Sri Lanka's pain a symptom of what ails South Asia

The terrorist attacks highlight how dangerous it is to allow 'ascriptive' identity, such as belonging to a religious or ethnic group, to determine the attitude of a state.

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In Sri Lanka, memories of war and terrorism are very much alive. The decades-long civil war between the Sinhala-dominated government in Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - or Tamil Tigers - was brutal by any standards, and it ended a decade ago with a climactic battle near the Indian Ocean that took thousands of civilian lives.

But Sri Lanka, beautiful and multicultural, has never had just the one fault line. On Easter morning, when hundreds of Christians and hotel guests were killed by suicide bombers there, we were tragically reminded that this is not a country at peace with itself. In that, it is not alone in South Asia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2019, with the headline Sri Lanka's pain a symptom of what ails South Asia. Subscribe