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The Colonel R E Williams Chat II

'The turning point was the grit and determination displayed by our troops'

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:27 IST)
Good Evening everyone! Sorry we could not interact last Friday because of connectivity problems.

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:29 IST)
Before I answer your questions, I would like to share with you the success made by our brave soldiers at the front. They have successfully forced the Pakistan military to withdraw from all areas they had occupied on our side of the LoC. The Batalik, Drass sectors have been cleared and reports are being received that the Pakistan military personnel are withdrawing from the areas of Mushkoh and other pockets occupied by them.

Mason (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:1 IST)
Hello Sir, Congratulations on a GREAT job, sir what you think now will happen?? Will the Pakistani troops try something on the sly?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:31 IST)
Mason: Thank you for acknowledging our victory. The events to follow will depend upon the Pakistan military making a speedy withdrawal from the areas they had infiltrated.

RAJ (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:11 IST)
Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, Salute to all you sir. What now? We've heard that retreating forces are attacking our troops. What are we doing and WHY ARE WE GIVING THEM A SAFE PASSAGE?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:34 IST)
Raj: Our boys have done extremely well under the most inhospitable conditions. With reference to your query of giving of safe passage to the intruders, I would like to remind you of our resolve to ensure the enemy is thrown out from the areas of ingress. However, as a tradition of the Indian army, we do not shoot at anyone's backs and therefore the hostilities are still on and will continue if the enemy tries to retaliate in any form.

trivi (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:17 IST)
Why do we not hear of any prisoners of war? Have we managed to capture a few of the militants alive, and if so, what do they have to say about the Paki role in the whole affair? Congrats,meanwhile, on a great job done and feel very bad for the dead soldiers.

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:43 IST)
trivi. Thank you for acknowledging our victory. Yes we have taken a prisoner by the name of Naik Inayat Ali of the Northern Light Infantry Regiment which is part of the FCNA (Force Commander Norther Areas). The interrogations are still on. However, it is amply evident of the nexus between the Pakistan military and the militants.

Randhir Sinha (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:18 IST)
Hi Mr Williams, are there fears that the mujahideen will now try to create insurgency within other states of India operating inside the border?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:45 IST)
Randhir: Your point is valid and the Pakistan military cannot feel contented after their recent misadventure. I am sure they will make an endeavour to create an awkward situation but let me assure you, this awkward situation will be for them only and not for the Indian army as the Indian army is well poised to meet any challenge.

Balu (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:20 IST)
Should there be something called 'No man's Land' for better security in the more leeway time in the event of an attack?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:46 IST)
Balu: The concept of no man's land is valid. However, such a situation does not hold good in a Line of Control environment for obvious reasons.

Trivedi (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:34 IST)
Hello sir, we have lost the lives of our soldiers because of this intrusion. WHY are we letting the soldiers retreat? Why don't we kill them as long as they remain on our territory? If they wish to leave, let them leave at their own peril

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:48 IST)
Trivedi: The Indian army is a professional army and there are certain ethics of warfare. We appreciate your thoughts but at the same time, as I indicated earlier, our aim is to ensure that the enemy is pushed back and the intruders are evicted.

Majid (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:39 IST)
Hi Mr Williams GREAT WORK. Sir one thing we are very curious about is the money that is being collected via so many charities. Is it reaching YOU GUYS? Because there is no accountability for the money collected.

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:50 IST)
Majid: A genuine concern. I am quite convinced that the thoughts behind many who are sending their contributions will be optimally utilised by the authorities and the funds will be used for the welfare activities of the war widows and their children as also for the handicapped.

Hanson (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:40 IST)
Sir the story about Angrez Singh -- is it true or just a legend?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:52 IST)
Hanson: I will appreciate if you would let me know a little more about your query.

Eddie (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:41 IST)
Good evening Colonel, Sir I want to know whether the mujahideen are really going to quit Kargil after thumbing their nose to Nawaz Sharief and his government which has also resorted to double-speak on the Kargil issue?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:55 IST)
Eddie: I am sure you know on whose side the mujahideen are. I cannot answer for them, but I can definitely say that the supposedly mujahideen are basically the Pakistan military personnel (regulars), in the guise of irregulars who have been operating in Kargil. Therefore, the question of the mujahideen switching their activities elsewhere would essentially mean the Pakistan military switching their activities elsewhere, for which we are well prepared.

Dharamveer (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:42 IST)
Hello sir, do you see any changes taking place as far as the compensation packages and arms and ammunitions our jawans carry after the end of this crisis?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:57 IST)
Dharamveer: I am sure the Government of India has made note of certain deficiencies in our equipment, especially with regard to our surveillance equipment. A cogent decision will be arrived at and you would get to read about it.

Indian (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:42 IST)
Col R E Williams: Welcome to the Rediff chat! probably your final one .. hopefully for a LONG time. How does it feel to be victorious in this matter?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:0 IST)
Indian: Jubilant! The feeling is not new because we are always victorious.

MAYA (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:45 IST)
Hello Col Williams, sir what was the turning point in this battle?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:4 IST)
Maya: A good question! I think the turning point of the operations was the grit and determination displayed by our troops in every action at every location. The Pakistan military thought that they could carry out their misadventure without adequate response from the Indian armed forces. However, they were disappointed at the fighting skills displayed by our simple rifleman/sepoy and the resolute leadership displayed at all levels.

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:6 IST)
Maya: Just to add. I would like to mention that the sectors of operations were reasonably defined and therefore each sector had important battles fought. A capture of a post by the Indian army in a particular sector contributed in capturing other areas and therefore I mentioned it was basically the sterling qualities of the soldier which was the turning point for the Pakistan military to enter a dialogue and withdraw from the Indian territory.

Indian (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:51 IST)
Col R E Williams: As a result of this 'war', do you see any sweeping changes in the command structure of the Armed Forces? I mean, do you see the creation of a Joint Chiefs of Staff (akin to the US military) which can coordinate the activities of ALL the branches of the Armed Forces?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:9 IST)
Indian: The debate is on and it will take its own course of time on working out the details.

Wonda (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:52 IST)
Col in hindsight: Do you think this intrusion could have been avoided and how? and what measures are we taking now to avoid such lapses in the future?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:17 IST)
Wonda & Indian: Since your questions pertain to measures which could have been taken to avoid an intrusion, I'll take them on together. The intrusions took place in areas unheld by the Indian army due to tactical/administrative reasons.

Planning for such kinds of operations would require a minimum of one campaigning season and therefore I presume preparations for the instant operation would have taken place around mid/later half of 1998. The indications for such operations should have been analysed and certain deductions would have suggested Pakistan's designs.

To conceptualise the pattern of enemy's operations, a host of intelligence gathering agencies are activated. I feel certain inputs from across the LoC as also after the ingress had taken place were inadequate to form an opinion. However, lessons have been learnt and I am sure that the authorities are acting on the lessons learnt.

Hanson (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:54 IST)
Is it true that Angrez Singh was shot through the heart but kept walking that he lost his leg which he slung over his shoulder and kept hopping on one foot?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:19 IST)
Hanson: Thank you for input on Angrez Singh. The soldier after being injured kept on using his weapon and managed to come to a safer place before he was evacuated to a medical post.

Ruby (Tue Jul 13 1999 4:58 IST)
Colonel, could you explain Pakistan's chicanery in persisting in persisting with its falsehood that Kashmir is an international issue needing third party mediation ?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:21 IST)
Ruby: Your question suggests that you are well versed on the Kashmir problem. And therefore I would like to only answer the fact that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and therefore, there is no question of third party mediation.

Manpreet (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:0 IST)
Hello Col Williams, we may have won on the battlefront but have we been able to manipulate this incident diplomatically too?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:22 IST)
Manpreet: The battle has been won both militarily and diplomatically. I am sure the projections have been rightly focused and the world opinion is somewhat similar.

tushar (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:9 IST)
Sir, Does Pakistani withdrawal of troops indicate that the Indian army will provide safe passage to the enemy?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:24 IST)
Tushar: It is not safe passage. It is that we do not shoot at the back of a retreating enemy.

Harbhajan (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:10 IST)
Hello Colonel Hi again. Is there any other region in India that is susceptible to attack?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:25 IST)
Harbhajan: The question is vague as with such a large border with a hostile neighbour, the enemy will try and infiltrate elements to create problems for Indian security. Notwithstanding, our resolve is clear and the enemy will only remain disappointed in their misadventures.

Sharief (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:24 IST)
We have read reports in newspapers that the soldiers are angry at the government for the ceasefire and want to continue fighting and they want to chase the intruders all the way out of our LOC.

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:27 IST)
Sharif: The soldiers are not disappointed with any decision of the type suggested by you. We have tasks at hand, orders to fulfil and both are always carried out to the best of our abilities.

Jawan (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:4 IST)
Sir, do we plan to take Pakistan to the war crimes court and try them for the atrocities against Squadron Leader Ahuja and others they have captured?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:32 IST)
Jawan: Your question has been addressed by the armed forces headquarters. I am sure there will be some decision soon on the subject. I would also like to mention that despite our efforts to bring down the bodies of the Pakistan military personnel killed in action and hand them over to Pakistan, the Pakistan authorities have refused to accept their dead and have almost disowned them. This includes the bodies of the Pakistan military officers, to name a few, Major Wasim, Captain Imtiaz, and others. However, we will do the necessary last rites in case the Pakistan authorities still refuse to accept that these soldiers belong to their army. However, our condolences go to the Pakistan families of those killed in the recent operations.

Harish (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:28 IST)
Don't you think that if we give the intruders enough time to pull out they will put LANDMINES ALL OVER THE PLACE?

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:34 IST)
Harish: It is a decision taken and I am sure this aspect has been kept in mind.

Col R E Williams (Tue Jul 13 1999 5:36 IST)
Thank you for a lovely chat. I should be back on that important date, July 16, the date by which the Pakistan military personnel have to pullout from the areas they had occupied on the Indian side of the LoC. Good night!

Unanswered questions