Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat expresses concern about ‘terror activity’ spilling into India with Taliban taking over Afghanistan

Published : August 26, 2021 14:48 IST

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat with Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of the United States’ Indo-Pacific Command in New Delhi on August 25. Photo: PTI

 

In a major development, India issued its first overtly critical comments against the Taliban with the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat saying on August 25, “It is the same Taliban that was there 20 years ago.”

General Rawat said with Taliban seizing control of Afghanistan, terror activity from that country could spill over to India. He said that India was prepared for that eventuality.

General Rawat made the comments at an event organised by Observer Research Foundation, a private think tank. The event was attended by Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of the United States’ Indo-Pacific Command.

General Rawat said that while the ascent of Taliban was anticipated, the pace was faster than imagined. He said India expected the Taliban to capture Kabul two months down the line.

He said: “Everything that has happened was something that had been anticipated. Only the timelines have changed…. From the Indian perspective, we were anticipating a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. We were concerned about how the terrorist activity from Afghanistan could overflow into India. To that extent our contingency planning had been ongoing and we are prepared for that.”

General Rawat was forthcoming on how the Taliban was being viewed in the power corridors. “It is pretty much the same. It is the same Taliban that was there 20 years ago. “News reports and reports from expats who have come from there are all telling us the kind of activities that the Taliban are into. All that has happened is that the partners have now changed. It is the same Taliban with different partners.”

General Rawat’s comment is a departure from the carefully worded statements from Indian officials so far, who had been expressing concern about the situation and the potential threats that can come from Afghanistan, but had been loath to condemn the Taliban directly.

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