Former Army Chief justifies troops pullout from J&K

HYDERABAD, DEC. 6. The former Chief of Army Staff, K.V. Krishna Rao, has justified the troops pullout in Jammu and Kashmir saying that such a large force is not necessary when militancy has come down in the State and a ceasefire agreement with Pakistan is in place.

Delivering the foundation lecture at the Administrative Staff College of India here on Monday, Gen. Rao said Pakistan had honoured the ceasefire agreement well this time although it had gone back several times in the past. "It is in order to withdraw some troops and deploy them in nearby stations so that they can be rushed back whenever required", he said and dismissed as gossip TV channels depicting pullout as substitution.

False claims

Gen. Rao said Pakistan had made false claims that seven lakh troops were deployed by India on the border. The Indian Army had a strength of 12 lakhs and if it were to position seven lakh men only on the Indo-Pakistan border, what about the deployment in the rest of the country, he asked. The troops along the border would be much less than seven lakhs. The General welcomed the economic package announced by the Centre for J & K but expressed doubts if the whole amount would be spent, as corruption was rampant in the State.

He regretted that the Indian Army was short and did not have the right leadership although plenty of talent was available in the country. He, however, admitted that the Indian troops in 1993, when militants had taken over J & K, were much less than what they were now. Pakistan was determined to secure J & K and also see India a fragmented country, he added.

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