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21 years of Kargil war: Lessons learnt and needs to be learnt

Shubham Sharma

The 26th day of July marks the day of valour and sacrifice in Indian history. The day is celebrated as Vijay Diwas, the day of Indian victory over Pakistan in Kargil War. This is the 21st year of the victory, and a lot of things have changed in these 21 years. After the war, there were certain loopholes found by the authorities of both countries. Some of these have been fixed, while others are still in the row.

Intelligence failures and improvements

The war didn't erupt abruptly. It was a result of prolonged planning between Pakistani Rangers and ISIS backed terrorists. Since February 1999, when both sides declared LOC as the actual border, Pakistan took it as their diplomatic defeat. Thus, the 4-month planning from February to May resulted in the war. The intrusion of Pakistani militants was reported by local shepherds. The role of Indian Intelligence units was questioned at that time. This was due to previous flaws left behind under former PM Gujral's regime. This stated that no actionable intelligence can be executed before the onset of war. Thus, agencies weren't allowed to analyse and accordingly.
However, the agencies proved their worth soon when they publicly revealed the audiotape between Pakistan's President General Musharraf and Chief Staff about the war. Also, the airstrikes in Balakot and surgical strikes in Uri included effective intelligence.

Strengthening existing ties, making new friends

Another major lesson learnt was the realisation of maintaining good relations with existing friends and bonding new ties with new ones. This not only helps in time of war but also can be used as a diplomatic weapon to surround the nation at international platforms. During the Kargil war, good relations with the USA helped in cessation and disengagement of soldiers from the other side. Also, the support showcased by France, Israel and Russia proved to be of great help. It was Israeli search drones only that gave the exact locations of the enemy. Mirage 2000 series fighter jets of France with laser-guided bombs and ammunition support from Russia were the other key factors in determining the result of the war. Today, USA is India's largest trading partner. Relations with France have strengthened up with Rafale jets. Indian contingent recently took part in Russia's victory day parade.

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Recommendations and adoptions

There was a series of committees and recommendations produced after the war. This began with the Kargil Review Committee, which made suggestions to review the entire 52-year-old outdated defence plan. The reports included setting up a National Defence University(NDU), which is still pending. Other recommendations include setting up an apex position for heading the troops, which was fulfilled by creating the rank of CDS this year. Other things include the adoption of the National Security Strategy(NSS) and the acquisition of surveillance equipments. Both of these have been unable to keep pace. However, the deployment of BSF back to border management and security and paramilitary troops for counter-insurgency operations is one of the most desired reform.

The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee in 2001 recommended the early promotions of officers at Commanding posts and Brigadier level. These are still lacking and thus experienced officers are not able to contribute with their fullest to the national security due to less staying period at higher ranks. The setting up of the Defence Intelligence Agency and National Technical Research Organisation were other recommendations fulfilled.

Any advice for the enemy

There is a lesson for the enemy side too. Whenever they've tried for a cowardly intrusion, they've been defeated. This defeat always leads to massive political unrest in their country. After the Kargil war, General Musharraf took over the command from PM Nawaz Sharif and declared absolute dictatorship. This led to great democratic mischief in the country. Thus, Pakistan must, and most probably will never attempt again any war knowing its history of defeats.

Soldiers: The plight of Unsung Heroes

Discussing the war, how can the role of martyred soldiers be neglected? India lost 527 soldiers and 11000 wounded, whereas Pakistan lost 7000 of them. Pakistan showcased an act of humiliation by not accepting the dead bodies just for the sake of its pride. Also, Pakistan showed the apex of cruelty by cutting the pieces of our soldiers like Captan Sourabh Kalia into pieces and taking the eyeballs out. This was the strict violation of Geneva convention of war. India too didn't take the matter to the UN from martyred soldiers' side. Their families are fighting the battle alone.

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