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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam

Two Voices but One Policy - 20 Years Later

"If victory was to be achieved, it could not be done by uniting all opposing forces but by dividing them and creating dissension among them... Sri Lankan Kings never opposed the entirety of India. When there was conflict with the Pandyans, they sought the aid of the Cholas and acted against the Pandyans. When the Pandyans and Cholas combined, they sought the aid of Kalinga. Sinhala Kings had that high intelligence and knowledge of statecraft."  Lalith Athulathmudali, Sri Lanka National Security Minister at the 87th Mahapola which Sinhala Vidyalaya, Kahatagasdigliya, 27 May 1984

[see also Two Voices but One Policy - Nadesan Satyendra, 1984]

Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Island  asks
All Lankan eggs in Indian basket?
10 November 2004

PK Balachandran in Brahmin controlled Hindustan Times says
Lanka advised to use US to checkmate India
10 November 2001

"The joint Indo- Sri Lanka statement issued after the visit of President Chandrika Kumaratunga to New Delhi and the proposed Defence Co-operation Agreement together with complementary agreements such as on Pallaly Airport are being hailed in all quarters here, except by the LTTE. There is much satisfaction because such Indo-Lanka co-operation, it is considered, would be a positive deterrent to LTTE terrorism breaking out again and would help resolve the 20 year- old North-East conflict.

The basic assertions of the Indo-Lanka joint statement reveals that there are no fundamental changes in India’s Sri Lanka policy and it is a reiteration of the former Indian position, even when relations were at their worst. India being committed to the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity, their support for a negotiated settlement and opposition to terrorism in all its manifestations, have been stated in documents exchanged between the two countries much earlier and even quite recently. What is new is the warmth, friendship, and commitment of both countries to these stated objectives which are being bolstered by the economic and trade ties such as the Free Trade Agreement and more such agreements on economic co-operation in the offing.

The Indo- Sri Lanka Defence Co- operation is being welcomed even by those who opposed the hegemonic features in the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987 because of the militaristic threat of the LTTE in the North-particuarly in the Jaffna peninsula. The Sri Lanka government is trapped in its own peace process from opposing the LTTE’s military build up. The LTTE, all concerned are aware, has been building up its military cadres and re-arming by smuggling of arms during the entire period of this cease- fire.

A recent report by the prestigious London based International Institute of Strategic Studies has said that the LTTE has even acquired a light aircraft. On the other hand the ‘international community’ involved in our ‘peace process’ does nothing to halt this military build up and will howl if Sri Lanka commences rapid arming of its forces. America helps in training the armed services and perhaps may even provide some military intelligence but the European nations involved are doing nothing to prevent contributions flowing in from their countries into the LTTE war chest.

Thus, India whose security is being threatened on the Southern flank by this terrorist organisation is the only foreign power that will be committed to take on the LTTE militarily as it did in the late 1980s. As the former Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes has said: the security concerns of Sri Lanka are the security concerns of India as well.

But all this places Sri Lanka firmly in the Indian sphere of influence circumscribing its defence strategies and limiting its foreign policy options. It will no longer be have the freedom of action as it did as an independent, non aligned nation when it permitted Pakistani troops to pass through Sri Lankan ports from the west wing of Pakistan to the east wing during the Bangladesh war. According to reports there appear to be some hiccups about the agreement on the Pallaly Airport because the Indian government wants to limit its use to Sri Lankan and Indian Forces only. While such limitations will not be desirable in normal times, does Sri Lanka now have another option than to grant India’s request?

Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made no bones about hiding Indian hegemonic desires in South Asia and used the Sri Lanka Tamil insurgency to make Colombo toe the New Delhi line. While Indians did realise its folly of using terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy and fought LTTE terrorism later on, today’s situation is that Sri Lanka has to depend on India to save its territorial integrity.

Perhaps, as some Indian political strategists maintain, no country is fully sovereign and certainly small countries such as Sri Lanka can enjoy only limited sovereignty.

But can Sri Lanka place all its eggs in the Indian basket? New Delhi’s Sri Lanka policy is also conditioned by the so-called Southern option—- central coalition governments depending heavily on support of South Indian parties, particuarly from Tamil Nadu. What would happen if a pro- LTTE Tamil Nadu party begins to rock an Indian coalition government?

What is required now is astute political leadership although the present incumbents are light years away from it. The only option available appears to be the Superpower or Hyperpower as it is now called. India too has its limitations when it comes to relations with the United States. Could our leaders be smart enough to use Lanka-US relations to influence India to our advantage? This will indeed be a long shot considering what President Ronald Reagan’s trouble- shooter General Walters told Colombo newsmen in 1987: ‘You settle your problems with India, we will not interfere.’

Right now, there appears to be no option but to place all Lankan eggs in the Indian basket."

"A leading English language daily 'The Island' has suggested that Sri Lanka should use the United States to checkmate India in case the latter makes use of Colombo's growing dependence on it to limit its foreign policy options.

In an editorial on Wednesday, the paper asked whether it would be wise for Sri Lanka to put all its eggs in the Indian basket since New Delhi's foreign policy was conditioned by the Tamil Nadu factor which could favour the LTTE. Central coalition governments in India tended to lean heavily on Tamil Nadu parties, it pointed out.

'What would happen if a Tamil Nadu party begins to rock an Indian coalition government?' it asked. 'The only option available appears to be the Superpower or Hyperpower as it is now called. India too has its limitations when it comes to relations with the United States. Could our leaders be smart enough to use Lanka-US relations to influence India to our advantage?' the paper wondered.

But there were limitations here too, it noted. After all, did not President Reagan's trouble shooter Gen. Walters tell Colombo newsmen in 1987 'You settle your problems with India, we will not interfere?.' At the time of the controversial India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, Sri Lankans were looking at US to checkmate India. But the US did not oblige.

In conclusion, the 'The Island' conceded that there was no option for Sri Lanka, but to place all its eggs in the Indian basket.

Some Sri Lankans worry that Sri Lanka will lose its sovereignty if the Defence Cooperation Agreement with India is signed and especially if there are conditions like the one talked about in relation to the use of the Palaly airport in Jaffna.

The Indians are reportedly saying that the airport should be used only by Sri Lankan and Indian aircrafts if it was upgraded with Indian assistance.

'The Island' pointed this out and said that Sri Lanka might not be able to do what it could do in 1971 when, during the Bangladesh war, it allowed Pakistani military aircraft to use Sri Lankan airports en route to East Pakistan against Indian wishes.

Meawhile, Sri Lankan Tamils have been criticising India's decision to sign a Defence Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka.

The Tamil National Alliance and the LTTE have both said that they will tilt the military balance and upset the peace process, which rests on a delicate military balance between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

The Tamils are glad that the agreement was not signed while President Chandrika Kumaratunga was on an official visit to New Delhi earlier this month."



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