Today Is When The Last War With Pak Began

Updated: May 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
Anniversaries are a time to introspect. So, lets playback by just three years! This is Kargil time. On this day, May 25, an army brigade headquarter is hit by Pak shelling. The father of Pakistans Islamic Bomb says he has no regrets and that more bombs are still being made. I never regretted it because I believe that the bomb I made is for peaceful purposes. It has served the purpose, it has saved us from war! he tells Reuters. In J&K, Maj Gen JJ Singh says infiltrators have taken positions six kilometres inside Indian territory. Military equipment with them includes missiles, radar, snow mobiles, mortars and sophisticated communications. Next day, on May 26, Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG fighters of the western air command take off from Srinagar and Avantipour bases. They carry out strikes in five different places. The Washington Post notes that air strikes are unprecedented in peace time. Pak spokesman Rashid Qureshi is ever unfailing in his bluster. Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate in whatever manner it considers appropriate, the brigadier barks.

Qureshi then goes on to hold out the nuclear threat for the first time. But he is still not saying the N-word. The DG of Inter-Services Public Relations says: Pakistan reserves the right to use all available weapons against Indian aggression. But hardly any distance away, in the Pak foreign office, spokesman Tariq Altaf goes a step further. Kashmir today is a nuclear flashpoint, he scowls.

On the Indian side, air commodore S Bhojwani puts it dryly. That the 40 strike missions by MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-27 strike aircraft along with Mi-17s fitted with rocket pods and MiG-29B fighters providing air defence, are authorised to take appropriate action should there be a direct or indirect interference in operations by either Pak army or air force. At stake, due to Pak infiltration, is the vital ground line of communication from Srinagar to Leh.

A classic information duel breaks out on whether Indian aircraft have violated the line of control (LoC). The US rejects Pakistans claims. To our knowledge, India has not struck over the line of control, deliberately or accidentally, the state department tells the world. Will this be the vital difference in 2002