India has at various times in the past and in the not too distant past proved to be a valuable ally of our country. In fact our Prime Minister went a step further referring to India as our closest friend.
Sri Lankans one and all, could hardly forget India and Pakistan’s response during the World Cup series of 1996, when the two countries sent a joint team to play in Sri Lanka when Australia and the West Indies refused to play here, for fear of the terrorist problem in this country at that time.
We also remember in the aftermath of our ethnic war, India opposed the inclusion of the operative paragraph 10(b) which, for the first time, called on the OHCHR “to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) called to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders...”
The India’s position was such a decision undermined Sri Lanka’s national sovereignty.
However, when the (Sri Lanka) government showed no signs of implementing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution -which came into being via the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of July 29, 1987- and failed to keep promises made to the then Indian leaders regarding its implementation, ties between the countries deteriorated.
At the UN Human Rights Council meeting of March 2013, India voted for the adoption of the US-sponsored resolution on human rights violation in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately our leaders do not understand one cannot unilaterally scrap international agreements. We do not seem to have learnt the lessons of history. Also without second thought, we keep stepping on the toes of powerful leaders, taking their good neighbourly relations for granted.
Way back in the late 70s, late President JR Jayawardene kept insulting the ex-Indian Premier Indira Gandhi after her electoral defeat. Once Gandhi was voted back into power, she turned a blind eye to training camps set up by Sri Lankan militant groups in Tamil Nadu. She went further and provided training and weapons to the militants.
She also asked her British counterpart Margaret Thatcher to stop helping Sri Lanka with military advice to crush the separatist Tamil Eelam movement in the 1980s, as reported in the Indian Express of January 2014 which had referred to newly declassified documents as its source.
It is well known that rich and powerful nations do not tolerate ‘lesser nation states’ standing up to them. The fate of the late Colonel Muammar Al-Gaddaffi of Libya was a case in point. The efforts of the US to crush its tiny island neighbour Cuba for daring to chart an independent political course of development, its attempt to host nuclear weapons posing what the US believed to be a military threat, is a prime example of how the powerful nations deal with weaker neighbours.
Venezuela - a country awash with petroleum resources - also took an anti-US stance. Today, thanks to US interference, Venezuela is unable to even make use of these resources or produce sufficient petroleum to meet its own population’s needs. US sanctions, political unrest in that country and a variety of other dirty tricks, have brought the regime to the verge of bankruptcy.
The message to less powerful nations is loud and clear: Do not jeopardize our interests or our perceived security needs. While China has proved to be a reliable friend of Sri Lanka, India has raised security concerns over its growing friendship with China and its (China’s) involvement in our strategically situated ports. The unilateral scrapping of the tripartite agreement between India, Japan and Sri Lanka without even the courtesy of discussion has to be viewed in this light.
Will India and Japan swallow their pride?
The UNHCR is discussing the US-sponsored resolution on human rights violation in Sri Lanka. PM Narendra Modi has suddenly begun referring to the people of Sri Lanka’s North and East as his brothers and sisters and the BJP - Modi’s political party - claims it wants to form a government in