Meeting Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief

Published: February 19, 2013

Sri Lanka's ex-Army Chief, Lt. General Srilal Weerasooriya (R), inspects an honour guard. PHOTO: AFP

After meeting former chief of army staff of Sri Lanka, General Srilal Weerasooriya, I was curious to know what he thinks of the ongoing Afghan war, as well as the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

I was also interested in discussing issues related to militancy in Pakistan with General Weerasooriya, who spent months with former president General Pervez Musharraf in the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Abbottabad in the late ’60s. He told me that Pakistan cannot get rid of militancy until it succeeds in stopping neighbouring countries’ involvement in its territory.

General Weerasooriya made it clear that the Pakistani brand of militancy could not be compared to Tamil insurgency in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

As he continued to reveal information about Musharraf, I was recalling my meeting with Indian Major General Ashok Mehta in 2011, who told me that India and Pakistan could not be good friends till the term ‘revenge’ exists in the minds of the armies of both countries.

General Weerasooriya predicted the region will witness more insecurity as the US troop withdrawal starts from Afghanistan. The same prediction was floated by General Ashok when I met him in New Delhi.

To sum up the point of view of both generals, I figured that both found the existence of Nato forces a constant threat to the South Asian region, and both insisted that the central role of Pakistan should be to find out a durable solution for the decades-long Afghan war.

In General Mehta’s opinion, the role of Russia and Iran was also important in finding this solution.

Retired four-star General Weerasooriya, who also spent days at the National Defence College of India, suggested that the Pakistan military, through various seminars, should promote deradicalisation in society. It’s the only way to cope with the menace of militancy particularly in Balochistan.

However, he was of the view that Sri Lanka can little assist Pakistan in the war against militancy because Pakistan is dealing with a totally different ball game. He did, however, thank the Pakistan military for helping the Sri Lankan Army defeat the Tamil Tigers in a three-decade long war.

Recalling the Kargil infiltration, he also praised Musharraf for his productive role but parrying several questions, he said his government did a good job for Pakistanis.

Read more by Zahid here, or follow him on Twitter @ZahidGishkori

Zahid Gishkori

Zahid Gishkori

A reporter for the national desk of The Express Tribune in Islamabad who tweets @ZahidGishkori

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nitish

    @author:First read this,
    General Weerasooriya predicted the region will witness more insecurity as the US troop withdrawal starts from Afghanistan. The same prediction was floated by General Ashok when I met him in New Delhi
    Now here
    To sum up the point of view of both generals, I figured that both found the existence of Nato forces a constant threat to the South Asian region, and both insisted that the central role of Pakistan should be to find out a durable solution for the decades-long Afghan war.
    Quite contradictoryRecommend

  • Stranger

    ITs obvious even to the illeterate that once US leaves Afghanistan in 2014, there is going to be utter chaos and mayhem . We dont need a general to say that. Afghanistan , Pak is made of several tribes each claiming their supremecy.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    He told me that Pakistan cannot get rid of militancy until it succeeds in stopping neighbouring countries’ involvement in its territory.

    Is this excuse still being thrown around? Foreign intervention? When will our ‘military’ realise that domestic terror groups in Pakistan are getting stronger?
    The recent attack on the Shias in Quetta was done by a local terror group, who is prominent in Punjab and enjoys silent approval from the local government. Unless the army decides to go after these militants, they will soon become too powerful to stop.

    the Pakistan military, through various seminars, should promote deradicalisation in society. It’s the only way to cope with the menace of militancy particularly in Balochistan.

    That would take a genuine miracle. It can be done in the next 20 to 30 years but the important question is, can we wait that long? Regarding Balochistan, deradicalisation is one of the problems there, the biggest one being the constant negligence of the needs of the Balochi people on a pronvincial & national level.

    Recalling the Kargil infiltration, he also praised Musharraf for his productive role..

    Really? Recommend

  • http://www.. Seigra

    @Nitish

    Quite biased opinion. Indian?Recommend

  • awellwisher

    I am surprised ET has allowed such disjointed column that makes false statements, wrong conclusions and silly remarks.

    Take for example:

    “General Weerasooriya predicted the region will witness more insecurity as the US troop withdrawal starts from Afghanistan. The same prediction was floated by General Ashok when I met him in New Delhi.”

    From the above, the author comes to the conclusion below:

    “To sum up the point of view of both generals, I figured that both found the existence of Nato forces a constant threat to the South Asian region,”

    A rational reader would have concluded that the first para above in italics would mean that both the Indian and SL generals felt, in reference to Afghanistan and Pakistan, that there would be more instability in these two countries after the US withdrawal.

    The author in the second italicized paragraph above somehow concludes that the Indian and SL generals the existence of Nato forces would be a threat to the whole South Asia region!! How is presence of Nato in Af-Pak going to affect India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan?Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    The blog started sort of from the middle no intro..and ended hung up. Without reason . Pointless Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Is it necessary to write any thing when you have nothing to write?Recommend

  • F

    Seems like a lot of name dropping and frequent flier miles to support no worthy argument. Doubt it if Gen Mehta believes “revenge” in the Indian army is somehow to equally blame for what ails Pakistan. Also, tells you the competence of the General of Sri Lanka who, when recalling the Kargil adventure, praised Musharraf! Recommend

  • gp65

    @Seigra: “@Nitish
    Quite biased opinion. Indian?”

    Actually he did not provide any opinion whatoever – biased or otherwise. He simply printed 2 statements from the blog and showed that they were internally inconsistent.

    @Author :”Recalling the Kargil infiltration, he also praised Musharraf for his productive role”.

    Are you sure he said that? That is difficult to believe. You would be hard pressed to find anyone in India OR Pakistan with that opinion now with the latest revelations from Gen (ret) Shahid.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    India failed to intervene to save the persecution of Temis! Shame on India’s morals. Siri lankas ex army brass should show remoarse on what occured in his and and not brag about the future for the region.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • G. Din

    ” I figured that both found the existence of Nato forces a constant threat to the South Asian region, “
    NATO forces would not have been in the region if they had not been “lured” by threatening their extinction from the world.
    As an aside, the General should try to stay at home as it is quite likely that warrants for his arrest may be issued any time for war crimes his army committed in the war against Tamils. They even arrested a 12-year lad and killed him in cold blood, video evidence of which is now freely available!Recommend

  • gp65

    @Rex Minor: “ndia failed to intervene to save the persecution of Temis! Shame on India’s morals”

    You clearly are not aware of facts. India sent an Indian Peace Keeping Force with agreement of Sri Lankan government. The commitment being that Sri Lanka government would stop bombing Jaffna but at the same time India would prevent terrorism originating from Jaffna. As a result of this Rajiv Gandhi was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    @gp65:
    No, I am not ware of the facts as you say. But I am aware of what the sri lankan military has done to the civilians temils, including women and children. This is not acceptable and should not be justified. India should and could have stopped this genocide. I abhor the use of miitary against the civilians, an would prefer to see the regional powers interventions. What is happening today in Mayanmar is the same, the so called Buddhist military is active against the so called separatists muslims and christians, and the world looks on. No one takes up the responsibility to protect the civilians and I realy mean civilians old men, women and children.

    Rex MinorRecommend