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Afghan analogy can’t apply to Kashmir: Army Chief

Army 3
New Delhi: Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat gestures during the Army's annual press conference in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist (PTI1_13_2017_000080B)

New Delhi, Jan 10: A day after he was questioned for setting ‘different yardsticks’ for supporting unconditional talks with Taliban but refusing the same in Kashmir, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat Thursday said that the “analogy” for supporting talks with Taliban cannot be applied to Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing his annual press briefing in Delhi, the Army chief said, “We have interests in Afghanistan, we can’t be out of bandwagon.”
With the US and Russia reaching out to the Taliban in Afghanistan, Gen Rawat said, “The same analogy can’t apply to Jammu and Kashmir. Talks in the state have to be on our terms,” he said, according to news agency PTI.
Rawat said talks and “terror” cannot go together, and it applies to Jammu and Kashmir too.
“Our position is very clear…shun the gun and stop taking support from the western neighbour. Talks can happen only if they shun violence,” he said on holding dialogues with Hurriyat leaders.
He emphasised that the situation in the state needs to be improved further.
Gen Rawat’s comments came a day after former J&K chief ministers 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.
General Rawat also said that the Army has managed the situation well along the borders with China and Pakistan and there should be no cause for concern.
Rawat also said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir needs to be improved further.
“We are only facilitators for peace in J&K,” he said.
“We have managed the situation well along the northern and western borders,” Gen Rawat said, adding that there should be no cause for concern.
“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 militants 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.