India Salutes Its Kargil War Heroes on 19th Anniversary

10 Years Passed, Kargil Heroes are Not Forgotten

It was exactly on this day, July 26, 1999, brave Indian forces evicted all the Pakistanis infiltrators and regulars from the Kargil peaks. Even humble in victory, India demonstrated to the world that India remains a votary of peace, when it allowed the trapped Pakistani soldiers to return safely to the other side of LOC. It was a noble gesture that would put Pakistan to shame, when it indulged in torture of captured Indian soldiers much against the norms of treatment of POWs. This is the difference between the two nations, that separates India from others.

The Kargil war was thrust upon India by the misadventureous Gen. Parvez Musharraf to over turn the peace efforts made in February 1999 during the Lahore summit between then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bahari Vajpayee. This conference was believed to have de-escalated the tensions that had existed since May 1998. It was rude shock to Vajpayee govt while Sheriff had no explanation to offer on the act of his General.

But then Indian forces joined by Airforce acted swiftly to recapture the peaks from the Pakistanis infiltrators and regulars in a battle that lasted for nearly two months. In the bargain India lost around 574 soldiers and more than 1,035 soldiers wounded. But the valiant fight in the inhospitable conditions where the temperature was -60 degrees, did not deter our forces from recapturing the peaks.

It was for the first time, Indian Navy too cordened off the coastal borders, to prevent or thwart any misadventure by the Pakistanis, as the war in Kargil was in full swing. This was a well co-ordinated war fought jointly by armed forces, air-force and navy in the recent times.

Kargil conflict which started as an armed intrusion into Indian territory was closely drawn to a full scale India-Pak fourth war. India prevented it by confining it to the region where Pakistanis had no other alternative but to seek graceful retreat from the area. India allowed them to leave while ensuring that no Pakistani soldier remained on the Indian soil.

Much has been written and read about the aborted aim of the Pakistani General Musharraf to gain vantage position above the important Leh-Srinagar Highway. But Indian victory upset the miscalculation of the Pak army. It has also taught a lesson to them that Indian defence capability to fight and win was much higher than expected. It would certainly deter Pakistan against any misadventure in future. That is why it is carrying on with the proxy war in Kashmir.

The Kargil war also saw the countrymen including our sports persons, lined up behind our forces cutting across religions from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and encouraged them to defeat the designs of the Pakistanis. The families of the martyrs of Kargil were duly rewarded both by the Govt and the people, though no amount of financial assistance would replace the lost lives in the conflict. But every the members of the families of the martyrs feel proud even today, as nation celebrates 10th anniversary of India’s victory that their sons have done their bit by laying their lives to save the honour and prestige of the nation. They are heroes to the whole nation and not only to their families.

All said and done, Kargil war has taught both India and Pakistan a lesson. For India, it earned its place in the world as a nation of peace. For Pakistan, it is a lesson that the only recourse to problems is through dialogues rather than war. If Pakistan is really interested to live in peace with India, it has to abandon its policy of proxy war in Kashmir. It must rein in on the terror outfits, arrest its leaders, crack down on their hideouts, dismantle all the infrastructure of the terrorists operating from its soil and take credible action to bring to justice all the perpetrators of 26/11 attack on Mumbai. If these are done, India would be too willing to talk to them and extend the hand of friendship. Till then, Pakistan has to wait. Jai Hind.

A.M. Jamsheed Basha
A.M. Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist, political commentator, who writes on matters of importance, political, social and self-improvement.