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SRINAGAR: Retired Lieutenant General DS Hooda on Friday said that there was “absolutely no harm” in engaging with various leaders who are stakeholders in conflict-ridden Kashmir. Hooda’s response comes after Army chief General Bipin Rawat said there should be talks with the Taliban to bring peace in Afghanistan, but asserted that the engagement must be without any preconditions.

The retired general said there was “need for engagement” in the valley, both political and otherwise. “As far as talks with various leaders in Kashmir is concerned, I think there is absolutely no harm. There is a need for engagement – political and otherwise – with people in the valley,” said Hooda. He added “What General Rawat has said is nothing new because peace talks with Taliban has been going on for a very long time. The Americans have engaged. It is a part of our policy to bring peace to Afghanistan, there must be talks with Taliban.”

Earlier, in December Hooda had said that “Surgical strike was overhyped and politicised” and “it is not good” when “military operations get politicised.” He was the Northern Army Commander in September 2016 when Indian troops carried out surgical strikes in the wake of the Uri attack.

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