Even though India’s official policy has always been “No engagement with the Taliban”, the Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat has advocated talks with Taliban with no preconditions.
Stability in Afghanistan is “in our interest, in region’s interest and it’s in Pakistan’s interest. We all want stability,” said the army chief at the 4th Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi.
Countries including the US, Russia, Iran and Pakistan have been talking with Taliban at some level and have been acknowledging the same.
On why there should be talks with Taliban with no pre- conditions the army chief pointed out that “When you talk to terrorists or any organisation of that kind, you have to talk without precondition. There cannot be precondition attached to it as it gives the notion that one or the other side is talking from the position of victory.”
The Army Chief’s comments assumes significance as it coincided with the visit of the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who is in New Delhi on his first visit after taking over the post.
Reportedly, while announcing his India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China visit, the US State Department had said, “During his last trip in December, Special Representative Khalilzad reiterated that the only solution to the conflict is for all parties to sit together and reach an agreement on the political future of Afghanistan with mutual respect and acceptance.”
According to sources, New Delhi’s policy has always supported Afghan peace should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled and with the participation of the government of Afghanistan.
It may be recalled, India had, however, participated last year in the Moscow talks on Afghanistan, in which the Taliban also took part. India participated at a non-official level, sending two former diplomats — Amar Sinha, India’s former envoy to Afghanistan, and TCA Raghavan. Iran too had a dialogue with the Taliban in Moscow last year and their first round of talks took place in Tehran last week.
Though Taliban is a big security threat to Iran, Tehran has offered its offices to New Delhi in case for having talks with Taliban.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Wednesday, who during the 40 minute discussions briefed her about Tehran’s talks with the Taliban.