India, Sri Lanka now understand Tamil ethnic issues: Lankan daily

Saturday, November 27, 2010

COLOMBO - Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Sri Lanka is drawing plenty of media interest in the island nation, with a leading daily Saturday saying that political leaders have now begun understanding Tamil militancy and the ethnic issues that affect both countries.

The article in Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper by M.S.M. Ayub also said it was “interesting to note that his (Krishna’s) visit has been scheduled at a time the Sri Lankan leaders are preparing to welcome Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari”.

Zardari will pay a four-day visit starting Saturday, at the invitation of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He will interact with members of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association (SLPPFA) and also address top business leaders.

Krishna’s visit ends Sunday.

The article said Indian leaders are becoming “wary of the ethnic issue” in Sri Lanka since it always had a bearing on the political movements in Tamil Nadu.

“Almost all political parties in that state (Tamil Nadu), especially Tamil nationalists such as V. Gopalaswamy (Vaiko) and Nedumaran would use the goings on here (Sri Lanka) to rouse the feelings of people there.”

“When the situation turns ugly with mounting tensions in south India or threatens the election prospects of the Centre, then Indian leaders would attempt to bring some form of pressure on the Sri Lankan government,” it said.

Indian and Sri Lankan leaders have begun to understand Tamil militancy and to know their limitations. They would not threaten each others’ political survival, it said.

India wanted Sri Lankan leaders to do something when tensions mounted in Tamil Nadu towards the end of the war in Wanni as the Indian parliamentary election was round the corner. The Sri Lankan government responded by announcing that heavy weapons would not be used against LTTE cadres trapped along with civilians in Mullaitivu district.

“All in all, Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka cannot expect decisive political maneuverings against Sri Lanka by Indian leaders - as what happened in the 1980s - to bring in political as well as constitutional changes in the island,” it said.

The article further said that Krishna’s visit was also being seen as a “significant event” as he was to open two Indian consular offices in two places - Jaffna and Hambantota - that have gained importance lately in terms of regional politics.

Jaffna is a vital point for India not only owing to its geographical proximity to Tamil Nadu and sharing a common language and culture with the state, but is also the hub of Sri Lankan Tamil politics.

Hambantota, Rajapaksa’s hometown, has gained much significance with the construction of the harbour there. It is close to one of world’s busiest naval routes that link countries facing the Pacific Ocean with oil producing West Asian countries.

The Hambantota harbour was constructed with financial assistance from China, another “rival of India” in the region.

“Hence, it is natural for the politically conscious people to relate the Hambantota Indian consulate and Krishna’s visit to the regional power play involving India,” it said.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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