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Will India support Sri Lanka this time too?

[Express Buzz, Monday, 5 July 2010 12:05 No Comment]

India is to mull over a variety of factors before it takes a decision on the draft of a letter which Egypt, the current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), had written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing opposition to the expert committee on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka that he had set up recently. About a week ago, the Egyptian Ambassador in the UN had circulated the draft letter among the 118 countries that are members of NAM.

Official sources told Express on Sunday that India would first have to take into account the fact that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government has refused to cooperate with the panel, arguing that its mandate seriously erodes the country’s sovereignty.

India will also have to bear in mind the fact that China has publicly backed Sri Lanka on this issue. India cannot be seen to be opposing Sri Lanka on this matter and allow China to get the advantage in the intense India-China rivalry that is going on in Sri Lanka.

India cannot ignore Colombo’s argument that Ban had been arbitrary in Sri Lanka’s case. He had appointed the panel without any resolution by the UN General Assembly or the Security Council or even the Human Rights Council asking for it. In contrast, the UN panel on the Israeli attack on the civilian flotilla in Gaza on May 31 had the prior sanction of these UN decision-making bodies.

New Delhi is constrained to take into account the growing pressure on the Manmohan Singh government from its ally in Tamil Nadu, the DMK, to take a tougher line against Colombo on the Tamil question, which is at the bottom of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

India will wait and see as to how the other members of NAM react to Egypt’s letter. It is not clear how many in the 118-country NAM group will oppose or support the panel. The Sunday Times says that members of the Islamic Countries have expressed reservations.

[Full Coverage]

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