Vote can boomerang: SL to India

Vote can boomerang: SL to India

We got the resolution toned down, Manmohan tells Rajapaksa

Vote can boomerang: SL to India

Two days after voting against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at Geneva, India tried to mollify the island nation, even as the latter warned New Delhi that its vote may return to haunt it on Kashmir.

In Colombo, government spokesman Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said some countries or groups might use the vote against Sri Lanka for war crimes as a precedence to bring a similar resolution on India over the Kashmir dispute.

Sri Lanka was, however, mindful that India acted as a result of immense pressure from Tamil political parties, Abeywardena, the acting media minister, told a public meeting.

Mindful of Sri Lanka’s sensibilities, in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached out to Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa conveying India's role in introducing an “element of balance” in the text of the US-sponsored resolution.

Attempting to soothe frayed nerves across the Palk Strait, Singh told Rajapaksa that he instructed Indian diplomats to spare no effort to tone down the language of the UNHRC resolution, which, he interpreted, a “positive way forward.”

He assured India's complete support to help the island nation to grow from “strength to strength”.

India’s unusual vote at the UNHRC on Thursday came in support of a US-backed resolution that calls for a credible probe on alleged war crimes committed by Lankan military forces during its crackdown on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

India's vote - under political pressure from DMK and AIDMK, two main parties in Tamil Nadu – raised key questions on the vulnerability of India's foreign policy on domestic political compulsions.

As many as 24 members of the 47-nation UNHRC voted against Sri Lanka whereas 15 nations supported it. India is the only Asian country that voted against Sri Lanka – a move, which some analysts claim would help China in making further inroads in the island nation.

Stressing on the need of a political solution to address the grievances of Tamil community, the Prime Minister said a only “meaningful devolution package” would lead towards a lasting political settlement on many of these issues and create conditions in which all citizens of Sri Lanka, irrespective of their ethnicity, could find justice, dignity, equality and self-respect.

“Our two governments have, over the last three years, engaged intensively in the immediate tasks of relief and rehabilitation for those displaced by the conflict, as well as the more long-term effort of reconstruction of national infrastructure,” Singh said, adding that various Indian agencies were implementing projects of national significance in Sri Lanka.

Mixed feelings

While Sri Lanka has been miffed by India’s vote against it, there appears to be grudging appreciation in Colombo of New Delhi’s reasons for its move, as well as its efforts to dilute the resolution to exclude scope for any intrusive international action against the island nation.

India forced the US to amend its resolution to safeguard Sri Lanka from international intrusions by adding a clause that said the UNHRC can provide advice and technical assistance “in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the government of Sri Lanka”.

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