Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sri Lanka at crossroad by Afshain Afzal

THE Tamil campaign for a separate homeland "Tamil Eelam" from Sinhalese majority dates to the 1970s. By the late 1980s, the Tigers had seized control of part of the island's northeast coast. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelarn (LTTE allegedly assassinated several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian personalities. The LTTE was banned in India in 1992, a year after a suicide bomber allegedly associated with Tamil Tigers assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai. Since then LTTE Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and his Intelligence boss, Pottu Amman, who are in exile in Sri Lanka are wanted in India for the Rajiv's killing. However, Indian Intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) secretly armed them through third parties to destabilize Sri Lanka and create sense of suspicion between Tamils and Colombo. The US intelligence, because of its own interests in the region, also aided Tamils in cash and weapons to destabilize Sri Lanka. Over the period of time, the groups associated with Tamil Eelam gained strength and openly challenged the writ of Sri Lankan government in the areas stretching over 7,000 square miles.In the recent drive of Sri Lankan government against LTTE, the Sri Lankan Army made unbelievable successes in regaining the control of LTTE controlled areas. Although Sri Lankan Army claims that they have taken over Mullaittivu, the Tamil Tigers' last main stronghold and that Tamils are near defeat but things are as being told. It is being clamed that Tamil Tigers, who once held 7,000 square miles of territory are now boxed in to less than 100 square miles. However, there is nothing to feel optimistic for long lasting peace as only remote chances are there that Sinhalese majority can enact a lasting peace that addresses the Tamil minority's concerns. There are bright chances that the Sinhalese-dominated government in Colombo will fail to extend a hand to its minority Tamil population, which would spur another guerrilla movement in theTamil Tigers dominated areas, irrespective of the fact that Prabhakaran is captured or killed.In this backdrop, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's recent visit to Sri Lanka ended up with half success and half failure. Both the countries remained perturbed about their international obligations and the public pressure in their countries. However, they were able to strike deals mainly focusing on three important issues i.e. continuous intelligence sharing, expansion of safety zone for Tamils and question of Tamil Tigers Cheif Velupillai Prabhakaran. One thing that got clear from the agreement is that India is not sincere with Tamils. Had there been a serious effort from either New Delhi or Colombo to end war, the LTTE had to respond as they could not deliberately endanger lives of people by insisting on fighting. India is trying to be Doctor Watson for Sri Lanka as regard to Tamil issue, forgetting that the decrease in Tamil activities in Sri Lanka had nothing to do with either military might of Sri Lankan Army or RAW's strategy against Tamils. In fact it was due to global trend that made US Intelligence to hold its hands to secretly fund and supply weapons to rebel groups in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. LTTE cadres and other militant groups were forced to seriously consider other ways to continue their struggle. India should never forget that if today there is some peace in Tamil Nadu, it is not due to Indian intelligence strategy and military operations but due to granting share of Tamils in the present government and RAW's secret understanding for Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka.In the words of RAW's senior analyst at New Delhi "What India did to defeat Tamils was the segregation of Indian Tamils with those living in Sri Lanka, thus preserving certain top Tamil aides for future strategy to deal with Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam in the future." There is no doubt that Sri Lankan government is facing a lot of security difficulties due to Tamil Eelam but it must not forget that Tamils have a lot services for this country and should be dealt diplomatically and politically. Sri Lanka should understand the gravity of the situation created by US Intelligence and RAW as it would not be able to afford fleeing Tamils including Prabhakaran to India and other parts of the world being given International refugee status thus posing a permanent threat to the existence of independent Sri Lanka.

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