Finally, an intellectual and clever decision by India to send External Affairs Minister Salman Khursid to attend CHOGM (“Manmohan to call up Rajapaksa,” Nov. 11). This is a decision that will satisfy both those who are in favour and against the Prime Minister going to Sri Lanka.
Abhishek Kumar Aggarwal,
The Prime Minister has bowed to local pressure and displayed a lack of statesmanship. The main objectives in India’s dealings with Sri Lanka must be to ensure a just deal for the nation’s Tamil minority, and to protect its own interests in a region of strategic importance. Dr. Singh could have travelled to Jaffna and seen first-hand the work carried out by the government following the end of the war. During this visit, shortcomings in humanitarian aid could have been examined. While we resent any interference in our internal affairs, we do not seem to follow this in our dealings with our neighbours. In the process, we antagonise them and end up getting isolated.
Had Dr. Singh attended CHOGM along with a visit to Jaffna, India would have achieved more. It may not be a surprise if Sri Lanka suddenly says that it has no use for the 13th Amendment.
Dr. Singh faced considerable pressure over his attendance at CHOGM. He is not going. While the move certainly registers our protest, it has also deprived us of an opportunity to have the upper hand at the forum. Further, Sri Lanka has started inching closer to China. Strategically speaking, it is risky for us to give Sri Lanka the cold shoulder on this count. We should not have allowed emotions to overtake the ground realities.
The fact that India has been advising Sri Lanka to reduce its army presence in the Tamil-dominated areas is astonishing and appalling. It is completely out of line with the kind of policies India follows itself. Asking the Sri Lankan army to do this will only lead to India’s detractors calling for the Indian Army to leave Jammu and Kashmir for the very same reason. Have we thought about this?
Dr. Singh has skipped CHOGM in order to record India’s protest over Sri Lanka’s indifference to human rights violations, the proposed dilution of the 13th Amendment, attacks on Indian Tamil fishermen and “Sinhalisation.” Is this what Tamil activists expect from the Prime Minister? His letter about his “inability” to attend CHOGM reflects poor diplomacy.
The Prime Minister’s decision is disappointing. Instead of helping Tamil leaders in Jaffna, Tamil Nadu’s politicians have played the wrong card in order to gain attention politically. This will only be the beginning of endless problems for India. It was not very long ago that Tamil Nadu did not allow Sri Lankan cricket players to play in Chennai and some Sri Lankan tourists were attacked. The Central government remained a mute spectator through all this. India must help the Tamils to secure political and economic rights.