Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Thursday if other countries are talking to the Taliban and India has an interest in Afghanistan, then “we should also join the bandwagon” but the same analogy cannot be applied to Jammu and Kashmir.
“The talks have to be on our terms,” army chief Gen Rawat said, according to report.
Gen Rawat’s comments came a day after former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday wondered why the Centre was not initiating a dialogue with separatists in the state if the army chief could advocate holding talks with the Taliban.
“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 (sic),” Omar Abdullah had tweeted.
“If the Army Chief can advocate for talks with (the) Taliban then why different standards when it comes to our own people?” Mehbooba also asked in a tweet.
The Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said the Centre should accept Pakistan’s offer for talks and also start a dialogue process with the Hurriyat Conference to end the cycle of violence in the state.
The army chief said there is no cause of concern on the western and northern fronts and the force is gradually moving forward to bring the situation in control in the restive state of Kashmir.
“We are only facilitators of peace. We are there to ensure peace returns to the valley,” Gen Rawat said during his annual press briefing.
“As for internal security, we are gradually moving forward to bring the situation under better control… We are adopting both hard and soft power approaches but the offer to terrorists to come overground and look at peace is always there. As who is getting affected by this? It is the people of Kashmir themselves,” he said.
Gen Rawat said there are some issues which have to be taken in context as one size fits all policy cannot be adopted everywhere.
The army, he said, has succeeded to a large extent in the northeast and is moving forward in ensuring “better peace” in these areas.