India has been mounting a pressure campaign on Sri Lanka in the hopes that it can slow down the island-nation’s military advances into town of Kilinochchi, the administrative capital of the LTTE. Apparently, India has conveyed its “deep concern” over the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the LTTE controlled regions of Lanka. If this isn’t an example of a combination of barefaced hypocrisy and dirty politics, I don’t know what is. What right does a country whose politicians engage in violence against minorities as a matter of policy have to dictate terms to another country? Fringe nutjobs like Vaiko in Tamil Nadu and allies of the UPA administration, are behind this new effort to intervene in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. In supporting a reign-in of Lankan military advances, they are, in effect, allowing the LTTE to regroup and refortify its defenses in the town. Perhaps these political parties are forgetting that it was in Sriperumpudur, a town in their state, in 1991 where one of our Prime Ministers had the misfortune of having his head blown off by the very same LTTE that they’re sympathizing with.
If this wasn’t bad enough, Sri Lanka gave credence to New Delhi’s bellowing by inviting Pranab Mukherjee to come and evaluate the “humanitarian mission” in the region.
“With the view of clarifying the position of the Government with regard to the humanitarian mission in the North, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited the External Affairs Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee to Sri Lanka,”
Civilian casualties are an unfortunate consequence of war, and one that any responsible government will want to minimize, if not eliminate. Everyone understands that the Tamil situation cries out for a political, not military, solution. But Sri Lanka is at a defining moment in its history, and at the cusp of a victory against a terrorist organization that has stood between reconciliation between the Sri Lankan government and the Lankan Tamil civilians. Who appointed the LTTLE as the sole representatives of the Sri Lankan Tamils? The truth is that they grew like any other terrorist organization ever did — through dividing and conquering. It needs to be pointed out that this is an organization that India has outlawed, its leader Prabhakaran himself being a wanted man in India for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.
This dilly-dallying and pandering to fringe elements is what resulted in India’s involvement in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s. When the dust around the IPKF adventure settled, India’s stature as an honest broker was battered, and Sri Lanka as a nation regressed 30-40 years. Politicians, of course, can be myopic. As the Taliban was America’s brainchild, so too was the LTTE India’s. The consequences of interfering in other nations are quite clear — they will come back to haunt you.
India must do whatever it can to stay away from this imbroglio, for the very same reasons it believes it is expressing its concerns. A prolonged battle between the LTTE and the Lankan army amidst political hemming and hawing because of India’s concerns will only result in more civilian casualties and expand the theater of a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, with Tamil refugees possibly flocking the shores of Southern India. A protracted war will also result in the loss of popular support for the war among Sri Lankans and could possibly result in the LTTE regrouping and launching vindictive assaults in mainland Sri Lanka, like in the past. The Lankan army claims they have a clear shot at the heart of the LTTE. The Indian government needs to back off and let them take that shot.