Can foreign involvement be ruled out in Sri Lanka attacks?

By Rafiq Jan

Sri Lanka, a peace-loving nation, fell victim to terrorism after a long respite. It had hardly finished celebrating its economic growth that had long been stymied by two decades of civil war against its indigenous separatist groups that were supported and sponsored by a much powerful neighbor, India.

One cannot expect that Muslims in Sri Lanka, who make up 8% of the population and are contributing almost 25% to the country’s economy, to damage their country in such a manner. The blasts in the Sri Lankan capital that killed more than 300 and injured 500 seem to have been orchestrated outside Sri Lanka, considering their scope and complexity.

Sri Lanka has endured a ghastly civil war and innumerous suicidal bombings in the past by Tamil Tigers, the militant outfit that kept changing tactics and caused severe economic damage to the country. This time around, the scale of damage and the level of coordination behind the deadly strikes indicated that is more to it that what meets the eye.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attacks— coordinated, multiple and high casualty. I am not easily convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame”, said Alan Keenan, a Sri Lankan expert at the international crisis group.

Another Canada based expert on extremism, Amarnath Amarasingam, “agreed that the nature of the terrorism and targets selected suggest that the attacks were not an exclusively local affair”

He further added, “if it was strictly locally planned and operated, you would assume Buddhists as the targets. The attacks on the Christians point to something different. Christians have rarely been targets of violence so far”.

Pakistan went through a similar attack, though far smaller in scale, last week in Balochistan; a province where India has admitted to have supported anti-state activities against Pakistan. In the hindsight, one can clearly perceive the Sri Lankan explosions in the same week could be part of the Indian state-sponsored terrorism to implicate Muslims of Sri Lanka and create anti-Muslim sentiments in the country.

The geopolitical map has fast changed in recent times. U.S president Trump, having a big personality but with a fickle temperament, has yet again proved he is least concerned about humanity and human rights in “developing countries”. His reaction to the attack, as expected, was weak. Deplorably, the U.S had never been too kind to notice the plight of Sri Lankan people during civil war and its destruction in almost two decades. The reasons were that it hardly had any vested interest geographically in the island. The world community left them at the mercy of “foreign trained and foreign supported” anti-state militant group. A formal tweet Mike Pence shows the perfunctory views that hardly mean a heartfelt sympathy.

The style, planning, accuracy and coordination of the explosions are undeniably a proof that no religious group in Sri Lanka or elsewhere has ever been so highly skilled and financially able to carry out such attacks against the state. These simultaneous attacks on two churches and three hotels, while ensuring the high number of casualties made up the list of one of the biggest terrorist attacks in history.

It is unfortunate that the Sri Lanka attacks could not get enough attention compared to what attacks in Christchurch or other attacks in India or the US received. The world community needs to come together to unanimously condemn terrorist attacks of all kinds and give equal condemnation and coverage to such attacks taking place anywhere in the world.

The author is a political commentator based in Qatar.

Disclaimer: Views expressed here are that of the author’s and do not reflect or represent the policy or views of the CRSS. CRSS Blog is an open platform inviting all points of views. 

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