Defence and Security

Avalanche deaths & the Kargil syndrome

Jan 30, 2017
By Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain
What do avalanches have to do with Kargil and the lessons from 1999? This needs explanation. On social media recently there have been comments on the spate of avalanche casualties of the Army in Gurez valley and Sonamarg areas of Kashmir. People wished to know why the Army was reluctant to vacate areas which were vulnerable to avalanches in the high-altitude terrain. If not permanently, then at least for the winter when dangers from avalanches exist; the same could be re-occupied later as the weather improves. Responses were quick, bringing out the essential facts about the LoC and the necessity for maintaining its sanctity through physical presence. The “Kargil syndrome” isn't a term used in social media but responses alluded mostly to that broad understanding. It goes back to the days when the Army suffered a “walk- in” by Pakistani troops, into winter-vacated areas of Kargil, Dras and Batalik sectors in the winter of 1998-99.  The Army suffered a heavy toll of casualties in recovering these through conventional assaults at obnoxious heights in the next summer. 
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The Tribune, january 30, 2017

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