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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 16, November 3, 2003

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal



LTTE: A Maximal Proposal
Guest Writer: Jehan Perera
Media Director, National Peace Council of Sri Lanka

There was little reason to doubt that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) proposals in terms of the interim administration they sought for the contested North East of the country would be ambitious. This was to be expected, as in the case of any first offer in a negotiation. The surprise was not that the LTTE did, in fact, make such maximalist demands. The surprise is that they did it so well.

The long awaited LTTE proposals on the type of interim administration they seek for the North East made their appearance on October 31, 2003, on which day the proposals were handed over to the Norwegian facilitators to be forwarded to the Government. This action underlined the central role that Norway continues to play in the Sri Lankan peace process. The preamble to the LTTE's proposals, described as proposals on behalf of the Tamil people, also acknowledged with appreciation the services of the Norwegian Government and the international community.

The immediate reaction of journalists covering the release in Kilinochchi was neither negative nor emotional. A key reason for this was that the proposals had been prepared with a great deal of thought about how they would be perceived by the world at large. Hence, there were no immediate red flags that could set anyone's blood boiling upon a quick reading.

The LTTE has clearly refrained from frontally addressing emotive issues. They made no mention either of their own military or of the right of the Sri Lankan military to be present in the North East; or of the Sinhalese settlements in the North East. The LTTE's proposals also did not call for a change in the national flag or anthem or the special place accorded to Buddhism in the Sri Lankan Constitution. Any mention of these could have generated an emotional response from Sinhalese nationalists.

However, a closer scrutiny of the LTTE proposals would reveal that they are maximalist in spirit, as indeed could have been anticipated from an organisation that has waged a long war for the cause of complete Tamil separation from Sri Lanka. The proposals, in sum, call for the establishment of an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) for the North East in which the LTTE would have an absolute majority of members. Thereafter, the proposals indicate that complete autonomy is sought in virtually every aspect of the political and economic life of the people.

The LTTE proposals call for separate institutions to be set up for the North East in respect of the police, judiciary, elections, taxation, local and foreign grants and loans, and trade, among others. There is an assurance that internationally mandated standards of human rights, accountability, multi-ethnic representation and free and fair elections will prevail. But all the institutions that are to be set up to ensure such practices of good governance will be under the sole control of the ISGA which will have an absolute LTTE majority.

In a society where the spirit of power sharing is yet to be learned and practiced, obtaining an absolute majority is a potential license for unilateralism. When this potential is coupled with autonomy, the result can be a high degree of control. It is noteworthy that the LTTE's proposals make no provision for integration with nationally prevailing structures. Viewed in this context, it is not surprising that the Sri Lankan Government's response to the LTTE proposals was cautious and restrained. The Government's immediate reaction was to say that there were fundamental differences between the LTTE's proposals and those submitted several months earlier by the Government itself.

In its own proposals regarding an interim administration for the North East, the Government specifically excluded matters pertaining to police, land, revenue and security from the purview of the interim administration. But in the LTTE's counter proposals, all the above with the exception of security are specifically considered to be the domain of the ISGA. Further, in the Government's proposals, while an absolute majority is conceded to the LTTE, provision was made for a minority veto on matters that affected the interests of the Muslim and Sinhalese communities living in the North East.

On the ground the Muslims and Sinhalese of the East, who presently constitute over 60 percent of the population in this region, have strongly protested their inclusion into an LTTE dominated administration. The Muslims in particular have been vociferous about their opposition, as in the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) they have a political party that draws virtually all its strength from the East. The SLMC's first response to the LTTE's proposals has been to say that they do not meet Muslim aspirations.

The Government's cautious response to the LTTE's proposals could also be due to its apprehensions about a backlash against them from Sinhalese nationalists bolstered by opposition political parties. Pro-war Sinhalese nationalists who call for the military subjugation of Tamil nationalism last week physically attacked leading Sinhalese and Tamil cultural artistes who had gathered together for an inter-ethnic cultural festival in Colombo. What this increasingly frustrated minority needs is the politically motivated backing by the major opposition parties to run amok and riot on the streets, as has happened on past occasions when Governments appeared to make concessions to Tamil demands for regional autonomy.

The unfortunate history of post-independence Sri Lankan politics is that opposition parties have repeatedly seized upon Governmental concessions to Tamil parties as betrayals of the Sinhalese to mobilise popular opposition to the Government. The last occasion for this unsavoury practice was in Parliament itself in August 2000, when many members of the present Government behaved like louts, hooted and burnt copies of the Draft Constitution that President Chandrika Kumaratunga sought to present before Parliament. Today, alas, it is the turn of President Kumaratunga and her party to get even with those who wield the reins of the Government.

There is much to commend in the LTTE's proposals, in particular their willingness to give weight to the principles of good governance, representative democracy and accountability. They are the result of a great deal of effort and provide a basis from which to engage in dialogue with other parties to the conflict, such as the Government and the Muslims. The fact that the LTTE has invested so much time and effort in a political endeavour is to be appreciated by those who seek a peaceful solution to the ethnic conflict.

For nearly six months the LTTE focused its attention on the production of its interim administration proposals, holding a wide range of consultations with local and international experts in its capital of Kilinochchi and also in numerous foreign countries, including France, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. The document they have produced is a concise exposition of Tamil thinking over which there is, of course, the final authority of the LTTE. There is no doubt that the proposals are maximalist in spirit; but they are an opening offer in negotiations in which there has got to be give and take.

With its proposals for an Interim Self Governing Authority the LTTE has given concrete form to its expectations in a manner that is essentially compatible with peaceful coexistence in a united Sri Lanka. The fact that the LTTE has recognised the right of the Sri Lankan Government to appoint members to the ISGA, and has not challenged the right of the Sri Lankan security forces to be present in the North East, are specific indicators of a preparedness to accept a united country.

Further, even with regard to the new regional institutions they have proposed, such as the police and judiciary, there appears to be an openness to dialogue with the Government on how to set them up and on their composition. It is unlikely that the Government will either have the ability or the intention to set up new institutions that supersede the existing ones during an interim administrative period. New institutions that require legal and constitutional change are more appropriate for the final political settlement.

It is noteworthy that, in the Sri Lankan Government's immediate response to the LTTE's proposal, the Government's chief negotiator, Prof. G.L. Peiris, noted that the international community had strongly supported the peace process and emphasised the principle of partnership. He also pointed out that the joint statement issued in New Delhi at the end of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to India earlier this month had "made a definitive statement about the parameters within which a negotiated political solution should be arrived at." The joint statement made mention of the fact that the two Governments expected the LTTE to be reasonable and comprehensive in the proposals it made regarding the interim administration, and stressed that its proposals should be linked to the final settlement.

The linkage of the interim administration to the final solution is important because it implies that there will be a progression towards a federal and democratic system. At present, neither of these exists in the North East. The interim administration that is permissible, and realistic to achieve, at this stage, will necessarily have less powers and democracy in it than the final solution, which must see the full flowering of democracy and sharing of power at all levels and for all communities.

Perhaps the Ceasefire Agreement signed in February 2002 between the two parties with Norwegian facilitation can be a model in respect of creating new working arrangements during the period of the interim administration. It is an agreement between the two sides that has enabled the LTTE to take on new roles and work in Government-controlled territory without the need for constitutional changes. There is certainly a need for an ISGA until the final political settlement is reached, but it will need to be compatible with a united framework of governance.




Another Swing of the Pendulum
Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

India's policy on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), on terrorism, and on the principal sponsor of terrorism in South Asia - Pakistan - has often been criticized for its inconsistencies. Over the past years, however, an increasing consistency has been evident - though perhaps not in any particularly constructive sense: the consistency of a pendulum, swinging with insistent regularity from one extreme to the other.

This fruitless cycle has been repeated in an endless succession of 'peace initiatives' at the highest level - regularly interrupted by escalating violence, military mobilization, coercive diplomacy and belligerent political rhetoric - certainly since the Prime Minister's 'Ramadan Ceasefire' (cessation of offensive operations against terrorists) in November 2000, and indeed, at different stages before. The current set of initiatives is one more directionless link in a chain that is steadily losing credibility, even among those who watch these processes from a great distance. Thus, the US Congressional Research Service has already dismissed the current process as 'moribund', though a delusional Indian media and a gaggle of 'experts' committed to what has been called, in another context, the 'political realism of appeasement', continue to wax eloquent on the 'confidence building measures' announced.

The current 'peace process', like its predecessors, is doomed to inevitable failure, in the first instance, because, it does not reflect the realities of the ground, or any radical shift in the fundamental positions, either of India or Pakistan. Thus, any negotiations, within this context, would seek only to advance the tactical objectives of the engaging parties. The possibilities of a fundamental and strategic shift in the Pakistani perspective, and tactical agenda are remote. Pakistan - and the elites that control power, not just the present regime, in that country - remains entirely committed to its founding ideology of Islamism and religious exclusion, and consequently, to undermining the integrity of the secular, democratic Indian nation state (characteristics that India would be entirely unwilling to compromise or dilute). Evidence of Pakistan's unwavering strategic perspectives - despite broad tactical variations - can be discovered in relation to recent events and policies in another theatre: Afghanistan. In the wake of the 9/11 incidents and US pressure on Pakistan to join the 'global coalition against terror', Pakistan was widely seen to have performed a u-turn on its Afghan policy, and to have 'abandoned' its long standing quest for 'strategic depth' through interference in the internal affairs of that country. Proof of the Pakistani 'u-turn' has been vociferously asserted through a steady dribble of Al Qaeda cadres handed over to US Forces, though it is far from clear how much of this trickle is voluntary or coerced. Nevertheless, as the American attention wavers, there is mounting evidence that Pakistan is reviving its earlier policies on Afghanistan, using various proxies to put the Hamid Karzai regime under pressure, and offering its 'services' to America to help mobilize forces - including the remnants of its surrogate, the Taliban, incredibly being repackaged as a 'moderate Taliban' - that could 'help fill' the existing power vacuum in the uncontrolled areas beyond Kabul's sway. Clearly, while Pakistan has executed dramatic policy shifts to cope with the exigencies and imperatives arising out of the post-9/11 scenario, its fundamental strategic perspectives remain tied to the pre-9/11 world, and to the original ideological impulses of its creation. This fact underpins its responses in J&K, and with regard to its wider support to terrorism in various theatres in India as well.

The most probable assumption, consequently, is that the current 'peace process' will simply be used by Pakistan as an instrumentality to focus attention on what it calls the 'core issue' of Kashmir. As a result, an extended process of 'negotiations' may be entered into, but would remain no more than a charade (the obvious mischievousness of some of Pakistan's 'counter-proposals', indeed, the rather shrill rhetoric on both sides, seems to suggest that the shared intent is more theatrical than substantive). Terrorist activities on Indian soil would, consequently, be sustained; would be calibrated to the exigencies of both bilateral and international developments; and would tend to be held at maximal levels at which 'credible minimal deniability' can be maintained. Over the coming weeks, state support by Pakistan to terrorist organizations, and their visible presence and activities on Pakistani soil, may temporarily be driven deeper underground; as the 'peace initiative' is seen to progress, some symbolic - but necessarily ineffectual - action may again be taken against some of the groups to demonstrate Pakistan's 'seriousness' in 'tackling terrorism'; but terrorist activities in J&K and other parts of India would be retained at the maximum possible within the limits of international tolerance. Increasingly, moreover, assertive elements in the Army and the Inter Services Intelligence, as well as fundamentalist political and extremist groupings in Pakistan, would tend to promote and consolidate independent capacities to promote the jehadi agenda; past experience, however, has demonstrated that Musharraf would, nevertheless, retain control, since most of the jehadi groups are, in fact, held firmly 'by the scruff of their necks' by the Army. Such groups will also continue to cement alliances with various other Islamist extremist entities, such as the al Qaeda and the Taliban, active or present in Pakistan, as well as with the organized criminal underground. At the stage where Pakistan finds itself losing out in the propaganda war over the 'peace process', these entities can be expected to immediately escalate violence to engineer major terrorist strikes in India at a stage where the blame for a 'breakdown' can passed on to alleged Indian intransigence.

The space for covert sponsorship of terrorism in South Asia - by both state and non-state entities - is seen to have substantially expanded after a temporary post-9/11 contraction, particularly since the beginning of the US campaign in Iraq, and increasingly since the apparently mismanaged 'peace' there. The future of terrorism in South Asia is integrally linked to the stabilization of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and perceptions of US vulnerabilities in these theatres will encourage traditional sponsors of terrorism in South Asia to escalate terrorist campaigns, not only against rivals within the region, but increasingly against US and Western interests as well. The continuous succession of strikes against US Forces in Iraq; the growing disorders in Afghanistan; the rising and manifest consternation in the US regarding the increasing toll in American lives; and the growing significance of events in Iraq in US domestic politics and President Bush's re-election prospects next year, are all creating complex incentives for an escalation in terror across the world. The ideologues and campaign managers of Islamist extremism are becoming convinced that the world's sole superpower - though it cannot be confronted directly in conventional conflict - is nevertheless vulnerable to the 'war of the flea'. The destruction of the capacities and infrastructure of terrorism, consequently, now becomes the most urgent imperative of the global war against terrorism. Unfortunately, there is little evidence of significant diminution in these, despite the steady stream of 'victories' chalked up through the arrest or neutralization of individual terrorists.



Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 27-November 2, 2003

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &






     West Bengal


Total (INDIA)





*   Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.

Highlights: October 2003 'Peace Initiative'
Indian Offer of Confidence Building Measures and Pakistan's Response

Indian Proposal
Pakistani Response
Restoration of cricketing and other sporting links. Accepts and hopes it to begin soon.
Launching of a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Accepts in principle but with a rider that check points should be manned by the United Nations (UN) officials and people should travel with UN documents.
Holding of second round of talks for restoration of air links and overflights. Accepted and second round of talks to be held on December 1and 2.
Discuss resumption of rail links after aviation talks and increasing the services of Delhi-Lahore bus service. Asked not to link air and rail services talks and favours early resumption of Samjhauta Express. No to increase of bus service but proposes Lahore-Amritsar bus service.
Setting up of links between the coast guards of the two countries on the pattern of Directors General of Military Operations Accepted.
Stop arrests of fishermen within certain specified areas in the Arabian Sea. Setting up of a regime under which even if they are arrested, they would be released in a month or so.
Issue visas in cities other than New Delhi and Islamabad. Accepted in principle but wants mission strength to be restored to 110, as existed before December 2001.
Permit citizens above 65 years to cross Wagah border on foot. Accepted.
Launching of ferry service between Mumbai and Karachi. Can be discussed during the composite dialogue.
Bus or rail link between Khokrapar in Rajasthan and Munnabao in Pakistan's Sindh province. Can be discussed during the composite dialogue.
Free medical treatment for 20 more ailing Pakistani children in India. Offers treatment to 40 Indian children at Heart Institute in Karachi and disabled persons, widows and the victims of rape affected by "operations of agencies". Offers 100 scholarships for graduate and post-graduate students from the state of Jammu and Kashmir
Mutual increase in the staff strength of respective High Commissions in Delhi and Islamabad. Wants to increase it to 110, as existed prior to December 2001.


Delhi High Court upholds death sentence for two Jaish terrorists in Parliament attack case: The Delhi High Court on October 29, 2003, dismissed the appeals of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists Mohammed Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru against their conviction under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in the December 13, 2001, Parliament attack case and upheld the death sentences awarded to them by a lower court. However, the Court acquitted two other accused in the same case, S.A.R. Geelani, a Delhi University lecturer and Afsan Guru, wife of Shaukat Hussain Guru, on the basis of insufficient evidence. The Hindu, October 30, 2003.


United States declares Maoists a 'security threat': The United States on October 31, 2003, declared the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) to be a threat to US national security and froze its assets as part of a package of sanctions. In the declaration, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said, "CPN-M has committed, or poses a significant threat risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security, foreign policy, or economy of the US". The State Department also proscribed two of the party's aliases - the United Revolutionary People's Council and the People's Liberation Army of Nepal. Nepal News, November 1, 2003.


Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar submits response to Indian CBMs: Pakistan on October 29, 2003, made a response to the Indian confidence-building measures (CBMs) and hoped that discussions would lead New Delhi to resume a sustained and composite dialogue with Islamabad on all contentious issues, including the Kashmir issue. Referring to the Indian proposal of introducing a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar said that there should be checkpoints manned by the United Nations (UN) on the Line of Control (LoC) and people traveling on such a bus service should carry UN documents. Pakistan, he said, was offering scholarships for 100 Kashmiri students for studies in graduate and post-graduate courses in professional institutions. Pakistan has also offered to treat "disabled Kashmiris and help widows and victims of rape affected by various operations launched by security agencies." Pakistan, Khokhar said, accepted the proposals pertaining to the resumption of the Samjhauta Express train between Lahore and Delhi, sports ties, visa camps with provision of necessary infrastructure and staff, land border crossing by people in the age group of 65 and above, and setting up of a hotline between Pakistan's maritime agency and Indian coast guards to ensure humanitarian and expeditious assistance to arrested fishermen of either country. Regarding the Indian proposal for a Mumbai-Karachi ferry service and opening a land route between Munabao and Khokhrapar, he said that these issues should be left for consideration whenever the two sides decided to resume dialogue. Jang, October 30, 2003.


LTTE demands complete control over North-East in its Interim Administration proposal: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on November 1, 2003, demanded an "Interim Self-Governing Authority for the North East (ISGA)," with majority powers for itself and complete control over regional administration "until a final settlement is reached and implemented." This was enumerated in the outfit's Interim Administrative proposals which were handed over to the Sri Lankan Government through the Norwegian facilitators. While setting a five-year deadline for "a final settlement," of the ethnic conflict, the LTTE said that "if no settlement is reached and implemented'' by then, the interim body's "independent election commission'' would "conduct free and fair elections in accordance with international democratic principles under international observation'' to choose the members of the ISGA. The LTTE's demands reportedly include "all powers and functions in relation to regional administration exercised by the Government in and for the northeast'' including revenue, law and order, land and marine resources. Further, it has sought control over finances with powers over domestic and international borrowings and to "engage in or regulate internal and external trade." Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Government has described the LTTE's offer as one that "differs in fundamental respects'' from the one that it submitted to the outfit on July 17. The Government has also reportedly indicated that it would request Norway to schedule an "initial meeting'' in the coming weeks to "pave way for the resumption of talks'' early next year. The Hindu, November 2, 2003.


The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.


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