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Pakistan’s Four Paramours

Uncle Sam, Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka

by Sachi Sri Kantha, May 26, 2011

"Pakistan responded immediately and flew in men with the required equipment and even some personnel who knew to teach our soldiers how to handle the equipment, particularly the Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRLs). It is said the Pakistanis appreciated Sri Lanka’s need for this equipment in a hurry that their military personnel were ordered to load the equipment into waiting planes.

Military equipment and fighter planes were also flown in from Israel. It is with this equipment that Generals Janaka Perera and Sarath Fonseka fought back with the besieged troops and halted the enemy. If Pakistan did not respond to Sri Lanka’s SOS the country’s history may have taken a different course…”

http://blog.chron.com/nickanderson/files/2011/05/and050411blog.jpg

Nick Anderson cartoon (May 3, 2011; courtesy Houston Chronicle)

The cartoon of Nick Anderson, the political cartoonist of Houston Chronicle, that appeared on May 3rd, 2011, following the death announcement of Osama bil Laden (the leader of Al Queda) brought a chuckle to me. He perfectly anticipated my idea of Pakistan as a paramour of rich Uncle Sam. Pakistan (ruled by military edict and Generals) is an example of a country that Uncle Sam feels awkward to hold hands with with a straight face. Though the cartoonist depicted Pakistan as a military guy with a gun, I’d have preferred Pakistan to be drawn as a lady in veil totting a gun, with Uncle Sam playing the role as a suspicious paramour.

But, simultaneously Pakistan also keeps entertaining a not-so-rich paramour (Al Qaeda, in the 1990s and 2000s) and poor paramours (such as Afghanistan since the 1980s). Both Al Qaeda and Afghanistan are entertained for Islamic religious reasons. The 2nd poor paramour of Pakistan has been Sri Lanka (since 1982), though Sri Lanka is a certified Buddhist country. Like an adept lady who plays a skillful ‘hide and seek’ game with her paramours, Pakistan has gained a lot from her rich paramour Uncle Sam. And it has been in the habit of flaunting what she has received from her rich paramour to her not-so-rich paramours. Sri Lanka, Pakistan’s poor paramour, scrounges the ‘left-over’ military sort (akin to the underpants and soap box) gifted by the rich paramour Uncle Sam.

The May 2nd assassination of Osama bin Laden has to be viewed from the angle of a rich paramour and not-so-rich paramour having a shoot-out in the lady’s compound. When caught in flagrante delicto by the rich paramour, the lady cries foul. The poor paramour’s certified media munchkins (Dayan Jayatillekas and Prabath Sahabandhus) also cry foul loudly, to equate Osama bin Laden to LTTE leader Prabhakaran.

The editorial of The Island (Colombo) May 12, 2011, had this bit of advice to Uncle Sam: “…It is not for killing terrorists that the US should be blamed, but for denying other nations the right to pursue their terrorists. Prabhakaran was Sri Lanka’s bin Laden and the LTTE at his behest killed many more people than Al Qaeda and Taliban put together. No country – not even the US – could make him renounce violence and agree to a negotiated settlement…”. If not mistaken, I believe that this view was authored by Prabath Sahabandu.

Ten years ago, I sent four emails to Mr. Sahabandu’s predecessor Mr. Gamini Weerakoon, criticizing him for equating Prabhakaran with Osama bin Laden and the LTTE with Al Qaeda. To be of educational benefit to the current editor of the Island newspaper, I provide excerpts from the first email correspondence of mine.

In an email sent on September 18, 2001, under the caption ‘Osama bin Laden and Prabhakaran’ I wrote the following:

“I’m always amazed by your propensity to compare apples and oranges, and your comparison of Osama bin Laden and Prabhakaran is a recent example of this perennial sickness. Here I submit four differences between Osama bin Laden and Prabhakaran, for your information.

  • Osama bin Laden is a native of Saudi Arabia, currently domiciled in Afghanistan. His targeted enemy is USA and he is not waging a direct war against Saudi Arabia. Contrastingly, Prabhakaran is a native of then Ceylon, and currently living in the island. His army is waging a war against the Sri Lankan state, and not against USA. Not a single American has died due to the activities of LTTE either in Sri Lanka or elsewhere.
  • Osama bin Laden’s patrons are Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Taliban, created by Pakistan’s intelligence-wallahs. Prabhakaran’s current adversary is Sri Lankan state, whose prominent patron is Pakistan. So, one can infer who is close to Osama bin Laden. It’s the Sri Lankan state and not Prabhakaran.
  • Osama bin Laden is not leading any liberation movement. But Prabhakaran is leading a liberation movement, with covert and overt ethnic followers in excess of millions. Though it is reported that Osama bin Laden’s group has ‘cells’ in more than 60 nations, his followers do not amount to more than even 100,000 (see, ‘Osama bin Laden and his Group’, Washington Post, Sept.13, 2001).
  • Even for the sake of argument, if one sticks the label of terrorist to both Osama bin Laden and Prabhakaran, anyone with basic knowledge on terrorism can comprehend that Osama bin Laden is a transplanted terrorist, similar to Che Guevara. Do not forget that Che lost all his ‘post-Cuban period’ wars, because he was always a ‘stranger’. Prabhakaran, on the other hand, lives among his own followers, and wage war against his adversaries.”

For sheer interest and beauty of description, I have saved an editorial that appeared in the Island of July 31, 2002 that certifies Sri Lanka’s status as a pauper paramour of Pakistan. Note the date. This was after the GOSL-LTTE ceasefire agreement of February 2002. It tells the story of how the LTTE ‘almost’ routed SL army in Jaffna during April-May 2000, from an adversary’s angle.

Pervez Musharraf Pakistan's Generals India Today Oct 25 1999
Pakistan's Generals, India Today, Oct. 25, 1999

Whatever they brag now, it was with Muslim mercenaries from Pakistan (who were in bed with Osama bin Laden!) that the Sinhalese army could stall the advance of the LTTE. Generals Janaka Perera and Sarath Fonseka are named in the editorial. The editor didn’t have the guts to name the LTTE’s solitary General! What about the Rajapaksa clan? Nothing noted. The militarian Rajapaksa was living in the USA, having retired from the army. I provide excerpts, from this editorial entitled ‘Welcome, a friend in need and a friend indeed!’

“General Pervez Musharraf who arrives here today on a state visit is a friend of Sri Lanka and much more. He is a friend who came to the rescue of Sri Lanka in its darkest hour in recent times.

Two years have passed since then and not many know of Pakistan’s role under General Musharraf to help Sri Lanka in April-May 2000. Around fifty thousand troops were trapped in the northern part of the Jaffna peninsula after our political generals in Colombo bungled and camp after camp fell and finally the supposedly impregnable Elephant Pass Camp too caved in. The terrorists then swept through the Jaffna peninsula and were about to enter Jaffna town.

Sri Lanka looked around for friends to help them. Leading Buddhist monks who had not been too well disposed to India earlier, in desperation, appealed to Indian leaders for help. Other friendly nations too were asked for assistance but they could only parrot that they ‘respected the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Sri Lanka’. India could offer only ‘humanitarian assistance’ – whatever that meant and did not arrive. Pakistan responded immediately and flew in men with the required equipment and even some personnel who knew to teach our soldiers how to handle the equipment, particularly the Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRLs). It is said the Pakistanis appreciated Sri Lanka’s need for this equipment in a hurry that their military personnel were ordered to load the equipment into waiting planes.

Military equipment and fighter planes were also flown in from Israel. It is with this equipment that Generals Janaka Perera and Sarath Fonseka fought back with the besieged troops and halted the enemy. If Pakistan did not respond to Sri Lanka’s SOS the country’s history may have taken a different course…”

Moral of the story: First, even playing the role of a poor paramour of Pakistan has had its merits for Sri Lanka. Secondly, the LTTE did not lose to the ‘guts’ of the Sinhalese army, but to Muslim mercenaries allied with Al Qaeda.

*****

 

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