The importance of Sri Lanka cannot be ruled out when we speak of India's national security especially down south. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has made some good will gestures especially after the Narendra Modi government came to power, but the question is whether he is doing enough.
Rajapaksa has been both condemned and applauded for his handling of the LTTE. While this is a matter that is best left to debate, what strikes everyone the most is that following the eradication of the LTTE, Sri Lanka did little to ensure that other groups which act contrary to India's national interest did not set up a base there.
Presence of China and setting up of ISI module within Pak High
The presence of the Chinese and also the setting up a full fledged ISI module within the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo are indicators that the Sri Lankan establishment has looked the other way.
India's intelligence bureau has been issuing several warnings suggesting that groups will operate out of both Sri Lanka and Maldives in a bid to target India. These countries are good launching pads to target South India and not just the Chinese but even the Pakistanis have made use of this country.
Sakir Hussain case shows Sri Lanka has become a fertile ground for ISI activities:
The case of Sakir Hussain is a classic one suggesting that Sri Lanka had become a fertile ground for ISI activities. Hussain who was sentenced to five years in jail in one of the cases was booked for planning subversive activities in South India which included the bombing of consulates. He confessed that he was working at the behest of the ISI which had headquartered itself in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo.
Hussain's case is a classic example of how Pakistan played the wait and watch game. The ISI fought for the vaccum that was left over by the LTTE and grabbed several operatives into its fold mainly the Muslims.
The Chinese problem:
Sri Lanka may live in denial about the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka. While there are Intelligence Bureau reports about the building China problem, a recent meeting comprising the Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka and the National Security Advisor of India dealt with this issue.
A high-level meet of Lanka's defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval discussed an array of issues. However on India's priority list was the Chinese submarine that was docked in Colombo. India had expressed concern over this issue and also told Sri Lanka that even the ISI is setting up ground in their country which poses a security risk to India.
Sri Lanka's balancing act to stop India's rise in South
The Sri Lankan government appears to be playing a balancing act over these issues. It does not want India to become a regional super power. In their internal discussions they have often said that India will speak about the political rights of Tamils in case they do not do the balancing act by cozying up to both China and Pakistan.
Moreover China were quick to swoop into Sri Lanka with the lure of business interests which benefitted a particular political class of people. Pakistan too entered into Sri Lanka with similar proposals and set up successful modules. They assured Sri Lanka of filling the vaccum left by the LTTE and this meant that India would not be able to push the issue of Tamil rights in a big way.
Taking into account the growing concerns expressed by India, Sri Lanka did its bit and banned the visa on arrival policy for Pakistanis. However this action came a bit late in the day since the ISI had already manage to penetrate into Sri Lanka in a big way.
Sri Lanka was also late to react to the requests by India which told them to keep a watch on Amir Zubair Siddiqui the Consular officer in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo who was also the handler of Sakir Hussain.
Thanks to the delayed reaction, Siddiqui was air lifted out of Sri Lanka in broad day light and hidden in Pakistan.
Going by the confession of Sakir Hussain, he makes it clear that since the past few years Sri Lanka had become the landing point for drugs and also counterfeit currency. He pointed out that fake currency, drugs and gold were being sent out from Pakistan directly to the Gulf. It was then smuggled into Sri Lanka through the seas.