January 2000 News

Pak may open new Kargil-like fronts

16 January 2000
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: In its efforts to revive militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan may open more Kargil-like frontiers but will again face a similar defeat, according to Lt. Gen. H. M. Khanna, GOC-in-C, Northern Command. He said there were many factors responsible for escalation in militancy-related violence.

Gen. Khanna told media-persons in Jammu on Saturday, ``We apprehend that Pakistan may open other Kargil-like frontiers in the State. But again, it will have to face the same music as strict vigil is being maintained.''

Pakistani forces may resort to Kargil-like tactics in areas like Uri, Tangdhar and even Rajouri and Poonch. ``However, the memories of Operation Vijay still haunt the Pakistanis and this can be gauged from the fact that not even a single round has been fired from the other side ever since the culmination of Kargil crisis.''

There were indications that Pakistan will not lag behind in abetting militancy. He said, ``It has redoubled its efforts in this direction and mobilised more resources to sustain it.''

Gen. Khanna said that there has been some escalation in the level of militancy post-Kargil with the influx of foreign militants, who are highly trained and indoctrinated mercenaries, suicide squads, and with the availability of sophisticated weaponry.

He, however, was confident that Pakistan would not achieve success in its ``nefarious designs'' and all its bids to spread trouble in the State would be foiled. He said insurgency was a long-drawn battle and no timeframe could be fixed for its end.

He admitted that after the withdrawal of troops from the counter- insurgency grid during the Kargil operations, there was an increase in Pakistan-sponsored militancy. However, during the three months after the Kargil war, the grid has been re- established, enhancing pressure on the militants.

The Northern Command Army chief said along the International Border (IB) there is only routine exchange of fire and only at times it escalates to the level of mortar shelling.

He said there has been no firing by Pakistani troops along the LoC in the Kargil sector after Operation Vijay. This is due to involvement of both sides in constructing new pickets on either side of the LoC in the Ladakh sector.

However, along the LoC in the Siachen sector, Pakistan has been desperately attacking Indian posts, he said. Three important posts facing such attacks are Felfond La, Indra Col and the Southern Border Post. There is also a regular exchange of fire along the LoC from Uri to Poonch, he said.

The General said soldiers guarding sectors like Siachen and Kargil are being provided better equipment. Snow- scooters and all-terrain vehicles are being inducted to increase their mobility.


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