Take heart Sri Lanka

All is not lost

| by Gamini Gunawardane

( April 07, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) We need not loose heart over the outcome at Geneva though the LTTE supporters abroad may be dancing for joy as if they had won their eealm ‘war’. They have had several set backs. So this may be some consolation and justification for continuing their ‘struggle’ and collecting funds from their deluded fans. If one were to a take step back take a sober look at this whole episode, one could not fail to see several positives in this outcome.
Firstly, it was a case of contest between a David and Goliath. US are a super power who was sponsoring this resolution, backed by another world power, India. She worked with all its might and influence. It was an uneven contest. Hence loosing was no disgrace. We fought hard and lost. On the other hand, if he had succeeded against all odds we would have been left with a bitter enemy. For it was a prestige battle for the US having once lost at the UNHRC and humiliated by Palestine succeeding to enter the UNICEF. So succeeding here was critical for them. Had they lost, they would have lost face badly. In is not in our in our long term interest. India would have lost face too. Being a small country we could ill afford it.
We now know who our unfailing friends are.
We should cultivate them further and win
over those who abstained. We could work on
 many other countries who did not vote with us.
 For, this is not going to be the last battle.           
We now know who our unfailing friends are. We should cultivate them further and win over those who abstained. We could work on many other countries who did not vote with us. For, this is not going to be the last battle. This needs more enlightened long term and sophisticated foreign police initiatives. It is good time to take stock, looking at our strengths and weaknesses.
On the other hand, our adversaries have lost too. By adopting this coercive approach US has lost a lot of good will and diplomatic clout in regard to Sri Lanka in the long run. We now know who really they are, if we had any doubt. Being strategically located in the Indian Ocean shipping rout, Sri Lanka will no longer be readily pliable by the US or India.
In these circumstances, it is inevitable that Sri Lanka will gravitate more towards China because it will be safer to place our bets with China than any other country. For, we know that China has no hegemonic interests, in any case being geographically located far away from Sri Lanka. US and others could not blame Sri Lanka either, for it was their creation. If they find that Sri Lanka would drift closer to Iran and Pakistan they have only themselves to blame. They have been our unfailing friends.
Globally, all non-Western countries, including the Latin American countries who supported this motion, too have lost in the sense that this step opened the gates for the US to intrude into internal affairs of other countries whenever US wanted to destabilize them. This could be used as a precedent. Thus, the concept of sovereignty of countries was compromised.
In my understanding India is the party that has lost most in this whole episode. Firstly, it has lost esteem and confidence of all SAARC countries as its pre-eminent member of SAARC. The question that arises naturally is what is the purpose of SAARC if the member countries do not stand together in a crisis. All member countries now know that India could not be relied upon to stand by the other members in a crisis. It will not hesitate to let down the member countries when it comes to her own interests. Also India forfeited its standing as a power in the South Asian region who will take an Independent stand unlike in the past, on international issues. India has failed to explain these larger implications to their Tamil Nadu government and convince them, even if they did not love Sri Lanka. It was necessary to persuade them not to take a narrow view only based emotional considerations, in the larger interests of Indian foreign policy, perhaps like the way they got Karunanidhi to relent when he went on a fast when Sri Lanka mounted the final assault on the LTTE in 2009.
They have also lost their standing in Asia vis-à-vis China who had been like a rock. They can no longer rue if Sri Lanka in the future depend more on China. Thus, it would appear that India adopted a short sighted policy in this instance though they succeeded in persuading the US to water down the resolution by inserting the clause ( that too in their own interest): “… in consultation and concurrence with Sri Lanka” which is hardly adequate. Thus, their aspiration of becoming a super power was compromised against the US. Owing to bowing their head to petty politics within India, she badly compromised her cherished desire to become a super power. The US on the other hand, reduced the stature of India in relation to China who in this instance emerged as a potential super power in Asia. This leads us to the question in a future date if any other Asian country faces a similar situation internationally around whom we should rally in defence of that country.
When it comes to Sri Lanka, whether we like it or not, this crisis helped President Rajapaksa succeeded in rallying round the country once again when his aura was diminishing owing to the rising local problems. In effect he stabilized himself further. If the US had any thoughts of destabilize Sri Lankan government or effecting a regime change in this country that prospect is now receded. Also, if at least this process result in the government being compelled to establish at least Independent Police Commission and Independent Public Service would very beneficial to ensure better governance in this country.
Further, now that India has taken a stand inimical to Sri Lanka, it creates a new space not to bow down to her dictates any longer to go on to implement the 13th Amendment which is nothing but an embarrassing constitutional provision. There is now an opportunity to think of abrogating the 13th Amendment using the government’s 2/3 majority in parliament. The gate is hence open for the government to go to the devolution unit of District Councils or still better, to the Grama Rajya concept. There are no more shackles on the government. They have now to act with courage.
As regards the resolution per say, the 1st para should not be a problem because Sri Lanka in any case was to implement some recommendations of the LLRC though of course at its on pace. The 2nd para too should not be a serious problem because Sri Lanka could set their own reasonable time table for implementation. The only area of concern is the monitoring function of the UNHCR Commissioner and the accepting of the processes and mechanism which is a matter of interpretation between the UNHCR and Sri Lanka. It will be necessary to handle this aspect astutely.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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