( January 20, Calcutta, Sri Lanka Guardian) The recent visit of the minister of external affairs, S.M. Krishna, to Sri Lanka falls into the set-pattern of bilateral behaviour which has been apparent for a while now. Yet, there is an unmistakable heightening of the pitch with which India, once again, pressed upon Sri Lanka the importance of working out a political solution to its ethnic problem. This is perhaps because India understands Sri Lanka’s predilections well. With the United Nations Human Rights Council scheduled to start its session later next month, Sri Lanka would need India’s support to ward off international pressure to begin investigations into war crimes. Unlike before, Sri Lanka now has the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to brandish before the council. But given its rejection by the Tamil National Alliance, the umbrella organization of Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government seems unwilling to leave anything to chance. It has tried its best to shore up relations with India over the past year, and India, on its part, has obliged. Apart from taking up a large share of the post-war reconstruction through house-building and rail and road construction activities, India has seized the chance to increase its diplomatic presence in Sri Lanka through the opening of new consulates. Mr Krishna’s recent visit was a continuation of that effort. India has taken on fresh responsibilities to rehabilitate the internally displaced people in Sri Lanka, besides stepping up commercial ties with the country.
India has also taken the opportunity to stress on the devolution of powers to the north as a major task before the Rajapaksa government. The Sri Lanka administration, as before, fully concurs with India on it, but that is where the matter rests. The Rajapaksa government insists that it is committed to implementing the “13th Amendment plus”, but does not seem to be in a hurry to promote the consensus that it believes is essential for the plan to work. The government’s negotiations with the TNA, which has the mandate of the Tamil population given its landslide victory in the recent local body polls, are deadlocked over trivialities. Meanwhile, the sense of betrayal among Tamils and Muslims seems to be deepening. India has always been a good judge of this mood. Perhaps Sri Lanka should heed the urgency in India’s advice.
Source : Calcutta Telegraph