Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi The collapse of Tamil separatist armed struggle in Sri Lanka in mid-May was a major triumph for the Sri Lankan government. This was one of the longest and bloodiest civil wars in Asia that cost Sri Lanka heavily in terms of human life and property over the last 26 years. Its successful conclusion is viewed as a personal accomplishment for President Mahinda Rajapaksa who adopted a tough line towards the LTTE after being elected president in November 2005. Post-War Challenges: The present success poses three sets of challenges to the Sri Lankan government. First, Thousands of people displaced or otherwise adversely affected by the last phase of the civil strife need to be rehabilitated. Much devastation has been caused in the region that witnessed the last encounter between the security forces and LTTE fighters. Further, a large number of people have migrated over the years from northern parts of Sri Lanka were the LTTE was entrenched. Sri Lankan government needs to prepare a comprehensive plan of their return and rehabilitation of both categories of migrants. This requires financial resources and organizational skill to address this challenge. If the post-war issues are not adequately addressed Sri Lanka will be faced with a massive humanitarian disaster. Second, Sri Lankan government also faces the problem of dealing with former LTTE fighters. Some of them have been arrested while others have fled. How many of them would be put on trial and how many of them would be rehabilitated through a planned government action. Former fighters will have to be re-educated to live like a normal citizen with some profession or job. Third, the United Nations is complaining of human rights violations in the last phase of counter-insurgency. Sri Lankan government has dismissed these complaints. It seems that the international community will pursue these issues. Additional pressure might come from different Tamil groups based in India and North America for investigating human right violations by Sri Lankan troops. Roots of the Problem: Tamils constitute about 18 percent of population. The majority community is Sinhala that constitutes 74 percent of Sri Lanka's population. Muslims or Moors are little over 7 percent. The roots of the Tamil problem go back to the colonial period when a large number of Tamils migrated from India to Sri Lanka over a long period of time. By the time the British granted independence to Sri Lanka in February 4, 1948, Tamils, a numerical minority, was well entrenched in government jobs, different professions and especially plantation workers. The Sinhala resentment against the prominence of the Tamil and Tamil language became a contentious political issue when, in 1956, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) championed Sinhala nationalism and raised the slogan of "Sinhala only" on the eve of the 1956 elections. Buddhist monks and Sinhala professional classes supported the Sinhala only movement which led subsequently to legislation that assigned a priority to Sinhala language and Sinhala people. The aggressive pursuance of the Sinhala only policy by Sri Lankan government gave rise to Tamil counter nationalism to protect their identity, language and economic interest. Several Tamil groups emerged to protect their interests in the late 1960s and especially in the 1970s. The LTTE came into existence in 1978. However, the struggle was within constitutional framework and some of Tamil parties were represented in the parliament. Some of the Tamil group gradually took to violence. There was counter violence by Sinhala militant groups. The year1983 was the turning point in Tamil-Sinhala conflict. Anti-Tamil riots broke out in Colombo and some other places as the dead bodies of Sinhala soldiers ambushed by Tamils were brought to Colombo. Several thousand Tamils were said to have been killed and almost 100,000 Tamil fled to Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In the subsequent year violence became the prominent feature of Tamil movement. The LTTE emerged as the most violent group, dominating other Tamil groups. It specialized in bombings and suicide attacks and succeeded in controlling large tracts of territory in north, including the Jaffna city, for many years. It also obtained some aircraft bombed Colombo airport and another place in 2008. Sir Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa was killed in a bomb blast in May 1993. In August 2005, Foreign Minister Lakshaman Kadirgamar was assassinated. In both cases the LTTE was accused of engineering the assassination. Indian Role: Initially India's intelligence agencies supported the Tamil movement in Sri Lanka and Indian state of Tamil Nadu became a safe haven for Tamil insurgent who openly talked of a separate homeland for themselves - Tamil Ealam. India changed its policy of helping Tamil separatists in 1987 and forced Sri Lankan government to sign an agreement for stationing of Indian troops in Sri Lanka. It also placed restrictions on some aspects of Sri Lanka's foreign policy choices. Indian troops stayed in Sri Lanka for almost three years, 1987-1990 but failed to control Tamil insurgents. They suffered heavy human losses and they failed to contain Tamil insurgents. These troops left Sri Lanka in 1990 under strong and persistent pressures by the government of President Premadasa. India suffered another setback in connection with Tamil insurgency when Rajiv Gandhi (who as prime minister in 1984-1989 had decided to send troops to Sri Lanka) was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber in the course of election campaign in Tamil Nadu in 1991. This brought a total break between Tamil insurgents and Indian intelligence. However, Sri LankanTamil separatists maintained non-official linkages in Indian state of Tamil Nadu where different state-based political parties openly supported Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka. Pakistan's Policy: Pakistan fully supported Sri Lankan effort to protect internal stability and territorial integrity. Going back to mid-1980s, Pakistan provided military training to the personnel of Sri Lankan Army and supplied small weapons and explosives to Sri Lankan government. The LTTE was so unhappy with Pakistan's policy that, in August 2006, it targeted Pakistan's High Commissioner, Bashir Wali Mohammad, for bomb attack while he was travelling in Colombo. Seven security personnel were killed but the High Commissioner escaped. Failed Negotiations: Sri Lankan government of President Chandrika Kumratunga (1994-2005) engaged in negotiation with the LTTE from 1995 onwards. Norway also facilitated the dialogue. There were ceasefires but these collapsed after some months. It was under President Mahinda Rajaspaksa (2005 to the present) that Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the LTTE and registered significant gains in 2008-09. The latter's position was also weakened by defection of a senior leader and his associates who later helped the government. As the collapse of the LTTE came near, a Tamil party in Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the DMK, demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should pressure Sri Lankan government to stop military operation against the LTTE. Indian government did not take up the matter with Sri Lanka. The government of Norway politely suggested a ceasefire but Sri Lankan did not pay heed to it. The breakup of Sri Lanka has been averted, although its cost was high. Now Sri Lankan government will have to devote attention to rehabilitation and development of war affected areas and people.