'Pak will keep backing Taliban even after peace deal'

Pakistan will keep supporting Taliban even after peace deal in Afghanistan, India's CDS General Bipin Rawat warns US

“No, not really angry, you finally have to come to negotiation, but I think when you come to negotiation, it should ensure lasting peace. It should not be just a temporary measure to find exit,” said Rawat.

India on Thursday warned the United States about the possibility of Pakistan continuing to sponsor terrorism in Afghanistan even if a peace-deal was clinched with Taliban.

“The answer is yes,” General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, said during a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue, when the moderator asked him if he thought that Pakistan would continue to “support, fund, (and) back” the Taliban in Afghanistan, irrespective of the course of the peace process the United States had been pursuing in the war-ravaged country.

His comment came just a day after Taliban emissaries met Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, in Doha and handed over to him a proposal for a temporary ceasefire.

“No, not really angry, you finally have to come to negotiation, but I think when you come to negotiation, it should ensure lasting peace. It should not be just a temporary measure to find exit,” said Rawat.

He said that the Taliban must be made to eschew terrorism, subtly took a dig at the President Donald Trump's administration in Washington D.C., replying to the moderator who asked him if he was angry over the US move to clinch a peace deal with Taliban in Afghanistan.

Bipin Rawat recently retired as the chief of Indian Army, but was re-appointed as the first Chief of Defence Staff of the country.

“They have to come to the main table, they must come to the political mainstream. And then if they want to rule the country, rule the country by the will of the people,” said the Chief of Defence Staff. “You have to change the ideology of the people who are residing in the area, the ideology behind Taliban. And only then you can have lasting peace in the region.”

Though Trump Administration has been pursuing a peace process with Taliban to find the way to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, New Delhi has been cautious about the move.

India contributed over $ 3 billion to support the reconstruction of infrastructure in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

However, New Delhi has been concerned over the US-led peace-process in Afghanistan as it is likely to lead to the integration of the Taliban into the governance structure in the conflict-torn South Asian nation. India has been worried about the possibility of Taliban re-imposing strict Sharia Law in Afghanistan, apart from providing support to terrorist organizations, which carry out attacks in India from bases in Pakistan.

Rawat said that the Taliban could return to ruling Afghanistan after clinching the peace-deal with the US and the Afghan Government. He, however, warned about the possibility of the Taliban continuing to have the power of the guns even after inking the peace deal, just as it had had before the US-led offensive had dislodged it from the seat of power in Kabul in 2001.

New Delhi has since long been arguing that the reconciliation process in Afghanistan should be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned”. India has been stressing on helping Afghanistan preserve the gains it had achieved in the past 18 years after the end of the regressive reign of Taliban – particularly the gains it had achieved in the field of education and empowerment of women.

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