After Pakistan's 1999 military coup, the strategic situation in Kashmir changed dramatically. The new military leader consolidated his power, and began positioning Pakistan militarily and diplomatically for confrontation with India.
Immediately after the October 12, 1999 coup, the first step of Pakistan's new military government was to consolidate its power. Initially, Western governments' reaction was to condemn the coup and demand a return to democracy. After Pakistan publicly demanded that the Kashmir issue be resolved, Western powers extended more than $4 billion in new or rescheduled loans to Pakistan, and Great Britain officially stated that the Pakistani military had a case for overthrowing the civilian government, while the rest of the world dropped the subject.
October 12, 1999: after Pakistan's coup, both India and Pakistan put their armed forces on high alert
October 12 through 16, 1999: Pakistan's new military government suspends the country's constitution, declares a state of emergency, and installs General Pervez Musharraf as chief executive
October 17, 1999: Musharraf outlines his policy for Pakistan, which includes retrieval of wealth looted by corrupt politicians, rebuilding the economy and investor confidence, freedom of the media, protection of the rights of minorities, and peace in the region, while reiterating that resolving the Kashmir dispute "is essential for peace in the region"
October 18, 1999: Pakistani troops begin withdrawing from the international border with India in attempt to de-escalate tensions, although India points out that troops are kept at the same level along the Line of Control
October 26, 1999: the honeymoon is over as groups start to press Musharraf for changes; an Islamic fundamentalist party leader and Musharraf's U.S.-resident brother separately warn him against staying in power too long; also, India claims that it repelled attacks by Pakistani troops on two army posts along Line of Control; Pakistan begins stepping up its rhetoric against India
October 27, 1999: a delegation from the European Union visits South Asia which its leaders say is an indirect international effort to resolve the Kashmir issue, meeting with Kashmiri separatist parties as well as Indian officials; Pakistan's representative to the United Nations re-iterates Pakistan's arguments for a U.N.-organized referendum on independence in Kashmir; Kashmiris worldwide observe an annual strike for a "Black Day" commemmorating India's invasion of Kashmir
October 28, 1999: 9 killed in separate acts of violence in Kashmir, including a rebel attack on a government building
October 28 through November 4, 1999: 16 killed in fresh fighting in Indian-held Kashmir, including Kashmiri rebels' first-ever attack on an Indian Army corps headquarters, and 2 killed in Pakistan-held Kashmir in possible retaliation
November 4, 1999: Musharraf announces that he will continue with a general sales tax, one of the unpopular issues of the previous government; opposition leaders say they will call for a strike if tax implemented; India decides to move even more troops to Kashmir to handle recent increases in violence
November 9 through 11, 1999: over 30 killed in major battle and artillery exchange along Line of Control, each side claiming the other attacked first, and then 19 are killed in two fierce gunbattles between Indian troops and Kashmiri rebels
November 11 and 12, 1999: thousands of demonstrators in Pakistan protest impending U.S./U.N. sanctions against Afghanistan, and terrorists launch six rockets against U.S. and U.N. buildings in Pakistan
November 12, 1999: former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is charged with conspiracy to murder the army chief; over the next few weeks the new government begins a massive effort to recover money from loan defaulters, and bring Sharif to trial
November 16, 1999: Farooq Abdullah, chief minister of Indian-held Kashmir, threatens to resign, saying, "the situation in the state is alarming, and if the Centre does not come to the rescue of the state immediately, then it will be too late."
November 18 through 21, 1999: At their biannual meeting on border issues, Pakistan and India agree not to build fences or defense structures along their boundaries, and agree to stop firing across the boundaries
November 22, 1999: India discovers tunnel being secretly excavated across the Pakistani/Indian border, already 100 meters inside Indian territory (the second such tunnel found in two years)
November 25, 1999: 3 Indian soldiers killed, 3 wounded in two triggered landmine attacks in Kashmir; also, police arrest 25 in the first Pakistani riot since the coup, and Pakistan announced its nuclear policy including matching any Indian nuclear tests
November 26 through 29, 1999: the United States reschedules nearly $1 billion of Pakistani debt; the "Paris Club" of Western banking powers grants over $3 billion in new debt to Pakistan; Germany reschedules over a quarter of a billion dollars in loans to Pakistan, with 20-year extensions and 10-year grace periods; and in a major policy reversal, Great Britain says it is "ready to begin talks" with the new government, and admitted that the military had a case for overthrowing the civilian government.
November 30, 1999: Indian newspaper The Asian Age reports that "some of the 1,500 odd foreign militants currently active in the Kashmir Valley have managed to sneak into Srinagar and are planning 'occasional sensational attacks' against security forces assigned to combat insurgency . . . the figures on the actual presence of foreign militants currently active in Kashmir given out by various security agencies differed . . ."
December 1, 1999: Pakistani media reports that Pakistani leader Musharraf "ruled out the possibility of putting the Kashmir issue on the back burner"
December 4, 1999: Pakistan imposes 15% general sales tax (GST) on electricity retroactively to August 16
December 7, 1999: Pakistani leader Musharraf says in interview that there will be no peace in South Asia until the Kashmir dispute is solved
December 18, 1999: Pakistani media report that Musharraf "highlighted the Kashmir's potential as a possible nuclear flashpoint, urging India to seek its solution through negotiations"
By late December, Pakistan's new military government had consolidated its hold on Pakistan, and publicly announced increased support for Kashmiri rebels. Shortly thereafter, Kashmiri rebels hijacked an Indian Airlines plane. India accused Pakistan of being behind it, and asked that Pakistan be declared a terrorist nation. Tensions between the two nations soared, and cross-border attacks increased.
December 24 through 31, 1999: Kashmiri radicals hijack an India Air flight and force it to land in Afghanistan, demanding $200 million and the release of 36 imprisoned Kahmiri militants; India eventually secures the hostages' release by releasing three militants
December 27 and 29, 1999: 3 killed, 7 wounded as rebels storm headquarters of Kashmir police anti-terrorism unit; rebels are linked to same group as hijackers; two days later, rebels fire grenades at the same building shortly before Kashmir's chief minister visits to inspect the damage
December 29, 1999: Indian police kill a Kashmiri rebel leader in an "encounter"
December 31, 1999: after hijackers release their hostages, India blames Pakistan for orchestrating the hijacking; the U.S. State Department implicitly agrees with India's claims by issuing a statement condemning the hijacking, telling Pakistan is is obliged by international law to extradite the hijackers to India, and speaking of the need to "combat international terrorism," implying that the hijackers were not from India.
January 3, 2000: Saying it has evidence Pakistan was behind the hijacking, India asks the world to declare Pakistan a terrorist state. Also, a landmine kills 17 in a Kashmir market, and a Pakistani embassy official is arrested in Nepal for passing a large amount counterfeit Indian money
January 4, 2000: In reponse to a question whether Pakistan would use nuclear weapons, Musharraf says, "If the security of Pakistan is threatened, surely we would not allow Pakistan to die." Concerning Kashmir, he said, "the danger of this expanding into a nuclear conflagration should modify our stand and we must look at it more seriously."
January 6, 2000: India arrests four Kashmiri rebels in connection with the hijacking, and outlines circumstantial evidence that the government of Pakistan was involved; India "reserves the right to retaliate"; a bomb explodes in a Pakistani market, injuring 25; the U.S. warns that it will "hold the government of Pakistan responsible" for any terrorism committed by the released militants
January 7, 2000: one of the three freed Kashmiri prisoners, now in Pakistan-held Kashmir, calls for jihad (holy war) against India and the U.S. to liberate Kashmir, but later denies the statement after Pakistan's ministry of the interior advises him not to make outbursts against foreign countries; rebels kill 4, wound 2 in gun attack on national weather office in Kashmir; India claims that the Pakistan intelligence agency is instructing Kashmiri rebels to make suicide attacks against Indian forces
January 9, 2000: in the week after the hijacking is resolved, artillery shelling along the Line of Control increases dramatically, killing at least 9 Pakistani civilians and wounding more than 30
January 13, 2000: after five Kashmiri rebels storm and hold an Indian anti-terrorist building, the Indian army ended the standoff by demolishing the building with mortar shells and rocket fire; India catches another Pakistani official passing counterfeit money
January 15, 2000: Kashmiri rebels kill Hindu political leader and 9 others
January 16, 2000: Kashmiri rebels blow up a electric transmission tower, blacking out most of the Kashmir valley; Pakistani police arrest an Indian official accused of carrying bomb-making material
January 17, 2000: bomb kills 8, wounds 31 near bus stop in Pakistan
January 14 through 20, 2000: three separate U.S. delegations (four Democratic Senators, one Republican Senator, and an Assistant Secretary of State) visit Pakistan, reportedly to urge Pakistan to lower tensions with India; also, a U.S. Deputy Secretary of State meets with India's Foreign Minister, reportedly on the same topic
January 20, 2000: India and the U.S. announce the formation of a joint committee on terrorism to investigate the Indian Airlines hijacking
January 22, 2000: several killed in Line of Control clash in which each side claims in highly aggressive rhetoric that the other attacked its army post
January 23, 2000: India and Pakistan have significant battle along Line of Control, with heavy losses claimed; a retired Pakistani army chief says that the "Pakistan Army, unlike in 1971, is well-equipped and in a stronger position to protect the country's frontiers and is eager to balance the scores"
January 24, 2000: 10,000 refugees flee heavy shelling along Line of Control, as both sides step up warlike rhetoric
January 28, 2000: bomb kills 4, wounds 28 in Pakistani mosque
January 29, 2000: rockets fired from India into a Pakistani border village kill 2, wound 3
February 5, 2000: two bombs kill 5, wound 52 at train, bazaar in Pakistan, while Kashmiri rebels kill 3 Hindu villagers in Kashmir
After a bitter "war of words" between Indian and Pakistani leaders in the press, and even more bitter cross-border fighting, India and Pakistan began positioning military resources.
February 7, 2000: a few days after India announces plans to test a sub-launched nuclear-capable missile, Pakistan tests a short-range nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile
February 10, 2000: 8 killed, 7 wounded by Kashmiri rebel gun attacks, train bomb
February 11, 2000: Indian media reports a thousands-strong build-up of militants and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control; militants claim that a unified command, possibly called the Kashmir Liberation Army, has been set up among Kashmiri rebel factions; bomb destroys school building in Pakistan, media blames India
February 12, 2000: Pakistan News Services reports that "President Azad and Jammu Kashmir Sardar Ibrahim fears that the tensions along the LoC would become so much severe by March 20 that Clinton might even contemplate abandoning his tour to India . . . recent escalation in tensions along the LoC have created a war like situation threatening the use of nuclear weapons."
February 15, 2000: around 9 killed in Line of Control gun battle between Pakistani and Indian troops
February 16, 2000: after rebels gun down 3 Indian security officers in Kashmir, Indian forces riot in downtown Srinagar, beating civilians, setting fires and smashing windows, causing 5,000 residents to flee
February 20, 2000: India's Prime Minister Vajpayee rules out talks with Pakistan unless Pakistan returns its portion of Kashmir to India (translation: when hell freezes over)
February 25, 2000: Pakistan accuses Indian soldiers of massacring 14 villagers in Pakistani territory; the next day, Pakistan's foreign ministry called the massacre "a serious threat to regional peace and security," and a leading Kashmiri militant group vowed to "kill Indian soldiers in occupied Kashmir to avenge the blood of our people"
February 27, 2000: Militants brag about making good on their vow by killing 25 Indian troops, decapitating and taking the heads of four of them
February 29, 2000: India's new budget includes a massive military spending hike, which Prime Minister Vajpayee calls "required in the wake of deteriorating security environment. After the Kargil war, India has to gear itself up;" also, rebel attacks kill 6, wound 8 in Kashmir, and internal tensions increase in Pakistan with bomb blasts and a strike led by certain minority groups
March 2, 2000: a bomb in Pakistan kills 2 children, blamed on sectarian violence
March 20 thru 25, 2000: Not long after calling Kashmir "the most dangerous place in the world" due to the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons, U.S. President Clinton visits India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan; during the visit, 40 minority Sikhs are massacred in Kashmir by unknown assailants
March 30, 2000: Kashmiri rebels threatened more suicide attacks after Indian air force raids on mountain hideouts
March 31, 2000: India rejects a renewed offer from Pakistan for resuming talks
April 4, 2000: Indian police open fire on Kashmiri protestors, killing 7 and wounding 24; General Musharraf returns from week-long visit to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand, "to brief the leaders on the current security environment in South Asia and the necessity of an early resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute," warning that the U.S. and Pakistan are diverging on "important issues"
April 6, 2000: deposed President Sharif sentenced to life in prison
April 8, 2000: General Musharraf leaves for G-77 meeting in Cuba, then to travel to Libya and Egypt, also to "brief" foreign leaders on Indo-Pak relations
April 2000: India and Pakistan engage in heavy artillery shelling along Line of Control, called by some the heaviest in their long conflict; gun battles between rebels and Indian forces in Kashmir claim dozens more lives