NEW DELHI/COLOMBO: After the vote on the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka was counted at Geneva, India issued an “explanation of the vote”, which said New Delhi subscribed to the “broader message of this resolution and the objectives it promotes”, but asserted that any assistance or visits by UN officials should be in agreement with Sri Lanka.
“A democratic country like Sri Lanka has to be provided time and space to achieve the objectives of reconciliation and peace. In this Council we have the responsibility to ensure that our conclusions do contribute to this objective rather than hinder it,” said the statement.
Unlike several other countries in the run-up to the vote on Thursday, India did not speak during the proceedings. It was ultimately the only Asian country to vote in favour of the resolution.
Besides the wording in the resolution watering it down, another change made was in the preamble – inclusion of reference to two UNHRC resolutions on institution building.
India’s positive vote had of course not come as a surprise after the PM had told Parliament earlier this week that his government was “inclined” to vote in favour of the resolution. It had come a week after Parliament was disrupted several times by DMK, AIADMK and Left parties demanding that India should support the resolution.
Already facing trouble from its other major ally, Trinamool Congress, the UPA had to give in to its other important constituent, DMK, whose members had walked out and forced adjournments in Parliament.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had also sent several missives to the Prime Minister, urging India to back the US in Geneva.
Indian officials asserted that they do not see much “repercussions” on the bilateral ties with Sri Lanka. “India is the largest trade partner and largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka. It also sends the highest number of tourists to Colombo. There cannot be rolling back in relations due to the resolution,” they argued.
Sources asserted that this was a “non-judgmental resolution”. “I hope they see it in the spirit that we approached the issue,” said an Indian source. The Indian official statement also harped on the “thousands of years of cordial relations with Lanka” and that India could not remain untouched by developments in that country.
India also called for Colombo to take forward the process of “broader dialogue and show concrete movement towards a meaningful devolution of powers, including the implementation of the 13th Amendment and beyond.”
But, Sri Lanka did not seem as understanding as India hoped – at least not from its immediate reaction. After the resolution was adopted, Sri Lankan foreign minister G L Peiris lashed out at countries voting in favour of the resolution because of their “domestic political issues”.