With the inauguration of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the president of Sri Lanka, a complete cycle of Indian domination of SriLankan politics has been reversed. No wonder the Indian media was crying hoarse and calling Gotabhaya as the ‘Terminator’, even before elections. Mainstream Indian media outlets like NDTV, Channel 18 and host of others were trying to scandalize Gotabaya Rajapaksa on one flimsy ground or the other and affect the perception of Sri Lankan public, but they failed miserably.

Rajapaksas are from an established political family of tall figures, Gotabaya’s elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa served as the President of Sri Lanka and Leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party from 2005 to 2015. He became the leader of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in 2019, splitting the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Third brother Basil Rajapaksa, has served as Minister of Economic Development, whereas the fourth brother Chamal Rajapaksa has been a Member of Parliament since 1989, and was elected Speaker of the 14th Parliament of Sri Lanka.

It may not be out of place to comment that Mahinda Rajapaksa may contest against the incumbent Prime Minister Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in near future and Sri Lanka gets a one party rule, as displayed by the massive vote for the newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Why is India perturbed on the new development in Sri Lanka?

There are four major factors; One, Sri Lanka falls in the perceived zone of Indian influence and as per Indira Doctrine, no country in the extended Indian periphery should adopt independent policies at tangent to the desires of the South Block. Two, Chinese Belt and Road initiative and increasing influence in Sri Lanka is considered as detrimental to Indian interests. Three, Pakistan factor played a substantial role in success of Sri Lankan military against LTTE and terror networks operated by RAW in Jaffna Peninsula, when the current President was defence minister of Sri Lanka and who is considered as the main driving force in defeat of Indian proxy of LTTE. Four, the domestic politics of Indian state of Tamil Nadu and their uneasiness with Rajapaksa family.

India has also tried to keep Sri Lanka destabilized, so that it does not emerge as a strong economy and become an example of success in South Asia. We will take a note from our opinion piece published in the Nation in May this year where we had identified the connection between Doval and ISIS in South Asia and argued, “If we connect the dots, a new pattern is emerging in India to use Islam to target Indian neighborhood, as it is more convenient and easier than getting directly involved. ISIS did not exist in Afghanistan or South Asia, it was a joint venture of Indian RAW and Afghan NDS to bring it in Afghanistan with a hope that it will counter balance Taliban power and create leverage with India after US pull out.

Why soft states of South Asia like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are being made a battle ground of ISIS is due to two factors. One, Chinese investment into Belt and Road has to be made more costly by creating instability in the countries who have already become active stake holders in it so that other South Asian countries will be indirectly warned about accepting Chinese investment. Two, India has to be propped up as the new Bogey against China in the Indo Pacific, Quad is one such idea. So India will be made into an epicenter of strategic operations of ISIS.

Has Doval’s attempt to destabilize Sri Lanka boomeranged into India’s face?

The answer is yes.

Sri Lankan voters, after the tragedy of St. Sebastian’s Church Easter bombings by so called ISIS operators, wanted a strong government who could stem the tide of terror. The infighting between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the aftermath of Easter bombings was seen as divisive and weak.

It may not be out of place to talk about Hambantota port and why India has been trying to make it controversial.

Historically, Hambantota District of Sri Lanka is part of the traditional south known as Ruhuna. This region flourished and became the center of a flourishing civilization. The area was blessed with fertile fields and a stupendous irrigation network. Hambantota was known by many names like Mahagama and Ruhuna.

Since ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa hails from Hambantota, he has a special attachment with the area and the mega projects being developed with the help of Chinese investment. Despite Indian designs to target Hambantota with a negative campaign, Rajapaksas coming to power would dent Indian designs and re-establish the stature of Hambantota port.

For Pakistan, the victory of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is sign of a strong, progressive and friendly Sri Lanka. Pakistan has always maintained brotherly relations with Sri Lanka and there exists a larger mutual understanding that both countries can look at each other as partners for the common good of their people. The Chinese connection makes it further deep as Sri Lanka, China and Pakistan can jointly work in the Belt&Road initiative and CPEC and display a strategic triangle of hope and development.

There is also a scope of maritime security cooperation between the three states in the Indian Ocean: Gwadar and Hambantota can become sister ports for protection of trade and commerce.

To conclude, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will find Pakistan as an eager and tested close friend, who looks forward to a strong, prosperous and brotherly Sri Lanka. Pak Sri Lanka friendship is bound to ride a positive trajectory.