Withdrawal Of Troops: Services HQs Still Waiting For Orders

New Delhi, October 17: | Updated: Oct 18 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Indian Army will take upto six weeks for a phased pull back from the Indo-Pak border. The three services headquarters were still awaiting the defence ministers Operational order to initiate the pullback.

According to highly-placed army official sources, just for ferrying five lakh troops to their peace time stations, the Army headquarters has approached the government for special warrants for movement of hundreds of trains and aircraft to transport the troops.

It would take atleast four to six weeks to ferry the troops back to their locations officials said explaining that the forward deployment of the forces had been completed in four weeks after the government had accorded the movement top priority.

Infact, reacting to reports that India was pulling back troops from the international border (IB) because of pressure from the United States, official sources in the foreign affairs ministry said, the demobilisation decision was made in the national interest.

The three services chiefs Gen S Padmanabhan, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy and Admiral Madhvendra Singh today chaired high level meetings at their respective headquarters to chalk out the plans for de-mobilisation.

Officials have said initially the pull back would start from the International Border (IB) facing Punjab and then troops from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jammu sector would be withdrawn.

The earliest troops to return to their peace time stations in time for festival season are likely to be those who are stationed close to the border.

These forces in divisional and brigade levels are self-sufficient in transport.

However, the three strike corps who are armed with tanks, heavy artillery, air defence and special weapons and whose peacetime locations are in the rear could take the maximum time to pull back, officials explained.

These forces who mark the punishing punch in an offensive are armed withhighly sophisticated weapons and need specialised heavy trailers and trains to move their equipment back they said.

As far as Air component of the pullback is involved, officials said this would involve moving back fighter and transport formations of the eastern Air command.