85 Days of Night
Came to an end on 26th July 1999
After the crushing defeat of 1971, Pakistan's flare-ups with India became sporadic. The injuries took a long time to heal and a repetition of the episode couldn't be ill-afforded on the other side of the border.
In the 28 years between Bangladesh's war for liberation and the Kargil War, both India and Pakistan became nuclear powers, India liberalised its economy and Kashmir had become a hotbed of cross-border conflicts, with due credit to the failure of the Indian government and the malice of Pakistan's.
A tussle seemed to be on the horizon after Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1988, but the simmering tensions between the two bitter rivals and now nuclear powers were nipped in the bud by the Lahore Declaration of February 1999.
Or so it seemed.
In the winter before, soldiers of the Pakistani Army had managed to sneak through the borders under the veneer of being Mujahideens. This had been done in order to pin the Indian Army's back to the walls and force concessions on Kashmir.
On the 3rd of May 1999, local shepherds knew something sinister was brewing and reported a Pakistani intrusion in Batalik. An ambush team led by Captain Saurabh Kalia confirmed New Delhi's worst fears- there was indeed an intrusion and India, was in a state of war.
All the backchannel diplomacy that had gone into the Lahore Declaration seemed to be hogwash and the agreement itself appeared to have just been a ruse.
Allegedly, the foundation of this breach of the Line of Control had been laid by the Army Chiefs in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani Prime Minister who oversaw the war claimed that he had been completely blindsided until Atal Bihari Vajpayee came knocking on his door.
The topography and the climatic conditions, coupled with the tactical advantages that the Pakistanis had gained made the job manifolds difficult to pull off. The Indian Army had to toe a very thin line- one misstep and the conflict could have spilt over to the rest of the country.
The world watched with bated breath. There wasn't a single day in the nearly three-month conflict when flashes of the devastating scenes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn't flash before their eyes. After all, this was the most serious conflict between two bitter rivals who also happened to be equipped with nuclear weapons to the teeth. Who knew what would give way to a nuclear bomb being dropped over New Delhi or Islamabad?
85 days and the sacrifice of more than 500 valiant sons of India later on this day, India managed to wrestle back their territories from the clutches of the Pakistani Army without any major flashpoint. India and the whole world breathed a sigh of relief, whereas shame and humiliation beckoned Pakistan once again and this time, it was isolated at a scale never witnessed before.
This story was first published in This Day.app.