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 Post subject: Sophisticated radar system to neutralise LTTE airpower
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 4:00 am 
Sophisticated radar system to neutralise LTTE airpower

@ India Daily 16MAR2005

An alleged offer of a sophisticated radar system by Pakistan to Sri Lanka has irked a section of the Tamils in the island country.

In an exclusive front-page report on Monday, the leading Colombo-based Tamil daily Sudar Oli said that in the context of Sri Lanka's concern over the acquisition of an aircraft by the LTTE, Pakistan had offered Sri Lanka a sophisticated radar defence system. The paper, which reflects the LTTE's thinking on most matters, further said that the Pakistani "offer" had the blessings of the United States.

According to the daily, Pakistan made the offer through its Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal, Kaleem Saadat, who was in the island on a goodwill visit last week. He had taken up the matter with the Sri Lankan Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Donald Perera, and also President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is also Defence Minister.

In an editorial on the subject on Tuesday, Sudar Oli went a step further and said that India should sit up and take notice, because setting up such a surveillance system in Sri Lanka would pose a threat to India's security as well. The editorial said that the blessings of the United States to the proposal should be of concern to India.

India ought to be wary about the increasing influence of the US in Sri Lanka, it pointed out. The paper quoted from a recent editorial in the respected Chennai-based Tamil daily Dinamani to say that India, as a regional power, should not allow other foreign powers to get a foothold in Sri Lanka.

The LTTE and the Tamils supporting it, see the United States as a threat, especially since the latter launched its anti-terror crusade following 9/11.

Hindustan Times could not confirm the Pakistani offer. But reliable sources said that it could not be ruled out, given Pakistan's eagerness to enhance military ties with Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also keen on enhancing its military ties with Pakistan which Sri Lankans like to describe as the "time tested ally" which had come to the island's aid in times of peril, as in 2000, when 30,000 government troops were under siege in Jaffna.

It is widely accepted that Pakistan will be eager to fill gaps created by India's reluctance to sell sophisticated military equipment to Sri Lanka. India's reluctance is due to the impact such military aid may have on the Tamil question, about which it has certain views and commitments, and in regard to which there are certain Indian domestic compulsions.

After all, India is home to 60 million ethnic Tamils, and Tamil parties are part of the Central Government in New Delhi. Pakistan may like to replicate in Sri Lanka what it is doing in Nepal, namely, fill the gap left by an Indian withdrawal. When India said that it was stopping military cooperation with Nepal after the Royal coup, Pakistan stepped in and offered military aid to King Gyanendra's regime.


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