A day after Bipin Rawat said there should be negotiations with the Taliban, but without conditions, the Army chief Thursday said India ‘can’t be left out of the bandwagon’ if a number of other countries are talking to them as it has ‘interests in Afghanistan’.
Speaking at an annual press briefing, he, however, clarified that the ‘Taliban analogy’ cannot be applied in Jammu and Kashmir where the government has rejected unconditional talks with the stakeholders, including separatists and militants, adding that talks in the Valley ‘will be on our terms’.
On talks with Hurriyat, Rawat said, “Our position is very clear that shun the gun and stop taking support from the western neighbour. Talks can happen only if they shun violence.” The Army chief had yesterday also pitched for talks with Taliban, saying there should be “negotiations” but “without conditions”.
Reacting to the Army chief’s statement, National Conference vice president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah had then slammed Rawat. “We bat for talks with Taliban, autonomy for Tibet & Tamil areas of Sri Lanka, yet we are unwilling to look at engagement or political initiatives in J&K. Why is our policy all about ‘do as we say, don’t do as we do’? Engagement for Taliban, Operation All-Out for Kashmir,” Omar had said.
PDP chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti also criticised the army chief, saying, “If the Army Chief can advocate for talks with Taliban then why different standards when it comes to our own people?”
“Accept peace offer from Pakistan, initiate dialogue with Hurriyat and other stakeholders put an end to the vicious cycle of violence in J&K,” she had said.
The Army chief today said that while the situation in Kashmir needs to improve, “we (army) are only facilitators for peace’. The Army has managed the situation well along the borders with China and Pakistan and there should be no cause for concern, he further said.