Pakistan's supply of high-tech military equipment and positioning of some of its highly trained army officers in Sri Lanka played a key role in the ultimate defeat of Tamil Tigers, Pakistani media has claimed.
"It was the Pakistani defence cooperation with Sri Lanka as the largest suppliers of high-tech military equipment that played a major role in the ultimate defeat of the LTTE at the hands of the Sri Lankan army," The News quoted well placed sources in the Pakistani establishment as saying.
The newspaper said the defence cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan had grown significantly in recent years as Islamabad, unlike New Delhi, had no problems supplying the state-of-the-art weaponry to Lankan army to accelerate its counter-insurgency operations against the LTTE which finally ended with the killing of Tamil chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran.
It was exactly a year ago, in the first week of May 2008, that Sri Lankan Army Chief Lt Gen Fonseka visited Pakistan and held detailed talks with his Pakistani counterpart Chief of Army Staff General Asfaq Parvez Kayani to finalise the purchase of high-tech arms for the Lankan armed forces, which were embroiled in an intense battle with the LTTE forces even at that time.
According to the report, during the talks with Pakistani military authorities, Lt Gen Fonseka had finalised a deal under which Pakistan supplied 22 Al-Khalid main battle tanks to Sri Lanka worth $100 million.
Fonseka also gave a shopping list of weaponry worth about $65 million to the Pakistani military authorities, the newspaper said.
While the Sri Lankan army chief's shopping list for the army was pegged at $25 million, the inventory for the Lankan air force was worth $40 million. He had further sought 250,000 rounds of 60mm, 81mm, 120mm and 130mm mortar ammunition worth $25 million and 150,000 hand grenades for immediate delivery to the Lankan army within a month.
Pakistan also accepted the visiting General's request to send one shipload of the items needed every 10 days to bolster the Lankan military efforts to take over Kilinochchi, the political headquarters of the LTTE.
On January 19, 2009, in a meeting between Pakistani Defence Secretary Lt Gen (R) Syed Athar Ali and his visiting Lankan counterpart Gotabhaya Rajapakse in Rawalpindi, the two countries had agreed to enhance cooperation in military training, exercises and intelligence sharing regarding terrorism, the report said.
The agreement came amid Sri Lankan media reports that the Pakistan Air force pilots had participated in several successful air strikes against several military bases of the LTTE in August 2008.
The report further claimed that a highly trained group of Pakistani armed officers are stationed in Colombo to guide the Sri Lankan security forces in their operations against the LTTE. This was quite contrary to the LTTE propaganda that India was helping the Sri Lankan Government.
In fact, Fonseka has gone on record to say in an interview to an Indian TV channel that his country turned to China and Pakistan for military purchases only after New Delhi refused to supply weapons to it.
The News report noted that it was not the first time the Pakistan army was helping Sri Lankan military in its fight against the LTTE. Back in 2000, when a LTTE offensive code-named Operation Ceaseless Waves overran Sri Lankan military positions in the north and captured the Elephant Pass Base and entered Jaffna, and was being feared that the LTTE would run down thousands of Sri Lankan troops stationed in Jaffna, Colombo had sought Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher System and other high tech weaponry from Pakistan on an urgent basis.
Subsequently, MBRLS and weapons and ammunition, including artillery shells and multi-barrel rocket launchers, were airlifted in an emergency operation from Karachi to Colombo in May 2000, it added.