India on Saturday conveyed to Sri Lanka that a "broad-based political settlement" of the ethnic conflict would enable the Rs.500-crore relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation package for the nearly three lakh war displaced to be utilised in a more effective and efficient manner.
In his message to coincide with the 63rd Independence Day, published in a special supplement in the local media, High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Alok Prasad said New Delhi looked forward to working with Colombo for quick and effective disbursement of the package.
India’s desire for a “broad-based political settlement” along with the resettlement of the war displaced assumes importance as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, since the end of Eelam War IV on May 19, has been focusing on the need for relief and rehabilitation to take precedence over a political solution.
In his interview with The Hindu on June 30, in response to a question on the political solution — the 13th “Amendment Plus” — he had in mind, Mr. Rajapaksa had said “even tomorrow I can give that — but I want to get that from the people.”
He insisted that all parties, especially the Tamil National Alliance representatives, should participate in the discussions on the political solution. “I am waiting but it will be after my [re]election [as President].” Indications are Mr. Rajapaksa could order a presidential election by the end of 2009.
Mr. Prasad said India had always been committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and restoration of peace through a political settlement that met the just aspirations of all elements of Sri Lankan society.
“The true quality of friendship was evident during the recent difficult times when India stood steadfast by Sri Lanka’s side. We will continue to support Sri Lanka’s commitment to heal the wounds of the past, to build a caring society which ensures a life of equality and dignity to all its citizens,” said the message.
The message also said India was supplying material for construction and would be willing to augment such assistance as the resettlement proceeds.
Independence Day was celebrated in the morning on the lawns of India House. Mr. Prasad unfurled the Tricolour in the presence of around 600 Indian expatriates.