SOURCE: Tribune News Service
Lt General-level commanders of India and China have been tasked to carry out a complex de-escalation of the military buildup along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
The commanders of the two sides will begin meeting each other, yet again, anytime next week. They will draw up a timeline for the second stage of the three-step pullback process agreed to by both sides. They will focus on de-escalating the present deployment of war-waging weapons and thousands of troops. Before entering the second stage, the two sides will physically verify the ongoing process of creating a 3-km buffer zone at the LAC between the troops of both sides. The creation of a buffer zone is the first of the three-step process of pulling back. The process started on Monday and the physical verification may start next week.
Currently, there is no change in the deployment. Hundreds of artillery guns and tanks, deadly rocket launchers, missiles, fighter jets, airborne bombers and attack helicopters of both sides are lined up near the LAC. Long-range artillery guns, which can take 40-km shots, are deployed 2-3 km away from the LAC, said an official. Both sides have ensured “mirror deployment” (each side matching the other). An estimated 45,000 troops have been deployed by either side along the 826-km LAC in Ladakh. Any miscalculation can lead to a skirmish. From the Indian perspective, China has moved its troops and weapons from 2,000 km away to station them at the LAC, so the PLA cutting back 1.5 km for the buffer zone is of little meaning.
Sources said the buffer zone was the smallest of the steps for the de-escalation process. Other than reducing immediate friction along the LAC, it does not cut down military threat posed by weapons.
From the Indian side, Leh-based 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh will be meeting his counterpart of the South Xinjiang military region. There could be multiple meetings before a consensus is reached.