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“No Help From India in International Arena if Sri Lanka Fails to Implement 13th Amendment in Full ”-Manmohan’s Message to Mahinda Via Menon

“No Help From India in International Arena if Sri Lanka Fails to Implement 13th Amendment in Full ”-Manmohan’s Message to Mahinda Via Menon

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Published by: Thavam on Jul 12, 2013
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 A firm “no nonsense”message from Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh has beenconveyed to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Indian national securityadviser Shiv Shankar Menon during his breakfast meeting with the Sri Lankan head of state on Tuesday July 9th 2013. According to informed Indian sources the message from Manmohan Singh hadindicated that New Delhi expected President Rajapaksa to implement pledges made toIndia and the International community about implementing the Thirteenth Amendmentto the Sri Lankan Constitution and also go beyond its framework to provide enhancedmeaningful devolution to the existing Provincial Councils scheme.If Sri Lanka failed to honour these pledges and attempted to diminish the scale andscope of Devolution currently available through Provincial Councils then India wouldbe constrained from extending support to its Island neighbour when faced withpressures and problems in the International arena-This was the crux of the messagefrom Manmohan Singh. Although the discussions between the Lankan president and Indian national securityadviser had been as cordial as ever the message from the Indian Prime minister wasdelivered in a very direct and explicit manner without being couched in diplomatic jargon revealed informed sources.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa met India’s National Security Advisor Mr.Shivshankar Menon, July 8, 2013-news.lk 
 According to Indian sources the usually affable and soft Manmohan Singh has beenuncharacteristically ruffled by what the Indian premier perceives as “bad faith” byPresident Rajapaksa. Apparently President Rajapaksa has on three separate discussions with Primeminister Manmohan Singh in the past committed himself unambiguously toimplementing the 13th amendment in full and also go beyond its present parametersto provide greater devolution.It was President Rajapaksa himself who had used the phrase “13 Amendment Plus”todenote his willingness to go beond the present framework of Provincial Councils andprovide maximum devolution possible,pointed out these sources.President Rajapaksa had reiterated these sentiments to other Indian dignitaries suchas former External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj.Furthermore Sri Lankan cabinet ministers like Prof.GL Peiris and MahindaSamarasinghe had also assured India and the International Community aboutPresident Rajapaksa’s bona fides in this regard.Moreover President Rajapaksa had also assured UN Secretary-general Ban Ki Moonthat he intended to arrive at a political settlement aimed at achieving ethnicreconciliation.
Given this context,recent moves by President Rajapaksa to amend the 13th
amendment and dilute available devolution had irritated the Indian establishment ingeneral and annoyed Manmohan Singh in particular.The Indian Prime minister who had earlier evinced great confidence in the Politicalintegrity of President Rajapaksa had been upset at what was seen as a breach of solemn pledges.It is against this backdrop that Manmohan Singh’s special message on behalf of theIndian Govt was conveyed to Mahinda Rajapaksa by SS Menon.It was pointed out that India had been of tremendous assistance to Sri Lanka in copingwith severe international pressures on many fronts in recent times.It was India thathelped dilute the resolution initiated by the USA on Sri Lanka at the UN Human RightsCouncil in Geneva.It was India that helped ensure Sri Lanka’s status as hosts of theCommonwealth heads of state summit to be held in the Island in November.
It was stated that India was advocating Sri Lanka’s case Internationally on the basisthat President Rajapaksa was genuinely committed to ethnic reconciliation andpolitical harmony through a viable scheme of devolution. But if President Rajapaksawavered or vacillated on that commitment then India would not be in a position toespouse Sri Lanka’s case in its interaction with the International community.New Delhiwould be reluctantly compelled to maintain a “hands off”policy when Sri Lanka faces“pressures and problems”from the world at large.Therefore India hopes that Sri Lankawould honour its commitments on Devolution and not push India into adopting an aloof stance vis a vis Sri Lanka. It was emphasised that India had the best interests of itsIsland neighbour and friend at heart and was always prepared to help resolve itspredicament in the sphere of ethnic relations.President Rajapaksa responded by outlining the problems he faced in implementingsome of the powers allocated to Provincial councils in areas such as Police and landsand also stated that the question of provincial council powers can be resolved throughthe mechanism of a Parliamentary Select Committee(PSC).President Rajapaksa requested India to use its influence and persuade the TamilNational Alliance(TNA) to participate in the PSC proceedings. Shiv Shankar Menon inreply said that India would convey the Govt request and discuss the issue with theTamil political configuration but would let the TNA arrive at its own decision.
It was also outlined to President Rajapaksa that with or without the TNA the situationat present was one where the PSC seemed to lack representation from allstakeholders. Apart from the TNA, the United National Party(UNP),Sri Lanka Muslim

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