Facts & Ground Realities in Indo-Lanka relations & ECT
Fact 1:India will always interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs
Fact 2:India will always attempt to destabilize Sri Lanka
Fact 3:International Relations is based on no permanent enemies, no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Permanent friends & enemies change from time to time.
Fact 4:All nations know the value of Sri Lanka’s geopolitical positioningexcept Sri Lanka’s leaders & advisors
Fact 5:Sri Lanka has a dismal record vis a vis signing agreements.
Fact 6:Sri Lanka doesn’t know the art of saying ‘no’ diplomaticallycausing foreign policy blunders and fall outs with appeasement policies.
Fact 7:Sri Lanka must look at the Commercial & Geopolitical significance of ECTfrom Sri Lanka’s lens not India’s wish list.
Fact 8:Sri Lanka must look at the global developments. Sri Lanka must strategize for future. No country wants to develop another country above their own.
Fact 9: Whether ECT is given to India or not India will continue with Fact 1 & 2
Fact 10:Since India will continue with Fact 1 & 2 by not giving ECT to India, Sri Lanka would have saved a strategic port with commercial and geopolitical value.
Let’s understand above better
Unfortunately, India suffers a major malady in thinking that its job description includes the requirement to eternally poke its nose into Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and carry out covert and overt operations to destabilize Sri Lanka.
This is a historical malady – South India attempted to invade Sri Lanka 18 times, we don’t need to remind India of its role in Tamil armed militancy, providing logistics support and even the manner illegal immigrants have been encouraged to enter Sri Lanka as well as the flouting of international laws violating Sri Lanka’s airspace and territorial waters.
The next floated argument is that we cannot afford to make India angry. Today’s wars are not with armies, it is using covert and overt ways to destabilize countries and our intel agencies must be put on alert.
Destabilizing & interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka is a modus operandi followed by all Indian governments that come into power. India little realizes that with every attempt to make Sri Lanka vulnerable there are plenty of sharks pretending to come to Sri Lanka’s aid but in reality use Sri Lanka as a ground to eventually destabilize India.
Our warnings that India will be subject to the balkanization fate of the Soviet Union & Yugoslavia have fallen on deaf ears. Whatever our feelings about India, we do not wish to see India balkanized and we continue to hold the dharmic unity of Hindu-Buddhist ties.
With resources of the world declining, with people’s greed and corruption increasing the world has become a centre stage for a plethora of criminal acts that has split the world into ‘haves & have nots’ and the gap is widening. The ‘have’s’ are plagued by an insatiable greed to acquire and this constitutes the ‘permanent interests’ of all countries in a quest to grab land and resources.
With this reality, Sri Lanka must ask itself how far it is protecting its assets and resources from being grabbed under whatever nomenclature the attempts are framed.If we lose these resources and assets we become boarders in our own land and we are at their mercy.We do not wish to be enslaved in our own land. This is nothing a proud nation with a proud history wants to even think of. Leaders are elected to make sure such a scenario does not happen. Thus, it is important to realize that diplomatic and international relations means we do not have permanent friends or enemies but Sri Lanka must protect its interests and not barter those interests. Any government that doesn’t know how to, gets unseated from power! The voters demand list comes first! Voters don’t elect governments to please other countries.
Historically, Sri Lanka has been the centre for invasions and take overs primarily due to its location. Why is the world so interested in Sri Lanka – ‘it’s our location, stupid’.Sri Lanka is the belly button of the world. Unfortunately, this has yet to get drilled into the minds of politicians and policy makers. Or they prefer to barter this for their personal luxuries.
We had 18 unsuccessful invasions by South India thanks to the proud defense capabilities of those who proudly defended our island nation. We had 3 European invaders who made a mockery of our leaders. Their divide and rule policies were stupendous and the outcome of these are alive and thriving to this day. Agreements were always one-sided and to Sri Lanka’s disadvantage.
The Sinhale king fell prey to the Portuguese virtually handing over the entire island as a gift to the Portuguese (Don Juan traitor), the Sinhale king fell prey to the Dutch thinking they were better than the Portuguese, the Sinhale chieftans fell prey to the British (similar to how the Parliament betrays the people) and we have seen how post-independence pacts like 2002 CFA, proposed ISGA/PTOMs, proposed Union of Regions, ECTA, CEPA, IOC, MCC etc have served no advantage to Sri Lanka, except maybe the one’s negotiating these deals from our end. It is as a result of the poor record sheet in agreement negotiations that the Sri Lankan public are skeptical about the present ECT agreement which abounds in controversies and facts kept disclosed from the public.
Sri Lanka’s foreign policy success by far arguably prevails during the period of Mrs. B who remains a much respected world leader to this day. A key aspect of her foreign policy was her ability to say ‘no’ nicely but sternly. When policies are not sternly but diplomatically conveyed, it opens the arena for all sorts of double dealings and treble troubles. This is what Sri Lanka faces in not following the simple policy of Mrs. B.
It is in trying to please all that we end up even displeasing those we are trying to please as well as the general public. So in the end, everyone is not happy with the outcome. A government is elected to please the citizens not foreign countries at the cost of displeasing the citizens.
By trying to please countries we have lost much. We gave petrol to India to make India happy but India wasn’t happy and wanted more. We signed ACSA to please US, but US demands more. We signed away Hambantota to please China & when these countries know that we are ready to give up our own to please them, their demand list will grow. We have given away so much. We have very little to now call our own. To please others our politicians have given away our assets and what have we got in return?
The ECT is one such important and valuable asset which the citizens do not wish to part with because they know India will never be satisfied with the 49% and will be eternally demanding more. Ultimately, we would end up with no asset or resource to call our own and even the people will end up being bartered.
All this does not help Sri Lanka realize any of its potentials or help to raise Sri Lanka’s profile. No country will want to develop another country before developing its own. Countries are wooing other countries to tap and grab their resources to take back home to develop their own countries. Is this too hard to understand? Is it so difficult to have our own strategize our future without always outsourcing it to external parties?
The crux of the issue vis a vis ECT is that whether 49% is given to India or not, India will continue to interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and destabilize Sri Lanka. This means, we could have lost 49% stake in our best port and this would likely be used as part of attempts to destabilize Sri Lanka.
Therefore, knowing this, wouldn’t it be better to politely and diplomatically say ‘no’ to India & Adani as Sri Lanka is unlikely to see any benefit by giving 49% to Adani, the very party developing India’s ports, to give India a competitive edge over Sri Lanka.
Why would India wish to nominate Adani to develop our Port if it will negate commercial value for India’s port that Adani is building for India?
Sri Lanka’s geopolitical positioning gives automatic preference to the world’s shipping lines as they can take advantage saving time and fuel by calling at Colombo Port. Our service too is far superior to what SAARC nations offer. We only need to increase the depth so we can cater to the bigger ships that would be calling at our Ports in the future.
Have those planning to give 49% to India/Adani not thought of an eventuality of things going sour? In such an eventuality, have they thought of the course of action to be taken?
The people’s decision is based on the record sheet of our neighbor and putting caution first. If the government does what the people want, the people (patriotic) will come forward to defend their nation. The politicians rarely defend the nation. They are the cause of most troubles plaguing the country. But, when the country needs to be defended, the People will come forward to do so. Politicians need not fret about that.
Shenali D Waduge