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India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam

India and the LTTE - Out of the Box

K.T. Kumaran  29 June 2006
[courtesy sangam.org ]

[see also Father Chandiravarman Sinnathurai on Palacingham Pragmatism 
Rajiv Gandhi assassination ‘a monumental historical tragedy’ – Balasingham
Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: The Verdict - Nadesan Satyendra and
Rajiv Gandhi's War Crimes நெற்றிக்கண் திறப்பினும் குற்றம் குற்றமே...]

Kissinger said that nations act in their self-interest. Their diplomacy is driven not by emotion, abstract moral principle or past practice, but by the bedrock of mutual interest...For India in the midst of its emergence as a future global powerhouse and wanting to do that in a conflict-free regional environment, the Tamils in the island nation off of its Southern tip are natural allies.

“We cannot always assure the future of our friends; we have a better chance of assuring our future if we remember who our friends are,” is the philosophy of the doyen of international diplomacy, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger.

For India in the midst of its emergence as a future global powerhouse and wanting to do that in a conflict-free regional environment, the Tamils in the island nation off of its Southern tip are natural allies. In fact, no other people in the region would look to India with such deep-seated close ties and affection. The umbilical connection of “Mother India” and “Eelam Tamils,” severed only in the aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

However, the response to comments made by LTTE theoretician Dr. Balasingham to an Indian TV network on June 27th calling for a close relationship between India and LTTE have been largely negative from the government of India, the Congress Party and editorials of the nation's prominent dailies.

The responses are tragically addressing the “LTTE” as still being the central issue and very little attention is being given to seeing how the implications of this estrangement policy are hurting all Tamils.

The Tamils in the island nation simply want their political rights and dignity. However, emotions are in the way of making rational decisions (rightfully perhaps) towards a new era. This eventually will hinder chances of bringing about a speedy negotiated political settlement for the Tamils of the North-East.

Many primary political parties in Tamil Nadu have not forwarded responses as of yet. However, the tone seems to be set from elsewhere around India.

The Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) member, Mr Shantaram Naik is urging Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, “not to forgive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the brutal killing of the late prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.” Mr Naik, who is also a secretary of the All India Congress Committee and in-charge of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep, in a letter to Dr Singh, is being quoted in the press as having said, “India and Indians are magnanimous in their approach over several issues, but not over an issue like the Rajiv Gandhi killing.”

In searching through the tenet of Henry A. Kissinger’s foreign policy realism, one would find that many times Kissinger said that nations act in their self-interest. Their diplomacy is driven not by emotion, abstract moral principle or past practice, but by the bedrock of mutual interest.

Even though some reports are indicating this as a “clever move” by LTTE leader Dr. Balasingham to confuse the people, the LTTE would not have been anticipating a 'fairy tale ending' to this issue in the aftermath of the interview, either. However, a dialogue on this basis has to take place for the mutual benefit of all those who yearn for a peaceful settlement to the crisis in the island country. Especially important will be stand by Tamil Nadu in the coming months. But the LTTE, too, will have to make several more actions that may be viewed favorably in the international arena. Gestures have to be made thinking “outside the box.”

Dr. Kissinger, as the 56th Foreign Secretary of the United States, played a crucial role in the 1972 talks with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai that concluded with the “opening” of China and the formation of a new strategic anti-Soviet Sino–American alliance.

The octogenarian statesman, speaking recently on Iran developing nuclear technology, emphasized, “Iran must realize that its national interest doesn’t conflict with ours. If the Iranian concern is security and development of their country, this is compatible with American interests.” Connecting to the global economy could soon make Iran a regional economic powerhouse, comparable to South Korea, he argued.

The struggle by the Tamil people for political rights in the island nation is nothing new to India. It was a birth defect of the island nation at independence, starting from the disfranchisement of the tea plantation workers at a stroke of a pen by the government of Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister D.S. Senanyake.

Colombo has gone through many a facade of leadership, from SWRD Bandaranaike, Junius Richard Jayawardane, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge and now Mahinda Rajapakse. On each occasion, except during the unfortunate ‘estrangement’ period while CBK was in office, India was/will be checkmated one way or the other, with the Tamils islandwide shouldering the brunt of the consequences.

For India, there is no compelling reason to put full faith in a Colombo that fails to uphold pluralism and secularism, and has virtually no separation of religion and state in its day-to-day governing; the continuing shadow war targeting civilians and the systematic drive-away of Tamils from Trincomalee, for example, are by design and, in the long run, would pave the way for Colombo to navigate freely in the ocean and chose its allies and future destiny.

But in India, “it is not an absence of religions, but the presence of religious pluralism,'’that is the concept of secularism, according to her nominee for the UN Secretary General, Shashi Tharoor. Tamils of the island, too, are the kind that anre enthralled by the song of Tamil poet of the Pre-Christian Sangham era - Kaniyan Poongundranar’s “Yaathum Oore, Yaavarum Kelir” - which the renowned Catholic Tamil Scholar Rev Fr. Xavier Thaninayagam translated as “All the world is my world, all humanity is my fraternity.”

Addressing the United Nations in 1980, former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi provided a sense of pride to the Tamil people all over the world when she quoted these memorable lines of Kaniyan Poonggundranaar.

The amity of the Tamils of the island is in line with India’s vision of emerging as an economic powerhouse. The only country with a vast ocean named after it, certainly deserves to have this century named after her, too.

Take still another example, the 40th President of the USA, President Ronald Reagan, calling Libya a “pariah nation” and, hence, bringing the Tamil word “Pariah” into the American political lexicon. This happened in the aftermath of a 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Airlines over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, including many Americans.

Families of some victims still being opposed, Washington conducted several years of secret negotiations with Libya, and a few weeks ago, full diplomatic ties have been established between the two countries. Many mutual interests are being discussed between the countries, starting with access to oil fields.

Every situation around the world, of course, is different.

It remains to be seen if the LTTE Theoretician Dr. Balasingham’s move is at a pinnacle of his astuteness. The LTTE leader at many times has outsmarted rivals at the negotiating table by his wit and vigor, the very latest being at the Chateau de Bossey this past Spring.

Maybe Dr. Balasingham is taking his cue from Dr. Henry A. Kissinger in being “out of the box.” Based on a just released publication by the US National Security Archive, Dr. Kissinger as a diplomatic emissary was almost “recklessly frank - gossiping, teasing, wheedling and flattering.”




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