We won�t stop military
cooperation with Lanka
says Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee
24 October 2008
from Indira to Rajiv to Manmohan...
an amoral phenomenon
�We have a very comprehensive relationship
with Sri Lanka. In our anxiety to protect the civilians, we should not
forget the strategic importance of this island to India's interests,...
especially in view of attempts by countries like Pakistan and China to gain
a strategic foothold in the island nation...Colombo had been told that India
would "look after your security requirements, provided you do not look
around". "We cannot have a playground of international players in our
backyard." Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee
tamilnation.org :So whats new? It was after all Indian Foreign Secretary and
National Security Adviser Dixit who in 1998 described India's
foreign policy in relation to the conflict in the island as amoral.
is clearly unhappy with Sri Lanka's 'balance of power exercise'
which is turning India's 'backyard' into a
of international players'.
so Mr. Mukherjee declares
with disarming frankness that Sri Lanka has been told that
New Delhi will
extend military cooperation and also continue to train Sri Lanka forces
provided that Sri Lanka does does not 'look around' to
Pakistan and China for assistance. Here, it is perhaps
understandable that Mr.Mukherjee has chosen to be silent on the US-Pakistan nexus and its
relevance to the Indian Ocean region.
After all it was India's Cdr. P K Ghosh whorecently quoted
Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan -
"Whoever controls the
Indian Ocean dominates Asia. This ocean is the key to
the seven seas in the twenty-first century, the destiny
of the world will be decided in these waters."
Mr.Mukherjee is also silent on the
opposition that his Government faces on the US-India nuclear deal from
parties such as the Communist Party of India, which has now emerged as a
supporter of the struggle for Tamil Eelam albeit for a confederal/federal structure.
Many will see the current
ultimatums) by Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu as no
more than a drama on a platform provided by New Delhi so that New Delhi
may coerce President Rajapakse (and his JVP
allies) to move away from the China-Iran-Pakistan axis. President Rajapakse will
be told by New Delhi in no uncertain terms that if he does not play ball
and come within the Indian orbit, then it will be 'difficult' for New
Delhi to manage the feelings in Tamil Nadu. New Delhi knows full well
that if President Rajapakse is permitted to continue unchecked with his
on Tamil Eelam and progress it to its genocidal end, New Delhi would have lost its
window of opportunity to prevent the embedding of Chinese/Pakistan
presence in what Mr.Mukherjee
regards as India's 'backyard'. To repeat the felicitous phraseology of
Mr.Mukherjee "We cannot have a
playground of international players in our backyard."
The ultimatum (and deadline) given by
Karunanidhi will help New Delhi to impress upon President Rajapakse the
urgency of the 'crisis' that New Delhi faces. Whether President
Rajapakse's tenuous hold on power in the Sinhala heartland will permit
him to allow New Delhi to permanently embed itself in the island of Sri
Lanka will remain a matter for conjecture. President Rajapakse's
JVP rooted political constituency may find it difficult to stomach the role
of being New Delhi's 'backyard'. Again, President Rajapakse may be
emboldened enough to call New Delhi's bluff, believing that given the
international frame, there is little that New Delhi can actually do if
he does. At the sametime, President Rajapakse may not have forgotten the
Tamil Eelam Unilateral
Declaration of Independence made by an India backed and Varatharaja Perumal
led EPRLF when the IPKF faced
being kicked out by President Premadasa in 1989. Constructive
ambiguity is a useful tool in diplomacy.
If President Rajapakse does play ball and distances himself from China/Pakistan/Iran
to the extent that New Delhi desires, then
something like the
1988 comic opera Provincial Councils Act
(and that too, with a divided North and Eastern Province)
'humanitarian aid' for the suffering Eelam Tamils will be presented by
New Delhi to the Tamil people, including the people of Tamil Nadu, and
marketed as a
great boon - and will be dutifully welcomed by the likes of Karunanithi
and Jayalalitha as a victory for the 'tough stand' that they had taken to
'persuade' New Delhi.
"'India loves to play all
has always done that,' said Reva Bhalla, an analyst with
the U.S. private intelligence firm Stratfor. 'They can cater to
Tamil politiciansand benefit from the Tigers' military capability
going down without taking too much political risk.' Underscoring
India's dual-track approach to Sri Lanka, furious denials erupted
from Colombo and New Delhi last month after two Indian radar technicians
were injured in a Tiger assault on a Sri Lankan military base. Rajapaksa
later said the men were providing after-sales service to radars India's
Bharat Electronics sold to the military. India has also helped Sri Lanka
intercept Tiger boats, which it considers a threat to national
security..." C. Bryson Hull in India Rumbles over Sri Lanka war,
but to what end?,
17 October 2008,
The present, ofcourse,
the first time that New Delhi has sought to manipulate Tamil Nadu
sentiment to further its geo political interests in the region. Twenty
four years ago, in October 1984, Karunanidhi's protests against US
leaning President Jayawardene's actions against Eelam Tamils
reached a crescendo - and it was suggested that another 'Bangladesh' was
around the corner. That was during Indira Gandhi's tenure as Indian
Prime Minister and an Indian General Election was a few months away. And the significance of the month of October was
also that it
was in the run up to the 1984 US presidential elections on 4 November and therefore a
period when US foreign policy responses may not be quick and
focussed. It was a window of opportunity. But in the event, Indira
Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984. And
know from Jyotindra Nath Dixit
thrust of Indira Gandhi's 'amoral' policy was to move Sri Lanka President Jayawardene away from the US-Pakistan-Israel orbit.
Be that as it may, as
we have noted
elsewhere, at a
meeting with a Gandhian non governmental organisation in New Delhi a few
days before the Indira Gandhi assassination, a north
Indian peace activist bitingly remarked to a Tamil lobbying group - "Do
not imagine that you have the support of Mr.Karunanidhi. Please remember
that when Indira Gandhi tells Mr.Karunanidhi to stop, the barking will
stop." He added, "Indira Gandhi has enough ammunition to make
Mr.Karunanidhi stop." It was not a matter for surprise
therefore when Mr.Karunanidhi declared frankly in May 2006 that 'New
Delhi's Policy on Sri Lanka will be Tamil Nadu's Policy'.
it always was
- and is.
Again, New Delhi will not be unmindful of the influence
that US Green Card holders (including General Sarath Fonseka) may wield
within the Sinhala body politic. U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Blake,
pointed out in Chennai on 24 October
2008 that India and the United States could use their
"strategic partnership to good effect in Sri Lanka." though he did
not spell out the details of that strategic partnership and whether it
included preventing Sri Lanka's tilt towards Iran and China. Mr. Blake
suggested that the U.S. position was to militarily weaken the
LTTE and then to defeat it politically with a political solution.
"Foreign Ministers and diplomats presumably understand the permanent interests of
their country.. But no one can foresee clearly the effects of even very simple facts as
they pertain to the future. The Rajah of Cochin who in his resentment against the Zamorin permitted the Portuguese
to establish a trading station in his territories could not foresee that thereby he had
introduced into India something which was to alter the course of history. Nor could the German authorities, who, in their anxiety to create confusion and chaos
in Russia, permitted a sealed train to take Lenin and his associates across German
territory, have foreseen what forces they were unleashing. To them the necessity of the
moment was an utter breakdown of Russian resistance and to send Lenin there seemed a
superior act of wisdom..."
The posturing by Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi
(whatever may be their motives) is, in the final
analysis, an appeal to an underlying Tamil national
consciousness, and therefore
their actions will help to nurture
togetherness - and
for that reason will be welcomed by many Tamils and
used by them to further strengthen
that Tamil togetherness. Tamils
committed to freedom. may
strike together with those who do not have the same
commitment, but they will continue to organise separately so
that they may preserve the integrity of their own purpose.
Lenin's old advice: 'Strike together but march separately'
still holds good.
the fictitious concept of placing 'country�s interests above
human rights, ethnic pride and identity' continues to be
promoted for long, it will be a matter of time for India too to
meet the fate of USSR or Yugoslavia or now Sri Lanka... In 1965, when Tamil Nadu faced the possibility of military action
from a powerful New Delhi,
Annadurai opted to abandon his demand for
full autonomy for states under a lose confederation with one currency
but multiple ethnic, cultural and national identities.
Today, Tamil Nadu appears headed for revolutionary political changes in a
culmination of a combination of events: For one, the two main
Dravidian political outfits � Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK),
headed by three-time chief minister M Karunanidhi and All India Anna
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), headed by former two-term CM
Jayalalitha � are both reeling under overwhelming outrage among the
Tamil population...The ground reality in Tamil Nadu is that
almost every Tamil � belonging to whatever religion or strata �
has a primary affinity to other Tamil-speaking people of
whatever domicile or religion. .. Dravidian leaders, in their
zeal to get on the right side of Delhi bosses, are seen to be
conniving with New Delhi�s policy of aiding Sri Lankan
government in exterminating Tamils... Developments in October
will decide if New Delhi will be adding to the Kashmir imbroglio
another hopeless embroilment in the South."
And the warning of M.S.S.Pandian in the
Times of India on 23 October 2008 may help to focus New Delhi's mind
(and hopefully its heart as well) -
"Tamil Nadu had a history of
demanding secession from the Indian Union. Yet, over time, it has
chosen to integrate itself fully with the national mainstream. If
New Delhi does not change course in its Sri Lankan policy, it may
plant the seeds towards a reversal of such history. That will be
India's misfortune". (Change Course
in Sri Lanka or Face Misfortune - M.S.S.Pandian, 23 October
That which we said in 2001
concerning the unity of India remains true today.
"You don�t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing
middle class, reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive
greed. Unlike industrialising Western countries, which had colonies
from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to feed
this process, we have to colonise ourselves, our own nether parts.
We�ve begun to eat our own limbs.
..While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth
rate, a million people � human scavengers � earn their living
carrying several kilos of other people�s shit on their heads every
day. And if they didn�t carry shit on their heads they would starve
to death. Some f***ing superpower this.... What we�re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle
ever waged in independent India � the secession of the middle and
upper classes from the rest of the country. It�s a vertical
secession, not a lateral one. They�re fighting for the right to
merge with the world�s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere... There is
civil war in Chhattisgarh sponsored, created by the Chhattisgarh
government, which is publicly pursuing the Bush doctrine: if you�re
not with us, you are with the terrorists. The lynchpin of this war,
apart from the formal security forces, is the
- a government-backed militia of ordinary people forced to become spos
(special police officers). The Indian State has tried this in
Tens of thousands have been killed ..... thousands
tortured, and thousands have disappeared. Any banana republic would be
proud of this record... to equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous
injustice with the government which enforces that injustice is
absurd. The government has slammed the door in the face of every
attempt at non-violent resistance. When people take to arms,
there is going to be all kinds of violence � revolutionary, lumpen and
outright criminal. The government is responsible for the monstrous
situations it creates...does this mean that people
whose dignity is being assaulted should give up the fight because
they can�t find saints to lead them into battle?.
While reiterating its stand that the civilian Tamil population
in Sri Lanka, caught in the crossfire after Lankan Government's offensive
against the LTTE, must be protected at all costs, India on Thursday made it
clear that it would not stop its military cooperation with the island nation
because of the humanitarian crisis in that country.
Responding to clarifications sought by the members in the Rajya
Sabha on India's stand on the current crisis in Sri Lanka, External Affairs
Minister Pranab Mukherjee said security cooperation with Colombo, including
training of Lankan forces by India, was "necessary".
�We have a very comprehensive relationship with Sri Lanka. In our anxiety to
protect the civilians, we should not forget the strategic importance of this
island to India's interests,� he said in response to questions raised by a few
members over the rationale of India continuing its military cooperation with
Colombo in view of the plight of ethnic Tamils in that country and also
incidents of firing on Indian fishermen entering Sri Lankan waters by mistake.
Mukherjee said all these issues will be taken up with Sri Lankan President
Mahinda Rajapaksa's advisor Basil Rajapaksa when he comes to New Delhi this
weekend. Mukherjee said the demand to review India's security cooperation with
Sri Lanka in the wake of current crisis was not advisable, especially in view of
attempts by countries like Pakistan and China to gain a strategic foothold in
the island nation. He said Colombo had been told that India would "look after
your security requirements, provided you do not look around".
"We cannot have a playground of international players in our backyard," he said,
while reiterating that the safety of the Tamils in Sri Lanka has to be ensured
at all costs. "We have made it clear to the Sri Lankan Government that we would
not like a situation in which there is an influx of Tamil refugees to India
because of events over which we have no control," he said.
He said India was ready to provide whatever assistance was needed for
rehabilitation of the displaced civilians but the ultimate solution lay in
"devolution of power" in Sri Lanka as recommended by a high-powered committee
appointed by the Sri Lankan President.