The bulk of the Pakistan Armed Forces were stationed at the West to provide a barrier for the escaping Talibans which wished to seek refuge in Pakistan. Capitalizing on this situation the Indians shifted to plan B.
• The first phase of their plan was to prove that Pakistan still supports terrorism and operates terrorist camps and that the coalition forces should stop considering Pakistan as a friend. For that the Indian Agency, RAW, initiated a series of attacks on Indian soil.
• The second phase of their malicious plans was to send their Armed Forces on the eastern border of Pakistan so that the Pakistan Armed Forces were compelled to leave the western border lightly guarded. This would provide an opportunity for the Indian RAW and commandoes to infiltrate and create havoc inside Pakistan.
Thus they started to put their plan in action. After a number of attacks on Indians in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the RAW conducted an organized attack on the Indian Parliament. On the morning of December 13, 2001, a group of five armed men attacked the Indian Parliament. The five men killed seven people before being killed themselves. Though Pakistan condemned these attacks, the Indian Government blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack. Indian Home Minister LK Advani claimed the very next day, "we have received some clues about yesterday's incident, which shows that a neighbouring country, and some terrorist organizations active there behind it," in an indirect reference to Pakistan.
The Pakistan Armed Forces were put into high alert and DG ISPR in a press briefing stated that the parliament attack was a "drama staged by Indian intelligence agencies to defame the freedom struggle in Indian Occupied Kashmir" and further warned that India would pay "heavily if they engage in any misadventure". On December 20, amid calls from the United States and the United Nations (UN) to exercise restraint, India mobilized and deployed its troops to Kashmir and the Eastern Pakistan Border.
Indian Army Special Forces and Indian Air Force had conducted mock commando attacks to prepare itself for possible lightning raids into Pakistani territory to destroy terrorist camps and their logistical bases.” Most of our targets were on the hilly northern areas," a senior officer said, as the IAF gave the first detailed insight into its preparations during the standoff with Pakistan, which saw a heightened state of military mobilization. Pakistan responded to the Indian military build-up swiftly.
IAF Mirage-2000H pilots were prepared for a pre-emptive strike inside
After the threats of surgical strikes from the Indian Airforce, PAF swung in action by deploying all its available strength on their wartime locations, with red alert fighters flying BARCAP (Barrier Combat Air Patrol) missions. To counter the threat posed by India's forward - deployed forces, and combat all support units, wings, bases, and commands of the PAF easily moved into “Operation Sentinel" of their own, assuming holding and improving upon their assigned readiness states throughout the year. PAF formations started flying close to the borders and regular ADA (Air Defense Alert) missions were called whenever their were signs of any Indian Aircraft formation flying close to the border.
Pakistan Army also responded by moving large numbers of its troops from the border with Afghanistan, where they had been trying to contain Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, to the Indian border. Following President Musharraf’s meeting with his senior corps commanders, the Pakistan Army started massing troops and heavy armour along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Boundary (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir. The regulars from the 10 and 30 Corps of the Pakistan army deployed in the area were reinforced with additional troops, strengthening the offensive formation and consequently the build-up became a sizeable one. Pakistan also deployed sabotage experts in sensitive areas along the Line of Control (LoC) and international border (IB) in the Jammu-Poonch sector.
This troop movement was backed by amassing of heavy arms, including Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), tanks and other hardware, which signalled that their troops were being readied for combat operations. The Pakistan Government also cancelled the leave of army personnel, from the lowest to the highest ranks. It also ordered the troops, brought close to the border for winter war exercises. Pakistani troops moved high-calibre weapons across Poonch and Rajouri.
Ballistic missiles were dispersed in their specific locations and Pakistan was ready to provide a befitting reply to the enemy. 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 120,000 troops to that region. This was the largest buildup on the subcontinent since the 1971 war.
The most notable move by the PAF was the deployment of F-16 and F-7MP fighters at Skardu. PAF F-16s can scramble and reach the LoC, 100 kilometers away, in less than 2 minutes from the ORP (operational readiness platform) at Skardu airfield. By moving F-16s to the Kashmir frontline, Pakistan conveyed a message to the enemy, that she will not tolerate any violation of her airspace or any attack across the LoC either by the Indian Army or the Indian Air Force.
PAF F-16s at Skardu
According to some analysts, India may airdrop paratroopers in the Deosai area in case of a war. But by moving F-16s to Skardu, India would think ten times before considering such an option. Advanced radar systems were installed in the Deosai Plains area to keep a round-the-clock vigil on the movements of the Indian Air Force. According to sources, the radar system noticed movements of Indian Air Force for a distance of 400 kilometers deep inside Indian-occupied Kashmir right up to Srinagar.
The Pakistan Army also deployed high-attitude surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems along the length and breadth of the LOC. According to the IAF's intelligence, Indians started to fear that Pakistan might operate FT-2000 as well as the latest variant of HQ-2B SAM. IAF also feared that PAF might operate BVR missiles and thus it delayed their air strikes which never materialized. With F-16s maintaining vigil in the sky, IAF never dared to attack any of the installations in Azad Kashmir.
Their were a couple of occasions when large formations were detected, and a large number of PAF fighters were scrambled but the IAF never dared to cross the border or at least challenge any pursuing PAF fighter in a BVR combat.
PAF F-16s on a high altitude CAP mission
On January 12, 2002, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave a speech intended to reduce tensions with India. He declared the Pakistan would combat extremism on its own soil, but said that Pakistan had a right to Kashmir. Indian leaders reacted with skepticism. Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah said that the speech was nothing new, and others said that it would 'not make any change in the Indian stand'. Still, tensions eased somewhat. The Indian President told his generals that there would be no attack "for now."
PAF had planned to retire the F-6 on the last day of 2001 (the F-6 made its official debut on the last day of 1965), but all 76 F-6s were brought up to their full operational status for their final showdown. The F-6s were optimized for low level day/night CAP over deep vital points. The F-6s were equipped with ECM pods and Magic-2 AAMs for an all aspect shooting capability. They provided low level air defence and its pilots were ready to meet the deep strike fighters of the IAF. This gained time to bring the 50 F-7PGs to be 100% operational and brought to their optimum weapon carrying capacity. In March, when the F-7PGs were ready, the F-6s at last retired. These F-6s had a wonderful record in PAF and even on the eve of their retirement they were ready and willing to take on the IAF aggressors. A ceremony took place in which the F-6s gave their last performance and escorted the latest F-7PGs in the arena to take on their job.
In May 14, in another RAW initiated attack, three gunmen killed 34 people in an army camp near Jammu, Kashmir, most of them the wives and children of Hindu and Sikh soldiers serving in Kashmir. This provided India the perfect reason to prolong the military standoff. As a result Abdul Ghani Lone was assassinated on May 21, and the next day Prime Minister Vajpayee warned his troops to prepare for a "decisive battle." However due to the aggressive moves from the Pakistan Armed Forced, the Indian Armed Forced restrained them from carrying out any misadventure.
Beginning on May 24 and lasting for several days, Pakistan carried out a series of missile tests to deter any Indian plans. In response IAF started taking aggressive posture.
On Friday 7th June 2002, an IAF Searcher-II penetrated Pakistani air space at low level near Lahore. A pair of F-16s took off from Sargodha and were able to down the Searcher [S/N 'T-2004']; thus achieving a rare air-to-air kill of a drone at night. The interception was carried out by a PAF F-16B [S/N '82-605'] Falcon flown by Sqn Ldr Zulfiqar at 13,000 ft. This encounter proved PAF’s ability to search, track and destroy high flying UAVs.
|IAF Searcher-II being shot down by PAF F-16B|
As time passed and things were seeming to cool down a bit, IAF raided what they considered a Pakistani post during a pitch black night in August, when in fact they had only hit some trees. The Indian Army headquarters flatly denied this incident, when it was first reported. The Indians hid the story and the story was revealed after the end of the hostilities. After a four-month silence, the Indian government said ground troops and the IAF had been used to evict Pakistani intruders at point 3260 in the Machil sector of Kupwara district on August 2. According to the IAF, they had pressed 12 Mirage-2000H fighters into services for what the media called 'Kargil II', and four of the fighters struck at the target within 24 hours of the army requesting assistance. This story however never gained public attention. The reason was that India had nothing to show to the public that what the outcome of the attack was. In 1999, HUD (Head Up Display) pictures were shown to the public in which targets were seen to be hit. This did not happened on August 2nd. Indian masterminds sat and made a story which took four months to come out in the press.
Indian Armed Forces occupied the Eastern Border till October 2002. As a response Pakistan Armed Forces remained vigilant on the Eastern front. This gained enough time for the Indian infiltrators disguised as Afghan refugees to start pouring inside Pakistan. They set up their lines of communications and bases, mostly in the FATA (Federal Administered Tribal Areas) as well as remote areas of NWFP. A major evidence of their involvement is the first properly planned and executed suicide attack in Karachi which targeted the French engineers working for the Pakistan Navy’s Agosta-B Submarine.
PAF on the other hand, had achieved an all out victory in defending the Pakistani Airspace and restraining IAF from carrying out any misadventure. In December 2001, when senior IAF personnel were preparing for surgical strikes in Muzafarabad using Mirage-2000H aircraft, it was the PAF which took to its battle stations on time. The mere presence of PAF fighters in air, forced the IAF strike force to abort on their taxiways. The shooting down of the Indian UAV and chasing down IAF fighters closing near the border is the proof of PAF’s success.
|PAF F-7PG on Air Defense Alert|
According to the Indians, the Indian military mobilization between December 2001 and October 2002 has been interpreted as an exercise in coercive diplomacy aimed at compelling Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism and renounce it as an instrument of policy against India. Though there was some limited gain, this exercise failed to attain its objectives in the overall analysis. But in reality the main motives of the Indians were completely achieved with the Indian infiltrators were now inside Pakistan, all prepared to create havoc in the country.