Thursday, August 18, 2022

Myanmar’s only option

Since over a year , to be precise a year-and-half, when the conflict in Myanmar was triggered by the February 1, 2021, military coup staged by Gen. Min Aung Hlaing that toppled the democratically elected government of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Thee ongoing civil war has not only become a disaster for Myanmar, but also for countries across the region. The military’s takeover has been bloody and although one sided, the Pro Defence Forces(PDFs) have managed to take on the superiorly equipped military by depriving it of a victory. The fighting between Myanmar’s military and the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs), formed to defend communities against the military’s onslaught, has brought intense conflict to the western and northwestern parts of Myanmar, close to the border with India. For the government of India, the Myanmar civil war has put its security cooperation at the backburner. Due to major reverses and being bogged in the civil war, the Myanmar junta has failed to support India’s counter-insurgency efforts against Indian ‘Ethnic Armed Organisationis’(EAOs). Instead, the junta has forged some kind of opportunistic alliance with some Indian EAOs against pro-democracy PDFs and other EAOs in the border areas. New Delhi the Indian EAOs as a major national security threat and has partnered with the military junta to attack pro-democratic PDFs and EAOs in the border areas of Myanmar and India. Although itself a democracy, India has always maintained a close relationship with Myanmar’s military- an institution which has repeatedly undermined Myanmar’s pursuit of democracy and led authoritarian regimes for most of the past 70 years. India has adopted a restraint since it sees Myanmar’s military as a partner in its counterinsurgency efforts. U.N. officials believe that the junta has killed more than 2,000 civilians and arrested more than 14,000. Anti-regime forces have also allegedly carried out attacks on civilians believed to be abetting the military. The United Nations estimated last month that more than 700,000 people have been displaced since February 2021, adding to a population of nearly 350,000 people displaced before the coup.The conflict in the Myanmar-India border areas also undermines India’s geostrategic economic projects planned through Myanmar: the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. These two projects make up the core of India’s Act East Policy, which aims to advance India’s influence to the east. Both projects run through Manipur and Mizoram into Myanmar, cutting across territory that has been ground zero of the popular effort to end military rule, and which is now subject to regular air raids and attacks by the military.In the ultimate analysis, the focus as per India’s perspective is for peace and development which could be cemented if there is a democratically elected government in Mynamar. It is time that nations across act as catalyst for democracy in Myanmar so as to guarantee that the voices of all its ethnic communities are heard. How long can the barrel of the gun suppress the democratic ideals of the people? A scenario which provides for constitutional democracy under which, the various ethnic communities in Myanmar can participate in development will be the biggest boon for peace. Even in India, peaceful solution and not military solution, has been the policy with regard to various separatist groups.

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