According to some reports, by late May 2002 as many as 700,000 Indian Army and paramilitary forces have deployed along the Indo-Pakistani border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has reportedly deployed as many as 300,000 troops, and perhaps as much as three-fourths of the army [which would be nearly 400,000 troops], at or near the Indian border. Both Pakistan and India have placed their forces in the disputed border area on alert. India's paramilitary contingent comprises several hundred of thousand combat-ready troops, a major portion of whom were already deployed on the Line of Control.
India has made a troop pull-back conditional on Islamabad halting the flow of militants into Kashmir, but this may not be evident until the summer when the snows melt and infiltration normally starts.
When India did not act by the end of June, when the monsoons began, military action became more complicated through the summer. India's primary security objective is to curtail the cross-border intervention by Pakistan and Kashmiri militants. India's expected option, to avoid a wider war, consisted of limited strikes against militant camps in Kashmir. The four major militant centers which have been identified in PoK are in Zaffarwal, Samani, Kotli and Kahuta areas and are within two kilometres of the LoC. The center in Zaffarwal is run by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) ultras and the Samani center is manned by Mujahideens of almost all outfits. The Kotli center is operated by the Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HUJI), and the Kahuta centre jointly by the Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants.
India would probably prefer opening a limited front along the LoC, rather than a wider war. Even in event of a larger war on the international boundary, India would probably seek to break through Pakistan's defenses along the LoC to capture some additional territory in Kashmir. Although India could also seek to punish Pakistan, and holding Pakistani territory would probably not be the aim of India's offensive military operations.
In the event of war, India's Air Force was postured to initially conduct air strikes at 50 to 75 militant bases and a few other targets in Kashmir. Targets could also include a bridge across the Karakoram highway connecting China to the region, and at least three others linking Pakistani Kashmir to the rest of the country. The destruction of these bridges would prevent China from replenishing Pakistan, and would also cut off supply routes from Pakistan to front-line units.
India could also send troops across the high mountain passes in helicopters, though this would risk casualties as the helicopters crossed Pakistani air defenses.
India's broad strategy of air strikes could induce Pakistan into extending the conflict by opening a wider front along the International Border. Pakistan indicated that even if India's actions were limited to air strikes in Kashmir border, Pakistan might not restrict actions to this sector. The possibility that Pakistan might open other fronts in Punjab or Rajasthan essentially meant that Pakistan was ready for a full-scale conventional war.
India's army lacks the logistics infrastructure to support a massive and sustained ground movement to take and hold all of Kashmir. Although India has a numerical superiority on almost all fronts, some of their military equipment is not in servicable condition. Despite having a numerical disadvantage, Pakistan has a qualitative edge in many equipment holdings, notably tanks and anti-tank missiles.
India's Air Force would face serious challenges from Pakistan. Many of India's combat aircraft are poorly maintened, and trained pilots are in short supply. Pakistan's air force is widely regarded as being better trained and equipped.
The Indian Navy had a wide range of Indian navy fleet in the region, including frigates and destroyers. India reportedly deployed seven Kilo Class submarines in an offshore picket-line formation in the Arabian Sea.
For India, the 13 December 2001 attack on Parliament by the suicide squad of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed was the last straw in a series of attacks over the previous two years. The attack, which according to Home Minister L.K. Advani was aimed at wiping out the Indian political leadership, was a declaration of war against this country.
The troops deployments were massive, extending from Gujarat to Kashmir. The Indian Army received reinforcements from central and northern India to counter the Pakistani build-up which had not ebbed since their winter exercise codenamed Operation Khabardar. It commenced in October 2001, with troops from the strike corps, Mangla-based 1 corps, Karachi-based 5 corps and Bahawalpur-based 31 corps, an armoured brigade and infantry divisions, in the sensitive Jhelum-Chenab and Chenab-Ravi corridors close to the LoC.
There were reports of massive Indian troop movements along the border in the Sindh-Rajasthan sector, as well as in the Chenab-Ravi corridor and along the Line of Control which divides Indian and Pakistani-ruled Kashmir. On 27 December 2001, Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes called the border situation "grave", and said that the Indian forces deployment on the forward areas would be completed within two to three days. By 01 January 2002 the Indian Defence Ministry denied on Tuesday allegations by Pakistan that it was continuing its military buildup along their tense borders, saying that "the mobilisation is more or less complete."
India recalled its envoy to Pakistan for the first time in 30 years. India had previously withdrawn its ambassador prior to conflict breaking out in the 1965 war over Kashmir and the 1971 war over independence for Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan). India also ended bus and train service between the two nations, as part of the strategy to increase pressure against Pakistan.
Pakistan moved 7 to 9 divisions of its army towards the Indian border. With the Pakistani Army having to cover shorter distances from its cantonments to its borders, it has the advantage of mobilising much faster than India. On 25 December 2001 Pakistan's Army canceled all leaves for its troops and told them to report for duty immediately. India was moving troops by the trainload from south and central India to the northwestern border with Pakistan. The buildup was not just in Kashmir, but also along the International Bborder [IB] dividing the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab from the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Sind.
In 2000 Pakistan had unilaterally withdrawn its troops from the Line of Control under a "maximum restraint" policy that sought to normalize relations with India. Up to 20,000 Pakistani troops, who should have withdrawn from the area following winter exercises, remained stationed near the line. Two corps of the Pakistani army were supposed withdraw from near the International Borders in Rajasthan and Punjab and the Line of Control following exercises, but they had not done so.
Pakistan pushed its own troops forward, and moved the 10, 11 and 12 Corps from their Afghan frontier locations near Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta to its eastern frontier. By early January 2002 the build-up of Pakistani forces near border areas raised concerns among Indian analysts. Pakistan had stationed 150,000 troops in the Jammu-Punch belt - from Chicken Neck on the International Border [IB] to Rajauri on the Line of Control [LOC]. The Indian army is regarded as being weak in the Chicken Neck and Pallanwala sectors. This suggested that, if war broke out, Pakistan's major thrust would be from Jammu. Pakistan's 1 Corps, in Khariyan-Mangla, Gujranwala's 30 Corps and Rawalpindi's 10 Corps had also prepared to move at short notice. The troop build-up was taken as an indication that, if there were an outbreak of hostilities, Pakistan would attack and capture the Akhnoor-Pallanwala sector. In 1965, Pakistan had captured Chhamb. In 1971 Pakistan had made advances in Jayorian, but retreated after a counter-attack by Indian forces. The Pakistani build-up along Jammu indicated that Pakistan might seek to capture Akhnoor-Pallanwalla and Jayorian, cutting off the Rajauri-Punch Highway. The 10-km stretch of the Srinagar-Kargil Highway, which is within range of Pakistani artillery, has been shelled continuously. The recent build-up may indicate that Pakistan was also considering moves against the Jammu-Punch Highway.
As part of New Delhi’s efforts to maintain pressure on Islamabad, on 11 January 2002 Army Chief Gen. S. Padmanabhan warned in a rare press conference that Pakistan would be severely punished if it launch ed a nuclear attack on India. "Let me assure you of one thing as surely as I’m alive. Should a nuclear weapon be used against India, Indian forces, our assets at sea, economic, human or other targets, the perpetrators of that outrage shall be punished so severely that their continuation thereafter in any form or fray will be doubtful," the general said.
In mid-January 2002 Pakistani police arrested over 200 militants, bringing the total number of detentions to over 1,100. This was part of the crackdown against five groups banned by President Pervez Musharraf. Two of the banned groups -- the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad -- are among the most hardline Islamic militant groups fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir.
On 30 January 2002 Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar termed the deployment of about half a million Indian troops along the border with Pakistan as “coercive and intimidating”. Sattar said de-escalation was possible through dialogue as was done in 1987.
By early April 2002 it had become apparent that India's troop deployment along the Indo-Pakistan border would be prolonged until at least the autumn of 2002. The Indian Government had considered pulling back elements of some of its strike corps from the border by May end or early June, given an anticipation that by that time, trends in cross-border infiltration would become clear.
On 26 April 2002, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf accused India of "offensive deployment" of troops, and ruled out the possibility of unilateral withdrawal of troops from Indo-Pak border.
The tension between the two countries heightened after militant attack on an army family accommodation camp in Kalu Chak [Kaluchak] on 14 May 2002. Three militants arrived by bus, and after opening fire on the bus passengers, they entered the lightly-guarded camp. The militants turned their guns on the family quarters of soldiers. The terrorists systematically fired at the families of Army personnel. Eight women and 11 children died of gunshot wounds. Most of the 25 injured persons were women and children. The gunmen were killed in an intense battle with soldiers that followed. The attack was the worst in Kashmir in the previous eight months.
On 19 May 2002 the Indian Army centralized command of the paramilitary forces, including the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). These paramilitary forces, especially the BSF, are deployed along the International Border (IB), including parts of the Jammu sector, close to the Chenab river. The Army and not the paramilitary forces, in most cases, face Pakistani forces along the Line of Control (LOC) which stretches along most of the rest of Jammu and Kashmir.
On 19 May 2002 the Coast Guard was placed under the operational control of the Indian Navy. In consequence of rising tensions between India and Pakistan, Indian merchant ships were placed "on alert" and directed to file daily location reports as well as to file voyage plans with the Mumbai based Maritime Administration for passing to the Navy. By taking command of the Coast Guard, the Navy sought to safeguard the coastal areas that straddle high value industrial complexes along the west coast.
On 21 May 2002 India redeployed troops from Gujarat state, the site of prolonged sectarian violence, to the India-Pakistan border, where the two nations traded artillery fire for a fifth consecutive day.
On 22 May 2002 the Indian Prime Minister said that India needed to be ready for sacrifices, but this will be a fight to victory. He said that the time for a "decisive fight" had come.
By 26 May 2002 India had detached additional naval warships from its eastern fleet home base in Vishakapatnam, into the Arabian Sea closer to Pakistan. Among the warships of India's Western Fleet which deployed in the Arabian Sea was the aircraft carrier "INS Viraat" with Sea Harrier jets. The Indian Navy moved five front-line warships of the Eastern Naval Command to join the Western Naval Fleet. The warships moved to the western coast include a "Kashin" class missile destroyer, a a Leander class multi-purpose frigate and three missile corvettes. The Indian objective was to have total control of the sea and deny movement to Pakistani ships and submarines.
As of late May 2002 it appeared that eight out of nine strike divisions of the Indian Army had moved to "jumping off points" near the border. The 21st Strike Force (mainly comprised the 33rd Armored Division) had advanced towards Akhnur in the Jammu region, assuming a forward command post. This strike force was supplemented by two more mechanized infantry brigades and self-propelled artillery units from Meerut and Mathra. The three Corps in Kashmir were augmented with additional armoured and infantry brigades to enable the Indian troops in the region to move forward from a defensive posture to major offensive. These forces include 16th Corps at Nagrauta, Jammu, 15th Corps at Badami Bagh, Srinagar and 14th Corps at Nimmud, Leh.
In response to India deployment, Pakistan, in addition to engaging nine divisions in a holding formation, moved an attack-force of armored and motorized infantry divisions into combat readiness positions. The two infantry divisions based in Baluchistan and the NWFP North-West Frontier Province also moved towards the eastern borders. Pakistan reinforced the Uri Sector by deploying two brigades of 10-Corps (Rawalpindi). Four brigades of the 31-Corps (Bahawalpur) moved into forward positions along the Bahawalpur-Fort Abbas stretch in Punjab and Rajasthan sectors. An independent Armoured Brigade moved forward to support the local infantry in the Old Beas Area. Further south, five brigades of 5-Corps (Karachi) moved up to the border stretch south of Fort Abbas to Gadra Road and Darwaza and in the border region adjacent to Jaisalmer, Bikaneer and Barnar forward areas. Pakistan's formations include North and South Army Reserves, including 1-Corps (Mangla) with significant armored element.
On 05 June 2002 the United States and Britain upgraded official warnings to their citizens in India and Pakistan, telling people to leave now. The raising of the status of travel alerts came after Pakistan rejected an offer from India for joint border patrols in the disputed territory of Kashmir. The US State Department issued new advice to the 60,000 Americans in India and several thousand in Pakistan, saying: "Tensions have risen to serious levels and the risk of intensified military hostilities between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out." The updated travel warning said it "strongly urges that American citizens in India depart the country". Previous advice to Americans merely "urged" them to leave.
In early June 2002 Pakistan agreed to immediately halt infiltration along the Line of Control, and eventually to dismantle Kashmiri militant training camps. Indian officials lifted a ban on overflights by Pakistani aircraft, pulled back warships from the Pakistani coast and selected a new ambassador to Islamabad. India awaited further steps by Pakistan, including the dismantling of militant training camps in the portion of Kashmir under Pakistani control and the severing of financial support for militant groups.
By 05 June 2002, despite the stand-off between India and Pakistan at Almaty and Defence Minister George Fernandes’ assertion of non-withdrawal of forces from borders, there were indications that India may start the process of de-escalation at the international border any day after June 15 in the wake of “positive signals” from Pakistan. The de-escalation may begin from Kutch, Rajasthan and Punjab but army deployment would continue along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Islamabad was believed to have taken steps to close down some militant training camps in Kashmir. Intercepts by Indian intelligence agencies reportedly indicated that Pakistan instructed its Tenth Corps to stop infiltration across the LoC.
On June 26, 2002, the US State Department noted that the very high level of tension between India and Pakistan that had existed at the end of May and the beginning of June had subsided somewhat. This condition followed intense diplomatic activity and important steps taken by both India and Pakistan to reduce tension. Nonetheless, military mobilization by the two countries remained in place along the Line of Control and the international boundary with the risk of renewed high levels of tension impossible to rule out.
The six-month standoff between India and Pakistan, which brought the two nuclear neighbours to the brink of war, had eased. But the return of peace was months away, pending Pakistan's putting an end to sponsoring cross-border terrorism, and the October polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
As of late August 2002 Indian officials insisted that infiltration by Pakistani-backed militants had declined but not ended. India will not engage in a dialogue with Pakistan over the future of Kashmir until cross-border terrorism stops.
Indian troops remained in place to reduce violence in Kashmir. India has stated that it will not demobilize its troops prior to the 14 October 2002 election in Kashmir. Until both nations pull back their troops, the danger of a massive war remains. On 09 September 2002 Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said that although the infiltrations declined in June, they had "gone up very, very significantly in the month of August."
On 16 October 2002 the Indian government announced that it would pull back troops from its border with Pakistan in its most substantial step to reduce a military buildup begun 10 months ago that helped bring the two nations to the brink of war. The pullback, expected to cover anywhere from 500,000 to 700,000 troops, will not affect troops stationed along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir continued to oscillate. As of May 2003 both governments expressed willingness to talk, and both re-established formal diplomatic relations. No time-line for the talks was established, the conciliatory moves from both countries was due to pressure from the international community. Specifically, pressure exerted by the US, Britain, and Russia.
On 25 November 2003 India and Pakistan agreed on a comprehensive ceasefire, coinciding with the start of the Eid festival which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. This is the first formal truce between the two armies since the outbreak of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir five years earlier.
On 18 December 2003 Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, said his country was willing to drop its long-standing demands for the implementation of United Nations resolutions in a bid to end the Kashmir dispute. Musharraf said both India and Pakistan will have to show flexibility on the their stated positions on Kashmir if they want to settle the issue.