"Finally, the battlefield commander fights to win the battle. But it's the political will that determines success or failure in war. If the battlefield commander is let down by lack of political will or consensus, victory is impossible to achieve." Sri Lankan Strategist Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Sri Lankan military defeated the terrorists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers) in 2009 after a war that lasted 26 years.
This period from 1983 to 2009 included a long series of talks and peace deals, all violated by the LTTE. After many years of on and off half-hearted attempts to quell LTTE insurgency, it took the determined leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to declare an all-out war against LTTE with Pakistan's help to defeat the terrorist group in just three years. President Rajapksa made it his top priority. He built broad public support for his military campaign and followed through with ruthless execution of his plan.
Raw, the Indian intelligence agency, in the 1980s, the Tamil Tigers met their bloody end at the hands of Lankan military using arms manufactured and supplied by Pakistan.
Alarmed by reports of Pakistani arms supplies to Sri Lanka in 2008, India said it wanted Sri Lanka to treat Tamils with dignity and also voiced concern that Colombo’s arms purchases may upset New Delhi’s “pre-eminent position” in South Asia. “We are facing a situation where the ceasefire (in Sri Lanka) could collapse. This could lead to a flashpoint,” National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said while delivering the 25th Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal memorial lecture.
India refused to supply what it considered "offensive weapons" to Sri Lanka and opposed any military solution of the "ethnic conflict" while urging Colombo to devolve autonomy to the minorities.
According the News quoting reliable sources in Pakistan, military cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan has grown significantly in recent years as Islamabad, unlike New Delhi, has had no problems supplying Sri Lanka's army state-of-the-art weaponry to accelerate its counter-insurgency operations against the LTTE which finally ended with the killing of the most wanted Tamil guerrilla fighter Vellupillai Prabhakaran. The sources said it was in the first week of May 2008 that Sri Lankan Army Chief General Fonseka came to Pakistan with his shopping list of high tech arms for the Lankan armed forces, who were engaged in an intense battle with the Tamil Tiger rebels at the time.
After Fonseca's visit, Pakistan sold 22 Al-Khalid tanks to Sri Lanka in a deal worth over US$100 million. Sri Lanka also purchased Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher System (MBRLS), cluster bombs, deep penetration bombs and rockets and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from Pakistan, according to various reports. In fact, Sri Lanka, along with some Middle Eastern nations, has now become one of the largest buyers of Pakistani arms in the last few years.
On Jan 19, 2009, in a meeting between Pakistani Defense Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali and his visiting Lankan counterpart Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the brother of Sri Lankan president, in Rawalpindi, an agreement was reached to enhance cooperation in military training, exercises and intelligence sharing regarding terrorism. The agreement came amid Sri Lankan media reports that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilots had participated in several successful air strikes against LTTE military bases in August 2008. These reports further claimed that a highly trained group of the Pakistani armed forces officers is posted in Colombo to guide the Sri Lankan security forces in their counter-insurgency operations against the Tamil Tigers.
LTTE's vicious campaign of terror claimed over 100,000 lives in a country with a population of just 20 million, about the same as Karachi's population. It included aerial attacks, and use of gun boats and suicide bombings.
LTTE started using suicide bombings as a terror tactic well before Al Qaeda did. LTTE victims included Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India who was killed by a female LTTE suicide bomber. Another victim was former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga who lost an eye when her election rally was attacked by LTTE. The deaths include at least 27,639 LTTE fighters, 23,790 Sri Lankan soldiers and policemen, 1,155 Indian soldiers, and tens of thousands of civilians.
Some argue that the Pakistani Taliban are a much more difficult foe to defeat. Others argue that FATA can not be "conquered". They cite history of the Russians and the British to support their claim. I see these as seriously flawed analogies.
The reality is that nobody is talking about "conquering" FATA. To the contrary, the people of FATA need to be rescued from a band of thugs and criminals who are terrorizing the ordinary people of FATA and using North Waziristan as their base of operations. The Taliban recruit and train bombers and send them out into various town of cities of Pakistan to kill innocent people. Pakistani military is not a foreign military attempting to occupy FATA. In fact, there are significant numbers of people from federally administered tribal areas who are part of Pakistani security forces.
It's also a fact that the LTTE terrorists in Sri Lanka were just as vicious and determined as the TTP terrorists in Pakistan today. LTTE made and violated multiple peace deals over a long period. Sri Lankan leaders were as patient (clueless?) as Pakistani leaders are today. It all changed with the arrival of Rajapaksa who decided enough was enough. He disregarded the usual rights groups and other do-gooders to do what had to be done to rid his country of the scourge of terrorism by taking decisive action starting in 2006.
With daily carnage in the streets of Pakistan, the nation is suffering from extremely low economic growth rates of just 2-3% a year. Over 40,000 people have become victims of the Taliban terror. Foreign and domestic investments have dried up. There are widespread blackouts and energy shortages. Few new jobs are being created. Foreign investors, tourists, sports teams and business executives are shying away from the country.
Pakistan can not afford the continuation of the status quo. There will be more casualties in the short term if Pakistan decides to declare all-out war on the Taliban terrorists. Allowing the problem to fester will only make matters worse and lead to far more damage in the long run. It must act quickly and decisively to end the ongoing reign of terror by the Pakistani Taliban and their various affiliates who share their hateful ideology and collaborate to achieve their reprehensible aims.
Does Pakistan have a Mahinda Rajapaksa? Alternatively, can Pakistani leaders learn from Rajapaksa's experience? Can Sharif Brothers in Pakistan do what Rajapaksa Brothers did in Sri Lanka?
Here's a recent video discussion of continuing terror attacks in Pakistan:
Attack on Peshawar church; Baluchistan earthquake; Should Taliban be allowed to open offices from WBT TV on Vimeo.
Sri Lanka Defeated LTTE With Pakistan's Help
Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Taliban Terror in Inaugural Speech
Taliban vs. Pakistan
Yet Another Peace Deal and Shia Blockade
Taliban Insurgency in Swat
Musharraf's Treason Trial
General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership
Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013
Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign
Pakistan Elections 2013 Predictions
Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?
Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo
Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube