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    Posted on 26 November 2011
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    NDA government ignored intelligence on Kargil attack: Study

    New report says that the NDA government received information on Pakistani infiltration a year before the Kargil War

    Iftikhar Gilani
    New Delhi

    Snooze time? Atal Bihari Vajpayee


    The ghost of the Kargil War has returned to haunt the National Democratic Alliance yet again, this time for sleeping over an intelligence alert that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government received, even a year before the Pakistan Army's intrusions began in 1999.

    The authoritative revelation comes from the Indian Army's think-tank Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) in a study it undertook on the Indian intelligence and the Kargil crisis. The report damns the charge on the Indian security establishment of the major failure in detecting and predicting the Pakistani invasion because of lack of proper intelligence and a turf war between the security agencies. “What went wrong, was not lack of intelligence, but the lack of coordination, assessment and predicting in specific terms in which way the attack will be enacted," says the study.

    It shows that the Indian intelligence agency had accurately assessed Pakistani intentions prior to the Kargil crisis and as early as in 1998, a year prior to detection of the intrusions, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had rushed a secret note to the then Prime Minister Vajpayee on the Pakistani logistics building across the Kargil.

    As many as 43 reports were produced together between June 1998 and May 1999 by the three intelligence agencies—the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), IB and Military Intelligence (MI). Two other reports were generated by the Indian Border Guards stationed in Kargil.

    Out of these 45 reports, 11 had landed at the Joint Intelligence Coordination (JIC), directly working under the Cabinet Secretariat. The most crucial two reports, one each from IB and RAW were copied to the then Prime Minister.

    The study says the analysis, origins and destinations of these reports are quite revealing: Army intelligence produced 22 reports, none of which were shared with any civilian agencies including the JIC. RAW generated 11 reports, of which seven were widely disseminated and four were shared only with the Army. IB produced 10 reports, of which three were distributed widely, five went exclusively to the Army, and two were sent to the Ministry of Defence.

    On 2 June, 1998, the IB had dispatched a note to the Prime Minister, containing details about Pakistani logistics building efforts along the LoC in areas opposite to Kargil. The note was personally signed by then IB chief, meaning the contents were extra-sensitive that required attention from the highest political level.

    Again in the winter of 1998-99, both RAW and IB had predicted an escalation of the mercenary infiltration, with the thrust in the direction of Kargil. In its October 1998 threat assessment, RAW had even warned that Pakistan Army might launch "a limited swift offensive with possible support of alliance partners—a reference to mercenaries."

    “But credible reports suggest that RAW was informally pressured to retreat from the alarming projections it had made in October 1998, as Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was preparing to undertake a peace journey to Lahore," says the report.

    It says it was after the nuclearisation of South Asia that four Pakistani generals, including then Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf, had drawn up plans for incursions into the Indian Kashmir, code named Operation Badr. Exuding confidence with the nuclearisation, they had expected intervention of foreign governments in the wake of any Indian retaliation.

    “The guiding belief was that India would either overreact by invading Pakistan, thus prompting international intervention or they would mount a desultory counter-attack, which would be easily thwarted,” the report says. They had not envisaged that India would launch a local counter-attack backed by aircraft and heavy artillery, while retaining the option of escalating hostilities.

    The study also points out that reconnaissance for Operation Badr had begun in November 1998, when Pakistan troops had probed Indian defence lines in Kargil. “Unmanned aerial vehicles were used to verify the laxity of Indian border security. Actual movement of troops into Indian territory began late February 1999,” says the paper.

    After the May 1998 nuclear tests, RAW estimated that then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in order to escape pressure from hawks within his government, would escalate support for cross-border infiltration by mercenaries (Afghan war veterans).

    The Indian agencies were also convinced that Pakistan would not like to widen the sphere of attack due to economic vulnerability. This was vindicated, during the Kargil crisis, when Pakistan Air Force refused to provide close air support to Pakistani troops fighting on the Indian side of the LoC.

    The paper concludes that more than lack of intelligence, it was lack of coordination, assessment and turf-war between various security agencies that took a toll on the Indian security system. More Kargils and Mumbais can be avoided by setting up formal coordination bodies to assess and coordinate and provide insights into how the enemy thinks.

    Iftikhar Gilani is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
    iftikhar@tehelka.com


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    Posted on 26 November 2011
 
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