Isha khan’s Weblog

Does India – U.S. alliance threaten South Asia?
February 23, 2009, 12:50 pm
Filed under: India, SubContinent

Does India – U.S. alliance threaten South Asia?

By Dimuth Gunawardena

“The peace dividend for South Asia is the creation of new hope & opportunity for its billion and half people…….” -Hon. Atal Bihari Vajpayee – former Prime Minister of India

Sri Lanka is on the verge of destroying the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world. Even the most extreme elements in the South of Sri Lanka accept that upon completion of this task certain genuine grievances of the Tamil people and a certain degree of devolution envisaged in the current constitution should be implemented in the Northern Province as it is now being done successfully done in the Island’s East. India knows all this too well. Nevertheless New Delhi and explicitly its South Indian clique is again attempting to repeat their attempts of 1987 save LTTE which is on the verge of defeat.

Sri Lankans have a right to decide their own future free any more foreign interference. They have suffered enough for the past 25 years because of Indian meddling the island’s internal affairs. The time has some to say enough is enough categorically and firmly.

Much has been written about India’s gross interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and violation of her sovereignty and territorial integrity in the recent past supposedly due to political pressure from Tamil-Nadu. However it is important for all Sri Lankans to comprehend and appreciate the behaviour of Indian politicians in a more holistic context, India has a very loose and fragile regional federal structure (unlike the strong federal systems of government in their new found western allies like USA).

Furthermore the fundamental psychology of India’s foreign service and intelligence services operating in the region must be clearly understood. The contemporary developments in the region merit a complete re-evaluation of regional bilateral and multilateral policies that all SAARC countries follow vis-à-vis their giant superpower and neighbour India.

In Sri Lanka’s case, India’s strategic objectives has been satisfied with most Sri Lankan’s being absolutely ignorant and unaware of the real status quo – Sri Lanka’s Governments “flying to brief” New Delhi and Sri Lanka Government’s readiness to meet India’s wishes.

Even world powers with the exception of China of course, never dare interfere on India’s decisions on Sri Lanka. The trade between Sri Lanka & India places the latter at a greater advantage even where the Free Trade Agreements are concerned. Under the Free Trade Agreement between the two. (24-25 % of Sri Lanka’s imports come from India. And this excludes contraband like sarees, gold, drugs etc. If these added they would change the percentage significantly).

In US$ millions

Indians can travel to Sri Lanka without a visa while Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry has not demanded reciprocal gestures from India.

It has been to India’s advantage that the bulk of Sri Lanka’s domestic commerce is again in Indian hands. This too can be used as a strategic tool when the need arises. India has also ensured that it has in Sri Lanka a group of errant politicians, corrupt public officers and diplomats, powerful mainstream political parties like Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Up Country Peoples Liberation Front (UPLF), and even the LTTE proxies like the so-called Tamil National Alliance (TNA) chirping in India’s favour.

India’s RAW has even been able to control various INGO celebrities and even some sections of the so called free Media to comment in support of India’s involvement direct or otherwise in Sri Lanka.

What can we expect if the Government of Sri Lanka’s resolves to give India complete economic and political facilities in the strategically significant Northern and Eastern provinces? Could the Government of Sri Lanka not be aware of the implications of allowing India to economically control two of the most significant regions that India had been eyeing for so long? The KKS Cement plant, the Trincomalee Harbour and the oil tank farm, mineral sands in Pulmoddai (some of which can be refined into Thorium) and oil exploration in Mannar basin…etc reflect the importance of these regions. RAW also made deep inroads to newly emerging political forces in these provinces too. These include the TULF and TMVP in what could be seen as a deliberate move to control the vital Northern and Eastern Provinces as a response to Chinese investment in Hambantota.

With all this being the case India’s certain errant strategic policy makes still believe that it is to the advantage of Delhi and her new found U.S. and other Western Allies such as France to keep Sri Lanka permanently on the boil. Can this be permitted? Why should it be so?

In considering the strategic importance of Sri Lanka to India, there is also the need to look deeper into the reliance India places on energy and power as a tool of control and these are the interests that spurs India’s ambitions to control the energy and power sectors of her neighbours like Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh.

Could it be sheer coincidence that the issue of Katchativu islet that India conceded to Sri Lanka has resurfaced with India accusing Sri Lankan Navy of harassing Indian fisherman in the vicinity? Let us view this new attitude from the point of view of India’s nuclear plants (for military & civilian purposes) coming around Sri Lanka, in Goa, Cochin, Ennore, Chennai Vizzak and even Nagappatnam all in the back yard of the so called “Eelam” which may one day could well be India’s Chernobyl. Sethu Samudram Canal Project (SSCP) is more of a military project to protect these high security zones by Naval patrolling rather than a civilian commercial project as it has been made out to be. As a matter of fact SSCP is all about India’s Submarine Base in Ramanathapuram. Kachchativu not under Indian control but is too close for comfort for this whole grand design.

As a matter of fact some Sri Lankans naively talk about a nuclear free zone in the region. Hence the Tamil Nadu politicians singing their Katchatvu ‘song.’ If ever India goes to war with any of her enemies I hope Sri Lankans know that stray missiles will all rain on them. Therefore Sri Lanka should not get tied down to any agreement with India on Kachchativu at this juncture. There should be no repeat of what happened with Trincomalee under the Indo-Lanka Accord. Perhaps Sri Lanka having listening post on Katchativu with China’s collaboration might not at all be bad idea considering India current interference in Sri Lankan affairs.

Therefore in this context the LTTE’s total disappearance from the political scene would be of distinct disadvantage to India’s long term strategic objectives. Now we come to the real paradox of India’s Sri Lanka policy. The LTTE, the baby they gave birth to and fed, and allowed it to kill more than 2,000 of their own Indian soldiers and also their own Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi have now evolved to be a powerful Global Suicide Terror Organization led by Prabakaran and Pottu Amman – both wanted men on Indian soil.

It is intriguing to know how the RAW, their initial handlers will find a way out of this dilemma – Will it be a case of helping the Government of Sri Lanka kill the LTTE’s current leadership and replace it with a more India friendly 2nd tier leadership but still force the Sri Lankan Government to hand over that “Eelam” territory? Such a move perfectly fills the India-USA allied strategic objectives in the Indian Ocean. Filling this void must be the next task of the RAW. India cannot allow a 3rd Navy and 3rd Air force, under the LTTE, due to India’s own regional strategic objectives and thus these too will have to be destroyed by the Sri Lankan armed forces. Hence the Indian manned radar systems no matter the opposition of Tamil Nadu politicians.

This is why we should not be too surprised over Karunanidhi and his boys agitating over Sri Lanka’s Tamils – the New Delhi’s nod of approval must have been silently given for the present agitation which never arose when the IPKF went on a rampage killing and raping innocent Tamil civilians – was that not some form of “genocide”? We are all aware that these crocodile tears will never materialise in any of them actually giving up their status as MPs. All the Tamil Nadu MPs have been guilty of following pro-LTTE stands – ‘Vaiko’ Gopalaswamy one of the LTTE’s strongest supporters who has been arrested – for the 2nd time.

Before discussing further as to why a country like Sri Lanka needs to seriously re-evaluate its policy since independence especially the policy towards India and the SAARC member nations of which it is the Chairman, let us examine policy of de stabilization in the region carried out by India’s intelligence agency the RAW.

Amidst the Indo-Lanka crisis breaking out we saw newspaper reports of the arrival in Sri Lanka of a RAW big wig by the name of S. Chandrasekaran, alias Chandran (Who was an LTTE handler) who coordinated several terror attacks and civilian massacres such as the Anuradhapura massacre of innocent pilgrims. But this should have come as hardly a surprise to the people of Sri Lanka. The fact that he has been operating in Tamil Nadu to facilitate the bail out of the LTTE also should not come as a surprise. The RAW has played a far more significant role in all regional conflicts and terror organizations than what has been thus acknowledged. These reports however do not mention Chandran’s other accomplices in the RAW like B.Raman…etc whose names have been previously mentioned in news reports as being instrumental in various civilian massacres using – in addition to LTTE – organizations like EPRLF.

“Stephen Phillip Cohen” in his career as a South Asian Political Scientist and one who strongly lobbied within the US for the current US-Indian Political & Strategic Military Alliance was responsible for the deep influence he had on most of the modern Indian strategic thinkers and policy makers. One such person who was heavily influenced by Stephen and specifically one of his works on “Brahamin-Kshatriya relationship of India” was “Swarna Rajagopalan”. Who in the writings titled “Security Ideas in the Valmik Ramayana” illustrates the Indian policy makers thought process and gives a better understanding for the reasons for its regional hegemony.

“Today, if any of us were to see our destiny as lying along the path engagement with others outside the region as well as with our neighbours within South Asia, it cannot reasonably be argued that thereby South Asian unity would be denied or diminished……..” Late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar – Former Minister of Foreign affairs, Sri Lanka assassinated by the LTTE.

According to the “Jain Commission” report on the killing of former Premier Rajiv Gandhi it becomes amply clear of the RAW hand in the whole sordid affair of cross border global terrorism – networks financed by intelligence operatives. It has also created major politically dissenting movements in poor neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and even Pakistan.

Seeking regional expansionist hegemony and its ambition as a major global actor – since independence – has been a corner stone of Indian foreign policy. India’s dirty work has always been delivered by the RAW. One must keep in mind that perhaps officers like N.K. Narayanan who is the current National Security Advisor under whose purview agencies like the RAW currently comes under was in late 1980’s officially assigned as the Director of the Intelligence Bureau in Tamil Nadu had close links with all terrorist group in Sri Lanka as well as Tamil Nadu politicians from MGR to Karunanadhi and even personally attended to Prabakaran’s visit from Tamil Nadu to New Delhi. (“Assignment Colombo”by J.N. Dixit) Hence his famous statement Sri Lanka will win the battle against the Tamil Tigers but not the war as they haven’t got the Tamils on to their side” sets in motion the current chain of events in India.

The RAW had a major role to play in the Tibetan dissident movements of China and the pro-democracy movements in Myanmar due the the Military junta’s closeness to China. In Bangladesh the RAW has been involved with destabilisation of the country since 1965. They created a network of ‘Separatist Teroriist Cells’ all over the country. RAW set up training camps in India – camps that trained the LTTE & “Mukti Mahimi’s” men, (reference “RAW & Bangladesh” by Zainal Abedin) preparing for the arrival of Indian troops into that country. Over the years they also created several other terrorist forces in Bangladesh such as “The Shanti Bahini” for fighting between Hindu’s & Buddhist’s tribesmen thus keeping the Bengali military fully occupied. In Bhutan the RAW created an ethnic crisis led by people of Nepalese origin.

In Nepal itself just like in Sri Lanka, the RAW follows an active policy of pushing pro-Indian Nepalese politician on their pay roll to the forefront of the political sphere in order to make Nepal an official Hindi state as a prelude to merging with India in the future. RAW quite successfully followed this strategy in Sikkim (the tiny Himalayan state bordering Bhutan). RAW was actually able to use various groups to oppose Chohyal and actually merge with the Indian Union in 1975.

In the Maldives the Gayoom government was contemplating handing over the “Marao Islands” to the Chinese govt. who could have used it as a submarine base for 5 submarine battle groups and two aircraft carrier battle groups enabling the launching of Feng-44 missiles. Here in Maldives however more than any other South Asian country the RAW had engineered the ultimate coup through one of the RAW funded terrorist groups called the EPRLF. India was at hand to help, and Gayoom was eternally grateful and till today the Chinese base in Marao Islands remain only but a pipe dream.

The only country in the region with counter intelligence capability of any form to counter the threats from the RAW activities is the Pakistani ISI, however Pakistan has been the biggest recipient of terror attacks, subversion, political and judicial dissent orchestrated by the RAW again but specific details will require a longer version of this article. If one were to weigh the activities of ISI activities of subversion against India against those committed by RAW against Pakistan the scale will be heavily tilted on to the RAW.

Today Pakistan is being bombed in its Afghanistan border by US and NATO forces indiscriminately, under the guise of attacking Al-Qaeda and the Taliban these American forces on the instructions of some 10,000 Indian troops currently operating in Afghanistan (part of military force of 150,000 Indian troops to be stationed in Afghanistan in the US-Indian plan to encircle Pakistan) are effectively eroding the power of Pakistan’s federal government has over its border provinces. If one were to study the sequence of events form the time of Mushraff firing the Pakistani Chief Justice and clashes with the judiciary to the assassination of Bhutto to the weak pro-western Zadari and Giliani where the end result is the break of the Islamic state one could now see similar agenda being carried out in Sri Lanka. Perhaps one day we will see all the federal political forces of Sri Lanka rallying round a populist retired judge as a presidential candidate to carry out the agendas the LTTE cannot get on a negotiating table through a political executive and legislative power with Indian auspices. Let me quote from an article titled “The Destabilisation of Pakistan” by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research

Quote… “Washington will push for a compliant political leadership with no commitment to the national interest, a leadership which will serve US imperial interests, while concurrently contributing under the disguise of “Decentralization”, to the weakening of the central government and the fracture of Pakistan’s fragile federal structure…..US Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence official justification and pretext …to extend “war on terrorism”. Concurrently, to justify its counter –terrorism program, Washington is also beefing up its covert support to the terrorists………..”

If these are the games of USA on Pakistan then what must their ally India be up to in Pakistan. The RAW together with CIA operatives in the region was instrumental in setting up and sponsoring the perfect terrorist group for this plan in “Tehrik Taliban Pakistan” (TTP).

These are the machinations unparalleled and unseen anywhere in the world, with the exception of USA and its manipulation of Cuba such as the Bay of Pigs invasion. India has to and should behave like the great power she really and truly is.

“The United Front Government’s neighbourhood policy now stands on five basic principles, first with neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, India does not ask for reciprocity but but gives all that it can in good faith and trust, Secondly no South Asian country will allow its territory to be used against the interest of another country of region, Thirdly none will interfere in the internal affairs of another, Fourthly all South Asians must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and finally they will settle all their disputes through peaceful, bilateral negotiations…..” Hon. I. K. Gujral Former Minister of External Affairs at the Royal Institute of International Affairs/ London.

One of the best strategic thinkers in India “Kanti Bajpai” has described three schools of Indian Strategic thought. The paradigms briefly are Nehruvian School, Neoliberal School, and the Hyperealist School. Fundamental to Neruvianism is argument that people come to understand each other better and thereby make and sustain peace. They believe that in the International system the threat of war to settle disputes is but only as a last resort.

Neoliberals accept the characterisation of international relations as a state of war and coercion important role in their world, while hyperrealists believe the surest way of achieving peace, and stability is by the accumulation of military power and the willingness to use force.

The last few years saw the growth of the two latter schools of thought within the Indian Public and Foreign services and hence it’s behaviour towards its neighbours. Everybody knows that the warships sent to Sri Lankan territorial waters during the SAARC summit in Colombo was not to protect the Indian PM from their own LTTE but the usual Indian “Gunboat” diplomacy (like in 1987 airdrop, and fleets that came to Sri Lankans waters) of flexing it’s muscles and sending messages to a defiant Sri Lankan President to behave himself and any fancy ideas that countries like Russia, China or Pakistan may have of getting too close to Sri Lanka.

India’s nuclear agenda too should be cause of great concern to her neighbourhood. The “Nuclear Suppliers Group” of 45 countries, which up until now had barred any nation that refused to accept international nuclear standards wilted under tremendous pressure from the new western alliance of Bush-Sarkozy. This position reversed even the penalties in the event of resumption nuclear testing by India too has not been clarified with regards to regional stability and coexistence. Dangers of proliferation by terrorists like what happened to India just before signing of the accords poses significant threats to its neighbours.

If India espouses to provide security to all of the Indian Ocean and is to genuinely win over its neighbourhood as it slowly matures into a great power that she really is, then she must rethink some of her foreign policy options with her neighbours. For India to respond to regional strategic threats to her defences like Gwadur, Chittagong, Hambanthota with the kind of Air bases in Tajikistan, they do not come with an “everything for me, nothing for you” policy but more of a “win-win” with a lot of mutual trust that is built up over time. Mutual consultation and diplomatic compromise cannot be one sided however powerful one maybe, One cannot replace constructive engagement with acts of browbeat and manipulations on the world stage in anyway.

If the rest of the South Asian countries (Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, & the Maldives) together with China and Myanmar do not wake up to the impending disaster on them by this “US-Indian alliance” most countries will be splintered into tiny pieces and will most surely become protectorates of the greater Indian Union…………

Sri Lanka should now call for Karunanadhi and his 50 of so MP’s to honour their deadline and their promise of resignation without now changing their usual face saving acts of deceit. Sri Lanka should also seriously reconsider to join “Shanghai Cooperation Organisation”(SCO) without any further delay in face of the threat she is facing from India.

But she must be sensitive to the domestic political compulsions of the Indian governments while at the same time making clear distinction between friendly advice and diplomatic Demarche’s using flimsy excuses. One cannot keep out “international players in the backyard” simply by paying lip service to the needs of Sri Lanka.

There is much more than meets the eye where Indian foreign policy is concerned. SAARC members have suffered greatly as a result of the hunger for India to dominate the region. It behoves all sovereign Governments to ensure they do not sleep with the enemy and develop a plan on how to counter India’s covert operations that has done little good to the region including India itself which is presently having to deal with terrorism in its most brutal forms. Delhi seems clueless on how to handle it though it perfected the art of creating terror in neighbouring countries.

If India is not interested in creating a separate state in Sri Lanka, then Sri Lanka needs a categorical assurance that it will not use the LTTE as a destabilisation force in the country.

If India takes the position that her neighbours take “Belligerent anti-Indian positions” in their dealing with her due to “bellicose patriotism” peace and prosperity would no doubt would be the furthest thing for all the people of South Asia. India needs to lead the way in cultivating TRUST, understanding, benevolence, harmony and peaceful coexistence with all its neighbours. It must display its maturity as a world power in dealing with all its smaller neighbours

Perhaps The Chinese and Indian Prime Ministers should have in their agenda South Asian Stability and Peaceful coexistence, besides common border issues and bilateral economic cooperation during the forthcoming visit to China by the Indian PM…………

Isha Khan


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