Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

*Islamabad's Kargil plot, Manu Pubby, Kashmir Live, June 13, 2009

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 16, 2009

New Delhi In the first account by a Pakistani military officer that
nails Islamabad’s lie on Kargil, a former pilot who was Director of
Operations of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) during the 1999 conflict has
given a blow-by-blow account of the preparations undertaken by his
country’s Army that led to operations inside the Indian side of the
Line of Control.

Published in India in the latest issue of the Vayu Aerospace and Defence
Review magazine, PAF Air Commodore (retd) Kaiser Tufail, the man who
“interrogated” IAF Flight Lieutenant K Nachiketa after his
MiG-27 crashed in PoK during a bombing run in the initial days of the
war, has laid bare the detailed Kargil plan by the Pakistan Army. He
says that the “Army trio” of General Pervez Musharraf, 10 Corps
Commander Lt Gen Mehmud Ahmad and Force Command Northern Areas commander
Maj Gen Javed Hasan “took no one into confidence, neither its
operational commanders, nor the heads of the other services”.

Tufail, a decorated fighter pilot who was in charge of air operations
during the war, has revealed that the Pak Army placed Stinger
shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles on hill tops, moved artillery guns
and ammunitions to posts that India had vacated during winter and drew
plans to cut off the strategic Drass-Kargil road to choke supplies to
the Siachen glacier.

Now based in Lahore, Tufail says the entire operation was planned by
Musharraf but had the tacit approval of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
who, after a presentation, said “`General sahib, Bismillah
karein’… not withstanding the denials we hear from him every new
moon.”

Recalling his meeting with top Army officers, including Lt Gen Mehmud
Ahmad who was commanding the Rawalpindi Corps, Tufail writes that the
Kargil plan was revealed on May 12, two weeks before India retaliated
with air strikes, when Ahmad briefed him and others on the operation.

“Come October, we shall walk in to Siachen — to mop up the dead
bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,” Ahmad
is quoted as having said during the briefing, adding that “I have
Stingers on every peak” to counter the threat of Indian air strikes
against Pakistani intruders.

“The target was a vulnerable section of Drass-Kargil road, whose
blocking would virtually cut off the crucial lifeline which carried the
bulk of supplies needed for daily consumption as well as annual winter
stocking in Leh-Siachen sector. He (Lt Gen Ahmad) was very hopeful that
this stratagem could choke off the Indians in the vital sector for up to
a month, after which monsoons would prevent vehicular movements and also
suspend airlift by IAF,” Tufail writes on details of the briefing.

Expressing surprise over the failure of Indian intelligence to detect
Pakistani movements that led to the occupation of Indian Army posts on
the heights of Kargil, Tufail says it was well known in Skardu, days
before operations were launched, that “something big is
imminent”.

“Helicopter flying activity was feverishly high as Army Aviation Mi
17s were busy moving artillery guns and ammunition to the posts that had
been vacated by the Indians during the winter season. Troops in battle
gear were to be seen all over the city. Interestingly, Army messes were
abuzz with war chatter amongst young officers. In retrospect, one
wonders how Indian intelligence agencies failed to read any such signs
many weeks before the operation unfolded,” Tufail writes.

Bringing out the disagreement between the Pak Army and Air Force on the
operations, Tufail writes that many senior PAF officers tried to explain
to the Army that Indian air strikes would wipe out bunkers occupied by
ground forces but these were dismissed by the Army after Lt General
Ahmad said “troops were well camouflaged and concealed and that IAF
pilots would not be able to pick out the posts from the air”.

“Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air
Commodore Abid Rao (Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations) to famously
quip, `After this operation, it’s going the be either a Court
Martial or Martial Law’ as we walked out of the briefing room.”

And for the first time, giving details of IAF success in bombing
Pakistani positions during the war, Tufail writes that round the clock
air attacks had made retention of posts by Pakistani infiltrators
“untenable”.

“The Mirage 2000s scored at least five successful laser guided bomb
hits on forward dumping sites and posts. During the last days of
operations which ended on 12 July, it was clear that delivery accuracy
had improved considerably, ” he writes.

Contrary to the Indian view that he was shot down, Tufail claims that
Flt Lt Nachiketa’s MiG-27 went down due to engine trouble
“caused by gas ingestion during high altitude strafing.” He
writes: “Flt Lt Nachiketa, who ejected and was apprehended, had a
tete-a-tete with this writer during an interesting
`interrogation’ session.”

He conceded that the PAF had trouble maintaining air patrols in the
region to deter Indian fighters as its F-16 mainstay was facing shortage
of supply parts due to American sanctions. “After one week of CAPs
(combat air patrols), the F-16 maintenance personnel indicated that war
reserves were being eaten into and the activity had the be
`rationalized’ , an euphemism for discontinuing it
altogether,” Tufail writes.

According to him, F-16 was the only fighter available with Pakistan to
counter India but it was decided to discontinue patrols in case its
services were needed during a full-blown war. “Those not aware of
the gravity of the F-16 operability problem under sanctions have
complained of the lack of cooperation by the PAF,” he writes.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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