NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar claims that bringing peace and stopping infiltration of insurgents is not just a security concern for India, but also for its government, but admits that the inaccessibility of the region makes its difficult to exert total control even as it urged New Delhi to also find a political solution to the insurgency.
“Without bringing peace to the border, we cannot pursue economic development,” Myanmar’s Information Minister and Presidential spokesperson Ye Htut told visiting Indian journalists.
Incidentally, the Myanmarese leader said that Naypyidaw had also talked to Indian Army about the need to engage politically with the insurgent groups. “We had told them that it is our experience that there cannot be a military solution, only a political one,” said Htut, giving the example of Myanmar’s pact with NSCN’s Khaplang faction. And Myanmar has all but finalised a historic nationwide ceasefire pact with 16 armed ethnic groups.
Seated under a portrait of President Thein Sein in a well-appointed conference room, he pointed out that Myanmar Army had 10 regiments permanently stationed alongside the border with Assam, with another five-six in Chin state. “But, if you put a military camp say on a mountain top, it can only cover a radius of five-10 miles,” said Htut, explaining the difficulties of policing the heavily-forested region.
Myanmar was ready to take any action “if India gives us current, concrete information on the location of insurgents”, he added. “There is a mechanism for exchange of information at the border, and we are working with the Indian military”. However, the Myanmarese leader, who categorically denied the existence of insurgent camps on the South-East Asian nation’s territory, insisted that the ultras “criss-crossed” the 1,640 kilometre-long border. The minister laid emphasis on how much resources have been invested in the border, especially after India did a U-turn on its Myanmar policy and started to build bridges with the ertswhile military-backed Junta in the 90s. “Before 1990, Hkamti (of Naga hills) had just a regional Commander. Now, there are three Operational Commands,” he said.
He asserted that Myanmar had invested a lot of military resources on its border with India-- with over 10 Regiments permanently based on some of the volatile sections. “The problem is that it is a mountainous areas, with very few people living there on our side. Also access to that area is very difficult, with very few all-weather roads in that area,” said Htut, who is barely a month into his job.
“We categorically deny that we ever turned a blind eye to this problem (of North-East insurgents),” said Htut, a former Lieutenant Colonel in Tatmadaw ( Myanmar Army). Incidentally, his father had served as a UN peacekeeper after the 1965 India-Pakistan war.