War against the LTTE cost over US$ 200 billion

Sri Lanka’s internal war which ended in May 2009, had cost the country around US$ 200 billion according to India’s former National Security Adviser and Foreign Secretary, Shivshankar Menon, the New Indian Express reported.

In his book Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy, Menon says that this estimate does not include the “opportunity cost” to Sri Lanka which was once the fastest growing and the most open economy in South Asia.

About deaths, the veteran Indian diplomat turned security expert says that between 1983 and 2009, 80,000 to 100,000 people, including combatants from both sides, lost their lives. Among them were 30,000 to 50,000 civilians, 27,693 LTTE cadres, 23,790 Sri Lankan army personnel, and 1,155 men of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).

The final stages of the war had created a little over 300,000 refugees or Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The war had also left 1.6 million land mines in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
But the real casualty of the war was Sri Lanka’s composite society, something that the LTTE and Sinhala chauvinism are “equally responsible for”, Menon says.

“Sri Lanka’s democracy was flawed by disappearances, killings, torture, detention, and widespread human rights abuses committed by all sides in the war. Civil-military relations were skewed, Sinhala society was militarized, and the brutalized remnants of Tamil civil society were leaderless, without direction or hope. Nor was there any sign of an attempt to come to terms with the legacy and result of the war, to undertake real reconciliation,” he observes grimly.

Menon points out that LTTE chief Prabhakaran had left his Sri Lankan Tamil community “gutted and brutalized” by his war.

“The Jaffna Tamils, who had once fed, led, ruled and thought for Ceylon, were reduced to a group of refugees in their own country and abroad, dependent on aid and the dole, their best and brightest dead or in exile. In death and in life, Prabhakaran’s baleful impact on his people continued to take its toll.”

Menon appreciates Sri Lanka’s successes in post-war rehabilitation, but adds that “peace is more than an absence of violence and the presence of basic infrastructure. It is also in the mind.”

And this is where Sri Lanka has failed since the war, he points out and adds that both the Sinhalese and the Tamils have failed to grasp the nettle.

“A victorious regime under Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sinhala majority did not show the magnanimity in victory that true peace requires. Equally, the Tamil community does not have leaders left, who can make peace. A Mandela needs a De Klerk and vice versa. Neither is visible in Sri Lanka.”

“In Sri Lanka, politics is stunted on both sides. Nor has either side, or the international community, managed to get past the arguments of the past. How relevant those arguments of the past are today, is debatable,” he says.

Harping on the past and the solutions offered in the past “shows a paucity of leadership and thought” in both the Sinhala and Tamil parties, Menon points out.

He recalls that India had urged Rajapaksa that if he was to be the “leader of all Sri Lankans” he should reach out through devolution of political power, restore human rights, and give a “sense of dignity to the victor and the vanquished alike.”

But Rajapaksa could not bring himself to be politically magnanimous in victory, Menon says.

However, the Indian diplomat admits that Rajapaksa was correct in telling India that there was no one he could work with on the Tamil side.

“Such Tamil politicians as had survived the war in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) were either complicit with, or indebted to, the LTTE and the most radical elements in the Diaspora. But Rajapaksa did not use his effective and overwhelming power to promote a moderate Tamil leadership. Instead, he relied on turncoat Tamil militants like Douglas Devananda and his Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (EPDP), and deployed 14 of his 21 Army Divisions in the North in large military zones expropriated from Tamils, thus appearing as an occupying power rather than as the legitimate government of the people,” Menon points out.

The Indian diplomat seems to have a dim view of the current efforts to bring about reconciliation and a political settlement. (Colombo Gazette)

4 COMMENTS

  1. Shivshankar, Narayanan and Pranab are indirectly responsible for deaths of civilians in Sri Lanka . Now Shivshankar is making money out of it by writing Books on the blood of innocents. The Sri Lankan conflict was a creation of Indian Expansionism and part of their Foreign Policy.

  2. Two villeges at war. and the Kochi controlled South block is suggesting ” A Mandela needs a De Klerk and vice versa.”
    Present day South Africa has equal number of white slums. Menon keep your mind in a closet and see with your eyes because you stupid Kochi never read the other Shakespeare of the world- Don Quixote of La Mancha (the man who tried to change the world and got clobbered left right and center).
    Anyway it was a Kochi influence SJV Chelva catholic from Malaysia (Dr Mathir Kochi) that started it- Kochi Nair of Singapore ashes are still at Canada.
    One metre chai, – All Menons read detectives at school but under cross examination they pee in their pants. because they never could beat us at Engineering.
    You are double speak- you deserve the Gujarati donkey back kick- wasnt Xi taken to his state than the fishing net of cochin- Ohala. enough said.
    Anyway i blame the sri lankans for inviting the interference by joining NAM and the catholic priest of the north for sponsoring students to india and england- thats how the fishermen landed with guns blazing. Once a crusade always a crusade- kerala is a melting pot of it.- just 3 seats trying to outsmart the whole of south india with Idiocracy.- you have to be born again.
    Freedom House London WE all (including the staunchest of British Socialist) laughed Turncoat Kochi
    Arundhati Roy…Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997.
    Everyday is not X’mas Kochi folk.-

  3. “”to Sri Lanka which was once the fastest growing and the most open economy in South Asia.””
    It was a falacy and you are writing it after the death of Lee Kuan Yew and Choo who corrected the Kochi conspiracy- LKY never said said anything of that sort its like the misquotes of great men Albert Einstein etc..

  4. This is the net result when 2 widows try to become dictators. Indira and SriMao the weeping widow.

    India still at war with its great neighbours (China-Pakistan). shows how weak India foreign policy is from the day of independence- violent freedom stays violent.- india there are many skeletons in your closet at south block India you never returned POWS of China but China did. Keep off and mind your business you do not have a submarine even for next 10 years- by hiring Russian you get nowhere Putin begged Blair for the robot cutter when his men were dying.

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