Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday sought to mollify Sri Lanka’s hurt over India’s joining US and other nations to censure the island republic for human rights violations, by stressing that Indian diplomats had actually helped temper down the criticism at UN’s Human Rights Council.
In a letter to Sri Lankan President Mahnda Rajapaksa, Singh said “Your Excellency would be aware that we spared no effort and were successful in introducing an element of balance in the language of the resolution”. As part of the damage control move, Prime Minister also said that he had instructed Indian delegation to at the UNHRC to remain in close contact with its Sri Lanka counterparts “in an attempt to find a positive way forward”.
India had voted in favour of the resolution criticizing Sri Lanka even as other neighbouring countries like China, Pakistan and Bangladesh voted against it.
Taking credit for the dilution of the US-initiated resolution, Singh said, “ “I wish to assure Your Excellency that, going forward, we will continue our engagement with the shared objective of building a stable, secure and prosperous environment in Sri Lanka in which all communities can flourish and in which India-Sri Lanka rel Singh’s letter comes against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s displeasure over India’s vote. Its foreign minister G L Peiris had earlier called S M Krishna to request India to not vote against it in light of the strong ties between the 2 countries.
Singh’s letter also reveals that Rajapaksa too had written to him before the voting. ations can continue to grow from strength to strength,” he added.
As part of the placatory exercise, Singh recalled that India’s support for Sri Lanka “in its struggle against terrorism” , and distanced itself from the criticism of the way Rajapaksa regime stamped out the challenge of LTTE insurgency. “The end in may 2009 of a long and tragic conflict that had claimed numerous lives,l in Sri Lanka and in India, was something that we regarded as providing, at long last, an opportunity for genuine national reconciliation end for addressing the urgent needs of development and reconstruction of all citizens of Sri Lanka”.
Singh also expressed India’s wish for a continuing partnership with Sri Lanka to achieve a “political solution that will address all outstanding issues, in particular the grievances of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, in a spirit of understanding and mutual accommodation”.
However, while seeking to assuage Rajapaksa over India becoming a party to US-sponsored criticism, Singh also reminded Rajapaksa of India’s grouse that the Sri Lanka had not done enough for giving autonomy to Tamil -dominated northern and eastern regions of the country.
“It is our conviction that a meaningful devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, 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, can find justice, dignity, equality and self-respect,” Singh said.
Singh told Rajapaksa that he was happy to learn about his intention to continue the process of implementing the recommendations of the LLRC.
“Much important progress has been registered on this front and I wish to record my appreciation of the assistance your government has provided to various Indian agencies implementing projects of national significance on the ground in Sri Lanka,” he said. (TNN)