On 21 April 2019, Sri Lanka suffered from eight bomb blasts in churches and high-end hotels, which killed almost 300 people and injured many more.International media, especially Indian, hurriedly reported that National TawheedJamaath (NTJ), a local Islamic extremist group, is responsible for the attacks. But, the question remains: who did benefit from Sri Lankan attacks? To answer this question, one has to look at the broader picture which includes China’s peaceful rise and American as well as Indian apprehensions, Sri Lanka’s increasing interest in China’s Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) and Indian Intelligence Agency’s- Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)- continuous involvement to destabilize the region in order to fulfill its regional hegemony aspirations.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of greater BRI is going to change, whether one accepts or not, geo-political and geo-economic landscapes of the region with greater connectivity and developmental projects. The project will not only extend China’s outreach from South China Sea to the Arabian Sea, but it will also augment regional economy as well as standing in the international comity. According to various international security analysts, China is the only country who is capable of tackling as well as mitigating security challenges, prevalent in the region. With China’s win-win approach, regional players can have a healthy relationship. Because of its benefits, regional states are now in favor of CPEC and BRI. For instance, Afghanistan can stabilize its economy with large-scale foreign aid and financing under CPEC that would subsequent lead to post-war rehabilitation and development.The country will also be able to attain self-sufficiency, if it facilitates trade between Central Asian states and Eastern countries. With the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, incoming trade opportunities will bring greater incentives for Pakistan and Iran to cooperate as Chahbahar and Gwadar port can be sister ports. Similarly, the relationship between Sri Lanka and China has been growing the recent past and Sri Lanka favors CPEC. Plus, India also feel threatened with the emerging market of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also important for China in context of Maritime Silk Road.
Consequently, the region will gain greater stability with the decline of security competition. But wait a minute! Is this proposition in everybody’s interest? More clearly, will the West and India benefit from regional peace and stability?But, why is that?
First, RAW’s involvement in other countries’ affairs in nothing new. It is also evident from Indira Doctrine, which states that “India will not tolerate external intervention in a conflict situation in any South Asian country, if the intervention has any implicit or explicit anti-Indian implication. No South Asian government must, therefore, ask for external military assistance with an anti-Indian bias from any country”. Since its inception, foreign policy of India has been led by power considerations. In this context, India has been employing covert or overt use of force in the region; forced annexation of various Princely states by India is one example. Moreover, India exploited the gap created by British policies between two ethic groups of Sri Lanka-Sinhalese and Tamils. India intervened in the issue in terms of supporting Tamil separatists. Indian support included military training, provision of military equipment, and financial, political and diplomatic support. During the reign of Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, the Indian government used their intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to train and arm Tamil militant groups (TMGs). On the similar note, it was exactly the same time and government, when Indian government also intervened in the internal matters of Pakistan militarily and disintegrated it in 1971. According to online sources, PM Indira Gandhi also had a plan to invade Sri Lanka, which cannot be realized because of her assassination in 1984. During 1980s, hundreds and thousands of Tamils were trained by RAW in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. It was because of Indian support that Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) became a conventional army and controlled northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. And the rest is history. Furthermore, terrorists’ around the world have learnt the art and tactics of making suicide bombs and successful execution from Tamil Nado, India. Therefore, India has history of interfering in the internal matters of regional states.
Second, the rumor is that the Sri Lankan Easter attacks have set the stage for the establishment of a US base in Sri Lankan coast on its East along with an oil refinery in Hambantota to choke China in the Indian Ocean. It is also claimed that the US deep state has been using various rogue elements (ISIS) to meet its ulterior motives. Finally, US knows that CPEC and BRI will lessen its pressure on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, so it is opposing the project.
Last, but hardly the least, Indian Prime Minister Modi’s neighborhood policy is also in line with Modi’s election strategy that centers on anti-Muslim narrative. Therefore, he was quick to blame Muslims for Sri Lankan attacks and, ironically, world accepts this narrative with a blind eye. Nevertheless, peace and stability in the region is need of the hour and, if it comes with CPEC, BRI or China’s rise; then, the world needs to accept it rather than brainwashing innocent minds for terrorism and creating chaos.
Written by: Adeel Mukhtar Mirza