At the recent meeting held by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) in Geneva, India abstained from voting against Sri Lanka for the latter’s crimes committed against Tamils during the country’s long civil war which ended in 2009. The resolution, however, was adopted as 22 out of the participating 47 member nations voted in favour.
China supported Sri Lanka, owing to good trade relations with them. The Hambantota Port acquired by China on Sri Lankan soil has been reaping them benefits, which I believe also allows them to keep an eye on the Indian Ocean, and thereby the movements of the Indian Navy. If China were to support Sri Lanka on its stand, it is natural that Pakistan will be inevitably dragged along, as their economy is heavily dependent on China. They would obviously have to follow whatever decision China takes on every international forum, although 11 other countries voted in favour of Sri Lanka as well.
The resolution was titled ‘Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka’. India had to assume a diplomatic stance as they cannot completely lose Sri Lanka (as if they haven’t lost their support already) as a strategic partner in the Indian Ocean. The Rajapaksa government has rarely been communicated to by the Indian government, and hence the relationship on every front between the two nations has been strained.
To make matters worse, Sri Lanka’s growing mutual support and trade with China has grown manifold. What India did was that before the voting, India’s delegation to Geneva showed support for the Sri Lankan Tamils’ struggle for equality, as it was the main reason for the bill to be introduced in the UNHRC. India urged Sri Lanka to “carry forward reconciliation” and to address the aspirations of the Tamil community, and continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens are “protected”.
New Delhi recently congratulated Dhaka for its 50th Independence Day, and PM Modi personally went to attend the ceremony with his counterpart Smt. Sheikh Hasina, which is assuring as given India’s ties are getting worse with its neighbours, with Bhutan being the only true ally. It has therefore become the need of the hour to correct foreign relations, look at them with a new perspective, and involve ourselves with our neighbours in dialogues, in order to better our position of the domestic front instead of relying on ties with far-off Western countries.
It appeals to common sense that if your house is on fire, it will be your neighbours who come out first to help, and not the fire brigade. Therefore, India needs to take this example very seriously if it wants to counter the growing Chinese influence in Asia. With Pakistan supporting at every step, it could be disastrous for New Delhi.