India-Pakistan: July 31, 1999

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Indian procurement officers are headed for the U.S. and Europe to shop for the latest arctic gear for their troops in the Kashmir highlands. In the past, India had used traditional code weather clothing or improvised. But this gear is not optimized for troops in combat and it was obvious during the recent Kashmir fighting the state of the art arctic gear (especially that used by nations who maintained cold weather combat units) would increase the effectiveness of Indian troops.

July 30; The Indian navy announced that it was ready to seal off Pakistan's only major port, Karachi, and it's entire coast if the Indian ground offensive to push the Islamic fundamentalists out of Indian Kashmir failed or stalled. According to international law, such a blockade is an act of war. The Indian navy is much larger than Pakistan's.

July 29; India and Pakistan both fired their artillery at each other. There were seven casualties, three Pakistani and four Indian. Total casualties in the Kashmir battles this year appear to have exceeded 2,000, with some 1,300 killed. Meanwhile, Indian press reports that the government is making detained plans on how to deal with nuclear war with Pakistan. Facilities that could be used as shelters are being surveyed. One official said that the family of each victim of a nuclear war would receive 700,000 rupees ($16,500) compensation from the government. India's capital, New Delhi, has a population of some ten million people.

July 28; Pakistan will now man it's mountain peak positions through the brutal Winters. This will be enormously expensive, for resupply by ground or air is impossible for weeks at a time during the Winter. Moreover, tons of supplies must be stockpiled for even the smallest outposts, and some of the troops can be expected to not survive the season. Pakistan is doing this, no doubt, in recognition of the mischief Islamic fundamentalists caused when they occupied Indian positions before the Indians could in the Spring of this year.

July 27; BEHIND THE STRUGGLE IN KASHMIR. The recent conflict in Kashmir between Indian troops and Pakistani-supported Islamic insurgents appears to be the result of a sophisticated campaign by the insurgents and a deliberate decision by the Indian Army. The 600 or so insurgents, trained for two years at camps inside Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, had dug themselves into a virtual fortress that overlooked the key highway up which the Indian Army carries supplies to its forward bases. While the rebel fortress had made no real effort to block that highway, as long as it stood there was always the option of doing so, and every day that the rebels were in place, they would be stronger as more troops arrived and more elaborate defensive works (including deep tunnels to resist artillery and air strikes) would be built. Eventually, the rebels would be in position to cut the highway and resist any conceivable Indian attack, winning their struggle in a classic rendition of maneuver warfare. Theirs was a win-win gamble. If the Indians (paralyzed by the collapse of the hard-line Hindu nationalist government) failed to attack the fortress, they would be faced with a tougher nut in the fall and an impossible battle next spring. If the Indians launched an attack, it would be a bloody struggle that the rebels hoped would drag Pakistan and the rest of the Islamic world in on their side. Many openly believe that Pakistan not only tacitly allowed the insurgents to provoke the war, but actively planned and orchestrated it.

             The Indian Army, rattled by political interference in its command structure, nevertheless rose to the occasion and launched the assault with elite troops. And while the bloody battle did appear to drag in some Pakistani aircraft (although Indian aircraft crossing the border unintentionally during strikes and evasions had more to do with that than the rebel battle) and a few hundred regular troops, there was in the end no groundswell of Moslem support. Radical factions in the Arab world, the veteran guerrillas known as "the Afghans" for their service there, did increase their interest in and support for the Kashmiri insurgents, but this will not be enough to win. It will, however, be more that enough to keep the struggle going for years.

             When the former British Empire province of India was divided into modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the Indians demanded and were granted the rich but Moslem province of Kashmir because without it their economy would be unviable. India promised to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir, but knowing they would lose, have simply ignored that promise.--Stephen V Cole

July 26; Pakistan said it lost 267 troops were killed, 204 injured and 24 missing. This does not include losses to the Islamic fundamentalists who did most of the fighting. Fundamentalist losses are estimated to be equal, if not greater, than Pakistani troop losses. India announced that it had pushed all the surviving fundamentalists out of Indian territory.

 

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