by Upul Joseph Fernando
After the Indo- Lanka peace accord was signed, a very interesting and intriguing cartoon made a splash in the Indian media. The cartoon carried a drawing where the then Indian Prime Minister (P.M.) Rajiv Gandhi was shown as panting and running holding the tail of a tiger around a tree while the then Sri Lanka (SL) President J R Jayewardene was relaxing seated in a chair. The idea conveyed by the cartoon was the SL President after signing the accord had entrusted the entire task of destroying the Tamil Tigers to Rajiv Gandhi and the Indian peace keeping Force (IPKF) while he was sitting pretty.
Today , exactly 14 years have elapsed since that event occurred , and the Tamil Tiger menace had been liquidated. Sonia the wife of Rajiv Gandhi however is now holding the tail of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ‘Lion’ and running in circles around the tree. Sonia Gandhi and her Govt. have to hold the tail of the ‘lion’ and run round perhaps because of the assurance given by her Govt. to America including the western countries during the tail end of the SL war. The assurance being , no sooner the Tamil Tigers are devastated than a political solution shall be found for the Tamil people of SL. When America and the international community came forward to halt the war during the final phase, India gave this assurance to them.
This came to light when ‘The Hindu’ newspaper recently revealed the messages contained in the ‘Wikileaks cables’. The US Embassy Wikileaks cables accessed by ‘The Hindu’ newspaper expressed thus : ‘ the cables reveal that while India conveyed its concern to Sri Lanka several times about the perilous situation that civilians caught in the fighting faced , it was not opposed to the anti LTTE operation. They also show that India worried about the Sri Lankan President’s “post conflict intentions”, though it believed that there was a better chance of persuading him to offer Sri Lankan Tamils an inclusive political settlement after the fighting ended. After its efforts to halt the operation failed, the International community resigned itself to playing a post -conflict role by using its economic leverage , acknowledging that it had to rope in India for this.
During the final days of the war, the Indian External affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee came to SL and met Mahinda Rajapakse. What Mukherjee said was noted in the Wikileaks cables as follows : ‘From Mukherjee’s statement at the end of his visit , it was clear that India did not oppose the operations ‘ - “ I stressed that military victories offer a political opportunity to restore life to normalcy in the Northern province and throughout Sri Lanka after twenty three years of conflict. The President assured me that this was his intent"
The British High Commission’s briefing to the US Embassy ‘s Counselor after the UK special Envoy for SL, Des Browne’s meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Menon when the former arrived in New Delhi was expressed in the Wikileaks cables this way … ‘A British High Commission contact briefing the US Embassy political Counselor on this meeting said , the Indian officials were concerned about the humanitarian situation , but were more upbeat on chances to persuade President Rajapaksa to offer Tamils a political solution once fighting had ended.
The two Indian officials were slightly more optimistic of the chance to persuade President Rajapaksa to offer the Tamils a genuinely inclusive political settlement once fighting had ended. It was the Indians’ impression that President Rajapaksa believed this was his moment in history , i.e. , a chance to bring peace to the Island for good , but that the SL army was an obstacle having been emboldened by its victory over the LTTE. They told Mr. Browne that if Sri Lanka did not implement the 13th amendment plus devolution plan quickly, a new terrorist movement could quickly fill the vacuum left by the LTTE’s defeat.
Now, it is nearly two years since the SL war ended, yet the quick devolution plan India spoke of with the Western countries led by America is not still on the horizon. ‘If the quick devolution plan is not implemented there will be a quick terrorist movement taking over’ is also not in sight . This is why Sonia Gandhi is invariably holding the tail of the ‘Lion’ and running round the tree . During the period of J R Jayewardene , Rajiv Gandhi told J .R. that if the Indo –Lanka accord is signed , he would disarm Prabhakaran and induce him to participate in Provincial Council elections. As Rajiv too could not fulfill the promise made by him to J R. he also had occasion to hold the tail , but in his case, that of the ‘Tiger’ and run round the tree
Presumably , Sonia Gandhi’s Govt. would have told America and the International community during the final stages of the war to allow room to Mahinda Rajapaksa to finish off the Tamil Tigers, and that Sonia’s Govt. will ensure that a political solution is arrived at by the Rajapaksa Govt . for the Tamil people . But to her deep consternation , she is now in no position to hold the ‘Lion’s’ tail and run around the tree. ~ courtesy: Daily Mirror ~