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Lanka objects to C'wealth decision on Pak

The Sri Lankan president has expressed "strong objection" to the decision of the Commonwealth to suspend Pakistan from it, reports PK Balachandran.

world Updated: Nov 24, 2007 03:37 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran
Hindustan Times

The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed "strong objection" to the decision of the Commonwealth to suspend Pakistan from it.

A release from the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat said that Rajapaksa had told the Commonwealth conclave in Kampala, Uganda, on Friday, that due consideration should have been given to the changes that were taking place in Pakistan and also the ground realities there, before taking a decision to suspend it.

Earlier, a committee of the Commonwealth had given the Pakistani President Gen.Pervez Musharraf time until November 22 to give up his army post and restore full democracy. It was when he failed to do what was expected of him, that the decision to suspend Pakistan was taken.

Why Lanka-Pak relations are strong

Sri Lanka has had the best of relations with Pakistan. It buys military equipment, mainly small arms, from Pakistan, when other countries, including India, have been reluctant to supply it with lethal weapons on the grounds that the ethnic conflict in the island should be settled through talks and not war. Pakistan has given Sri Lanka no such advice.

In 2000, when the LTTE was knocking at the gates of Jaffna, and 30,000 Sri Lankan troops were trapped there, Pakistan gave Sri Lanka multi-barrel rocket launchers and ammunition urgently, which helped the Sri Lankan armed forces push the LTTE back.

Sri Lankan commentators always contrast Pakistan's aid at that juncture with India's offer to help evacuate the trapped Sri Lankan troops, an offer which was tantamount to asking the Sri Lankans to surrender to the LTTE.

During the war between India and Pakistan over East Pakistan/Bangladesh in 1971, India had banned Pakistani planes from flying over Indian territory. But the Sri Lankan government stepped in to help the Pakistanis by allowing the Pakistan Air Force to fly over Sri Lanka and keep the Pakistani troops in the Eastern wing supplied with men and material to fight the Bangladeshi Mukti Bahini.

Fear of international interfearence

Another reason for Sri Lanka's coming to the support of Pakistan is the shared fear of the internationalization of the internal conflict in the two countries.

Just like the Pakistani President Musharraf, who is resisting international pressure to come to terms with his domestic adversaries, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka is fighting international pressure to come terms with the minority Tamils led by the LTTE.

First Published: Nov 24, 2007 03:28 IST