Operation Parakram: A 10 month military stand off between India and Pakistan
P. Chidambaram was Home Minister of India during Mumbai Terror Attack. He was asked by Burkha Dutt that why India did not attack Pakistan after 26/11? He said, ‘We did not want to repeat Parakram.’
Operation Parakram was a 10 month military stand off between India and Pakistan in 2001-02 in which Indian army lost 798 soldiers without fighting Pakistan as a result of mishaps in minefields, mishandling of ammunition, explosive and traffic accidents due to ‘inexperience’ as per the Indian war veterans.
About 10.5 lac mines were laid and subsequently cleared after the stand off which resulted in many casualties. This doesn’t compare favourably with Kargil conflict when India had lost 527 soldiers in intense fighting over 50 days. Although it had failed to secure the most strategic peak ‘Point 5353’ which was a key objective of Op Vijay.
The cost of sustaining Operation Parakram over ten months was reported by India’s National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) at rupees 7 crore a day. This turns out to be Rupees 2100 crore (about US $470 million) over 7 month.
This amount doesn’t include the cost of mobilization and the cost of sending the troops back to barracks. Another report estimated the total cost of mobilization at US $600 million and the cost of replacing damaged and worn out equipment at US $1.5 billion.
Credit does to President Musharraf for escalating the forces within a few days on the eastern front because of which India lost the element of surprise. He even was not threatened to move the three brigades of 11 Corps from Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai agencies towards the east.
The source of facts about Operation Parakram is Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal’s chapter in the book “The Indo Pakistan Military Standoff” who served in Indian army.
The decision of not moving the three brigades from Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai agencies which were deployed to establish blocking positions on Durand Line to apprehend the foreign fighters of Al Qaeda is disclosed by Lt Gen Ali Jan Aurakzai in his memoirs ‘Beyond Tora Bora’.
The best account on Parakram is the book “Operation Parakram: The War Unfinished” by my favourite author Pravin Sawhney. It’s unfortunate that none from Pakistan’s academia have explored this conflict which ended with a clear cut victory for Pakistan in a ten month military stand off.