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  
6 Prafulla Sarkar Street 
Calcutta 700001 
Onward to Tiger Hill, assault begins
Arun Singh returns as close friend
Sahara Cup sponsor drops out
Camp David path for Kashmir
Calcutta weather

An action station near Tiger Hill, July 2 
It?s 120 minutes to zero hour. Weather permitting, the assault on Tiger Hill is on. It has been fine so far but now it is getting cloudy and windy. The chill factor is climbing.

This is the action station of a regiment that has fought valiantly in this war. Its services have been requisitioned again.

The colonel in charge is just concluding discussions with a couple of his officers and two men from special forces. From here, units will leave for a post on a Tiger Hill spur. The men are checking their gear ? arms and munitions, special high-altitude wear, stoves, devices to feel the way ahead.

A captain has removed the insignia from his lapels. Another officer forces lunch on us. ?Of course, I?ll speak to you,? he says. ?I know about all the strictures about not talking to the press. But I?m in operations now and if I?m not afraid of that, I?m afraid of nothing.?

He is from Rajasthan, an alumnus of the Indian Military Academy. We might have been in the same class. Unshaven (officers and jawans need not shave at high altitude), in green battle fatigues like everyone else, a green ?putka? his headgear for camouflage. The captain ? a friend of his ? is just 24. He looks too young to need to shave. He is from Uttar Pradesh and could lead a platoon that will try to capture three sangars ? hastily-built bunkers.

Lunch comprises pulao, dal and a curry of beans. The special forces men ? they give only first names ? leave soon afterwards. ?We are depending on you,? says the colonel as they leave. It is 14 hours on foot to their first destination. They know the area well. ?Tiger Hill dominates Mushkoh Valley. It is in the east. The western end is Kabuligali.? We don?t learn anything more.

If the men from the special forces do not give away much else, other military sources do. It is expected that the Pinaka, the Indian surface-to-surface missile, could play a crucial role in the assault on Tiger Hill.

Conventional weapons ? machine guns, mortars, grenades ? are being used by the infantry. There is more than one regiment in the operation. Artillery units, whose mainstay is the Bofors howitzer, have taken up specific positions targeting Tiger Hill.

Missiles, however, may prove to be less devastating even if more accurate than shells fired from Bofors and other cannons. The efficacy of air strikes ? earlier this week, the Indian Air Force had used laser-guided missiles on Tiger Hill ? is yet to be assessed.

The intruders may have hidden in caves during raids. Infantry units in this operation are not depending too much on air strikes.

As a thumb rule, it takes a mountaineering unit one-and-a-half hours to get to the top of a 1,000 m position if it is not interrupted. The apex of Tiger Hill is 5,062 m.

The intruders hold strategic positions and are armed with Universal machine guns and other conventional but sophisticated weaponry. They are using airbursts ? explosives that go off in mid-air and rain down shrapnel and splinters.

When an assault is launched, the ratio of defenders (intruders) to attackers (Indian army) is between 1:6 to 1:10. The number of intruders on top of Tiger Hill is estimated to be between 40 and 60.

The intruders? main supply route to Tiger Hill from across the LoC has been snapped. There is now only one thin supply route heading northwest from Tiger Hill to the LoC. The Indian troops? brief is to eliminate the intruders or push them back inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This means it is unlikely that any of the intruders ? who operate with suicide squads ? will be captured.

As we speak, the noise of supersonic aircraft is a constant distraction. Air strikes are on.

Across the dirt road to the north is a hill that will take the soldiers in this battle station less than 50 minutes to cross. Everything is timed. There is a time to get to the Lake of Fairies, beyond Tiger Hill close to the Line of Control.

?Can I get there??

?Maybe, just maybe.?

Islamic countries? blow to Pak

Pakistan?s diplomatic efforts today received a jolt with the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) dropping references to India for the escalation along the LoC even as Islamabad warned New Delhi of ??serious consequences of a wider conflict?? if it refused to respond to its talks offer.

The Pakistani defence committee of the Cabinet issued a statement expressing regret that India had refused to respond to the ??positive initiative?? taken by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It linked Kashmir to Kargil, saying the conflict could be resolved in the framework of a settlement of the ??core?? dispute. The meeting was chaired by Sharif.

The statement said: ??The defence forces, and indeed the whole nation, were prepared to deal with any eventuality.??

It came hours after the OIC foreign ministers, at their meeting in Burkina Faso, decided to tone down a Pakistan-sponsored resolution on the Kargil conflict and Kashmir. Pakistan?s embarrassment started with the contact group of the OIC, which includes Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Niger, refusing to move any resolution and telling Islamabad that if it wanted to, it could do so in its individual capacity.

The OIC also rejected Pakistan?s description of the LoC as a ?nuclear flashpoint?. Instead, it used the phrase ??nuclearisation of South Asia??, which puts the blame on both India and Pakistan.

This report could be filed from the warfront, courtesy Iridium India Telecom    

New Delhi, July 2 
Arun Singh, Rajiv Gandhi?s confidant who vanished into self-imposed political exile for over a decade following the Bofors fracas, has staged an unlikely comeback, this time as close friend of foreign minister Jaswant Singh. Arun Singh has taken over as his special executive assistant.

The former minister of state for defence, it appears, volunteered to help the Atal Behari Vajpayee?s caretaker regime as the country was faced with a ??national crisis??.

The government says his appointment is for the duration of the Kargil crisis. Singh is drawing an honorary monthly salary of one rupee for the assignment.

However, even before formally assuming office in South Block, Singh had been advising the foreign minister on how to handle the diplomatic and military aspects of the conflict.

Jaswant Singh told a newspaper that he has ??exploited?? the former minister?s sense of nationalism and he will help in preparing ??assessments and action papers on various situations??.

Arun Singh was a well regarded minister of state for defence under Rajiv Gandhi before the two fell out over kickback allegations in the Bofors deal.

He continues to enjoy the confidence of the top brass in the defence establishment and can help with his ??sharp mind and vast expertise?? in evolving policies.

Though Singh has chosen the corner room at the end of the first floor corridor, next to that of minister of state Vasundhara Raje Scindia and far away from the senior minister?s, no one in South Block is undermining his importance.

Since his appointment yesterday, the new adviser has taken part in ministry meetings chaired by Jaswant Singh and attended by senior officials from the foreign and defence ministries.

That a Rajiv Gandhi loyalist has joined hands with the BJP is bound to raise eyebrows, but sources said Arun Singh?s decision to emerge from hibernation is an entirely personal one.

??Arun Singh is the kind of man not too moved by politics or ideology,?? said a source.

??When he was a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government, it did not strictly mean he subscribed to Congress ideology, and now that he is assisting a BJP-led government, it does not mean he has turned saffron. It is something he is doing for a friend, like it was the last time,?? he added.

Singh quit the Rajiv Gandhi government after a row with his friend and Gen. K. Sundarji, then army chief, over the Bofors scandal. Singh never went public on the differences he had with Rajiv Gandhi. He had initially defended the gun deal in Parliament, but refused to do so after allegations of kickbacks surfaced.

In a strange coincidence, Singh returns along with Bofors, which today said India had ordered spare parts for its howitzers. The current order is for just $120,000, Bofors division chief Magnus Ingesson said.

He did not specify what exactly India ordered, except to say it was not ammunition.    

July 2 
Sahara India, sponsor of the annual tournament between India and Pakistan in Toronto, has pulled out of the event over the Kargil incursion.

A statement issued by Subroto Roy, chairman and managing worker of the Lucknow-based group, said the ??situation in Kargil warranted calling off the Sahara Cup in Toronto??.

??We express our deep anger, dissatisfaction and hurt at what Pakistan has done in Kargil. We will not associate ourselves with any activity which is anti-national and anti-social,?? it said.

Jaywant Lele, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said since the tournament was run by the International Management Group (IMG), it was possible they would rope in another sponsor for this year?s edition.

?From what I know, Sahara has only pulled out as sponsors (this year). It?s up to the IMG to either scrap this edition or get a new sponsor,? Lele said. Till late this evening IMG officials could not be reached for a reaction.

This is the penultimate year of IMG?s five-year contract with the BCCI and the Pakistan board.

Agreeing with Kapil Dev?s demand that the tournament should be called off, the Sahara statement said: ??Our brave soldiers are doing a great job. We fully endorse Kapil Dev?s statement.??

Sachin Tendulkar said in Chennai it would be difficult for India and Pakistan to have cricketing ties now. ??Kapil is my role model. He must have given it serious thought before making such a statement,?? he said.    

After six weeks of increasingly bloody fighting in Kashmir, the international community is beginning to recognise that the worst South Asia conflict in more that 30 years may lead to a wider and potentially nuclear confrontation. While recent sentiments expressed by the G8, President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair that India and Pakistan must cease the fighting and resume dialogue are welcome, now is the time for the international community to take direct action and do for Kashmir what was done to resolve Northern Ireland and Middle East.

The Kashmir conflict has gone largely unnoticed, lost in the shadow of Kosovo. For world peace and security, however, the Kashmir conflict should be cause for heightened concern and heightened action, not communiqu?s.

Since May 9, the two sides have fired thousands of rounds of mortars across the Line of Control ? as the ceasefire line is called ?killing and wounding thousands and pushing over 100,000 people from their homes.

The larger geostrategic context of this conflict cannot go unheeded. Just one year ago, both India and Pakistan shocked the world when they detonated nuclear devices. Both countries proudly proclaimed that nuclear capability, acting as a deterrent, would prevent war over Kashmir. That theory is being severely tested in the snowbound Kargil sector, where artillery and MiG jets have pounded positions since mid-May, and both sides have sent tens of thousands of troops to the tense border.

Less than a hundred days ago, G8 leaders applauded the Lahore Declaration, when much optimism was expressed of a breakthrough in relations between the two countries. But the Lahore Declaration was more style and less substance. It lies in tatters lost in the blood-soaked snows of Kashmir.

In fact, during the past two years all talks of peace have rung hollow as India and Pakistan marched down the dangerous road of war. Dreams of a nuclear-free zone in South Asia or zero-missile regime evaporated as India and Pakistan tested a total of 11 nuclear devices.

They also tested missiles with the potential to carry nuclear warheads deep into each other?s territory. In spite of the so-called nuclear deterrent, open warfare has broken out.

Talks between India and Pakistan, while welcome and urged by the world?s leaders, inspire little confidence. The last round on June 12 is a case in point, where after only one hour, the foreign ministers cut off talks with heightened, rather than reduced, animosity.

Muslim militants have already declared the talks between the two countries a ?conspiracy.? ?Who are they (Pakistan) to deal on our behalf?? The spokesman for one of the groups, Lashkar-e-Toiba, has asked.

As Pakistan?s leader of the Opposition, I have urged a series of moderate steps, including suggesting that the five permanent members of the Security Council broker a cease-fire in the region and initiate a peace process bringing together Pakistan, India and the representatives of the Kashmiri people.

Indeed, there are frenzied diplomatic efforts now under way for President Clinton to meet personally with Pakistan?s Prime Minister to push for restraint. But this policy still misses the point: Kashmir was in 1948 and remains today an international issue stemming from the international partition of the former British colony.

At this late juncture, the best path to real and lasting peace may come only when the United States and China jointly convene a peace process for Kashmir, with these two great powers applying the successful models of Camp David and Northern Ireland.

The United States has consistently abided by India?s assertion that Kashmir should not be mediated. The direct participation of both powers is needed for a balanced and rapid approach.

Both Camp David and Northern Ireland?s ?Good Friday? Accord prove that seemingly intractable regional conflicts can be resolved through the determined efforts of the international community.

The Kashmir issue calls for no less than a concerted, mediated, internationalised effort, not just hollow expressions of concern.

It is time for the international community, and specifically the United States and China, to recognise that bilateral diplomacy between India and Pakistan alone will not bring peace to Kashmir.

Until the international community takes an active role in resolving this conflict, the situation is bound to deteriorate further, prompting a larger and potentially nuclear conflict in the region.

Asia Features    

Today?s forecast: Cloudy sky. Possibility of shower or thundershower in some areas.

Temperature: Maximum 33.4?C (Normal)

Minimum 24.6?C (1?C below Normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 98%

Minimum 69%

Rainfall: 38.4 mm

Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 4.59 am

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