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2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff
Part of the Indo-Pakistani Wars
Date December 13, 2001 - June 10, 2002
Location India-Pakistan border
Result De-escalation arranged by Russia and United States.
India President K. R. Narayanan Pakistan Gen Pervez Musharraf
7,00,000 soldiers[1] 3,00,000 soldiers[2]
Casualties and losses
798 KIA[3] Unknown[4]

The 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff was a military standoff between India and Pakistan that resulted in the amassing of troops on either side of the International Border (IB) and along the Line of Control (LoC) in the region of Kashmir. This was the second major military standoff between India and Pakistan following the successful detonation of nuclear devices by both countries in 1998 and the most recent standoff between the nuclear rivals. The other had been the Kargil War.

Offensive military build up was initiated by India in response to a militant attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 during which fourteen people, including the five men who attacked the building, were killed. India claimed that the attacks were carried out by two Pakistan based militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), both of whom, were backed by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency,[5] a charge Pakistan denied. In the Western media, coverage of the standoff focused on the possibility of a nuclear war between the two countries and the implications of the potential conflict on the United States-led War on Terrorism. Tensions de-escalated following international diplomatic mediation which resulted in the October 2002 withdrawal of Indian[6] and Pakistani troops[7] from the International Border.


Parliament attack

On the morning of December 13, 2001, a group of five armed men attacked the Indian Parliament by breaching the security cordon at Gate 12. The five men killed seven people before being killed themselves.

World leaders and leaders in India's immediate neighbourhood condemned the attack on the Parliament, including Pakistan. On December 14, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack. Home Minister LK Advani claimed, "[w]e have received some clues about yesterday's incident, which shows that a neighbouring country, and some terrorist organisations active there behind it,"[8] in an indirect reference to Pakistan and Pakistan-based militant groups. The same day, in a demarche to Pakistani High Commissioner to India Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, India demanded that Pakistan stop the activities of LeT and JeM, that Pakistan apprehend the organisations leaders and that Pakistan curb the financial assets and the groups access to these assets.[9] In response to the Indian government's statements, Pakistani forces were put on high alert the same day. Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Rashid Qureshi claimed that the Parliament attack was a "drama staged by Indian intelligence agencies to defame the freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir" and further warned that India would pay "heavily if they engage in any misadventure".[10] On December 20, amid calls from the United States and the United Nations (UN) to exercise restraint, India mobilised and deployed its troops to Kashmir and the Indian part of the Punjab in what was India's largest military mobilization since the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War. The mobilization was known as Operation Parakram.[11]




Following India's move, Pakistan responded by moving large numbers of its troops from the border with Afghanistan, where they had been trying to contain Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, to the Indian border. In late December, both countries moved ballistic missiles closer to each other's border, and mortar and artillery fire was reported in Kashmir.[12] By January 2002, India had mobilized around 500,000 troops and three armored divisions on the Pakistani border concentrated along the Line of Control in Kashmir. Pakistan responded similarly, deploying around 120,000 troops to that region.[13] This was the largest buildup on the subcontinent since the 1971 war.

On January 12, 2002, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave a speech intended to reduce tensions with India. He declared the Pakistan would combat extremism on its own soil, but said that Pakistan had a right to Kashmir.[14] Indian leaders reacted with skepticism. Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah said that the speech was nothing new, and others said that it would 'not make any change in the Indian stand'.[15] Still, tensions eased somewhat. The Indian President told his generals that there would be no attack "for now."[16]


However, tensions escalated dramatically in May. On May 14, three gunmen killed 34 people in an army camp near Jammu, Kashmir, most of them the wives and children of Hindu and Sikh soldiers serving in Kashmir. The Army was angered by the attack and pressed Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee and his cabinet for permission to attack Pakistani military targets[16]. On May 18, India expelled Pakistan’s ambassador. That same day, thousands of villagers fled Pakistani artillery fire in Jammu.[17] On May 2, clashes killed 6 Pakistani soldiers and 1 Indian soldier, as well civilians from both sides.[18] Separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone was assassinated on May 21, and the next day Prime Minister Vajpayee warned his troops to prepare for a "decisive battle." Beginning on May 24 and lasting for several days, Pakistan carried out a series of missile tests. On June 7, an Indian UAV was shot down inside Pakistan near the city of Lahore [19].

At the same time, attempts to defuse the situation continued. Alarmed at the possibility of nuclear war, the US ordered all non-essential citizens to leave India on May 31.[20] Both Vajpayee and Musharraf blamed each other for the standoff, and a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin could not mediate a solution. But by mid-June, the Indian government accepted Musharraf’s pledge to end militant infiltration into India, and on June 10, air restrictions over India were ended and Indian warships removed from Pakistan’s coast.[21]

While tensions remained high throughout the next few months, both governments began easing the situation in Kashmir. By October 2002, India and Pakistan had begun to demobilize their troops along their border, and in 2003 a cease-fire between the two nations was signed. No threat of conflict on such a grand scale has occurred again since 2002.

Cost of standoff

The Indian cost for the buildup was INRs 65 billion, while the Pakistani cost was $1.4 billion (approximately the same).[22]

Threat of nuclear war

As both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear weapons, the possibility a conventional war could escalate into a nuclear one were raised several times during the standoff. Various statements on this subject were made by Indian and Pakistani officials during the conflict, mainly concerning a no first use policy. Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said on June 5 that India would not use nuclear weapons first,[23] while Musharraf said on June 5 he would not renounce Pakistan's right to use nuclear weapons first.[24] In December 2002, Musharraf said he warned India "not to expect a conventional war from Pakistan" if troops crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir. India's Defense Minister replied that India could "take a bomb or two or more but when we respond there will be no Pakistan."[25][26]

A Defense Intelligence Agency report in May 2002 estimated that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could, in a worst-case scenario, lead to 8–12 million deaths initially and millions more later from radiation poisoning.[27]

There was also concern that a June 6, 2002 asteroid explosion over Earth, known as the Eastern Mediterranean Event, could have caused a nuclear conflict had it exploded over India or Pakistan.[28]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Who will strike first", The Economist, December 20, 2001.
  6. ^ "India to withdraw troops from Pak border", Times of India, October 16, 2002.
  7. ^ "Pakistan to withdraw front-line troops", BBC, October 17, 2002.
  8. ^ "Parliament attack: Advani points towards neighbouring country", Rediff, December 14, 2001.
  9. ^ "Govt blames LeT for Parliament attack, asks Pak to restrain terrorist outfits", Rediff, December 14, 2001.
  10. ^ "Pakistan forces put on high alert: Storming of parliament", Dawn (newspaper), December 15, 2001.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Pakistan, India 'move missiles' to border CNN, December 26, 2001.
  13. ^ Kashmir Crisis Global
  14. ^ Musharraf declares war on extremism, BBC, January 12, 2002.
  15. ^ "Musharraf's speech greeted with skepticism in India", Rediff, May 27, 2002.
  16. ^ a b "The Stand-off", The New Yorker, February 13, 2006.
  17. ^ "India expels Pakistan's ambassador",, May 18, 2002.
  18. ^ "Six more Pak soldiers killed", The Tribune, May 21, 2002.
  19. ^ IAF's Searcher-II Loss on June 07, 2002
  20. ^ Disarmament Diplomacy: News Review – India and Pakistan Camped on Brink of War over Kashmir
  21. ^ India-Pakistan Conflict,
  22. ^
  23. ^ "India will not use nuclear weapons first"
  24. ^ Irish Examiner – 2002/06/05: "Musharraf refuses to renounce first use of nuclear weapons", Irish Examiner, June 5, 2002
  25. ^ "FPM Article". Archived from the original on 2009-08-16. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Disarmament Diplomacy: News Review – India and Pakistan Camped on Brink of War over Kashmir
  28. ^ "Near-Earth Objects Pose Threat, General Says"

External links


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