Sri Lanka Looks to Pakistan

for Military Hardware

Sri Lanka's strategic importance to India's national security interests stand highlighted in an earlier column of mine. Also highlighted was the fact that the present Indian Government has been constantly oblivious to Sri Lanka's request for a Defense Cooperation Agreement with India and supply of military hardware for the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. The same is needed for their military operations against the Tamil LTTE insurgents demanding an independent Tamil State of Eelam.

The present Indian Government heavily weighed down by its compulsions of coalition politics to stay in power and in the instant case this happens to be the DMK Government in power in Tamilnadu and its compliment of MP's in Parliament and Ministers holding key portfolios in the Indian Government. This Tamil Party is close to the LTTE . The Congress Government forgets that the LTTE was behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and therefore it is immaterial whether the LTTE survives or not at the hands of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. 

What is material are that in any foreign policy approaches by India it are the national security interests of India that need to be safeguarded at all costs. India's national security interests in the Sri Lanka case are being sacrificed at the alter of compulsions of coalition politics and the desire to stay in power in New Delhi. It would be incorrect to say that the whole of Tamilnadu is supportive of the LTTE and therefore is an over-riding imperative which cannot be ignored in policies towards Sri Lanka.

Pakistan has all along been involved in the process of undermining India's strategic interests in South Asian states on India's peripheries. Sri Lanka and Nepal had been states which were mindful of India's strategic sensitivities and had resisted Pakistani overtures .

India last year lost Nepal strategically when it refused to forestall the emergence of the Nepalese Maoists on the Nepalese political firmament. The King of Nepal's continuance in power was am Indian national security imperative but again because of pressure from the Indian Communist Parties who are the Congress Party's coalition partners and in particular the CPI(M) the Nepalese Maoist's central objective of restructuring Nepal's political system was allowed to prevail. In the process India lost the strategic buffer state of Nepal between India and China and also the only Hindu Kingdom in the world.

The same story is about to be repeated in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka as per reports available is increasingly turning towards Pakistan for its military needs as a reaction to India's military indifference to its security requirements. Earlier too Pakistan had been trying to muscle its way into Sri Lanka's military requirements but these were negligible. In line with its strategy of getting a strategic toehold in Sri Lanka., Pakistan for a number of years has been posting retired senior Pakistani military officers as its High Commissioners in Sri Lanka whose main preoccupation was less diplomatic and more military along with a large complement of Pakistani intelligence ISI personnel.

Latest reports indicate that Pakistan has agreed to supply Sri Lanka with a large quantity of tanks and APC'S enough to equip an armoured brigade. It is learnt that Sri Lamka had first approached India for this hardware and turned to Pakistan only when India declined.

At this rate incrementally Pakistan would be able to establish a strategic toehold in Sri Lanka which lies on India's southern tip and which was so far an area which was of no strategic worry to us. The seeds of strategic concern are already being sowed.

India has nobody else to blame but itself for losing away slowly Sri Lanka to Pakistan's military embrace. 


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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