Overcoming initial military challenges by Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka: July – September 1987

By Financial express

IPKF military operations cannot be looked at in isolation from the Indo Sri Lanka Accord of 29 July 1987, which is inherently flawed from India’s standpoint. Serious practitioners of geopolitics will always wonder as to how India, which vigorously pushed its way to get the Accord signed and implemented, failed to safeguard its own geopolitical interests.

Lanka was able to secure the acceptance by all parties that its unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity shall remain inviolate. Within the constraints of its own interests, India did negotiate the best possible deal for Sri Lanka Tamils within the framework of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

However India failed to secure its own interests. By committing to the Indian military intervention being incumbent on request of the Government of Sri Lanka, it ended up dealing the key ace to the latter. Once the IPKF was withdrawn prematurely, India was bereft of any decisive influence to oversee the implementation of the political provisions of the Accord by Sri Lanka.

There is also no denying the fact that Sri Lanka and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the main Tamil rebel group, were never keen on the Accord. India’s pushing it through despite resistance from the two main protagonists, resulted in the edifice of the Accord being erected on weak foundations. Yet it never crossed the minds of our foreign policy and security establishments to cater for the contingency of one or both the protagonists reneging from the commitments of the Accord.

Military Challenges Posed By the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord

India’s intervention in Sri Lanka in 1987 followed an escalation curve from attempting a political solution, to forceful attempts at providing humanitarian assistance, and culminating in a conventional military intervention.

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