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Monday, June 15, 2020

1999, When Pakistan Army Chief spent night across LOC in Indian Territory

Image Courtesy@Dawn.com

In 1984, India occupied the vacated posts of Siachen. Siachen Glacier has always been considered part of Pakistan. All maps printed in the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Britannica Atlas and the Time Atlas, always showed Siachen as part of Pakistan. Since the establishment of Pakistan, tourists and climbers from all over the world have sought permission from the Pakistani government to enter Siachen. India's occupation of the area was also a violation of the Shimla Agreement of 1972. After that there was a lot of negotiation but India remained adamant. It was also agreed in the talks between Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 that India would vacate Siachen and Pakistan would give up its support for Sikh separatists if it does. But Rajiv Gandhi, under pressure from his Establishment, failed to deliver on this promise and left a new fuel for the subcontinent to burn further in the fires of this war.
The Kargil War of 1999 was also a reaction to the illegal occupation of Siachen when Pakistani Army soldiers and Mujahideen captured the high mountain outposts vacated by India in the winter. The Pakistani military seized Indian army outposts in December 1998 and stored military, weapons and rations there. By March 1999, the Pakistani military's occupation of the posts had stabilized. It was a sign of ignorance of the Indian Army that the Indian Army could not even smell this adventure for the last 3 months.
On March 13 1999, FCNA Major General Javed Hassan visited the Zakaria and Middle Point posts set up across the Lines of Control by the Northern Light Infantry (NLI). This was the first visit of any senior Pakistani commander across the Line of Control. He met with the soldiers and encouraged them to move on.
A few days later, on March 27 1999, at 10 am, a helicopter appeared across the LoC near the same checkpoints from which the first person to emerge was Pakistan's top military commander, Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf. This is probably the first time since 1971 war that a senior military commander from one country has crossed the border into another. Now Pakistan's army chief was present in Indian Territory and Indian officials were unaware. After serving Pervez Musharraf tea and other snacks, Major General Javed Hassan took him on a helicopter to show him his "conquered" territory.
General Musharraf's first stop was the Zakaria Post, 11 km across the Line of Control in Galtri sector. "We will hit the enemy in such a way that he will never forget it," Musharraf said. He commended the NLI men and said that their sacrifices would always be remembered and after the war their unit would be awarded the Battle Honor and the Nishan-e-Pakistan. After the speech, General Musharraf wanted to see more of the "Conquered area" around him and was shown the surrounding area in a Lama helicopter. He was so happy that he decided to spend the night across the Line of Control. The next day was Eid. Pakistan's army chief and other senior officers celebrated Eid with their troops in enemy territory. On the other hand, the failure of India's intelligence was such that they could not even smell the slightest hint of this matter.
Wars are a prelude to destruction but sometimes war is imposed and nations have to fight for their rights. Due India's policies, whole region is sitting on a volcanic eruption that could erupt at any moment. It is a country that neither respects UN resolutions nor mediators. To bring peace to the subcontinent, India must change its attitude so that generations can be saved from the ravages of war.

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