FPJ Editorial: Myanmar Challenge For New Delhi

FPJ Editorial: Myanmar Challenge For New Delhi

The people of Myanmar are no doubt disillusioned with the junta faced as they are with economic hardship and increased repression from the powers that be

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, November 20, 2023, 11:06 PM IST
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Aung San Suu Kyi (left) PM Modi (right) |

The situation in Myanmar is spiralling out of control with the ruling junta under severe pressure from the counter-offensive launched by Opposition forces which have made deep inroads into areas bordering China and India. The resistance forces comprise three ethnic minority groups — Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Ta’ang National Liberation Army — known as the Brotherhood Alliance.

Operation 1027

The offensive, dubbed Operation 1027, began in late October, and the three groups which seem to have set aside ethnic and political differences to take on the common enemy have met with remarkable success. The unrest in Myanmar has serious implications for India given the influx of refugees into Mizoram and other north-eastern states. So far New Delhi has maintained cordial ties with the Naypyidaw establishment much to the disappointment of pro-democracy forces. This was a strategic move as India was dependent on the junta to rein in insurgent groups of the northeast based in Myanmar.

New Delhi faced with tough challenge

New Delhi was also wary of Naypyidaw getting close to Beijing. With the junta seemingly gradually losing its grip on power as is evident from reports of military troops surrendering to the resistance forces and sophisticated arms and ammunition falling into their hands, New Delhi is faced with a tough challenge. The refugee influx in the northeast at a time when the Manipur situation is far from being resolved has only complicated matters. There is also apprehension that the drug trade could flourish under such circumstances.

People of Myanmar disillusioned with the junta

The military regime’s decision to prolong the state of emergency that it imposed in 2021 displays its unwillingness to allow for a democratic transition as promised elections have been postponed. The people of Myanmar are no doubt disillusioned with the junta, faced as they are with economic hardship and increased repression from the powers that be.

The international community is skeptical about the junta’s intentions and its claims that elections had to be postponed because of logistical reasons. At such a time it is imperative that New Delhi exerts pressure on Naypyidaw to peacefully resolve the crisis and restore the democratic process in the country. It must reopen channels of communication with Myanmar’s Opposition leaders and perhaps play the role of mediator in talks between the junta and the resistance forces.

Despite her incarceration and some disillusionment with her stand on the Rohingya Muslims, National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi still remains a powerful symbol of Myanmar’s prolonged fight for freedom. Her ties with India go back a long way. It is in New Delhi’s best interest to take a relook at its Myanmar policy and engage with the forces of democracy.

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