A leading Sri Lankan strategic analyst has urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to clear the East of the LTTE militarily and finalise a blueprint for a political solution of the ethnic conflict before the SAARC summit in New Delhi on April 3.
Writing in the Sri Lankan media on Saturday, analyst Dayan Jayatilleka has said that Sri Lanka should make use of the dilemmas, which India is facing as the summit's host, to secure its military and political objectives, untrammelled by fears of a pro-LTTE Indian intervention.
Colombo should utilise the fact that in the run-up to and during the summit, New Delhi will not want to antagonise it by pushing a hard pro-LTTE line sought by Tamil Nadu, he says.
Sri Lanka should quickly acquire sophisticated military hardware to inflict an unacceptable degree of damage on the LTTE led by Prabhakaran, drive his men out of the East districts, and put the pro-government Karuna faction in power through a modified democratic process which he calls "low intensity democracy."
Before the summit, the Rajapaksa government should also finalise a blueprint for a political solution of the Tamil problem based on devolution of power, Jayatilleka says.
The government must work on the Majority Report of the Experts Committee on devolution, and modify it suitably to allay widespread fears about devolution leading to secession, he adds.
"While India's assumption of the SAARC chairmanship this April is by no means a positive factor for Sri Lanka, given the increasing raucousness of Tamil Nadu, India is on the other hand, unlikely to risk provoking a Sri Lankan riposte against it in Delhi itself, on the occasion of the summit."
"It is in India's interest not to permit her old regional profile to damage the new one it is striving to project; a new one in keeping with her global prestige."
"India will not wish Sri Lanka to form a countervailing bloc with the region's smaller nations, perhaps even spearheading a denunciation of Delhi's duplicity and destabilisation, hypocrisy and hegemony."
"Furthermore, India cannot take a hard line on terrorism, as she will at the summit, and simultaneously take steps helpful to Tiger terrorism - steps which prevent eradicating suicide bombing separatists," Jayatilleka says.
Other Sri Lankan commentators who question India's competence to lecture to Sri Lanka on peace, have pointed out that India cannot preach a soft line towards the LTTE and press for talks, while the Indian armed forces are on a no holds barred punitive action against the separatists in Assam.