Political unrest in Sri Lanka: Military options
By Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Veteran)
Sri Lanka is undergoing a civil strife faced with uncertainty and no hope in sight as the political leadership “disappeared” and sought refuge at a military airbase. Electronic media shows the common people in the president’s palace, shocked at the pomp in which the leadership resides as the man on the street wonders how to make his next meal, medicines for the sick or fuel.
Despite the fact that the political leadership has formed a government based on absolute majority, led by divisive politics that shuns focus on important issues that need to be addressed.
The political situation has turned its head and we have an unstable neighborhood. Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal under the vice grip of the Chinese loan have ensured that the economy in these countries has collapsed.
Is it in India’s interest to intervene militarily in Sri Lanka?
There have been comments on social media that India has an important role to play in the region to ensure democracy is restored and civil strife is controlled.
By serving in the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as part of Operation PAWAN, an intervention by the Indian Political Leadership, Bureaucracy and the Military Leadership keeps Covid seemingly at a distance from the contributions made, so even after 35 years, the Army HQ allowed the placement of the wreath at the National War Memorial on the 29thika July 2022, led by GOC IPKF Lt Gen AS Kalkat and the Veterans of Operation PAWAN. It will be a quiet solemn occasion not according to the Military Traditions of the Buglers which plays the Last Post and the Shok Shastra, followed by 2 minutes of silence and Rouse sounds as if honoring our Bravehearts killed in action, the soldier was determined to face. the next task assigned.
With this legacy in place, it is a sincere and honest advice, we should not explore Military Intervention other than a Humanitarian Aid Disaster Relief mission to be carried out.
Sri Lanka’s armed forces as well as its law enforcers as well as other government functionaries are intact and they need to be supported by resources to give them a chance to govern. The Government of India while providing Humanitarian Aid also needs to approach the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others who need to address the bigger picture of creating Economic Aid to help smaller Countries to offer such assistance from of the Chinese Dragon.
Unfortunately, Europe/US and the UK are committed to Ukraine, not realizing that China is taking advantage of the environment to meet its National Interests. This threat needs to be reduced both economically and militarily.
Are World Leaders committed to the challenges mentioned above; unfortunately not. The Geo Political situation is in a state of flux as the US, UK, France, Germany on one side; Saudi Arabia, Iran, China and Russia on the other side; Japan hit by the Shinzo Abe assassination and its effects on the Quad and the impact on the Pacific as well as the Indian Ocean region will need to be focused on in the coming weeks.
With this change, whether China will take a step towards Taiwan, even more hostile in the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands, needs to be watched with caution.
Under the circumstances, such as we want to participate in Out of Area Contingencies, it seems like a distant dream as our defense forces are challenged with manpower, equipment and modernization challenges; it will take a decade or two before we become a powerful force to carry out these missions with the same responsibility and accountability.
Rome was not made of a day.
(The author is an Indian Army Veteran. The views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited).