A swing can upset the tango
Hindustan Times’ P K Balachandran suggests that India’s Sri Lanka policy shows signs of a pro-Tamil tilt given the predisposition of some of the coalition ‘s partners from Tamil Nadu. While the Congress itself is committed to working out a solution to the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka while respecting the integrity of the Sri Lankan republic, the new government has explicitly acknowledged the need to protect the interests of the Tamil and the Muslim communities.
The LTTE is a key player in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict. If the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government are able to conclude a substantive agreement the decades old civil war can come to an end for all practical purposes. The Norwegian-brokered peace process is a good way ahead and the new Indian government must lend its support in every way it can. India’s empathy with Sri Lanka’s Tamils must not be translated into support for the Tamil Tigers. The ‘swing’ should aim to convince the Tamil Tigers to reach a peaceful settlement and not encourage Prabhakaran to use Indian support to play hardball or even return to his terrorist ways.
No amount of sympathy for Tamils or their cause can be used to legitimise the LTTE’s terrorist campaign. And as for that matter of the ban on LTTE, that should remain in place both as a symbolic and practical measure to underline the fact that there cannot be any compromise with terrorists (as long as they are terrorists). The waiver of the ban could be dangled as a carrot to press the Tamil Tigers to join a truth & reconciliation process designed on South African lines. But the reconciliation (waiver of the ban) cannot come before a LTTE’s confession of the truth.
Already China and Pakistan are becoming Sri Lanka’s key defence partners. India’s interests are best served by a united Sri Lanka that can become a strong security and trading partner. Too strong a swing towards particular communities will not be in India’s interests at all.