Army Chief Bipin Rawat says Pak-Taliban talks in Afghanistan must be sans riders

His comments came even as the Afghan Taliban called off talks with US officials scheduled in Qatar this week reportedly over an 'agenda disagreement'.

Published: 09th January 2019 07:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th January 2019 06:49 AM   |  A+A-

Bipin Rawat

Army chief Bipin Rawat (File | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said any talks that Pakistan has with terrorist outfit Taliban should be on the condition that it agrees to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan without any preconditions.In his remarks at a panel discussion on terrorism at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, he said such a peace “is in our interest, it is in the region’s interest and Pakistan’s interest.”  

India, which perceives the ultra-orthodox Sunni outfit as a proxy of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has officially refused to hold any discussions with the Taliban but it sent “Non-official” observers to talks initiated between the group and unofficial leaders from Afghanistan in Moscow in 2018.  

Dr Vishal Chandra, Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and author of ‘The Unfinished War in Afghanistan: 2001-2014’, said, “Taliban does not recognise the current democratically-elected Afghan government as they believe that it does not have the support of the people of Afghanistan. They also do not accept the Afghan Constitution,” he said. “Taliban have put certain conditions forward. They have made it clear that they will talk to the US [United States of America] but not with the current government in Kabul; that the Western forces must first completely withdraw from Afghanistan... Taliban needs to understand that they can be part of, but not be the future of Afghanistan,” added Chandra.  

Talking about the menace of terrorism, Rawat described it as a new form of warfare and said it was here to stay as long as states continued to use it as part of their policy.He also asserted that social media was a potent tool for spreading radicalisation and becoming a key method for raising terror funds.

Explaining why the IS had failed to make inroads in India, he said, “we have a very good system of beat policeman in local thanas and chaukis. He knows everybody in his area. So long as we have the concept... I think we will be able to control things...”

Omar, Mufti hit out

Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti reacted to Rawat’s remarks. “We bat for talks with Taliban... yet we are unwilling to look at engagement in J&K,” Omar said.  “If Gen Rawat can advocate for talks with Taliban why different standards. Accept peace offer... to put an end to the violence in J&K,” Mufti said.

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