India should be prime intermediary between Sri Lanka and LTTE - HashOut
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India should be prime intermediary between Sri Lanka and LTTE

To do or not to do' is the dilemma that has been plaguing India's policies in Sri Lanka for 17 years, ever since Prime Minister V.P.Singh decided to call the Indian Peace Keeping Force back. We were nearing a solution to the ethnic problem and the negotiated devolution package would have given the Tamils everything, except independent statehood. But V.Prabhakaran could not see through the guiles of President Premadasa who cunningly supplied him arms to fight the IPKF. Prabhakaran assumed that with Indians out of the way, his position would become unassailable. Instead, the Sri Lankan military and hardliners have regained dominance.

The attack on Katunayake airport was more sensational than devastating, but the very fact that something like this could happen is worrying. Aircraft cannot be procured over the counter. They and those who fly them, are registered and licensed and their whereabouts well monitored. Clearly, the LTTE wanted to delivery a message. Unconventional incidents, more traumatic in their impact, cannot be ruled out.

Nevertheless, fears being expressed that points in southern Tamil Nadu are now vulnerable to LTTE air attacks do not carry conviction. The LTTE's military power has diminished and the Sea Tigers have suffered sever losses, too.

On its part, India neither wishes the LTTE to be able to threaten the integrity of Sri Lanka nor wants it so weakend that the Sri Lankans begin to feel that they can resolve the problem militarily. Our interests require that the Sri Lankan Tamils get their due rights within Sri Lanka. Therefore, any process in which India does not act as the prime intermediary can never succeed.

Sri Lanka is critically important in India's strategic concerns and even a partially hostile stance can be damaging to our interests. For example, the present Pakistan High Commissioner in Colombo is a former air force officer; his predecessor was an ISI officer. Even as we fight shy of providing military hardware to Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China have no such inhibition.

In short, it is time for India to awaken. A serious confrontation is imminent in Sri Lanka and we will be forced to take sides. It is in our interest that such a stage is not reached. We now stand at the crossroads, and as the Mad Hatter told Alice, the road to be taken depends on where we want to go.

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