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The fall of the Afghan Government and the take over of the country by Taliban rebels bring back memories of the rule by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka, many years ago.

Sri Lanka could relate to the recent Taliban takeover more than any other country given its bloody experience with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

Like the Taliban was initially funded by a powerful force (America) the LTTE too received backing by the Tamil Nadu state of South India. But these terrorist outfits have the habit of biting the hand that feeds them. Sri Lanka’s problem of fighting the tiger rebels soon became India’s. After a hurriedly inked Indo-Lanka Peace Accord in 1987 differences between the IPKF and the LTTE led to the assassination of Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi; killed by the latter using a suicide bomber. That forced the Central Government of India to close the door on the LTTE, at least temporarily. The vacating of the IPKF from Sri Lanka was similar to the exit made by US troops out of Afghanistan. The void they created were filled on both these occasions by terrorist outfits.

What the Afghan people now fear is a suppressive rule by the Taliban: which follows a form of rule influenced by the practise of religious extremism. The Muslim world at large follows the Quran and has a special place for women in a society where there is security in abundance for females. But what the future holds for Afghan women at the hands of the Taliban looks bleak because of their extremist religious views and the undermining of women in society in general.

Sri Lanka must closely follow the events unfolding in Afghanistan now because there was a terrorist takeover of that country. These terrorist activities can influence remaining former rebel terrorist cadres in Sri Lanka; who the past governments claimed were rehabilitated and taught the art of engaging in a lucrative trade. Some of the minds of these former terrorists cannot be erased of their dark past even though they were silenced after surrendering to government security forces personnel.

History on war shows how people, specially women and children, suffer when an armed struggle is chosen in favour of negotiation. The Afghan regime this time around didn’t have the opportunity to negotiate with the Taliban because there was a swift takeover by the rebels. The worst part of it was the president of country Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country. There was a recent post on Facebook relating to the quick exit by Ghani. It read ‘Ghani throws the Afghan people to the wolves’.

Historians have responded in double quick time to the statements made by Ghani who affirmed that he made his exit to avoid bloodshed. Some historians draw parallels to Ghani’s decision with the one taken by Dutugemunu when the latter said that there would be no bloodshed and the only battle would be between himself and king Elara. But there are accounts of battles taking place between the warriors of the two leaders and bloodshed taking place before Dutugemunu made the call and said it would be king vs ‘prince’.

Even in Afghanistan we hear of people demonstrating and opposing the takeover and the Taliban militants opening fire on protesters. It’s foolish to rule out bloodshed when terrorists are in control.

Both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are on the paths of much travelled trade routes. Both countries have had their share of terrorist experiences and must stay alert. Any destabilization in the South Asian region will have a trickledown effect on other neighbouring countries. And when considering trade routes of ancient times Sri Lanka is not very far away from Afghanistan. Sri Lanka should be sensitive enough to feel the vibe generated by the people of Afghanistan.

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