Taliban Analogy Can’t Apply, J&K Talks Must Be On Our Terms: Rawat

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New Delhi- A day after supporting talks with Taliban, Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat said the same analogy cannot be applied to Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that any engagement with militant groups in the state will be strictly on the basis of conditions set by the government.

“The talks have to be on our terms,” army chief Gen Rawat said while addressing a press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15, according to news agency PTI.

Gen Rawat’s comments came a day after former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti wondered why New Delhi 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.

PDP president 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.

In his address at the Raisina Dialogue on Wednesday, Gen. Rawat had backed dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Referring to a number of countries engaging in talks with Taliban, the Army Chief said India should not be out of the bandwagon as it has “interests” in Afghanistan.

When asked whether he would support engaging Hurriyat Conference and other separatist groups in Kashmir, Gen. Rawat said same analogy cannot be applied to J&K.

“Same analogy cannot be applied to J&K. It is a bilateral issue between us and our western neighbour. There is no place for any third party intervention. Here if we have to talk, we have to talk based on our terms and conditions,” Gen. Rawat told reporters.

“We are saying talks and terror cannot happen together. It is not only just applicable to our western neighbour, it is applicable to Jammu and Kashmir also. You cannot keep killing security personnel and say we are ready for talks,” said the Army Chief.

The Army Chief also said that Pakistan’s hostilities towards India along the border in J&K have not come down after Imran Khan came to power, adding the Pakistani leader was only talking about peace and not doing anything to improve the situation on the ground.     

He said over 300 militants are waiting along the border in Kashmir to infiltrate, but added his forces are ready foil their attempts.

“The government is adopting a hard and soft power approach in dealing with Kashmir…We are only facilitators for peace in J&K,” he said. 

The Army Chief also said success in Jammu and Kashmir should not be measured by number of militants being killed.

He said of local youths joining militancy in Kashmir was linked to intensity of propaganda and was not related to their killings by security forces.

He said funeral processions of militants and conferring martyr status to them by Tanjims had encouraged youths to join the groups, adding the Army has limited the processions which has shown positive results.

    “We have now started curtailing these (funeral processions). The now of people allowed to join the funeral processions have started gradually coming down. We are trying to control the crowd,” he said.

The Army Chief said people of Jammu and Kashmir were beginning to realise the futility of violence.

On the situation in the state, he said, “I am not saying it’s totally under control.”

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