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July 9, 1999
Army expects to restore LoC by July-end
George Iype in New Delhi
Seven weeks after it launched Operation Vijay, the Indian Army expects to recapture all its posts, clear the Kargil hills of Pakistani soldiers and terrorists, and restore the status quo ante on the Line of Control by the end of this month.
The assessment is based on the periodic operational and strategic reviews carried out by the top brass in the defence ministry and the three service chiefs.
According to army officers, irrespective of whether Pakistan fulfils its promise to pull out its troops from Kargil as per the Washington agreement, India will be able to flush out the infiltrators this month.
"Strategically and geographically, we have recaptured all important points. But the operations will intensify now as the enemy camps are expected to offer stiff resistance because they know it is our final assault and their last chance," an army official told rediff.com
He said regular defence strategy reviews have revealed that Operation Vijay has proceeded on expected lines. The troops are also in high spirits as it has dawned on them that the time for the final assault is fast approaching, the officers said.
Militarily, they added, more than a third of the intrusions have been rolled back after the capture of Tiger Hill last week and nearly 70 per cent of the strategic heights have been cleared of the mercenaries and Pakistanis.
The army brass is said to be extremely pleased at the way the Indian forces have throttled the Pakistani plan to alter the LoC, choke the vital arterial link to Leh, and link the Kargil crisis with the larger Kashmir issue.
But the operational reviews handled personally by Chief of Army Staff General Ved Prakash Malik and Air Chief Marshal Anil Yashwant Tipnis also suggest that the most crucial phase of Operation Vijay is yet to come.
Army officers put forward two reasons for the fierce combat that is expected. First, before the end of July, the Indian Army has to finish dumping supplies for its forces on the Siachen Glacier.
Sources said at least two strike corps of the Pakistani Army have been mobilised from the Ravi to Siachen in the north and Okara to Badin in the south to repulse any Indian attack and also launch fierce attacks on the Indian reinforcements for Siachen.
Secondly, the enemy is expected to fight out the last phase bitterly. Pakistan is already trying to send reinforcements and deploying fresh forces to counterattack the recaptured Indian positions.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government is also of the view that the Pakistani intrusion has been contained and its diplomatic repercussions managed well. It is now eager to complete the military operations before campaigning for the Lok Sabha picks up momentum from next month.
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