (RAW), who is responsible for external intelligence and
had the resources to follow up the leads in the IB report; Chairman JIC,
who would have taken such information into account in JIC assessments;
and Director-General Military Intelligence. Director, IB stated that he
expected the information to filter down to these officials through the
official hierarchy. This did not happen in respect of Secretary (RAW) who
at that time was also holding additional charge as Chairman, JIC. The Committee
feels that a communication of this nature should have been directly addressed
to all the officials concerned.
Such lapses, committed at one time or the other by all agencies, came
to the notice of the Committee. These illustrate a number of deficiencies
in the system. There is need for greater appreciation of the role of intelligence
and who needs it most and also more understanding with regard to who must
pursue any given lead. It further highlights the need for closer coordination
among the intelligence agencies.
There were many bits and pieces of information about activities within
the FCNA region. Very few of these could be considered actionable intelligence.
Most of them tended to indicate that Kargil was becoming a growing focus
of Pakistani attention which had been clearly demonstrated by the marked
increase in cross-LOC shelling in 1998. The reports on ammunition dumping,
induction of additional guns and the construction of bunkers and helipads
all fitted into an assessment of likely large scale militant infiltration
and yet more intensive shelling in the summer of 1999. The enhanced threat
perception of Commander 121 Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Surinder Singh
also related to increased infiltration. RAW assessed the possibility of
"a limited swift offensive threat with possible support of alliance partners"
in its half-yearly assessment ending September 1998 but no indicators substantiating
this assessment were provided. Moreover, in its next six monthly report
ending March 1999, this assessment was dropped. In fact, its March 1999
report emphasised the financial constraints that would inhibit Pakistan
from launching on any such adventure.
No specific indicators of a likely major attack in the Kargil sector
such as significant improvements in logistics and communications or a substantial
force build-up or forward deployment of forces were reported by any of
the agencies. Information on training of additional militants with a view
to infiltrating them across the LOC was not sector-specific. There was
an increase in shelling in 1998 both in the Neelam Valley (in POK) and
Kargil (India). The Indian side resorted to heavy firing since it was necessary
to suppress Pakistani fire aimed at disrupting the traffic on NH-1A from
Srinagar to Leh. While the intelligence agencies focussed on ammunition
dumping on the other side, they appeared to lack adequate knowledge about
the heavy damage inflicted by Indian Artillery which would have required
the Pakistani army to undertake considerable repairs and re-stocking. That
would partly explain the larger vehicular movements reported on the other
side. The Indian Army did not share information about the intensity and
effect of its past firing with others. In the absence of this information,
RAW could not correctly assess the significance of enemy activity in terms
of ammunition storage or construction of underground bunkers. This provides
another illustration of lack of inter-agency coordination as well as lack
of coordination between the Army and the agencies.
The critical failure in intelligence was related to the absence of any
information on the induction and de-induction of battalions and the lack
of accurate data on the identity of battalions in the area opposite Kargil
during 1998. Prisoners of War have disclosed the presence of 5, 6 and 13
NLI battalions and 24 SIND in the FCNA region from October 1998 onwards.
The Indian Army has also assessed that elements of 5, 6, and 13 NLI were
amongst the units that were initially used by Pakistan to launch the intrusions
in April/May 1999. These units did not figure in the Order of Battle (ORBAT)
supplied by RAW to the DGMI dated April 1998. Since then, and until Indian
troops came into contact with these battalions in May- June 1999, there
was no information of their presence in the area. RAW issued another ORBAT
on June 1, 1999 which also did not show any changes in the area opposite
Kargil between April 1998 and May 1999. An analysis carried out by the
Committee on the basis of information now- available shows that there were
in fact a number of changes in the ORBAT of Pakistani forces in the FCNA
region during 1998/early 1999. These changes included the turnover of some
units, induction of two additional battalions over and above the 13 already
in the Sector as reported by RAW in April 1998 and the forward deployment
of two battalions from Gilgit to Gultari and from Skardu to Hamzigund (near
Olthingthang) respectively. In other words, if no de-inductions took place,
for which the Committee lacks evidence, there was a net increase of two
battalions in the FCNA region over and above RAW' s projections as well
as a forward deployment of two battalions within the sector during the
period April 1998 to February 1999. The responsibility for obtaining information
on them was primarily that of RAW and, to a much lesser extent, that of
DGMI and the Division or Brigade using their Intelligence and Field Surveillance
Unit (IFS) and Brigade Intelligence Team (BIT) capabilities.
It could be argued that given the nature of the terrain, the climatic
conditions and the unheld gaps in existence since 1972, there was no way
of anticipating the intrusion during the winter provided Pakistan accepted
the risk of incurring casualties in avalanches, which it did. However,
since Pakistan was focussing upon Kargil, information regarding the induction
of two additional battalions in the FCNA region and the forward deployment
of two battalions could have proved to be an indicator of the likely nature
of Pakistani activity in this sector. In that event, perhaps greater risks
in patrolling in snow conditions might have been found acceptable. More
focussed intelligence about the activities of Pakistan in the FCNA region
would have followed. In the Committee's view, a significant gap in information
prior to the detection of the Kargil intrusion was the inability of RAW
to accurately monitor and report changes in the Pakistani ORBAT in the
FCNA region during 1998 and early 1999 and to a lesser extent that of DGMI,
the BITs and IFSUs to notice the additional forward deployment of troops
in the vicinity of the LOC.
The Kargil intrusion was essentially a limited Pakistani military exercise
designed to internationalise the Kashmir issue which was tending to recede
from the radar screen of the international community. It was, therefore,
mainly a move for political and diplomatic gain. The armed forces play
their war games essentially within military parameters. Unlike other countries,
India has no tradition of undertaking politico-military games with the
participation of those having political and diplomatic expertise. If such
games had been practised, then the possibility of limited military intrusions
to internationalise the Kashmir issue might have been visualised.
One of the most realistic assessments of Kashmir developments as they
unfolded during Pakistan's proxy war was "Operation TOPAC", a war game
written by a team of retired Indian Army officers in 1989. It is interesting
to note that "Operation TOPAC" has since been mistakenly attributed even
by high placed Indian officials and agencies to Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. This shows
how close the authors of "Operation TOPAC" were able to get into the mind
of the Pakistani establishment in relation to their aims in J&K.
As mentioned earlier, WASO did not provide intelligence inputs of significant
value. Those of the Aviation Research Centre (ARC) of RAW were no doubt
extremely valuable. The Army makes six-monthly indents and, wherever necessary,
special indents on the ARC. These indents and their prioritisation depend
on the nature of the threat perception which, in turn, is shaped by inputs
from RAW. This circular process entails the Army having to depend upon
inputs from RAW for its own threat assessment. In other words, the Indian
threat assessment is largely a single- track process dominated by RAW.
In most advanced countries, the Armed Forces have a Defence Intelligence
Agency with a significant intelligence collection capability. This ensures
that there are two streams of intelligence which enables governments to
check one against the other.
The Indian Intelligence structure is flawed since there is little back
up or redundancy to rectify failures and shortcomings in intelligence collection
and reporting that goes to build up the external threat perception by the
one agency, namely, RAW which has a virtual monopoly in this regard. It
is neither healthy nor prudent to endow that one agency alone with multifarious
capabilities for human, communication, imagery and electronic intelligence.
Had RAW and DGMI spotted the additional battalions in the FCNA region that
were missing from the ORBAT, there might have been requests for ARC flights
in winter and these might have been undertaken, weather permitting. As
it happened, the last flight was in October 1998, long before the intrusion,
and the next in May 1999, after the intrusions had commenced. The intruders
had by then come out into the open.
The present structure and processes in intelligence gathering and reporting
lead to an overload of background and unconfirmed information and inadequately
assessed intelligence which requires to be further pursued. There is no
institutionalised process whereby RAW, IB, BSF and Army intelligence officials
interact periodically at levels below the JIC. This lacuna is perhaps responsible
for RAW reporting the presence of one additional unit in Gultari in September
1998 but not following it up with ARC flights on its own initiative. Nor
did the Army press RAW specifically for more information on this report.
The Army never shared its intellig3nce with the other agencies or with
the JIC. There was no system of Army minorities at different levels from
DGMI downwards providing feedback to the Agencies.
There is a general lack of awareness of the critical importance of and
the need '.or assessed intelligence at all levels. JIC reports do not receive
the attention they deserve at the political and higher bureaucratic levels.
The assessment process has been downgraded in importance and consequently
various agencies send very junior officials to JIC meetings. The DGMI did
not send any regular inputs to the JIC for two years preceding the Kargil
crisis. The IC was not accorded the importance it deserved either by the
Intelligence agencies or the Government. The Chairmanship of JIC had become
the reserve of an IPS officer who was generally a runner- up for the post
of Secretary (RAW) or DIB. The post was in fact left unfilled for 18 months
until December 1998. During this period. Secretary (RAW) doubled as Chairman,
There are no checks and balances in the Indian intelligence system to
ensure that the consumer gets all the intelligence that is available and
is his due. There is no system of regular, periodic and comprehensive intelligence
briefings it the political level and to the Committee of Secretaries. In
the absence 3f an overall, operational national security framework and
objective!, each intelligence agency is diligent in preserving its own
turf and departmental prerogatives. There is no evidence that the intelligence
agencies have reviewed their role after India became a nuclear weapon state
or in the context of the increasing problems posed by insurgencies and
ethnic-nationalist turbulences backed with sophisticated hi-tech equipment
and external support. Nor has the Government felt the need to initiate
any such move.
III - The Nuclear Factor
A lot has been written both at home and abroad about Pakistan
being able to commit limited aggression in Kashmir because of the mutual
nuclear deterrence deemed to have been established as a result of the Indian
and Pakistan nuclear tests in May 1998. The Committee examined this proposition
in detail. It studied the Indian perception of the Pakistani nuclear threat
as well as the sequence of developments of the Indian and Pakistani nuclear
weapons programme. The Committee's findings are based on published literature,
classified reports, statements by some of the main actors in the Indian
nuclear weapons programme, former Intelligence Chiefs, former Foreign Secretaries
and former Prime Ministers. These are summarised below.
President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto committed Pakistan to acquiring nuclear
weapons at a meeting held in Multan on January 24, 1972 in the wake of
the country's defeat in the Bangladesh war. As has been highlighted by
a number of eminent Pakistani writers, the primary motivation for this
effort was to deter India's conventional arms superiority. According to
Pakistani perceptions, it was able to do so on three occasions. This was
well before the Pokhran and Chagai tests in May 1998.
According to a statement made before the Committee, RAW had assessed
that by 1981-82, Pakistan had enough weapons grade enriched uranium to
make one or two uranium weapon cores. Former President Venkataraman and
the then Scientific Adviser, Dr V. S. Arunachalam, both said that Indira
Gandhi agreed to a nuclear weapons test in 1983 but called it off under
A report published in 1984 indicated that Pakistan had obtained from
the Chinese the design of its fourth nuclear weapon tested in 1966. It
was therefore a proven design. By the early 1980s, Indian intelligence
was aware of the China-Pakistan nuclear weapons deal. So also the US, as
evident from a declassified document of 1983.
In 1987, Pakistan conveyed a nuclear threat to India at the time of
Operation BRAS STACKS. This was officially communicated by Pakistan's Minister
of State for Foreign Affairs, Zain Noorani to the Indian Ambassador in
Islamabad, SK Singh. It was also communicated by the Pakistani nuclear
scientist, Dr A.Q. Khan to the Indian journalist Kuldip Nayyar.
In January 1990, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Sahibzada Yakub Khan,
visited Delhi and spoke to the Indian Foreign Minister, I.K. Gujral and
the Prime Minister V.P. Singh in terms which they regarded as verging on
an ultimatum. Some time later, the Indian Air Force was placed on alert
following the Pakistan Air Force being similarly ordered. The Indian Prime
Minister inquired of the then Air Chief whether it was possible for the
IAF to intercept hostile Pakistani aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Air
Chief Marshal Mehra replied that no such guarantee could be given and that
the only logical answer for India was to acquire a nuclear deterrent of
its own. American accounts describe Robert Gates' visit to Islamabad in
May 1990, and his warning to President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and General Aslam
Beg against any rash action against India. The Pakistanis describe this
as one more instance when their nuclear deterrent prevented Indian aggression.
During this crisis, the Kahuta establishment was evacuated, a fact that
the Indian mission in Islamabad communicated to Delhi. On the 1990 events
referred to above, there are varying perceptions among Indian officials.
The majority view is that there was an implied threat.
In August 1990, information was received from a sensitive intelligence
source that in any future confrontation, Pakistan might use nuclear weapons
as a first resort. V.P. Singh and I.K. Gujral have a vivid recollection
of this report. In October 1990, the US imposed sanctions on Pakistan under
the Pressler Amendment, implicitly confirming to the world that Pakistan
possessed nuclear explosive capability.
The Committee was informed by Air Chief Marshal Mehra, the former Air
Chief, that flight trials for delivery of Indian nuclear weapons were conducted
in 1990 and that efforts to adapt the delivery system to the weapon commenced
even earlier. V.P. Singh said that he inherited the programme from Rajiv
Gandhi and pursued it further. Gujral added that every Indian Prime Minister
sustained the nuclear weapons programme. While all Indian Prime Ministers
treated this programme as strictly confidential, they reassured the public
that the country's nuclear option was being kept open. On the other hand,
Pakistan's Prime Ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, and its Chief
of Army Staff, General Aslam Beg, openly talked of Pakistan having acquired
It would not be unreasonable for Pakistan to have concluded by 1990
that it had achieved the nuclear deterrence it had set out to establish
in 1980. Otherwise, it is inconceivable that it could sustain its proxy
war against India, inflicting thousands of casualties, without being unduly
concerned about India's "conventional superiority". Even as late as May
1998, when both sides conducted their nuclear tests) India had not used
its conventional superiority during the preceding nine years of sustained
proxy war by Pakistan in Kashmir. Successive Indian Army Chiefs and Director
Generals of Military Operations told the Committee that the idea of using
India's conventional superiority did not arise for various reasons other
than the nuclear factor.
The 1998 Pokhran tests were the outcome of a policy of consensus on
nuclear weapons development among Prime Ministers belonging to the Congress,
Janata Dal, United Democratic Front and BJP. For reasons of security, none
of these Prime Ministers took any one other than Chairmen of the Atomic
Energy Commission (not all), and the Scientific Adviser to the Defence
Minister into confidence. The Chiefs of Staff, senior Cabinet Ministers
and senior civil servants were kept out of the loop.
The nuclear posture adopted by successive Prime Ministers thus put the
Indian Army at a disadvantage vis-a-vis its Pakistani counterpart. While
the former was in the dark about India's nuclear capability, the latter
as the custodian of Pakistani nuclear weaponry was fully aware of its own
capability. Three former Indian Chiefs of Army Staff expressed unhappiness
about this asymmetric situation.
Successive Indian Prime Ministers failed to take their own colleagues,
the major political parties, the Chiefs of Staff and the Foreign Secretaries
into confidence on the nature of Pakistan's nuclear threat and the China-Pakistan
nuclear axis. The Prime Ministers, even while supporting the weapons programme,
kept the intelligence and nuclear weapons establishments in two watertight
compartments. Foreign policy was being conducted without Foreign Ministers
and Indian diplomats being apprised of the nature of the threat to the
country or of India's own nuclear capability. It is quite likely that this
secretiveness on the part of the Indian Prime Ministers and the country's
inability to exercise its conventional superiority could have confirmed
Pakistan in its belief that its nuclear deterrent had indeed been effective
in Kashmir since 1990 and it could therefore pursue the proxy war and the
Kargil adventure with impunity on the basis of its own prescribed rules
of the game.
Pakistan fully understands that nuclear deterrence can work both to
its advantage and detriment. In a speech on April 12, 1999, General Musharraf
stated that though the possibility of large scale conventional war between
India and Pakistan was virtually zero, proxy wars were not only possible
but very likely. At the height of the cold war, when mutual deterrence
was in operation between the superpowers, it used to be argued by strategists
that 'salami slicing' of small pieces of territory which the adversary
would not consider worth escalating to nuclear levels was always feasible.
To counter the risk, the US developed a strategy of flexible response.
What Pakistan attempted at Kargil was a typical case of salami slicing.
[ *** ]. Since India did not cross the LOG and reacted strictly within
its own territory, the effort to conjure up escalation of a kind that could
lead to nuclear war did not succeed. Despite its best efforts, Pakistan
was unable to link its Kargil caper with a nuclear flashpoint, though some
foreign observers believe it was a near thing. The international community
does not favour alteration of the status quo through nuclear blackmail
as this would not be in the interest of the five major nuclear powers.
Pakistan obviously overlooked this factor.
The P-5 statement of June 4, 1998 and the Security Council Resolution
1172 of June 6, 1998 condemned the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests.
It exhorted both countries to sign the CTBT and NPT and referred to Kashmir
as a root cause of tension between them. This could have encouraged Pakistan
to conclude that what its caretaker Prime Minister in 1993, Moeen Qureshi,
claimed as the objective of linking Kashmir with the nuclear issue had
been achieved and that Pakistan was in a position to implement a strategy
outlined as far back as 1980, namely, to seize Kashmir in a bold, brash
move when the Indian leadership appeared weak and indecisive.
President Clinton's statement in China assigning a role to that country-
in South Asia must have further encouraged Pakistan. The US also tilted
in favour of Pakistan in imposing sanctions following the nuclear tests
on the ground the its economy was weaker. At the same time, Pakistan would
have realised that the impact of sanctions on India was only marginal and
should the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbot talks make progress, the nuclear
card might not be available for too long. With the passage of time, "crying
nuclear wolf', even if linked to Kashmir, would progressively lose credibility.
Further, Pakistan's image was damaged by its association With the Taliban,
Osama Bin Laden and increasing Islamisation. Within Kashmir, the Indian
Security Forces were steadily gaining ascendancy over militancy. It is
possible that Pakistan's political and military leadership concluded that
the window of opportunity for internationalising the Kashmir issue by projecting
it as a nuclear flashpoint was fast closing. Pakistan, therefore, needed
to act in 1999. This conclusion is borne out by the veiled nuclear threats
held out by Pakistan's political leaders and officials at the time of the
Kargil crisis. Except for one irresponsible editorial in an Indian party
paper, there were no analogous pronouncements in this country.
Some accounts claim that the Kargil intrusion was planned in 1997 and
that preliminary reconnaissance and training of personnel commenced that
year. If this is accepted, while Pakistan's reliance on its nuclear deterrence
to prevent India from escalating would still be important, the actual nuclear
tests conducted in May 1998 would not in themselves be all that significant
as nuclear deterrence between the two was in place as far back as 1990.
IV - CI Operations, Kargil and Integrated Manpower
In going on alert to deter any Pakistani escalation and then focussing
on eliminating the intrusion at Kargil, the Army had to withdraw ["*] battalions
deployed in J&K from their counter-insurgency role. This caused consternation
in the State Government and some worry even to the para-military forces
which were largely reliant on the Army in this regard. The heavy involvement
of the Army in counter-insurgency operations cannot but affect its preparedness
for its primary role, which is to defend the country against external aggression.
This point has often been emphasised by Pakistani analysts. Such a situation
has arisen because successive Governments have not developed a long-term
strategy to deal with insurgency. The Army's prolonged deployment in a
counter-insurgency role, adversely affects its training programme, leads
to fatigue and the development of a mindset that detracts from its primary
role. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs, State Governments and para-military
forces tend to assume that the Army will always be there to combat insurgency.
This was vividly demonstrated when the Committee was referred to the Union
Home Ministry's "Action Plan" for fighting militancy and the proxy war
in J&K prepared in May 1998. This defined the role of the Army as being
to ensure "zero infiltration" across the LOG.
The para-military and Central Police Forces are not trained, raised
and equipped to deal with trans-border terrorism by well-trained mercenaries
armed with sophisticated equipment who are continuously infiltrating across
the border/LOC. Over the years, the quality of these forces has not been
appropriately upgraded effectively to deal with the challenge of the times
and this has led to the increased dependence on the Army to fight insurgency.
The net result has been to reduce the role of the Indian Army to the level
of a para-military force and the para-military forces, in turn, to the
level of an ordinary police force. Pakistan has ruthlessly employed terrorism
in Punjab, J&K. and the North East to involve the Indian Army in counter-
insurgency operations and neutralise its conventional superiority. Having
partially achieved this objective, it has also persuaded itself that nuclear
blackmail against India has succeeded on three occasions. A coherent counter-strategy
to deal with Pakistan's terrorist-nuclear blackmail and the conventional
threat has to be thought through.
The Committee believes that a comprehensive manpower policy is required
to deal with this problem. In the present international security environment,
proxy war and terrorism have become preferred means of hurting a neighbour's
social, political and economic well being. Given Pakistan's unrelenting
hostility towards this country, it is necessary to evolve a long term strategy
to reduce the involvement of the Army in counter- insurgency and devise
more cost-effective means of dealing with the problem.
There has also been criticism that redeployment of military units from
CI duty in the Valley to the Kargil sector resulted in providing easy passage
for a large number of hardened militants who were infiltrated by Pakistan
across the Shamsabari Range into the Kupwara-Uri area and even South of
the Pir Panjal.
The Unified Command was also reorganised, with the Director General
Rashtriya Rifles (DGRR) being brought in from Delhi to replace GOC 15 Corps.
The latter was relieved of this responsibility to enable him to devote
full attention to his principal national defence task. However, within
weeks of the conclusion of Operation VIJAY, the status quo ante was restored.
DGRR returned to Delhi and GOC 15 Corps resumed his place in the Unified
Command. The Committee also found Unified Command HQ's intelligence structure
lacking In timely and continuous analysis and assessment of intelligence,
which is critical for the success of CI operations.
More thought must be given to some of these issues. Unified Command
HQs have also been set up in Assam from time to time under different circumstance."
(and with a somewhat different structure. But whether in J&K or Assam,
there has sometimes been tension both between the Army and Para-military/CPO/Police
formations and between the civil and military authorities. This is an unhappy
state of affairs and should not be allowed to linger. The kind of manpower
reorganisation the Committee proposes could provide a partial answer, but
would still leave untouched the question of how best to structure Unified
Command HQs in the future, wherever they might be required.
The decision taken two years ago to reduce the Indian Army's strength
by 50,000 men and reinvest the savings on establishment costs in force
modernisation, was a wise one. This reduction in numbers had no bearing
on the Kargil crisis and it would be a gross misunderstanding of military
realities to believe otherwise.
In spite of continuing counter-insurgency operations over the past many
years, there has been no integrated equipment policy in respect of the
Army, para-military and Central police forces. The manpower integration
proposed would also ensure compatibility of equipment and render it easier
for the Army and the other forces to operate side by side effectively when
required to do so.
There is an equally pressing need to fashion an effective border management
policy which covers not only terrorist infiltration, but illegal migration,
smuggling and the flow of narcotics. These are all matters of national
concern but are being looked at compartmentally. The inevitable result
has been sub-optimal border management at a time when the narcotics trade
has been playing a crucial role in Pakistan's promotion of cross-border
V - The Technological Dimension
Technology has added significantly to the potential of armies
and terrorists. The AK 47 has transformed the lethal potential of the terrorist
who has often outgunned the country's security forces in Punjab and J&K.
The terrorist comes equipped with rapid fire, stand-off weapons, high explosives,
wads of currency (real and fake) and sophisticated communications equipment.
He can act alone and also as a member of an integrated team. He is highly
motivated and often a person conditioned by years of fundamentalist schooling.
Despite the challenge of terrorism over the past many years, the Indian
Army and other security forces have lagged behind in the quality of their
surveillance and communication equipment although technologically superior
equipment is readily available the world over. Only after the Kargil intrusion
was direction-finding equipment acquired in increasing numbers. Helicopters
employed for air surveillance patrolling do not have sophisticated monitoring
and sensing devices. The Kargil battle was fought with less than optimum
communications capability. While self-reliance and indigenisation are sound
principles, the availability of critical equipment in time of combat is
the supreme consideration that must govern acquisition policy. This does
not appear to be the case at present and there is no mechanism to monitor
that the process of equipment acquisition serves the best interests of
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the chain
of defence laboratories under its jurisdiction is responsible for indigenising
and constantly upgrading the country's weapons and equipment inventory
and related supplies. The dilemma has always been to determine the correct
balance between "make or buy". There are obvious constraints such as of
foreign exchange and the non-availability of state-of-the-art technology
from advanced nations which are at best only prepared to share these with
their military allies. As a non-aligned power, India has not had access
to some of the Western technologies that have flowed to Pakistan. Dual-use
technology-denial regimes have also operated against India. These considerations
demand that the country develop a degree of self-reliance in defence-related
technology and military hardware. Considerable progress has been made in
this direction. The achievements in this field can neither be denied nor
denigrated. Nevertheless, a number of instances were brought to the notice
of the Committee in respect of which there have been significant cost and
time overruns in the development and induction of indigenous weapons and
equipment for the three Armed Services. While extenuating circumstances
can be cited, the fact is that the Services have had to do without such
items whereas Pakistan has not been similarly handicapped. Some of these
issues were in fact examined in detail by the Committee on Defence Expenditure
(1990-91). This report has unfortunately not been made public and, the
Committee understands, many of its more substantial recommendations await
VI - Media Relations and Information
If the media served the country well, much of the credit goes
to the initiative it itself took and to some individuals within the Government
and the Armed Forces. Information is power, especially in this Information
Age. The media moulds national and international opinion and can be a potent
force multiplier. This was evident at Kargil - India's first television
war. All things considered, coverage by the print and electronic media
was by and large satisfactory. Yet it was apparent that, with some exceptions,
media personnel lacked training in military affairs and war reporting and
that the Armed Services lacked training and preparedness to facilitate
the task of the media and counter disinformation.
Defence Public Relations is routinely handled by the Ministry of Defence
through regular Information Service cadres. This establishment is not equipped
to handle media relations during war or even proxy war. The briefing function
during the Kargil crisis was taken over by a triad of senior military and
civil spokesmen. Army Headquarters set up an Information and Psychological
Warfare Cell under an officer of the rank of Major General with direct
access to the Army Chief. This enabled Army Headquarters both to monitor
and disseminate information in a better calibrated manner than would have
been the case otherwise.
Reporting on the campaign revealed a lack of public information about
the command structure of the Armed Forces and how responsibilities are
distributed within the national intelligence framework. While arrangements
were made for official briefings at Delhi, there were inadequate arrangements
at the Corps, Division and Brigade levels. Nor were there arrangements
to brief officers and men at the ground level on daily developments nor
to interface with the civil authorities. The result was generation of a
lot of inaccurate information such as the reported capture of a number
of Indian Army bunkers (whereas the enemy only occupied one permanent patrol
post which had earlier been vacated on account of extreme weather conditions),
the existence of three-storied enemy bunkers equipped with television sets,
and the purchase by the intruders of cement from the Dras-Kargil market.
A number of simple misperceptions became apparent in newspaper reports
questioning the absence of the Army Chief in Poland during the early part
of May 1999 and the Northern Army Commander going to Pune about the same
time. The early military appreciation was of limited infiltration in Kargil.
Nevertheless, the Corps Commander, in whose area of responsibility the
intrusion (as it was subsequently discovered to be) occurred, had acted
promptly and vigorously to deal with even larger eventualities. There was
no need to cancel the Army Chiefs visit which had been long planned and
was of some political significance. The COAS remained in touch with developments
at home and there was no vacuum in the higher military leadership because
of his absence abroad during the early phase of Kargil developments. The
Army Commander, in turn, went to Pune for a briefing from his predecessor,
Lieutenant General S. Padmanabhan, now Southern Army Commander. He too
-was in constant touch with his Command and HQ 15 Corps and had already
set in motion various precautionary measures.
Some of all this is inevitable in the fog of war. But efforts have to
be made to review information handling procedures within the Armed Forces
and their public dissemination. The Army needs such improved public relations
capability even otherwise when deployed on counter-insurgency duties. Public
relations are presently managed by the Ministry of Defence and at the formation
level by military officers who have no media background.
A comprehensive account of the Kargil operations remains to be brought
out. Pakistani political and military leaders have repeatedly highlighted
their nuclear capability and their will to use it. Accounts have also appeared
in Pakistan of how India was thrice deterred by its nuclear capability.
India's reticence in setting the record straight about the earlier conflicts
and the developments in the nuclear field appear to have influenced the
Pakistani mindset and led to the adventurous miscalculation over Kargil.
The first overall briefing on the Kargil situation in the Military Operations
Room was given to the Defence and External Affairs Ministers on May 17
with the Chiefs of Staff Committee in attendance. This was followed by
a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by the Prime
Minister on May 18 and a briefing of the Prime Minister and Defence Minister
on May 24, with the COSC in attendance, by when the magnitude of the Kargil
intrusion had been more or less fully assessed. The Army Chief had returned
from Poland by May 20 when the CCS met again on May 25 (CCS met formally
only on 25-5-99; earlier meetings of May '99 were briefing sessions), with
the COSC in attendance, and the use of the air power was cleared.
War and proxy war do not leave the civil population untouched. Human
rights violations, civilian casualties, destruction or commandeering of
property, refugee movements and the disruption of infrastructure and livelihoods
must be expected. This calls for the creation of a civil-military interface
at various levels to deal with a whole range of problems on an emergency
basis. Such liaison was lacking during the Kargil action and points to
a deficiency that must be made good.
The outcome of the Kargil operation was both a military and diplomatic
triumph for India. The Pakistani intruders were evicted with heavier casualties
than those suffered by India. The sanctity of the LOG received international
recognition and Pakistan was isolated in the comity of nations. While attending
to such shortcomings as have been brought to light, the nation can be proud
of the manner in which the Armed Forces and the people as a whole acquitted
VII - Was Kargil Avoidable?
A Kargil type situation could perhaps have been avoided had the
Indian Army followed a policy of Siachenisation to plug unheld gaps along
the 168 km. stretch from Kaobal Gali to Chorbat La. This would have entailed
establishing a series of winter cut-off posts with communications and other
logistic support and specially equipped and trained troops to hold these
positions and undertake winter patrolling despite risk of cold injuries
and avalanche casualties which would have had to be accepted. Such a dispersal
offers to hold uninhabited territory of no strategic value, would have
dissipated considerable military strength and effort and would not have
been at all cost-effective. If, however, it has had to be done now, such
a policy can only be regarded as no more than a temporary expedient. The
alternative should be a credible declaratory policy of swiftly punishing
wanton and wilful violations of the sanctity of the LOG. This should be
supplemented by a comprehensive space and aerial based surveillance system.
The Findings bring out many grave deficiencies in India's
security management system. The framework Lord Ismay formulated and Lord
Mountbatten recommended was accepted by a national leadership unfamiliar
with the intricacies of national security management. There has been very-
little change over the past 52 years despite the 1962 debacle, the 1965
stalemate and the 1971 victory, the growing nuclear threat, end of the
cold war, continuance of proxy war in Kashmir for over a decade and the
revolution in military affairs. The political, bureaucratic, military and
intelligence establishments appear to have developed a vested interest
in the status quo. National security management recedes into the background
in time of peace and is considered too delicate to be tampered with in
time of war and proxy war. The Committee strongly feels that the Kargil
experience, the continuing proxy war and the prevailing nuclearised security
environment justify a thorough review of the national security system in
Such a review cannot be undertaken by an over-burdened bureaucracy.
An independent body of credible experts, whether a national commission
or one or more task forces or otherwise as expedient, is required to conduct
such studies which must be undertaken expeditiously. The specific issues
that require to be looked into are set out below.
National Security Council
The National Security Council (NSC), formally constituted in April 1999,
is still evolving and its procedures will take time to mature. Whatever
its merits, having a National Security Adviser who also happens to be Principal
Secretary to the Prime Minister, can only be an interim arrangement. The
Committee believes that there must be a full time National Security Adviser
and it would suggest that a second line of personnel be inducted into the
system as early as possible and groomed for higher responsibility.
Members of the National Security Council, the senior bureaucracy servicing
it and the Service Chiefs need to be continually sensitised to assessed
intelligence pertaining to national, regional and international issues.
This can be done through periodic intelligence briefings of the Cabinet
Committee on Security (CCS) with all supporting staff in attendance.
Kargil highlighted the gross inadequacies in the nation's surveillance
capability, particularly through satellite imagery. The Committee notes
with satisfaction that steps have been initiated to acquire this capability.
Every effort must be made and adequate fund3 provided to ensure that a
capability of world standards is developed indigenously and put in place
in the shortest possible time. It is for consideration whether a two-stream
approach - civil and military - in regard to the downloading and interpretation
of the imagery may not be a better alternative than depending on a single
agency. Some countries have created a national surveillance command. Since
the Indian system is still in the initial stages, decisions taken at this
juncture will have long term implications.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also known as Remotely Piloted
Vehicles (RPVs), are extremely useful and effective in surveillance, especially
if they have night vision and thermal imaging capabilities. UAVs have just
been inducted and are operating in the plains under the charge of the Army.
Similar efforts should be made for the acquisition of high altitude UAVs.
Institutionalised arrangements should be made to ensure that the UAV imagery
generated is disseminated to the concerned intelligence agencies as quickly
as possible. UAVs could also prove effective in counter-insurgency operations.
They may replace WASO patrols in the long run. However, in the interim,
the possibility of using more stable WASO platforms than Cheetah helicopters
and equipping them with thermal imaging sensors should be explored.
The most spectacular intelligence coup of the Kargil operations was
the interception of a series of high level Islamabad-Beijing telephone
conversations. This highlights the capabilities of communication intelligence
which in India is fragmented among a number of agencies and is not adequately
funded. The equipment needs to be modernised in keeping with the advances
made by Pakistan in inducting advanced communication technologies. There
has also been a gross shortage of direction-finding equipment which could
contribute significantly to counter- insurgency operations. The United
States has grouped all its communication and electronic intelligence efforts
within a single organisation, the National Security Agency (NSA). The desirability
of setting up a similar organisation in India with adequate resources for
this extremely important and non-intrusive method of gathering technological
intelligence calls for examination. Adequate attention has not been paid
to developing encryption and decryption skills. The centralised communication
and electronic intelligence agency should feed all the information it generates
to the country's premier national intelligence agency which should in turn
disseminate this material to all concerned users. The problems and purposes
of monitoring communications within the country and the effort devoted
to listen in on external communications are different. Increasingly, organised
crime and anti-national elements are using encrypted communications. While
the effort to build up adequate communication and electronic intelligence
capability should be tailored to suit India's particular needs, parochial
departmental interests should be effectively countered.
In many advanced countries, technological intelligence collection
is undertaken by an integrated Defence Intelligence Agency with adequate
resources. In India, the defence intelligence effort is limited in relation
to the role assigned to the external intelligence agency (RAW) except for
limited tactical and signal intelligence. The resources made available
to the Defence Services for intelligence collection are not commensurate
with the responsibility assigned to them. There are distinct advantages
in having two lines of intelligence collection and reporting, with a rational
division of functions, responsibilities and areas of specialisation. The
Committee is of the view that the issue of setting up an integrated defence
intelligence agency needs examination.
The Committee has drawn attention to deficiencies in the present system
of collection, reporting, collation and assessment of intelligence. There
is no institutionalised mechanism for coordination or objective- oriented
interaction between the agencies and consumers at different levels. Similarly,
there is no mechanism for tasking the agencies, monitoring their performance
and reviewing their records to evaluate their quality. Nor is there any
oversight of the overall functioning of the agencies. These are all standard
features elsewhere in the world. In the absence of such procedures, the
Government and the nation do not know whether they are getting value for
money. While taking note of recent steps to entrust the NSCS with some
of these responsibilities the Committee recommends a thorough examination
of the working of the intelligence system with a view to remedying these
All major countries have a mechanism at national and often at lower
levels to assess the intelligence inputs received from different agencies
and sources. After the 1962 debacle, the then existing JIC under the Chiefs
of Staff Committee was upgraded and transferred to the Cabinet Secretariat.
It was further upgraded in 1985 with the Chairman being raised to the rank
of Secretary to the Government. The Committee finds that for various reasons
cited in the Report, the JIC was devalued, its efficacy has increased since
it became part of the National Security Council Secretariat. However, its
role and place in the national intelligence framework should be evaluated
in the context of overall reform of the system.
Pakistan's action at Kargil was not rational. Its behaviour patterns
require to be carefully studied in order to gain a better understanding
of the psyche of its leadership. In other countries, intelligence agencies
have developed large 'White Wings' of high quality analysts for in-house
analysis. They also contract studies with university departments and think
tanks with area specialisation. This is sadly neglected in India. The development
of such country/region specialisation along with associated language skills
is a time consuming process and should not be further delayed. A generalist
administration culture would appear to permeate the intelligence field.
It is necessary to establish think tanks, encourage country specialisation
in university departments and to organise regular exchanges of personnel
between them and the intelligence community.
There is general agreement that in the light of the new situation
of proxy war and large scale terrorism that the country faces, the role
and the tasks of the para-military forces have to be restructured particularly
with reference to command and control and leadership functions. They need
to be trained to much higher standards of performance and better equipped
to deal with terrorist threats. The possibility of adopting an integrated
manpower policy for the Armed Forces, para-military forces and the Central
Police Forces merits examination.
The Army must be young and fit at all times. Therefore, instead of the
present practice of having 17 years of colour service (as has been the
policy since 1976), it would be advisable to reduce the colour service
to a period of seven to ten years and, thereafter, release these officers
and men for service in the country's para-military formations. After an
appropriate period of service here, older cadres might be further streamed
into the regular police forces or absorbed in a National Service Corps
(or a National Conservation Corps), as provided for under Article 51A(d)
of the Constitution, to spearhead a range of land and water conservation
and physical and social infrastructure development on the model of some
eco- development battalions that have been raised with a fair measure of
success. This would reduce the age profile of the Army and the para-military
forces, and also reduce pension costs and other entitlements such as married
quarters and educational facilities. The Army pension bill has risen exponentially
since the 1960s and is becoming an increasing burden on the national exchequer.
Army pensions rose from Rs l568 crores in 1990-91 to Rs.6932 crores (budgeted)
in 1999-2000, the equivalent of almost two-thirds of the current Army salary
The para-military and police forces have their own ethos and traditions
and might well be chary of such lateral induction as has been proposed.
This objection might be overcome were the para-military forces to undertake
recruitment on the basis of certain common national military standards
and then send those selected for training and absorption in the Army for
a period of colour service before reverting to their parent para- military
formations. The Committee is aware of the complexities and sensitivities
involved in any such security manpower reorganisation. Nevertheless, national
security dictates certain imperatives which the country may ignore only
at its peril. The proposed reorganisation would make a career in the armed
forces attractive on the basis of the lifetime employment offered by the
two or three-tiered secondment formula.
Border management has become immensely more complex over the years.
It is now handled by the Assam Rifles, the Border Security Force and the
Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Border fencing in Punjab has produced positive
results. Elsewhere, vested interests have come in the way of effective
border management. The smuggling of narcotics, man-portable arms and explosives,
illegal migration and the infiltration of trained mercenaries have all
exacerbated border management. Narcotics is dealt with by the Finance Ministry
while other aspects are handled by the Home Ministry. If the country is
to acquire increased capabilities for area surveillance and electronic
fencing, the present structure and procedures for border patrolling must
be reviewed. The Committee is therefore of the view that the entire issue
needs detailed study in order to evolve force structures and procedures
that ensure improved border management and a reduction, if not the elimination,
in the inflow of narcotics, illegal migrants, terrorists and arms.
Defence Budget and Modernisation
A number of experts have at various times suggested the need to
enhance India's Defence outlays as budgetary constraints have affected
the process of modernisation and created certain operational voids. The
Committee would not like to advocate any percentage share of GDP that should
be assigned to Defence. This must be left to the Government to determine
in consultation with the concerned Departments and the Defence Services,
Among aspects of modernisation to which priority should be given is
that of equipping infantrymen with superior light weight weapons, equipment
and clothing suited to the threats they are required to face in alpine
National Security Management and Apex Decision-Making
India is perhaps the only major democracy where the Armed Forces
Headquarters are outside the apex governmental structure. The Chiefs of
Staff have assumed the role of operational commanders of their respective
forces rather than that of Chiefs of Staff to the Prime Minister and Defence
Minister. They simultaneously discharge the roles of operational commanders
and national security planners/managers, especially in relation to future
equipment and force postures. Most of their time, is, however, devoted
to the operational role, as is bound to happen. This has led to a number
of negative results. Future-oriented long term planning suffers. Army Headquarters
has developed a command rather than a staff culture. Higher decisions on
equipment, force levels and strategy are not collegiate but command-oriented.
The Prime Minister and Defence Minister do not have the benefit of the
views and expertise of the Army Commanders and their equivalents in the
Navy and Air Force so that higher level defence management decisions are
more consensual and broadbased. The present obsolete system has perpetuated
the continuation of the culture of the British Imperial theatre system
of an India Command whereas what is required is a National Defence Headquarters.
Most opposition to change comes from inadequate knowledge of the national
security decision-making process elsewhere in the world and a reluctance
to change the status quo and move away from considerations of parochial
interest. The status quo is often mistakenly defended as embodying civilian
ascendancy over the armed forces, which is not a real issue. In fact, locating
the Services' Headquarters in the Government will further enhance civilian
Structural reforms could bring about a much closer and more constructive
interaction between the Civil Government and the Services. The Committee
is of the view that the present obsolete system, bequeathed to India by
Lord Ismay, merits re-examination. An effective and appropriate national
security planning and decision-making structure for India in the nuclear
age is overdue, taking account of the revolution in military affairs and
threats of proxy war and terrorism and the imperative of modernising the
Armed Forces. An objective assessment of the last 52 years will show that
the country is lucky to have scraped through various national security
threats without too much damage, except in 1962. The country can no longer
afford such ad hoc functioning. The Committee therefore recommends that
the entire gamut of national security management and apex decision-making
and the structure and interface between the Ministry of Defence and the
Armed Forces Headquarters be comprehensively studied and reorganised.
India's Nuclear Policy
The Report clearly brings out that, beginning with Indira Gandhi,
successive Prime Ministers displayed extreme sensitivity towards the nuclear
issue and consistently supported an Indian nuclear weapons programme. They
judged it necessary to envelop it in the utmost secrecy and consequently
did not take their own party colleagues, the Armed Forces and senior civil
servants into confidence. This has caused many in the country to believe
that India's nuclear weaponisation programme is a departure from the traditional
policy of merely keeping the nuclear option open indefinitely. The record
must be set straight. The contribution of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi,
V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Narasimha Rao, Deve Gowda and Inder Gujral
to India's emergence as a nuclear weapon state, and the compulsions on
them to ensure this, should be made known. The record clearly establishes
that the Indian nuclear weapons programme had a much wider consensus than
is generally believed. The Committee therefore recommends the publication
of a White Paper on the Indian nuclear weapons programme. This will also
bring out the stark facts of the evolution of Pakistan's nuclear capability
with assistance from countries who tirelessly decry proliferation, and
the threats posed to India through nuclear blackmail.
Media relations and information
Kargil was the first war which Indian correspondents covered by
going to the front in significant numbers. It was also the country's first
television war and one in which the Indian Army had to handle the media
right on the battlefront This has been a learning experience for the Government,
the Armed Forces and the media. Neither the Northern Army Command nor HQ
15 Corps nor the lower field formations had media cells which could cater
to the requirements of the press corps. This reveals an obvious lacuna
which must be plugged. The Army has decided to revive and upgrade its war
correspondents' course at the College of Combat, Mhow. The media should
avail of this opportunity so that there is a cadre of trained war correspondents
at any time. Simultaneously, media relations and the techniques and implications
of information war and perception management must form a distinct and important
module at all levels of military training. It must also be recognised that
the media has to be serviced at many levels - national, local and international.
None is less important than the other.
While dealing with the information issue, the Committee would also like
to draw attention to the fact that Indian security forces are deployed
year round in very difficult and inhospitable terrain ranging from high
mountains to dense forests and sandy deserts. The US Armed Forces usually
operate dedicated radio and TV channels to entertain and inform their armed
forces when deployed overseas. The Government should seriously consider
similar dedicated facilities for the Indian Armed Forces. If such facilities
had been available at the time of Kargil, some of the misleading reports
and rumours that gained currency could have been effectively countered.
This Report brings out the vast gap between the actual policies pursued
by the Government and developments on the ground on the one hand and popular
perceptions derived from public pronouncements on the other. In a democracy,
it is incumbent on the Government to reduce any such gap. While the country's
nuclear programme must remain confidential, there was a failure on the
part of successive Prime Ministers to educate the people on the realities
of nuclear security confronting the country. In the case of Defence policy
and insurgency situations, sufficient public information is not available.
There is no single, comprehensive official publication containing details
of the Kashmir question, the UN resolutions and why they could not be implemented,
as well as of more recent developments in Kashmir through the years of
proxy war, terrorism and ethnic cleansing together with Pakistan's involvement
in all of these. The Government must review its information policy and
develop structures and processes to keep the public informed on vital national
It would appear that one of the major factors influencing Pakistan's
aggressive behaviour in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 has been its self-image
of martial superiority and a deliberately cultivated perception of an ineffectual
Indian Army and a weak and vacillating Indian Government. Though Pakistan
was discomfited in all the four military adventures it undertook, it has
attempted to portray each of them as a narrowly-missed victory. Even the
1971 defeat is blamed on the Soviet Union. Developments in Afghanistan
and its final denouement have been portrayed as projecting Pakistani military
prowess in defeating the Soviet super-power. India has not published authoritative
histories of the 1965 and 1971 wars. It is necessary to publish authentic
accounts of the 1965 and 1971 wars and to establish the facts. While this
Report appends, with appropriate security deletions, the three Service
Headquarters' presentations of Operation VIJAY, Operation SAFED SAGAR and
Operation TALWAR, that were made before the Committee, we recommend that
an authoritative account of this unique high altitude war be published
at an early date. Further to these, communicating the scope, extent and
history of India's nuclear weapons programme should be an essential part
of the exercise of deterrence. The record needs to be set right, not through
strident propaganda, but by a cold marshalling of the facts regarding contemporary
events and past history.
The longstanding controversy between the Services and the DRDO
on drawing the line between "make" or "buy" resulted in the formulation
of a new Procurement Policy in 1995. This liberalised the procedures for
the import of equipment as against its indigenous development. However,
this policy needs periodic review in the light of changing circumstances.
Experience would suggest that such a review is presently overdue. One problem
the DRDO faces is that the armed forces borrow unique features from weapons
and equipment on offer from advanced military suppliers around the world
and marry these in their "General Staff Requirements" to make "impossible"
demands. There is an element of truth in this assertion but none can be
faulted for desiring the best. A true partnership must be established between
the Services and the DRDO to ensure that the latter gets full backing and
funding from the Services and the former, in turn, get the indented equipment
they require without undue delay.
The design and development of special materials as well as Defence stores
and equipment often entails working at the frontiers of technology. It
is therefore possible and desirable to harness national talent wherever
it lies - in the Universities and IITs, and m the private and public sectors
- and not only within the DRDO and designated defence undertakings. Casting
the net wider would be advantageous and would ensure a greater degree of
competition and technological spin-off into the civil sector. This would
also facilitate Defence exports, the better utilisation of highly sophisticated
industrial capacity and related manpower and enable Defence laboratories
and Defence undertakings to concentrate on those areas which cannot be
hived off to the civil sector, public or private, on grounds of high security
or limited applicability of end use for civilian purposes. There is a whole
gamut of issues here which merits consideration.
Civil Military Liaison
The establishment of a civil-military liaison mechanism at various
levels, from the ranking Command HQ to the operational formations on the
ground. Division) Brigade or Battalion, is most necessary to smoothen relationships
during times of emergency and stress, like war and proxy war, and to ensure
that there is no room for friction and alienation of the local population.
Situations of no-war -no-peace call for norms and procedures that avoid
delay and endless red tape. Relocating villages behind the Army's forward
defence line in J&K can best be done through an initially limited experimental
move and further action on the basis of policies evolved as a result of
that learning experience. Likewise, steps should be taken to issue ID Cards
to border villagers in certain vulnerable areas on a priority basis, pending
its extension to other or all parts of the State. Such a policy would also
be relevant in the North-East, Sikkim and part of West Bengal.
The Kargil Sector and other areas along the LOG have suffered loss and
damage on account of war and shelling. A rehabilitation programme for Kargil
must be put in place as a precursor to a longer term development package
that includes the completion of by-pass roads for strategic movements between
Zojila and Leh. This will render NH-1A an exclusively civilian highway
and not a military target, skirting as it does a part of the LOG in this
The dedication and valour of the Ladakh Scouts and J&K. Light Infantry
merits recognition through the raising of additional units of these regiments
with a higher component of men from Kargil being inducted into the Ladakh
Declaratory Policy for LOC
More attention should be given to monitoring and analysing developments
and trends in "Azad J&K" and the Northern Areas which are in ferment
and whose fate and future cannot be divorced from any consideration of
the Kashmir Question. Likewise, the Kashmiri diaspora overseas must be
kept better informed about the situation in J&K and what happened in
Misperceptions and ambiguities about the Siachen/AGPL sector need to
be dispelled and the facts of "cartographic aggression" here made known.
There is no warrant for departing from the logic of extending the LOC from
NJ 9842 and "thence north to the glaciers" as set out in the delineation
of the Ceasefire Line under the Karachi agreement of July 29, 1949 which
was subsequently converted into the Line of Control by the Simla Agreement
in 1992. This broadly upholds the current Actual Ground Position Line.
The fallacy of showing the LOC as running northeast to the Karakoram Pass
must be exposed.
The country must not fall into the trap of Siachenisation of the Kargil
heights and similar unheld unpopulated "gaps" in the High Himalaya along
the entire length of the Northern border. The proper response would be
a declaratory policy that deliberate infringement of the sanctity of the
LOC and wanton cross-border terrorism in furtherance of proxy war will
meet with prompt retaliation in a manner, time and place of India's choosing.
Pakistan and the world must know that India's defence of the integrity
of its own territory, including that within its own side of the LOC, is
not and cannot be held to be escalatory and that the aggressor and his
victim cannot be bracketed and placed on par.
Such a declaratory policy must be backed with credible measures in J&K.
to win back alienated sections of the population, attend to genuine discontents,
political and economic, and enable the victims of ethnic cleansing to return
to their homes in the Valley or elsewhere in the State with security and
honour. To this end, the Union and State Governments must jointly initiate
a twin policy of reform and devolution to and within J&K and a dialogue
with Pakistan. India's commitment to maintaining the sanctity of the LOC/AGPL
and the international endorsement of this position won during the Kargil
crises has within it the seeds of a larger, long-term settlement that can
bring enduring peace and tranquillity to J&K and stable and cooperative
Indo-Pakistan relations on the basis of the Simla- Lahore process within
the framework of SAARC.
The Committee's review brings out many lessons that the Armed
Forces, Intelligence agencies. Parliament, Government, media and the nation
as a whole have to learn. These have been set out in the preceding findings.
These should stimulate introspection and reflection, leading to purposeful
action. The Committee trusts that its Recommendations will be widely discussed
and acted upon expeditiously so that the sacrifices made will not have
been in vain. The best tribute to the dedication of those killed and wounded
will be to ensure that "Kargils" of any description are never repeated.
There is both comfort and danger in clinging to any long established
status quo. There will be many who suggest the most careful deliberation
on the report. Procrastination has cost nations dear. Others will no doubt
advocate monumental change. Half measures will not do; synergy will be
lost. The Committee has after very wide interaction sign-posted directions
along the path to peace, ensuring progress, development and stability of
the nation. How exactly the country should proceed to refashion its Security-
Intelligence-Development shield to meet the challenge of the 21S' Century
is for the Government, Parliament, and public opinion to determine. There
is no turning away from that responsibility.