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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2611

Indecisive India Can Never Be Considered Superpower

By Shenali Waduge

All Sri Lanka expects of India is to take a firm stand on the LTTE issue – is it so difficult for India to do after all was not an Indian leader, that took a son of India’s Gandhi dynasty not assassinated on Indian soil? Yet, why does India desire to resuscitate a terror group listed first by India on the guise of emotional connections of the Sri Lankan Tamils to Tamil Nadu? The policy decisions of India vis a vis international politics come from the statements of its External Affairs Minister but when he says one thing and then says a complete opposite only days later it automatically makes any to wonder whether India actually means what it says.

This is precisely the dilemma that Sri Lanka faces with India – when India smiles upon us we can but wonder whether India means it or whether it is concocting something sinister to unveil upon Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka has been hostile towards India at any given time it would be easy to understand some of India's past and present actions but Sri Lanka remains clueless as to why India should desire to have a cancer in the form of the LTTE continue....we can guess but is this the way foreign relations should prosper? Yet, Indira Gandhi gifted Sri Lanka through its intelligence wing RAW a major obstacle to Sri Lanka's development and to it added thousands of deaths and loss to the country’s economy.

Did Sri Lanka ever expect India to train, arm, financially support militants in Sri Lanka? Did Sri Lanka ever expect that India was unnerved at Sri Lanka’s pro-West allegiance during J R Jayawardena’s time? Would Sri Lanka ever think that India was irked with Sri Lanka so much that it would actually use Tamil Nadu as a base for generating men and women programmed to hate Sri Lanka’s Government and its people? Well, India cannot just say that arming the militants of Sri Lanka was not meant to end up in innocent people getting killed. This is exactly what happened and India is directly responsible for the catastrophe that one of its SAARC neighbors faces. No amount of diplomatic jargon can escape that fact.

India expects sovereign Sri Lanka to excuse India’s bullying by not taking India’s statements too seriously and understanding that pressures upon sovereign Sri Lanka are merely for political survival within India. What we shouldn’t do then is not to take too seriously the going on in Tamil Nadu – from self emulations, fasting, burning courts and police stations, processions & even burning of effigies of Sri Lankan leaders…no wonder Sri Lanka’s army commander called them a pack of jokers.

Mr. Pranab Mukherjee by all means must be a very nice person, but as Minister for External Affairs and following scuttle service trips to Sri Lanka when he says one thing and says the complete opposite after bellows from Tamil Nadu – should we take India’s Central Government seriously? Is this the type of stern leadership expected of a country desiring to be recognized as a world leader and holding desires of acceptance in the UN Security Council? If home politics cannot be handled by the Central Government effectively (especially when India is well aware of the number of palms the LTTE takes care of) how can India propose to act as a world leader if it gives into antics of State politicians who have hardly any support base within India? Good decisions are expected of world leaders especially during times that bad decisions are easy to evaluate & the US today is suffering as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan!

The statement of 18th February 2009 by External Affairs Minister asking the LTTE to lay down arms completely opposes the statement by Pranab Mukherjee a few days later on 21st Feb 2009….there are many other instances of dilly-dallying that can be quoted but would only embarrass India further.

18th Feb 2009 - "As the conflict enters what may be the final phase of military operations, the LTTE would best serve the interest of the Tamils by immediately releasing all civilians and laying down arms,”… the minister accused the Tigers of having “done much damage to the Tamil community" and in recent incidents, killing civilians trying to escape being caught in the cross fire.

21 Feb 2009 - " Political solution has to be found to the LTTE issue and military action will not do," …."Political solution is the only way out and the two sides should sit across the table for a negotiated settlement," Mr. Mukherjee following the 18th February statement was able to brush aside demands from MDMK & PMK by declaring that "The government of India has no instrumentality under which it can force a sovereign government to take a particular action. This is not possible,"

Similar sentiments have been uttered by India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaran on 5th February 2009 - "Unfortunately, we are not able to prevail over the LTTE to lay down arms and not able to prevail over the Sri Lankan government beyond a point", Mr. Chidambaran was present in Colombo during the signing of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord.

But then why does India think it has any right to push for "maximum" devolution and the 13th amendment which was forced upon us through the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord? Should we then make anything out of India’s quick entry into the development of the North and India’s latest hobnobbing with Eastern Province Chief Minister? These are some of the things that Sri Lanka has never had to fear of China or Pakistan and at no time did Sri Lanka ever suffer from any pressures by these two nations. Many have been a time where Sri Lanka was given without expecting any returns in written or unwritten formats!

Leaving aside the niceties that diplomatic jargon necessitates the reality of the situation is that India’s stand vis a vis Sri Lanka is treading on volatile ground. India should at no time forget that the creature India created not only killed over 2000 and injured that many Indian soldiers but also assassinated an Indian leader on Indian soil. This is the LTTE’s gift to India for making the LTTE the world’s no. 1 terrorist organization.

If Sir John Holmes himself was satisfied with the type of arrangements that have been arranged for IDPs, it should not be a continued cabinet India topic and India’s Central Government must compare its own facilities with that which is being provided by the Sri Lankan Government and assess how superior our facilities and administration logistics has been thus far. India should also be realistic enough to know what type of emotional connection Tamil Nadu leaders actually have for the Sri Lankan Tamils. It is more than strange that not a single voice bellowed from Tamil Nadu when the Eastern Province was being liberated – for that matter not too many NGOs or INGOs, western forces or even Tamil Nadu geared to stop the advancing army with calls for "ceasefires" "negotiated settlement" or even cry of the "humanitarian" debacle, though we saw how Eastern Tamils braved LTTE fire to make their way into the army camps and how the army was overwhelmed in taking care of them – thus we can but ask what makes Prabakaran and the Northern Tigers greater than the Eastern Tamils?

It should not surprise India, NGOs/INGOs, the Co-Chairs, UN or the international community why Sri Lankan public are more than a little annoyed with their stand vis a vis LTTE. When the LTTE has been identified & designated as a Terrorist organization has it any credibility as “representative” of the Tamil people. If ceasefires, peace talks are the hallmarks of western solutions for conflict can those facilitators explain why none of the peace talks succeeded?

If India and the world has accepted NGO/INGO/UN/ICRC quotes of civilian figures and when only 35,000 have actually surfaced and are being taken care of in IDP centers where are the 250,000 to 400,000 people that was quoted as being good enough grounds to stop the military onslaughts against the LTTE?

This is a key question that NGOs/INGOs/UN/ICRC and international media need to seriously answer and apologize eventually to the Sri Lankan Government for all these players have used the "civilian" figures to use it as a reason to stop military advances and buy time for the LTTE.

It is extremely important that the figures given extensive media coverage came from the authoritative mouths of INGOs/NGOs and the Government committed millions of rupees in spending for supplies of food, medicines etc that were sent using UN flags to the Northern uncleared areas sent through 2008 – where are the people and where did the food go to? In times of hunger have these NGOs/INGOs not wasted so much of money for nothing….the army has taken over the LTTE’s last bastion of Puthukkudiyirippu town.

India is also likely to be in for a major surprise when it becomes evident that not even 5000 civilians may actually be amongst the LTTE as human shields or the eventuality that they may be no civilians after all!. We will know for sure in less than 3 weeks time. But the tragedy is that the “humanitarian” issue was artfully used as a tool to bring pressures upon a sovereign country for their fault in taking a firm stand to eradicate terrorism – the only fault that the Sri Lankan Government stands accused of is to decide that the LTTE is nothing but a terrorist group denying the people of Sri Lanka the right to live in peace and to request the armed forces to eliminate the LTTE. Who would have thought that instead of plaudits for the firm stand the world’s decision makers would come hard on the Government and India has been no exception though we expected India’s stand towards the LTTE to change at least following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

India is calling for the extradition of the LTTE Leader Prabhakaran but when writers like B. Raman still feel India should not desert the LTTE totally it raises further eyebrows on India’s plans for Sri Lanka. Today the death of Rajiv Gandhi has only symbolic value and Congress party’s political future becomes more important for the Gandhi widow whose party may emerge victorious but without a clear mandate.

India’s status of a regional and superpower comes with its ability to think big and do magnanimous gestures that contribute to the goodwill of its neighbors and to the future of world peace. We can all be in agreement that the LTTE has had 30 years of meteoric success – those aligned to the terror outfit in indirect or direct ways have also benefited for 30 years but like all things the LTTE is now on a downward trend and from the civilians that managed to escape it is more than evident that these people did not live in Paradise Tamil Eelam – it is obvious that they had been denied 30 years of freedom which immediately should ask the Tamils who live comfortably amongst the Sinhalese and those in foreign climes whose side they empathize with – the Tamil civilians in IDPs or the LTTE?

Ideally it is to these people emerging from LTTE areas that the Government of Sri Lanka need to ask what their future should be – what the State should provide and bury the draft solutions to problems that doesn’t exist at least in discriminatory form spearheaded communally. If Tamils suffer problems in areas outside of the North it is the same set of problems that the Sinhalese and the Muslims also suffer from and no other and therefore projecting that these problems are solely faced by Tamils alone is likely to create a set of future complications and more problems, thus the APRC need to be shredded and the Sri Lankan Government needs to firstly ignore western pressures for solutions that are templated upon their requirements but look inwardly at what should Sri Lanka best.

Let India not say that it has been warned about Tamil Nadu desires for a separate state – India did crush the We Tamil movement but that was over 40 years ago and does it not seem coincidental that the separatist movement should start in Sri Lanka where it would be an easy terrain to launch a separatist cause for an ultimate Dravida Eelam in Tamil Nadu and with the LTTE’s ability to use light aircrafts that escape radar vision and suicide terrorism India should not take things too lightly after all India should never forget its dismal performance in Sri Lanka even though the IPKF was never supposed to actually demilitarize the LTTE. Bullying a friendly nation providing scope for continued LTTE terror does not make any nation “great” in the eyes of the public and India and the Indian public deserve better than shallow leadership.

- Asian Tribune -

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