New Delhi: Unable to make strategic sense of the Easter Sunday bombings, Sri Lanka is backsliding into sectarian hatred and violence which could result in a Syria-like civil war situation with no winners. India should be concerned not just as a power in most geographical proximity to Sri Lanka but also because of its vulnerabilities in Kashmir which are growing and on account of the encouragement to domestic majoritarianism coming from the election results upping minority fears.

The Easter Sunday suicide bombings did not have their origins in Sri Lanka’s fragile and violence-prone intercommunity relations. Rather than mitigating the crisis, this fact indeed worsens it. That the Islamic State (or, for that matter, any globally spread terrorist organization) could so easily and so destructively penetrate Sri Lanka’s politico-religious ecosystem and enforce its millenarian agenda against the Christian West serves as a warning to other states deficient in social peace and stability.

While geopolitical crises in two different locations or occurring at different times are never quite the same, the smallest similarities or parallels that they may exhibit deserve the closest examination to prevent repetitions. Syria is the most obvious template for Sri Lanka that it must strenuously render stillborn but there is an earlier example from the seventies-eighties of Lebanon divided by civil war which in turn was the product of the Israeli-Palestinian wars and the bitter legions of Palestinian refugees they created. The common factor is that a country in the vicinity of major strife with weak democratic institutions and ethnic instability became an easy victim of foreign political, religious and militant influences.

Sri Lanka’s consuming problem is that it has never had statesmen in leadership positions. Either it has had presidents who suffer from provincialism like the incumbent or it has elected war criminals to high office such as a previous head of government. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the serving prime minister, has all the attributes that would bring peace and prosperity to Sri Lanka except one: He lacks a mass base. This leaves him a prisoner of the system bereft of powers to do good. For example, he was kept in the dark by the Sri Lankan president who loathes him about intelligence about the Easter Sunday bombers supplied by India. Since India unprofessionally loaded the intelligence with references of Pakistan, the Sri Lanka intelligence community ignored it in any case.

But even after the non-regional and far external nature of the Easter Sunday bombings have been established beyond a doubt, Sri Lanka has not been able to bring a reasoned closure to the tragedy. When over two hundred and fifty people are killed in blasts in hours on a revered occasion, reasonableness does not stand much of a chance. But the circumstances demanded reasonableness of the highest order because they were so exceptional and indeed outre. A handful of rich and influential Muslim Sri Lankans got insanely brainwashed to execute the attacks planned by an international Islamic State leadership which would be hard to pin down in the best of times. The national security interests of Sri Lanka lay in fair and thorough investigations isolating the remaining conspirators and indicting them while keeping the Muslim community (blameless in general) insulated from sectarian backlash and immunized against further external terrorist influences.

But Sri Lanka has chosen by default to travel down the opposite road to perdition. After weeks of communal disturbances and violence which have pushed the Muslim community to the edge, the Sinhala Buddhist clergy has set up new frontlines with the embattled minority population. Under pressure from one of Wickremesinghe’s government ministers who happens to be a hard line Buddhist cleric who had gone on fast, several Muslim governors of provinces and cabinet ministers have resigned with a plea for a fair and swift investigation into wild allegations of their role in the bombings. The clergy seems less keen on a fair inquiry than to victimize the Sri Lankan Muslim community by insinuation and slander and thereby harden the political climate to favour the majority religious group. This is a recipe for disaster worse than anything the Tamil-Sinhala divide produced in years of bitter bloodshed.

Tamil Nadu narrowly escaped the larger consequences of the ethnic crisis related to Sri Lankan Tamils. The Sri Lankan Muslim question, however, would spread far beyond Tamil Nadu (assuming a common language provides the initial connection), and should this be driven by an Islamic State or another international jihadi agenda and links up with Kashmir, it would dramatically alter the security paradigm. And while Pakistan may draw solace from further troubles for India in Kashmir, it should also be conscious that organizations like the Islamic State are no respecters of borders and boundaries and would as ecstatically seek to subvert the representative government in Islamabad as undermine its military possessed with nuclear weapons.

In sum, the Easter Sunday bombings have ramifications spreading far beyond Sri Lanka. Not just Colombo but New Delhi too has to wake up to this reality, and Islamabad cannot shrug away the consequences of the Easter Sunday bombings for the state of Pakistan. If this seems like the comeback of the Domino Theory in a mutated form, do not underestimate its potential for ruin for that reason.