[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] S [/yt_dropcap]ri Lankan regime, committed only to protect and promote majority Singhalese, continues to attack the helpless Tamil fishermen on sea but Lankan-Tamil relations have been very old. The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old with both countries having a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction.
On the positive side, in recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at all levels. Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence.
Generally, both countries share a broad understanding on major issues of international interest. In recent years, significant progress in implementation of developmental assistance projects for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and disadvantaged sections of the population in Sri Lanka has helped further cement the bonds of friendship between the two countries.
The People of Indian Origin (PIOs) comprise Sindhis, Borahs, Gujaratis, Memons, Parsis, Malayalis and Telugu speaking persons who have settled down in Sri Lanka (most of them after partition) and are engaged in various business ventures. Though their numbers (10,000 approximately) are much lesser as compared to Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs), they are economically prosperous and are well placed. Each of these communities has their organization which organizes festivals and cultural events. According to unofficial statistics, it is estimated that around 14,000 Indian expatriates are living in Sri Lanka. The IOTs are mostly employed in either tea or rubber plantations in Central, Uva and Sabragamuwa Provinces though the younger generation has been migrating to Colombo in search of employment. A fair number of IOTs living in Colombo are engaged in business. According to Government census figures (2011), the population of IOTs is about 1.6 million.
The nearly three-decade long armed conflict between Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE – Lankan war on Tamils – came to an end in May 2009. During the course of the conflict, interestingly, India supported the right of the Government of Sri Lanka to act against so-called Tamil terrorist forces- LTTE, though it also conveyed its deep concern at the plight of the mostly Tamil civilian population, emphasizing that their rights and welfare should not get enmeshed in hostilities against the LTTE.
For unknown reasons, Indian government transferred Katchatheevu islet where Indian and Lankan fishermen have been fishing for making livelihoods, to Sri Lankan control, thereby putting Indian interests at bay. Indian Tamil fishermen have been attacked regularly as a major policy of Srilanka. .
Even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an investment of Rs 12,000 crore to upgrade eight state highways to National Highways in his home state Gujarat as the state would go to polls soon, the Sri Lankan government reportedly shot dead 22-year-old Tamil Indian fisherman was on Monday the 06 March while he was fishing in a mechanized boat near Rameswaram Dhanushkodi at a short distance off Katchatheevu islet. One fisherman, K. Britjo, was killed. Another who was injured was awarded in a hospital in Tamil Nadu. The tragedy has ignited tensions in the state but Colombo insisted its Navy was not involved. Sri Lanka says Indians fish on Lankan waters and six fishermen from Thangachimadam in Ramanathapuram district were fishing near the Katchatheevu isle…
Interestingly, Indian government is yet to properly react to Sri Lankan criminal arrogance; ignoring the fact SL killed an Indian on Indian sea. The 22-year-old Indian fisherman was shot dead while he was fishing in a mechanized boat at a short distance off Katchatheevu islet. Local fishermen alleged that he was killed by the Sri Lankan navy while another was injured.
Sri Lanka declined to take responsibility for the murder of a Tamil fisherman. But the Sri Lankan government on Tuesday said that an initial probe report has ruled out its navy’s involvement in the shooting of an Indian fisherman, an issue raised by India with Sri Lanka’s prime minister.
Indian fisherman Bridgo along with others were fishing near the Katchatheevu islet when the Sri Lankan naval personnel arrived at the spot and opened fire, fisheries department officials in Tamil Nadu had said. Bridgo was shot in the neck and died on the spot and another fisherman, Saravanan (22), suffered leg injuries in the firing. Other fishermen who went along with them escaped unhurt and returned to the shore.
Katchatheevu is located in the narrow Palk Straits dividing India and Sri Lanka. The sea near the island is rich in marine life, leading to frequent clashes between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.
The riots in Sri Lanka were common and one-sided against the Tamils and hence meet the definition of a pogrom. The book also explores into the manifestation of Sinhalese nationalism in the form of anti-Tamil movement in a large-scale pogrom as a result of closely coordinated action of politicians, Buddhist monks, and rural Sinhalese
1958 anti-Tamil pogrom and riots in Ceylon, also known as 58 riots, refer to the first island wide ethnic riots and pogrom to target the minority Tamils in the Dominion of Ceylon after it became an independent country from Britain in 1948. The riots lasted from 22 May until 27 May 1958 although sporadic disturbances happened even after the declaration of emergency on 1 June 1958. The estimates of the murders range based on recovered body count from 300 to 1500. Although most of the victims were Tamils, some majority Sinhalese civilians and their property was also affected both by attacking Sinhalese mobs who attacked those Sinhalese who provided sanctuary to Tamils as well as in retaliatory attacks by Tamil mobs in Batticaloa and Jaffna. As the first full-scale race riot in the country in over forty years, the events of 1958 shattered the trust the communities had in one another and led to further polarization.
Sinhalese gangs attacked Tamil laborers in Polonnaruwa farms. The Tamil laborers in the Polonnaruwa sugar-cane plantation fled when they saw the enemy approaching and hid in the sugar-cane bushes. The Sinhalese mobs however set the sugar cane alight and flushed out the Tamils. As they came out screaming, men, women and children were cut down with home-made swords, grass-cutting knives and katties, or pulped under heavy clubs. Those who fled were clubbed down or hit by machetes. In Hinguarkgoda, rioters ripped open the belly of an eight-month-pregnant woman, and left her to bleed to death. One woman in sheer terror embraced her two children and jumped into a well. It has been estimated that 70 people died the night of 25 May.
As the usual international practice, Sri Lanka used some prominent Tamils work against Tamil interest and to promote Singhalese domination and attacks on Tamil community. Pseudo-patriotism a hallmark of Indian system to deny justice to many sections of populations, has been applied by Lankan government and military to injure and insult Tamils. .
Lankan regime fought a historic war to end rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka mainly because majority Singhalese population looks down upon Indian Tamils as semi-humans who should not enjoy any rights in that island nation.
Rajapaksha used the military excessively against Tamil minority fro demanding equal rights. In decimating Tamils, Colombo sought the support of all major powers and neighboring India whose population is Tamils.
War crimes perpetrated by Sri Lanka could silence Tamils and Indian regime at the same time. But Rajapaksa fell in the general poll that brought a new Singhalese regime in 2015 under Maithripala Sirisena as President, a member of Rajapaksa’s inner circle, who announced “reconciliation” with Tamil community but nothing has happened to that effect as Sirisena also is keen to promote Singhalese domination in the nation. . .
The need for national reconciliation through a political settlement of the ethnic issue has been reiterated by India at the highest levels. India’s consistent position is in favour of a negotiated political settlement, which is acceptable to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka and which also talks about democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights. Sirisena has not done even single thing to show that he is really keen for any reconciliation.
Political Relations President Maithripala Sirisena was elected as the new President of Sri Lanka in the presidential election held on 8 January, 2015. He succeeded former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Following parliamentary elections on 17 August 2015, Ranil Wickremesinghe, a close ally of Rajapaksha, was reappointed as the Prime Minister by President Sirisena on 21 August 2015.
Notwithstanding Singhalese-Tamil conflict, political relations between India and Lanka have been marked by high-level exchanges of visits at regular intervals. Even after military attacks and even murders of Tamil fishermen by Lankan regime, mutual visits continued even as Indo-Pakistani relations continued to fluctuate on account of Kashmir issue.
Mutual tours as part of betrayal of Tamils
Apparently, both Sri Lanka and India have forged an illicit nexus to target Tamils. India helps Lanka economically while targeting people of Tamil Nadu.
From Sri Lanka, President Sirisena visited India on a four-day starting 15 February 2015. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India in September 2015, in fact his first overseas visit after being appointed as Prime Minister. President Sirisena and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi also met on the margins of 70th session of UNGA in New York in September 2015 and at the COP21 meeting in Paris in November 2015. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited New Delhi in January 2015 on his first overseas official visit. Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga visited New Delhi in September 2015 to attend the “Samvad-Global Hindu Buddhist Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environment Consciousness” organized by Vivekananda International Foundation. The Sri Lankan Air Force Commander visited India from 27-31 July 2015.
Earlier, the Sri Lankan Navy Commander visited Goa in May 2015 to participate in the keel laying ceremony of the 2nd Offshore Patrol Vessel being constructed for Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Mr. Karunasena Hettiarachchi led a delegation to India for the 3rd Annual Defence Dialogue which was held in New Delhi in September 2015 at the Defence Secretary level. From India, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka on 13-14 March, 2015. He also travelled to Anuradhapura, Talaimannar, and Jaffna. External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj was in Colombo on 6-7 March to prepare for Prime Minister’s visit. Former President Dr. Abdul Kalam visited Sri Lanka from 25-27 June 2015 to participate in the “International Energy Symposium titled Energy Challenges in the Knowledge Economy”. The then External Affairs Minister of India Shri Salman Khurshid, visited Sri Lanka in October and in November 2013.
BJP’s External Affairs Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj led a 12-member Parliamentary delegation to Sri Lanka from in April 2012 as the then Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Congress party enabled that visit. Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R. K. Dhowan visited Sri Lanka on 22-25 November 2015 to participate in the annual International Maritime Conference ‘Galle Dialogue’, while Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh Suhag visited Sri Lanka from 29 November – 4 December 2015. Commerce Secretary Shri Rajeev Kher visited Sri Lanka on March 4, 2015 for the third round of Commerce Secretary level interactions. Commercial Relations Sri Lanka has long been a priority destination for direct investment from India. Sri Lanka is one of India’s largest trading-partner in SAARC.
India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally. Trade between the two countries grew particularly rapidly after the entry into force of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement in March 2000. According to Sri Lankan Customs, bilateral trade in 2015 amounted to US $ 4.7 billion. Exports from India to Sri Lanka in 2015 were US$ 4.1 billion (up by 2.1%), while exports from Sri Lanka to India were US$ 645 million (up by 3.2%). India is among the top four investors in Sri Lanka with cumulative investments of over US$ 1 billion since 2003. The investments are in diverse areas including petroleum retail, IT, financial services, real estate, telecommunication, hospitality & tourism, banking and food processing (tea & fruit juices), metal industries, tires, cement, glass manufacturing, and infrastructure development (railway, power, water supply).
A number of new investments from Indian companies are in the pipeline or under implementation. Notable among them are proposals of Shree Renuka Sugar to set up a sugar refining plant at Hambantota (US $ 220 million), South City, Kolkota for real estate development in Colombo (US $ 400 million), Tata Housing Slave Island Development project along with Urban Development Authority of Sri Lanka (US $ 430 million), ‘Colombo One’ project of ITC Ltd. (ITC has committed an investment of US$ 300 million, augmenting the earlier committed US 140 million). Dabur has already set up a fruit juice manufacturing plant (US$ 17 million) in May 2013. On the other hand, the last few years have also witnessed an increasing trend of Sri Lankan investments into India. Significant examples include Brandix (about US$ 1 billion to set up a garment city in Vishakapatnam), MAS holdings, John Keels, Hayleys, and Aitken Spence (Hotels), apart from other investments in the freight servicing and logistics sector. Developmental Cooperation The conclusion of the armed conflict saw the emergence of a major humanitarian challenge, with nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians housed in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The Government of India put in place a robust programme of assistance to help the IDPs return to normal life as quickly as possible as also consistently advocated the need for them to be resettled to their original habitations as early as possible. India’s immediate humanitarian assistance to IDPs included supply of 250,000 family relief packs, establishment of an emergency medical unit which treated over 50,000 IDPs, supply of over one million roofing sheets, as well as 400,000 bags of cement for constructing temporary housing and provision of 95,000 starter packs of agricultural implements. India also assisted in revival of agricultural and economic activities in areas affected by the conflict.
Persecution of Lankan Tamils and Indian money for Colombo
The main impetus for stepping up of India’s development assistance flowed from the commitments made during the visit of President of Sri Lanka to India during June 2010, when the then Prime Minister of India announced a Development Package for Sri Lanka. This included construction of 50,000 housing units, rehabilitation of the Northern Railway lines, wreck-removal and rehabilitation of the KKS Harbour, establishment of Vocational Training Centres, construction of a Cultural Centre at Jaffna, setting up a 500 MW coal power plant at Sampur, restoration of Thiruketheeswaram Temple, establishing an Agricultural Research Institute in the Northern Province, expanding the scholarship program for Sri Lankan students to pursue their higher studies in India, setting up Centres for English Language Training and providing technical assistance for the National Action Plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka.
The Housing Project, with an overall commitment of over INR 1372 crore in grants, is the flagship project of Government of India’s assistance to Sri Lanka. It is perhaps the largest such project undertaken by the Government of India overseas.
The first stage of construction of 1,000 houses in the Northern Province was completed in July 2012. The second phase of constructing or repairing 45000 houses in the Northern and Eastern Provinces is being implemented under an innovative owner-driven model, wherein the owner-beneficiaries undertake the construction/repair of their houses themselves and Government of India arranges technical support and financial assistance. This phase was launched on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 2 October 2012 and has made excellent progress since its launch. As on 31 December 2015, a total of 43,800 houses have been completed. During 2015, 13,827 new houses were constructed in the Northern Province, and 2,051 in the Eastern Province.
In addition, 502 damaged houses were repaired in the Northern Province. Only 2,200 houses remain to be constructed or repaired in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, which is expected to be completed during the next few months. The third phase, to construct 4,000 houses in the Central and Uva Provinces through an innovative community-driven approach, will be launched very shortly.
Sri Lanka is one of the major recipients of development credit given by the Government of India. Under a line of credit of $167.4 million, the tsunami-damaged Colombo-Matara rail link has been repaired and upgraded. Another line of credit of $800 million for track laying and supply of rolling stock to support construction of Medawachchiya to Madhu, Madhu to Talaimannar, Omanthai to Pallai, Pallai to Kankesanthurai railway lines and setting up of signaling and telecommunications systems in Northern Sri Lanka is already operational. In October 2014 the Pallai-Jaffna reconstructed railway track and signal system was inaugurated thereby reconnecting Jaffna to Colombo by rail. India also continues to assist a large number of smaller development projects in areas like education, health, transport connectivity, small and medium enterprise development and training in many parts of the country through its grant funding. Cultural Relations The Cultural Cooperation Agreement signed by the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka on 29 November, 1977 at New Delhi forms the basis for periodic Cultural Exchange Programmes between the two countries. The Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo actively promotes awareness of Indian culture by offering classes in Indian music, dance, Hindi and Yoga. High Commission organized an event on 21 June 2015 to celebrate the First International Day of Yoga at the iconic ocean side promenade Galle Face Green. The event was attended by two thousand yoga enthusiasts. Every year, cultural troupes from both countries exchange visits.
Pursuant to an announcement made by the Prime Minister of India during his visit to Sri Lanka, a Festival of India in Sri Lanka was launched in November 2015, with ‘Nrityarupa’, a scintillating dance medley from different parts of India performed in Colombo, Kandy and Galle. The theme of the Festival is “Sangam”: a confluence of cultures of India and Sri Lanka. India and Sri Lanka commemorated the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Buddha (SambuddhatvaJayanthi) through joint activities. These included the exposition of Sacred Kapilavastu Relics in Sri Lanka that took place in August – September 2012.
During the exposition, approximately three million Sri Lankans (nearly 15 percent of the total population of Sri Lanka) paid homage to the Sacred Relics. The Indian Gallery at the International Buddhist Museum, Sri Dalada Maligawa, was inaugurated in December 2013. The Gallery highlights the shared heritage and close Buddhist links between India and Sri Lanka. The two Governments jointly celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Anagarika Dharmapala in 2014.
The India-Sri Lanka Foundation, set up in December 1998 as an intergovernmental initiative, also aims towards enhancement of scientific, technical, educational and cultural cooperation through civil society exchanges and enhancing contact between the younger generations of the two countries. Education is an important area of cooperation. India now offers about 290 scholarship slots annually to Sri Lankan students. In addition, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Scheme and the Colombo Plan, India offers nearly 200 slots annually to Sri Lankan nationals.
State terrorism and tourism
Tourism also forms an important link between India and Sri Lanka. Government of India formally launched the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Sri Lankan tourists on 14 April 2015. Subsequently, in a goodwill gesture, the visa fee for eTV was sharply reduced. The new eTV fee for Sri Lankan nationals is only US$ 25 (plus bank charges of 2.5%), instead of US$ 60 (plus US$2 bank fee) charged earlier. In 2015, out of the total tourist arrivals, 316,247 were from India constituting 17.58% of the total number of tourist arrival to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan tourists too are among the top ten sources for the Indian tourism market. In 2014, around 200,000 visas were issued by the High Commission and other posts in Sri Lanka to facilitate travel between Indian and Sri Lanka.
Fishermen issue and Indian Community
Sri Lankan government attacks local Tamils as well as those Tamils from India on the sea.
Sri Lanka treats Indian fishermen fishing at Katchatheevu. Given the proximity of the territorial waters of both countries, especially in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar, incidents of straying of fishermen are common. Both countries have agreed on certain practical arrangements to deal with the issue of bona fide fishermen of either side crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line. Through these arrangements, it has been possible to deal with the issue of detention of fishermen in a humane manner.
Tamils see some apparent secret deal between Indian and Lankan regimes to deal sternly with Tamils and therefore, Indian government allows all atrocities by Lankan military on Indian Tamils. In a civil war earlier, Lankan military committed crimes against humanity by committing genocides of Tamils as part of their goal of holocaust of Tamil population in Lankan Island.
Conspiracy against Tamils?
The new regime in Colombo under Sirisena had declared loudly that it would go for reconciliation but now it has presided over the murder of a Tamil fisherman in Tamil Nadu, breaking all provisions of intentional law.
Is Lankan regime blood thirsty or is it just an isolated tragedy?
When Indian military keeps killing Muslims of occupied Jammu Kashmir it is strange why it is unable to put an end to Lankan arrogance towards Indians. Are Muslims so cheap for Indian regime?
Time is running out for India to make sure seas of Indian Territory are soverign and belong to India.
Sri Lanka fires all shots while India watches the show as a festival firework. Indian deliberately let the Sri Lankan military attack and even kill the Tamil fishermen. When Indian military keeps killing Muslims of occupied Jammu Kashmir it is strange why it is unable to put an end to Lankan arrogance towards Indians. Are Muslims so cheap for Indian regime?
Time is running out for India to make sure seas of Indian Territory are soverign and belong to India. The Modi government has to wake up before Sri Lanka invades Tamil Nadu if they have a hidden plan for that as Tamil people are divided because of the plotters led by Sasikala have divided the ruling AIADMK in order to promote her private interests and control both party and government?
Let the sacrifice of life of fisherman Bridgo resolve the issue of fishing rights of Tamils at Katchatheevu.
The Modi government has to wake up before Sri Lanka invades Tamil Nadu if they have a hidden plan for that?
Perpetual Lankans attacks on defenseless Tamil fishermen on sea are a serious crime committed by the state. India and Lanka must wake up to solve the issue in the best possible manners, preferably through peaceful sincere negations at top level.
Sri Lanka seems to be provoking India for a bloody war.
A war may not necessarily result in peace!
India’s open invitation to a nuclear Armageddon
Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that “India was not averse to the possible demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier , the world’s highest battleground and an old sore in India-Pakistan ties , provided the neighbour accepted the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) that separates Indian and Pakistani positions. Acceptance of AGPL is the first step towards demilitarisation but the Pakistan side loathes doing that”. He said, ‘The Siachen situation occurred because of unilateral attempts by Pakistan to change status quo and countermeasures taken by the Indian Army’ (Not averse to demilitarisation of Siachen if Pak meets pre-condition: Army chief, Hindustan Times January 13, 2022).
Reacting to the Indian army chief’s statement, Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan reminisced that the Siachen could not fructify into a written agreement because India wanted Siachen and Kashmir to be settled together. India’s approach ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ scuttled the agreement. As for Kashmir, “a simultaneous effort was made through the backchannel …in what is commonly known as the Four-Point Formula” (Siachen recollections, Dawn January 16, 2022). Riaz laments Indi’s distrust that hindered a solution.
Shyam Saran, a voice in the wilderness
Shyam Saran, in his book How India Sees the World (pp. 88-93) makes startling revelations about how this issue eluded solution at last minute. India itself created the Siachen problem. Saran reminisces, in the 1970s, US maps began to show 23000 kilometers of Siachen area under Pakistan’s control. Thereupon, Indian forces were sent to occupy the glacier in a pre-emptive strike, named Operation Meghdoot. Pakistani attempts to dislodge them did not succeed. But they did manage to occupy and fortify the lower reaches’.
He recalls how Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek agreements could not fructify for lack of political will or foot dragging. He says ‘NN Vohra, who was the defence secretary at the time, confirmed in a newspaper interview that an agreement on Siachen had been reached. At the last moment, however, a political decision was taken by the Narasimha Rao government to defer its signing to the next round of talks scheduled for January the following year. But, this did not happen…My defence of the deal became a voice in the wilderness’.
Saran says, `Kautliyan template would say the options for India are sandhi, conciliation; asana, neutrality; and yana, victory through war. One could add dana, buying allegiance through gifts; and bheda, sowing discord. The option of yana, of course would be the last in today’s world’ (p. 64, ibid.).
India’s current first option
It appears that Kautliya’s last-advised option,yana, as visualised by Shyam Saran, is India’s first option nowadays. Kautlya also talks about koota yuddha (no holds barred warfare), and maya yuddha (war by tricks) that India is engaged in.
By unilaterally declaring the disputed Jammu and Kashmir its territory does not solve the Kashmir problem. This step reflects that India has embarked upon the policy “might is right”. In Kotliyan parlance it would be “matsy nyaya, or mach nyaya”, that is big fish eats the small one. What if China also annexes disputed borders with India? India annexed Kashmir presuming that Pakistan is not currently in a position to respond militarily, nor could it agitate the matter at international forums for fear of US ennui.
India’s annexation smacks of acceptance of quasi-Dixon Plan, barring mention of plebiscite and division of Jammu. . Dixon proposed: Ladakh should be awarded to India. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (including Gilgit and Baltistan) should remain with Pakistan. Whole Kashmir valley should have a plebiscite with no option to independence. Jammu should be divided on religious basis. The river Chmab should be the dividing line. Northern Jammu (Muslims dominated) should go to Pakistan and Hindu majority parts of Jammu to remain with India.
In short Muslim areas should have gone with Pakistan and Hindu-Buddhist majority areas should have remained with India.
India’s annexation has no legal sanctity. But, it could have bbeen sanctified in a mutually agreed Kashmir solution.
India portrays the freedom movement in Kashmir as `terrorism’. What about India’s terrorism in neighbouring countries?
The world is listless to accounts of former diplomats and RAW officers about executing insurgencies in neighbouring countries. B. Raman, in his book The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane makes no bones about India’s involvement up to the level of prime minister in Bangladesh’s insurgency.
Will the world take notice of confessions by Indi’s former intelligence officers and diplomats?B. Raman reminds `Indian parliament passed resolution on March 31, 1971 to support insurgency. Indira Gandhi had then confided with Kao that in case Mujib was prevented from ruling Pakistan, she would liberate East Pakistan from the clutches of the military junta. Kao, through one RAW agent, hijacked a Fokker Friendship, the Ganga, of Indian Airlines hijacked from Srinagar to Lahore.
India’s ambassador Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar, with the consent of then foreign minister Jaswant Singh, `coordinated military and medical assistance that India was secretly giving to Massoud and his forces’… `helicopters, uniforms, ordnance, mortars, small armaments, refurbished Kalashnikovs seized in Kashmir, combat and winter clothes, packaged food, medicines, and funds through his brother in London, Wali Massoud’, delivered circuitously with the help of other countries who helped this outreach’. When New Delhi queried about the benefit of costly support to Northern Alliance chief Massoud, Kumar explained, “He is battling someone we should be battling. When Massoud fights the Taliban, he fights Pakistan.”
Death of back-channel
In his memoirs In the line of fire (pp.302-303), president Musharraf had proposed a personal solution of the Kashmir issue. This solution, in essence, envisioned self-rule in demilitarised regions of Kashmir under a joint-management mechanism. The solution pre-supposed* reciprocal flexibility.
Death of dialogue and diplomacy
Riaz warns of “incalculable” risks as the result of abrogation of Kashmir statehood (Aug 5, 2019). Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. In the absence of a dialogue on outstanding issues, war, perhaps a nuclear one, comes up as the only option.
Sans sincerity, the only Kashmir solution is a nuclear Armageddon. Or, perhaps divine intervention.
Major Challenges for Pakistan in 2022
Pakistan has been facing sever challenges since 1980s, after the former USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan. The history is full of challenges, but, being a most resilient nation, Pakistan has faced some of them bravely and overcome successfully. Yet, few are rather too big for Pakistan and still struggling to overcome in the near future.
Some of the challenges are domestic or internal, which can be addressed conveniently. But, some of them are part of geopolitics and rather beyond control of Pakistan itself. Such challenges need to pay more attention and need to be smarter and address them wisely.
Few key areas will be the main focus of Pakistan in the year ahead. Relations with China and the US while navigating the Sino-US confrontation, dealing with Afghanistan’s uncertainties, managing the adversarial relationship with India and balancing ties between strategic ally Saudi Arabia and neighbor Iran.
Pakistan has to pursue its diplomatic goals in an unsettled global and regional environment marked by several key features. They include rising East-West tensions, increasing preoccupation of big powers with domestic challenges, ongoing trade and technology wars overlying the strategic competition between China and the US, a fraying rules-based international order and attempts by regional and other powers to reshape the rules of the game in their neighborhood.
Understanding the dynamics of an unpredictable world is important especially as unilateral actions by big powers and populist leaders, which mark their foreign policy, have implications for Pakistan’s diplomacy. In evolving its foreign policy strategy Pakistan has to match its goals to its diplomatic resources and capital. No strategy is effective unless ends and means are aligned.
Pakistan’s relations with China will remain its overriding priority. While a solid economic dimension has been added to long-standing strategic ties, it needs sustained high-level engagement and consultation to keep relations on a positive trajectory. CPEC is on track, timely and smoothly progress is crucial to reinforce Beijing’s interest in strengthening Pakistan, economically and strategically. Close coordination with Beijing on key issues remains important.
Pakistan wants to improve ties with the US. But relations will inevitably be affected by Washington’s ongoing confrontation with Beijing, which American officials declare has an adversarial dimension while China attributes a cold war mindset to the US. Islamabad seeks to avoid being sucked into this big power rivalry. But this is easier said than done. So long as US-China relations remain unsteady it will have a direct bearing on Pakistan’s effort to reset ties with the US especially as containing China is a top American priority. Pakistan desires to keep good relations with the US, but, not at the cost of China. In past, Pakistan was keeping excellent relations with US, while simultaneously very close with China. When the US imposed economic blockade against China and launched anti-communism drive during the cold war, Pakistan was close ally with the US and yet, keeping excellent relations with China. Pakistan played vital role in bring China and the US to establish diplomatic relations in 1970s. Yet, Pakistan possesses the capability to narrow down the hostility between China and the US.
Pakistan was close ally with the US during cold war, anti-communism threat, war against USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s, and war on terror, etc. Pakistan might be a small country, but, possesses strategic importance. As long as, the US was cooperating with Pakistan, Pakistan looked after the US interest in the whole region. In fact, Pakistan ensured that the US has achieved its all strategic goals in the region. Since, the US kept distance from Pakistan, is facing failure after another failure consecutively. The importance of Pakistan is well recognized by the deep state in the US.
US thinks that withdrawal from Afghanistan has diminished Pakistan’s importance for now. For almost two decades Afghanistan was the principal basis for engagement in their frequently turbulent ties, marked by both cooperation and mistrust. As Pakistan tries to turn a new page with the US the challenge is to find a new basis for a relationship largely shorn of substantive bilateral content. Islamabad’s desire to expand trade ties is in any case contingent on building a stronger export base.
Complicating this is Washington’s growing strategic and economic relations with India, its partner of choice in the region in its strategy to project India as a counterweight to China. The implications for Pakistan of US-India entente are more than evident from Washington turning a blind eye to the grim situation in occupied Kashmir and its strengthening of India’s military and strategic capabilities. Closer US-India ties will intensify the strategic imbalance in the region magnifying Pakistan’s security challenge.
Multiple dimensions of Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan will preoccupy Islamabad, which spent much of 2021 engaged with tumultuous developments there. While Pakistan will continue to help Afghanistan avert a humanitarian and economic collapse it should not underestimate the problems that may arise with an erstwhile ally. For one, the TTP continues to be based in Afghanistan and conduct attacks from there. The border fencing issue is another source of unsettled discord. Careful calibration of ties will be needed — assisting Afghanistan but avoiding overstretch, and acknowledging that the interests of the Taliban and Pakistan are far from identical. Moreover, in efforts to mobilize international help for Afghanistan, Islamabad must not exhaust its diplomatic capital, which is finite and Pakistan has other foreign policy goals to pursue.
Managing relations with India will be a difficult challenge especially as the Modi government is continuing its repressive policy in occupied Kashmir and pressing ahead with demographic changes there, rejecting Pakistan’s protests. The hope in establishment circles that last year’s backchannel between the two countries would yield a thaw or even rapprochement, turned to disappointment when no headway was made on any front beyond the re-commitment by both neighbors to observe a ceasefire on the Line of Control.
Working level diplomatic engagement will continue on practical issues such as release of civilian prisoners. But prospects of formal dialogue resuming are slim in view of Delhi’s refusal to discuss Kashmir. This is unlikely to change unless Islamabad raises the diplomatic costs for Delhi of its intransigent policy. Islamabad’s focus on Afghanistan last year meant its diplomatic campaign on Kashmir sagged and was limited to issuing tough statements. Unless Islamabad renews and sustains its international efforts with commitment and imagination, India will feel no pressure on an issue that remains among Pakistan’s core foreign policy goals.
With normalization of ties a remote possibility, quiet diplomacy by the two countries is expected to focus on managing tensions to prevent them from spinning out of control. Given the impasse on Kashmir, an uneasy state of no war, no peace is likely to continue warranting Pakistan’s sustained attention.
In balancing ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran, Pakistan should consider how to leverage possible easing of tensions between the long-standing rivals — of which there are some tentative signs. With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman keen to use economic power to expand his country’s diplomatic clout by making strategic overseas investments, Pakistan should use its political ties with Riyadh to attract Saudi investment through a coherent strategy. Relations with Iran too should be strengthened with close consultation on regional issues especially Afghanistan. The recent barter agreement is a step in the right direction.
In an increasingly multipolar world, Pakistan also needs to raise its diplomatic efforts by vigorous outreach to other key countries and actors beyond governments to secure its national interests and goals.
Afghanistan: UN launches largest single country aid appeal ever
The UN and partners launched a more than $5 billion funding appeal for Afghanistan on Tuesday, in the hope of shoring up collapsing basic services there, which have left 22 million in need of assistance inside the country, and 5.7 million people requiring help beyond its borders.
Speaking in Geneva, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said that $4.4 billion was needed for the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan alone, “to pay direct” to health workers and others, not the de facto authorities.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for $623 million, to support refugees and host communities in five neighbouring countries, for the Afghanistan Situation Regional Refugee Response Plan.
“Today we are launching an appeal for $4.4 billion for Afghanistan itself for 2022,” said Mr. Griffiths. “This is the largest ever appeal for a single country for humanitarian assistance and it is three times the amount needed, and actually fundraised in 2021.”
Needs could double
The scale of need is already enormous, both UN officials stressed, warning that if insufficient action is taken now to support the Afghanistan and regional response plans, “next year we’ll be asking for $10 billion”.
Mr. Griffiths added: “This is a stop-gap, an absolutely essential stop-gap measure that we are putting in front of the international community today. Without this being funded, there won’t be a future, we need this to be done, otherwise there will be outflow, there will be suffering.”
Rejecting questions that the funding would be used to support the Taliban’s grip on de facto government, Mr. Griffiths insisted that it would go directly into the pockets of “nurses and health officials in the field” so that these services can continue, not as support for State structures.
UN aid agencies describe Afghanistan’s plight as one of the world’s most rapidly growing humanitarian crises.
According to UN humanitarian coordination office OCHA, half the population now faces acute hunger, over nine million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school.
Asked to describe what might happen if sufficient support was not forthcoming, the UN emergency relief chief replied that he was particularly concerned for one million children now facing severe acute malnutrition. “A million children – figures are so hard so grasp when they’re this kind of size – but a million children at risk of that kind of malnutrition if these things don’t happen, is a shocking one.”
But humanitarian agencies and their partners who will receive the requested funding directly can only do so much, Mr. Griffiths explained, before reiterating his support for the 22 December UN Security Council resolution that cleared the way for aid to reach Afghans, while preventing funds from falling into the hands of the Taliban.
“Humanitarian agencies inside Afghanistan can only operate if there’s cash in the economy which can be used to pay officials, salaries, costs, fuel and so-forth,” he said. “So, liquidity in its first phase is a humanitarian issue, it’s not just a bigger economic issue.”
Stave off disease, hunger
He added: “My message is urgent: don’t shut the door on the people of Afghanistan. Humanitarian partners are on the ground, and they are delivering, despite the challenges. Help us scale up and stave off wide-spread hunger, disease, malnutrition and ultimately death by supporting the humanitarian plans we are launching today.”
Highlighting the need to avoid a wider regional crisis emanating from Afghanistan, UNHCR chief Grandi, insisted that what was needed most, was “to stabilize the situation inside Afghanistan, including that of displaced people who are displaced inside their country. Also, to prevent a larger refugee crisis, a larger crisis of external displacement.”
Nonetheless, Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours had sheltered vulnerable Afghans for decades, Mr. Grandi explained, as he appealed for $623 million in funding for 40 organizations working in protection, health and nutrition, food security, shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation, livelihoods and resilience, education, and logistics and telecoms.
Decades of shelter
No-one should forget “that there is a regional dimension to this crisis, represented by the Afghan refugees but also Afghans with many other ‘stay’ arrangements in neighbouring countries in particular,” Mr. Grandi said, “especially in Pakistan and Iran that have hosted Afghans for more than 40 years, but also Central Asian States.”
Since the Taliban takeover last August, women’s and girls’ rights have continued to come under attack, OCHA noted in a statement, “while farmers and herders are struggling amid the worst drought in decades and the economy is in freefall”.
On the issue of protecting fundamental rights, Mr. Griffiths underlined the fact that UN humanitarians were continuing to hold “conversations” with Afghanistan’s de facto authorities at a national and sub-national level, on issues such as aid and education access for all.
Echoing that message, UN refugee chief Mr. Grandi noted that humanitarians on the ground were well aware of the importance of stressing the need to protect the rights of minorities and other vulnerable Afghans.
“Our colleagues are there every day, and that’s what they talk about every day; they certainly talk about access, and delivery and needs, but they also talk about women at work, women in school – girls in school – rights of minorities, but it’s that space that we need to preserve.”
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