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Posted at: Jul 27, 2017, 2:12 AM; last updated: Jul 27, 2017, 12:19 PM (IST)

Saved Siachen by winning Kargil

When India thwarted Pak bid to cut off supply routes to highest battlefield, parts of Ladakh
Saved Siachen by winning Kargil
Soldiers patrol the Forward Logistics Base above Siachen Glacier.

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 26

Every year India observes July 26 as ‘Vijay Diwas’ to mark victory over Pakistan in what is termed ‘Kargil War of 1999’.

Away from the flag raisings and solemn official ceremonies to lay wreaths, militarily and strategically the war thwarted Pakistan Army’s audacious attempt to cut-off supply routes to Siachen Glacier and northern parts of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Today, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley led the forces in paying homage to the 527 Indian soldiers who died in the Kargil War. He, along with the top brass of the forces, laid wreaths at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate in New Delhi.

From May to July in 1999 Indian soldiers forced out the Pakistan Army along the 168-km Himalayan ridgeline that forms the Mushkoh-Drass-Kargil-Batalik-Turtuk axis along the Line of Control with Pakistan. Gen Pervez Musharraf, the Army Chief of Pakistan, planned to cut-off the two road approaches to Siachen.

One road passes through Drass-Kargil to sever the Srinagar-Leh national highway (NH-1A) to isolate Kargil district and cut India’s lifeline to Leh, with a plan to choke supplies to Indian troops holding the Saltoro Ridge on the western edge of the Siachen Glacier. The second road access to Siachen and north is via Manali. North of the Khardungla Pass it leads to Turtuk valley area, which adjoins the Siachen glacial belt. It was to establish a base and then attempt to cut the road link.

140 posts which the Indian Army used to vacate in winter were occupied at altitudes between 15,000 and 19,000 feet in the rugged, undulating and punishing territory.

Lt Gen Shahid Aziz of the Pakistan Army, who worked in its intelligence agency (ISI), authored a book ‘Putting our children in line of fire’ in which he says: “Our clearly expressed intent was to cut the supply line to Siachen and force the Indians to pull out.”

General Musharraf in his book ‘In the Line of Fire’ writes how 800 sq kms of area was captured.... and it created strategic effects.

Col Ashfaq Hussain (retd), who was a senior officer in the Pakistan Army’s media arm, wrote a tell-all book ‘Witness to Blunder: Kargil Story Unfolds’ in 2008 in which he lambasts the plan of Gen Musharraf. He says: “The plan was a success only till Pakistani forces came face to face with the enemy. Our troops crossed the LoC at a time when the enemy (India from his perspective) was not present.”


Pak planned to cut off two road approaches 

  • Pakistan Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf had planned to cut off the two road approaches to Siachen
  • One road passes through Drass-Kargil to sever the Srinagar-Leh national highway to isolate Kargil district and cut India's lifeline to Leh, with a plan to choke supplies to Indian troops holding the Saltoro Ridge on the western edge of the Siachen Glacier
  • The second road access to Siachen and north is via Manali. North of the Khardungla Pass it leads to Turtuk valley area, which adjoins the Siachen glacial belt. It was to establish a base and then attempt to cut the road link

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