The Bharatiya Janata Party has strongly objected to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna reportedly saying there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and the operations there should give way to a political settlement.

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal, given on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session, Mr. Krishna reportedly discussed the gamut of issues plaguing Afghanistan and the current NATO-led combat operations in the region.

While BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad was quick to say on Thursday that there could be no question of a “dialogue” with the Taliban, the Ministry of External Affairs also issued a statement saying India’s policy was “to strengthen the government of Afghanistan” to help achieve “social and developmental objectives by rebuilding infrastructure… it is for the government of Afghanistan to take the initiatives necessary so that all those who abjure violence and extremism accept Afghanistan’s Constitution.” It was not India’s position “that a political settlement be attempted with those who do not share these aims.”

Although the government said Mr. Krishna had been “misquoted” and he had not said there should be a political settlement with the Taliban, the BJP insisted that he had, and condemned the remark allegedly made by the Minister as “utterly irresponsible.”

“We condemn it. He [Mr. Krishna] has once again talked out of turn. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Taliban has been working in tandem with the Pakistan army and the ISI [Inter Services Intelligence ],” Mr. Prasad said .

However, separately, reports from the United States quoted Mr. Krishna as having denied speaking about a dialogue with the Taliban. He said he had spoken about a political settlement in Afghanistan in accordance with the wishes of the people of that country. “If there are internal differences within Afghanistan I think the people of Afghanistan, the leaders of Afghanistan, will sort it out by themselves,” he was reported to have said.

Here, Mr. Prasad was blunt and he recalled the attack on India’s Kabul embassy, the role of the Taliban in the hijack of an Indian airlines plane from Kathmandu to Delhi in 1999, the abduction and murder by the Taliban of two Indian engineers working in Afghanistan and, above all, the Taliban ideology of ‘jehad.’

“I regret to say Mr. Krishna has made it a habit to speak out of turn… those in charge of managing the serious business of India’s foreign policy are quite non-serious as they are busy with austerity gimmicks and twittering or speaking out of turn… The Prime Minister must explain the meaning of Mr. Krishna’s comment,” Mr. Prasad said.

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