News Line

    Go to Home Back
Email this to a friend
Printable version
Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 04.51 GMT

War on terror has to be won for the sake of lasting peace
Learn from Sri Lanka – former Pakistan Interior Secy


The war on terror has to be won for the sake of establishing long-term peace and progress. It’s time now to learn from the experience of others. There are always close analogies, notwithstanding the situational specificities. Sri Lanka, for instance, is an example close to home, Tariq Mahmud wrote in the Tribune, Pakistan.

The country faced the vagaries of civil war and an unremitting spate of suicide attacks for nearly three decades. It, however, fought its way out of this quagmire.

Tamil separatists had turned into a professional combat machine and were able to raise a well-trained infantry, artillery, naval gunships and a fleet of stealth boats. They were also able to raise death squads of suicide bombers, which carried out the most chilling operations during these years. Commitment to the cause was so deep that the Tamil Tigers doyen, Villuplai Prabhakaran, had given a blank cheque to his followers to gun him down if he ever wavered in their cause. The Tamil separatists were able to gain control of the Jaffna peninsula. They imposed local taxes and ran their own affairs while unhinging peace on the main island. They had access to the international arms bazaar through brokers and agents located across the Palk Strait in Chennai.

How the Tamil Tigers sustained such a long-drawn war makes for an interesting reading. The Tamil diaspora, which is spread across the world from Australasia to the Carribbean, is known as one of the most industrious and enterprising ethnic stocks. One-time indentured labourers were now present on the political and business horizons of many countries. The community boasted of an elaborate and wealthy financial network spread over money markets, real estate and retail businesses. The Tamil Tigers had set up their offices wherever the Tamil diaspora was concentrated, which in turn, made generous contributions to their separatist movement and militant operations.

Moves for truce and ceasefire through interlocutors never worked and agreements to this effect were often breached. There was a turnaround in fortunes in 2006 when the Sri Lankan leadership and forces made a decisive move and successfully choked the Tamil separatists’ supply chain. Armed vessels were either seized or destroyed within the economic zone. The high seas were subjected to intrusive vigilance. A sizeable cargo fleet was owned by the Tigers, which was employed for shipment of arms; half of them were destroyed by the Sri Lankan Navy. The inflow of finances was tracked down and a constant trail was maintained. On the battlefront, the Tigers were underpinned and were taken under siege in the Jaffna peninsula, and their links with militants in the eastern region were not only severed but a creeping wedge within the Tigers’ leadership was played around to the advantage of the government. The Indians were now feeling the blowback of the fratricidal war and seemed less than enthused about bolstering the beleaguered Tamil Tigers.

Is our leadership prepared to display a similar resolve in the face of similar challenges? Do we have the same kind of resolve to fight out the battles our society faces and is our politico-religious leadership ready to deny the militants space? the writers asked.

Tariq Mahmud is a public policy analyst and former interior secretary in Pakistan.

Read more at:





Contact Information:: Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: August 08, 2013.

Copyright © 2008 Policy Research & Information Unit of the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.