Pakistan Story - A scandal in the making?

[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 June 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Pakistani military officials were involved in the planning stages of the Operation 'Sure of Victory' (Jaya Sikurai), reported a weekly owned by a militia collaborating with the Sri Lankan government in its drive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE also said in a statement on Friday that they had independent confirmation of Pakistani involvement. A claim that was denied by both Sri Lankan and Pakistani Foreign Affairs officials.

South AsiaIn the early eighties, the Sri Lankan government allowed Israel, then a political black sheep amongst developing nations, to open it's mission in the American embassy. At the same time Sri Lanka continued to claim to be a government opposed to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land. Desperate to break its diplomatic isolation, the Israeli government agreed to train the Sri Lankan government forces in counter insurgency techniques. The Sri Lankans also established a similar relationship with the apartheid regime for acquiring the arms from South Africa. The Sri Lankan government was heavily criticized by the opposition parties and caused serious drifts in relations with the other non-aligned countries. A decade later Sri Lanka is again on the hot seat as reports suggest Pakistani military involvement in the island nation.

At the same time, Sri Lanka government may be trying to step up military cooperation with Pakistan by taking advantage of India's so called 'Gujral Doctrine' which stresses a more conciliatory approach to dealing with its neighbors. A decade ago, inviting Pakistani military officers to Sri Lanka would have been political suicide for any Sri Lankan government but India's security concern on Sri Lanka still remain high. What Pakistan sought in return for its military help to Sri Lanka is unclear but the allegations made by the LTTE that the Pakistani military advisers helped the Sri Lankan military in the planning stages of the 'Jaya Sikurui' or Sure of Victory needs further attention.

Assassination of the former Prime Minister of India Mr. Rajiv Gandhi gave Sri Lanka the grand opportunity and they seized on to that to isolate the Eelam Tamils from the Indian government. Unfortunate decisions on the part of the Indian government such as the intercepting of LTTE's merchant vessel, M.V.Ahat, in the International waters and the subsequent death of one of the LTTE's topmost leader, Mr. Sathasivam Krishnakumar, helped hardened the already sour relationship between the two sides.

According to political analysts, one reason the war has dragged on for so long has been the absence of a long term Indian political strategy with regards to the Sri Lankan issue. Successive Indian governments have been concerned about a separate Tamil Eelam and the implications it might have in Tamil Nadu. To Sri Lankan government's credit, they have played the 'Tamil Nadu' card very successfully both in and out of Sri Lanka. While building up on the mythical fears of an invasion from South India on the Sinhalese population, they have gone on to sow in the minds of Indian leaders about the LTTE's so called 'pan Dravidian nation' which include north-east of Sri Lanka and Tamilnadu. The cries of the Tamils that the war in Sri Lanka is only for their survival have mostly gone unheard.

Recent developments about possible Pakistani involvement in Sri Lanka clearly shows that the Sri Lankan government is indeed trying to take the Government of India (GOI) for a ride. This would be more logical once we understand the political scenario prevalent in India. The central government lead by the national coalition is not a strong one. With public support on the rise in the northern India for the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) and the internal conflicts and breaking up of the once ruling Indian National Congress, it is natural to expect Pakistan to be extra cautious. The latest allegations by Pakistan about the deployment of long range missiles in the Indian border have added fire to the already volatile relationship. The idea of Pakistan supporting SL in return for a long-term military alliance including the use of permanent facilities on the island may not be as far-fetched, given current developments in the region.


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