Special Correspondent

"Should advise Rajapaksa against military solution"

CHENNAI: India should formulate its own policy on involvement, and not intervention, in Sri Lankan affairs, N.N. Jha, former ambassador to Sri Lanka and Nepal, said on Monday.

As for a military solution to the ethnic problem, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa may be tempted to "go in for the kill," but India should advise him against it, he said at a discussion on `India and its neighbours' organised by the Observer Research Foundation-Chennai chapter.

The LTTE was on a militarily weak ground, especially after the defection of rebel leader Karuna, which had cost it dear in terms of support in the eastern provinces. The militants should now look for the best possible deal. There was no possibility of an alignment between them and the minority Muslim population, though they might seek a linkage with the Al Qaeda in desperation.

The influence of China and Pakistan was still nascent, and India had a significant role to play at this juncture.

"Nepal polls"

As far as Nepal was concerned, India should support free and fair elections to facilitate the switch from monarchy to democracy. It should also indicate that it would reduce its contacts with the new dispensation "to a minimum" if the polls were not free and fair.

The Indian envoy in Nepal should focus on getting the royalists and Congress parties to reach an understanding so that they did not vote against each other in the elections.

Civil strife

Also, the six-10 lakh Nepalis, internally displaced by the civil strife, should be allowed to return to their homes to ensure their participation in the transition to democracy. India should support a democratic dispensation as a vast majority of the Nepalese favoured people's rule, he said.