Taliban should be engaged but talks with it should be held without any preconditions, said Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, at a time when the US and Russia are reaching out to the terror outfit in Afghanistan. General Rawat said peace and stability in Afghanistan will be in interests of India, Pakistan and the entire region.
The Army Chief's comments on Wednesday, at the Raisina Dialogue, on engaging with Taliban were first such public remarks by a senior functionary of the government. His remarks came after he was asked about several countries engaging the Taliban as part of the Afghan peace process.
"Yes, there should be talks with Taliban so long as they do not come out with any preconditions and so long as they are looking at lasting peace in Afghanistan and bring about stability in that country. It is in our interests, it is in the region's interests and it is in Pakistan's interests," Gen. Rawat said.
"There can be no preconditions attached because when you start attaching preconditions, then it kind of gives a sense of a notion of victory (to them)," he said.
Cautioning Islamabad over Taliban being a cause of concern for the security of the country, the Army chief said Pakistan has always kept the terror outfit in its backyard.
Terrorism here to stay as long as nations use it as state policy: Army chief
Speaking at a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue in Delhi, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Wednesday asserted that terrorism is becoming a new form of warfare. The menace is spreading its head like a "multi-headed monster" and is "here to stay" as long as states continue to use it as a state policy, he said.
The Army chief also stressed on the need to control social media as it was becoming a source of spreading radicalisation.
A different kind of radicalisation was being witnessed in India and in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding the youth were getting radicalised due to a lot of misinformation, disinformation, and a lot of falsehoods on religion being fed to them.
"That is why you find more and more educated youth being drawn into terrorism," he said.
Without naming Pakistan, the Army chief said terrorism is here to stay as long as there are nations that continue to sponsor it as a state policy.
India has been maintaining a policy of not engaging with the Taliban and pressing for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace initiative to bring peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.
In a significant move, India had sent two former diplomats in "non-official" capacity to a conference on Afghan peace process in Moscow in November which was attended by a high-level Taliban delegation.
It is learnt that Iran is also engaged in talks with the Taliban.
Iranian sources have said that in case India wants to use Iran's channels of communication with the Taliban, Tehran will be open to such a proposition.