The 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff was a military standoff between India and Pakistan that resulted in the massing of troops on either side of the International Border (IB) and along the Line of Control (LoC) in the region of Kashmir. This was the second major military standoff between India and Pakistan following the successful detonation of nuclear devices by both countries in 1998 and the most recent standoff between the nuclear rivals. The other had been the Kargil War in 1999.
The military build up was initiated by India responding to a terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001 (during which twelve people, including the five men who attacked the building, were killed) and Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly on 1 October 2001. India claimed that the attacks were carried out by two Pakistan based Terrorist groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, LeT and JeM, both of whom India has said are backed by Pakistan's ISI, a charge that Pakistan denied. In the Western media, coverage of the standoff focused on the possibility of a nuclear war between the two countries and the implications of the potential conflict on the United States-led War on Terrorism in Afghanistan. Tensions de-escalated following international diplomatic mediation which resulted in the October 2002 withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani troops from the international border.
Background[edit | edit source]
On the morning of 13 December 2001, a group of five armed men attacked the Indian Parliament by breaching the security cordon at Gate 12. The five men killed seven people before being shot dead by the Parliament security.
World leaders and leaders in nearby countries condemned the attack on the Parliament, including Pakistan. On 14 December, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack. Home Minister LK Advani claimed, "we have received some clues about yesterday's incident, which shows that a neighbouring country, and some terrorist organisations active there are behind it," in an indirect reference to Pakistan and Pakistan-based militant groups. The same day, in a demarche to Pakistani High Commissioner to India Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, India demanded that Pakistan stop the activities of LeT and JeM, that Pakistan apprehend the organisation's leaders and that Pakistan curb the financial assets and the group's access to these assets. In response to the Indian government's statements, Pakistani forces were put on high alert the same day. Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Rashid Qureshi claimed that the Parliament attack was a "drama staged by Indian intelligence agencies to defame the freedom struggle in 'occupied Kashmir'" and further warned that India would pay "heavily if they engage in any misadventure". On 20 December, amid calls from the United States and the United Nations (UN) to exercise restraint, India mobilised and deployed its troops to Kashmir and the Indian part of the Punjab in what was India's largest military mobilization since the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War. The Indian Codename for the mobilization was Operation Parakram (Sanskrit: Valor).
Confrontations[edit | edit source]
December–January[edit | edit source]
In late December, both countries moved ballistic missiles closer to each other's border, and mortar and artillery fire was reported in Kashmir. By January 2002, India had mobilized around 500,000 troops and three armored divisions on the Pakistani border concentrated along the Line of Control in Kashmir. Pakistan responded similarly, deploying around 300,000 troops to that region.
On 12 January 2002, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave a speech intended to reduce tensions with India. He declared that Pakistan would combat extremism on its own soil, but said that Pakistan had a right to Kashmir. The Indian President told his generals that there would be no attack "for now."
May–June[edit | edit source]
Tensions escalated significantly in May. On 14 May, three gunmen killed 34 people in an army camp near Jammu, most of them the wives and children of Hindu and Sikh soldiers serving in Kashmir. The Army was angered by the attack. On 18 May, India expelled Pakistan’s ambassador. That same day, thousands of villagers had to flee Pakistani artillery fire in Jammu. On 21 May, clashes killed 6 Pakistani soldiers and 1 Indian soldier, as well as civilians from both sides. On 22 May, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee warned his troops to prepare for a "decisive battle". Beginning on 24 May and lasting for several days, Pakistan carried out a series of missile tests. On 7 June, an Indian UAV was shot down inside Pakistan near the city of Lahore by the PAF.
At the same time, attempts to defuse the situation continued. Both Vajpayee and Musharraf blamed each other for the standoff, and the Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to mediate a solution, but in vain. But by mid-June, the Indian government accepted Musharraf’s pledge to end militant infiltration into India, and on 10 June, air restrictions over India were ended and Indian warships removed from Pakistan’s coast.
While tensions remained high throughout the next few months, both governments began easing the situation in Kashmir. By October 2002, India had begun to demobilize their troops along her border and later Pakistan did the same, and in November, 2003 a cease-fire between the two nations was signed.
Casualties[edit | edit source]
Cost of standoff[edit | edit source]
The Indian cost for the buildup was 216 billion (US$3.5 billion) being much greater than that of Pakistani US$1.4 billion.
Threat of nuclear war[edit | edit source]
Musharraf refused to renounce the use of nuclear weapons even after pressure by the international community. Whereas Vajpayee asserted from the beginning that even though ISI sponsored groups were ready to threaten India's sovereignty and were also infiltrating Kashmir, nuclear weapons would only be used if the other side used them first. As both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear weapons, the possibility a conventional war could escalate into a nuclear one was raised several times during the standoff. Various statements on this subject were made by Indian and Pakistani officials during the conflict, mainly concerning a no first use policy. Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said on 5 June that India would not use nuclear weapons first, while Musharraf said on 5 June he would not renounce Pakistan's right to use nuclear weapons first. According to one think tank of the Pakistani government, the possession of nuclear weapons by Pakistan prevented escalation to an all out war by India.[unreliable source?] In 2009, Pakistani economist Sartaj Aziz asserted that:
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
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