Critical Juncture V: 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement
On 29 July 1987, India and Sri Lanka signed an agreement which had as its stated purpose the establishment of ‘peace and normalcy in Sri Lanka’ — that is, to end the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict. The Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement was wholly unanticipated until just before it was signed in Colombo1 It formalized the indo-centric reality of South Asian politics, most conspicuously by providing for the introduction of an IPKF on to the island ‘to guarantee and enforce the cessation of hostilities’ including the disarming of all Tamil militant organizations. However, the Agreement contained one overwhelming and ultimately fatal flaw: it was premised on the compliance of non-signatories.2 The LTTE, the most powerful Tamil paramilitary organization, had been excluded from the drafting of the Agreement and was presented with a fait accompli. Its initial acquiescence and long-term commitment to the Agreement were questionable from the start. Put another way, the Agreement was a bilateral solution to a problem which was multilateral in structure (incorporating Sri Lanka-India conflict, Sinhalese-Tamil inter-group conflict, Sinhalese intra-group conflict, and Tamil intragroup conflict). The initial IPKF of 6,000 to 7,000 rapidly grew to 60,000–80,000 troops, and by October 1987 it was militarily engaged with the LTTE in both the North and East.3
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