The five-point consensus reached by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on Myanmar is an important framework for the way forward in tackling the fallout of the February 1 military coup in that country. India has endorsed the Asean initiative and pledged that its diplomatic engagement with Myanmar will be aimed at strengthening these efforts.
Asean’s initiative envisages immediate cessation of violence, dialogue among all stakeholders in Myanmar for a peaceful solution and the appointment of a special Asean envoy to facilitate mediation. Aid to Myanmar, and a visit to the country by the envoy are the other two points.
Asean leaders acknowledged the five-point consensus, agreed on at a meeting held in Jakarta last week, went beyond their expectations, and diplomats believe the first step has been taken but the road towards a resolution will be tortuous.
Myanmar’s Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who attended the Asean meeting on April 24, was silent on the demands made by the other members of the grouping, but Asean leaders have said he heard them out and wasn’t opposed to a visit to Myanmar by an Asean delegation.
The consensus is silent on the release of political prisoners or the future role of the National Unity government — both of which may have made it palatable to the junta. For India, the stakes are high as instability within Myanmar has grave implications for the Northeast.
There are reports of guerrilla groups in Myanmar reviving their activities and any breakdown of law and order will allow militant groups in the Northeast to take advantage of the situation. At the same time, India’s access to the generals in Myanmar means it is well placed to nudge the military to act swiftly to restore democracy and end violence.