THE KARGIL FUND Set up by The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika
More than a hundred soldiers have already died in the undeclared war in Kargil. Many more are lying injured in hospitals. No assistance is compensation enough for the mother who has lost her son or the wife her husband. But we, the citizens of this country, need to help, in however small a way. The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika are setting up a fund with that modest aim in mind. The fund is being started with an intial contribution of Rs 5 Lakh from the ABP Group. If every reader of The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika donates a small sum, we can raise a huge amount for the families of the soldiers killed or injured in action. As a token of appreciation, both papers will publish the names of donors contributing Rs 500 or more. This is a time to ask yourself what can you do for the nation.   Only account payee cheques and drafts - payable to 'ABP Kargil Fund' - will be accepted. Put the cheque/draft in an envelope with your name and address. Write 'ABP Kargil Fund' and mail it to or deliver (between 10 am and 6 pm except on Sundays) at  
ABP LTD 
6 Prafulla Sarkar Street 
Calcutta 700001 
India
 
 
 
Double signal for end of war
Poll block before return to Lahore
Man behind the Enemy mask
Calcutta weather

 
 
DOUBLE SIGNAL FOR END OF WAR 
 
 
FROM SANKARSHAN THAKUR IN KARGIL AND DIPTOSH MAJUMDAR IN NEW DELHI
 
July 9 
A spectacular Indian victory at Batalik this morning, coinciding with Pakistan?s veiled appeal to intruders to pull out, marked the beginning of the end of the seven-week-old Kargil conflict.

After weeks of tough resistance, Batalik fell, to the apparent surprise of even the army at the rapid pace of advance since last night. Army spokesman Col Bikram Singh said: ?In some of the most spectacular operations carried out in the past 48 hours, 99 per cent of the intrusions have been cleared in the Batalik sector.? For the first time, India is claiming to have reached the Line of Control (LoC).

Only one peak remains with the intruders in this sub-sector, where the Indian campaign gathered unexpected momentum in early July. In Drass, India has recaptured 90 per cent of the territory, Col Singh said.

Hopes for an end to the undeclared war raised by military successes were reinforced by Pakistan?s call to the intruders to ?help resolve the current Kargil situation?. The decision to make an appeal was announced in a statement by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, urging the Mujahideen to allow the world community to play its role in resolving the Kashmir dispute.

After the meeting, top military officials met leaders of militant groups to discuss a withdrawal. One of the outfits, Lashkar-e-Toiba, rejected the appeal.

But the Mujahideen cannot continue the battle without support from the Pakistan army which is fully behind Sharif.

Signs of their resistance cracking are already evident. Indian troops snatched control of Batalik relatively easily, reports suggesting that only one soldier from Ladakh Scouts was killed in the operation. It was as though India had achieved with a single blow what it had been trying for weeks.

The army spokesman insisted that the intruders had ?not withdrawn?, but were ?forced back with bombardment from the air and precise artillery attacks?.

?We had encircled the slopes and their supply line had fallen apart. As a result, they were running out of rations. Even drinking water was in short supply. They did not have the will to fight and did not offer much resistance,? Col Singh said.

The infiltrators were scampering beyond the LoC to the safety of their brigade base in Skardu. The main Pakistani supply depot at Muntho Dalo has been captured.

Basking in the glow of the forces? victory, an ecstatic defence minister George Fernandes burst out: ?The enemy has been routed and is on the run. The last few pockets of resistance on the LoC are being demolished. The news from the other three sub-sectors of Drass, Mushkoh Valley and Kaksar indicates that it is now only a matter of days before the last of the Pakistani intruders are flushed out ? dead or alive?.

But in all three sub-sectors, India continued to suffer heavy casualties. Initial reports said 48 soldiers were killed in a battle for Point 4875 in Mushkoh Valley on Wednesday night. The toll on the other side was claimed to be 120.

Back from Batalik, Lt Gen Krishan Pal, Corps Commander, Kashmir, said in Srinagar that Indian troops had recovered bodies of some Pakistani officers and identified them as Captain Kamal Sheikh and Major Iqbal.

Lt Gen Pal had brought with him a US Stinger missile, found in the huge pile of arms, ammunition and other supplies recovered at Batalik. Indian jawans had stumbled upon 30 shallow pits littered with corpses. Sixty bodies have been recovered.

Based on information ?volunteered? by Pakistani prisoner-of-war Naik Imtiaz Ahmed of the Fifth Northern Light Infantry, the army came to know that Khalubar Ridge, Point 4100, Tharu and Jubar ? all in Batalik ? each had four companies of soldiers.

Air attacks have been mounted over Drass and selected peaks in Mushkoh Valley. Soldiers back from the combat zone said Mushkoh has a dense concentration of Pakistani troops and mercenaries on the frontier.

A military base is being set up in a gorge that leads up to problem sector Kaksar, situated between Drass and Kargil.    


 
 
POLL BLOCK BEFORE RETURN TO LAHORE 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, July 9 
India is reluctant to return to the negotiating table immediately after the curtain drops on the Kargil conflict despite its commitment to the spirit of the Lahore Declaration.

There are indications that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will stall the dialogue process till the polls are over. After the Kargil experience ? seen as a betrayal of February?s friendship ride ? Vajpayee is sure that any effort to put relations with Pakistan back on track will be turned into an election issue by the Opposition.

Although eager to hear what the Pakistan Prime Minister has to say in his address to the nation tomorrow, Indian diplomats are wary of taking Nawaz Sharif?s promises at face value. Rather, India will be looking for changes in the ground situation.

After the decision of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet to call on the intruders to ?help? end the conflict, Sharif is expected to make a direct appeal in his address tomorrow. The committee today stopped short of asking the Mujahideen to withdraw and claimed Pakistan?s objective of focusing international attention on Kashmir had been achieved.

?We will be keen to hear what Sharif has to say but we will be more eager to see whether there are any changes in the ground situation,? an Indian foreign ministry official said. He pointed out that in the past, India has often been taken in by Pakistan?s promises, making concessions in the bargain. ?We are not willing to be fooled once again,? he added.

The distrust runs far too deep, with the Indian establishment greeting with cynicism the Pakistani leadership?s insistence that the Mujahideen and not army regulars are engaged in the Kargil conflict. ?Does he really want us to believe that the Mujahideen and not Pakistan army regulars are fighting in Kargil?? a foreign ministry official asked.

?We know that the Pakistani army is on our side of the LoC and Sharif?s appeal to the Mujahideen is actually an address to his army regulars,? a foreign ministry official said.

The assessment in South Block is that Sharif, under tremendous international pressure, had run out of options to stall the withdrawal of intruders.

India?s stand ? that there can be no dialogue without a pullout ? set Islamabad worrying about how long it can hold on to the ground it had captured, an apprehension exacerbated by India?s string of military successes.

Pakistan was also rapidly acquiring the label of a pariah in the international community, deserted by the US and even China.

On top of this, there was the threat of legislation the US Congress was planning to bring, calling for fresh and wide-ranging sanctions against Islamabad if it persisted with its recalcitrant stand.

The proposed Bill is to be moved on Monday. Before that, the Pakistani Prime Minister had to be seen to be trying to withdraw the intruders.

The follow-up action he is likely to announce in his address tomorrow after making a commitment to President Bill Clinton on his dramatic trip to Washington constitutes the assurance the US and the other big powers are looking for.

However, once the withdrawal is over, the international community, which has been supporting India on Kargil, may want the two sides to return to the Lahore process as early as possible.

But Indian officials argue that the ?situation has to be right? for renewing talks. They pointed out that when the Vajpayee government was reduced to a minority, Pakistan foreign minister Sartaj Aziz had refused to renew foreign secretary-level talks, saying the dialogue should be postponed till polls were over in India.

?If this can be Pakistan?s argument even before Kargil surfaced, how can anyone expect us to resume the dialogue till we complete our elections and the government is ready to negotiate with Islamabad?? the official asked.    


 
 
MAN BEHIND THE ENEMY MASK 
 
 
BY SANKARSHAN THAKUR IN MUSHKOH VALLEY
 
 
Here is a little glimpse into the man we describe by that disliked anonymous noun called The Enemy: Captain Imtiaz Malik of the Pakistan Army?s 165th Mortar Regiment.

Captain Imtiaz perished in the fierce battle over Point 4875 on the night of July 7. But if he knew how to fight, he perhaps also knew how to love. In his breast pocket was found a letter from his wife Samina. It was a crumpled sheet of blue and spattered with the dead captain?s blood. The post mark on the envelope showed that Samina had mailed it in Islamabad on June 14, probably the last letter she sent to him.

There were also other missives from his wife Captain Imtiaz had kept on his person through to the end ? two cards, for instance, of the kind young lovers are wont to write to each other. It would seem too indecent an invasion of a dead man?s privacy ? or a young widow?s grief ? to reveal their contents. Suffice to say that Captain Imtiaz was a man well loved by his dear ones. And perhaps he loved his dear ones as much; else, he wouldn?t have bothered strapping his wife?s letters to his heart in battle.

But to infantry troops who had taken the personal effects of Captain Imtiaz, the letters were objects of momentary pleasure at best and ridicule at worst. ??The fellow must have fancied himself as a bit of a Romeo,? one of them said as they spread out the recoveries from Point 4875 on the floor of a tent in the forward camp. ?Even on the battle front, all he seemed to care about were love letters.?

The infantrymen, just back from a torrid battle on Point 4875, were still in the heat of the moment and Captain Imtiaz to them was nothing but just the personification of the enemy who must be loathed and lampooned. Captain Imtiaz and his men had given Indian troops a hellish few hours on the peak; they had claimed several Indian lives and caused many more casualties.

As leader of the offending Pakistani platoon, Captain Imtiaz deserved nothing but the worst in the infantrymen?s eyes. And now that he was dead what better way to hurt him but taunt what he had left behind.

It took a word from the soldiers? officer to inject a note of sobriety in the proceedings as they catalogued the recoveries from the enemy camp.

?He, too, was just a human being like one of us,? the officer said. ?A man and a soldier following orders. He, too. was a member of some family, someone?s son and someone?s husband. Look at how we preserve our own letters from home.?

In his hand the officer held a letter to Captain Imtiaz from a senior in the Pakistani Army commending him for selection to a specialised artillery course. It was full of praise for the young captain and its tone, typically, was utterly patronising. ?Their senior officers write to their juniors just like ours do,? remarked a soldier on hearing the letter?s contents, and the tent rippled with a round of well-meant laughter.

Captain Imtiaz, if only for a moment, had become just another soldier doing his duty and rising up the ranks in just another army. ?I got a similar letter from my instructor when I passed out of artillery school,? said one soldier, sounding suddenly piquant and even a little affectionate.

By now the tent floor was a mosaic of the debris of a destroyed Pakistani bunker ? probably the most engaging exhibition so far of the depth of Pakistani involvement in the invasion of upper Kashmir. Among the stuff the Indian soldiers had brought back from Point 4875 were two long-range Pakistan Army field transmitters, a dozen-odd Operation Cards (identity cards) of Pakistani soldiers, rank and unit labels of the Northern Light Infantry, the main Pakistani regiment involved in the incursion, gas masks and chemical weapons filters, a roll of Konika colour film, ration supply registers for forward units and an albumful of photographs of soldiers with each other and with their families.

But, perhaps, the key recovery was a file in which were notings of the minutest details of Indian artillery and infantry positions in the Drass sector.

?Thank god our gun positions have now been shuffled about,? said one officer, aghast at the sharp detail the Pakistanis had in their possession. ?I used to wonder why their fire was coming so close to us, but now we know.?

Among what was obviously a treasure for Indian troops was also Captain Imitiaz?s bank passbook and a wad of cheques he had had no opportunity to use. In the event he went away signing an overdraft on his life.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Today?s forecast: Cloudy sky. One or two spells of shower or thundershower

Temperature: Maximum 34.4?C (2?C above normal)
Minimum 27.8?C (2?C above normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 88%
Minimum 66%

Rainfall: Trace

Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 5.01am
 

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