Tamil conference slams Indo-Lanka defence pact
[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 July 2004, 13:11 GMT]
The World Tamils Confederation came out strongly Sunday against any move for a defence pact between India and Sri Lanka, cautioning that New Delhi was being lured into a "trap to use its army to crush" Tamils in the island.
India and Sri Lanka last Monday agreed to expedite the proposed defence cooperation agreement, Indian press reports said.
Delivering the presidential address at the second anniversary of the confederation here, Tamil Nationalist Movement (TNM) leader P Nedumaran said any such move would be detrimental to the cause of Tamils, Indian press reports said.
"Why do they need a security pact with India? It is an island nation and has no visible enemy in the region,” Nedumaran, who is the confederation president said.
“Why is that they want to have a defence pact? Because, they want to use the Indian army to crush the Tamil population in Sri Lanka," Nedumaran said,
Nedumaran maintained that most of the Sri Lankan leaders including the President, Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister are making trips to Delhi and insisting that India sign the defence pact. He pointed out that Colombo had "backstabbed" Delhi during its period of crisis.
"Hope people in Delhi realise that they are being lured into a trap. If you once again fall into the trap of Sri Lanka, you will once again get cheated," he warned.
Amongst other aspects of military cooperation, the proposed pact envisages training of Sri Lankan personnel at Indian defence establishments and supply of military equipment to Colombo’s forces, Indian press reports said.
The Liberation Tigers have opposed the proposed pact on grounds that it would disturb the tenuous peace process by altering the balance of forces in Colombo’s favour.
"A military pact with India would encourage the Sinhala political leadership to take a hard-line, belligerent attitude towards the Tamils and eventually destroy the mutual trust between the estranged communities, a crucial factor necessary for the consolidation and promotion of peace," the LTTE's political strategist, Mr. Anton Balasingham, said when the proposal was first announced early this year.
Mr. Balasingham said the defence pact would upset the balance of forces to the disadvantage of the LTTE and that “disturbing that military equilibrium would lead to the disturbance of the ceasefire agreement, the very foundation on which the Sri Lankan peace process stands.”