UPFA constituents decry govt policy towards Pakistan


By Shamindra Ferdinando

UPFA constituents, the National Freedom Front and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya have accused the UNP-SLFP coalition government of bending over backwards to appease India at the expense of traditional ally, Pakistan.

UPFA MP Udaya Gammanpila and NFF spokesperson Mohammed Muzammil told The Island that the ruling coalition shouldn’t have announced that Sri Lanka wouldn’t take part in the SAARC summit before Pakistan made its own announcement.

The decision to pull out from the SAARC summit in Islamabad was meant to please India and a foreign policy blunder; Gammanpila said, adding that the decision was a snub to Pakistan, a close friend, who had always stood by Sri Lanka.

Muzammil said:"The government was aware of Pakistan’s decision to postpone the summit. Still the government went ahead to announce that Sri Lanka was not taking part," NFF spokesperson said.

Gammanpila claimed that the government had been sharply divided over Sri Lanka policy towards Pakistan. "Pakistan steadfastly stood by Sri Lanka throughout the war," Muzammil said, adding that Islamabad provided crucial support required by successive governments at various international fora.

Both Gammanpila and Muzammil stressed that Indo-Lanka relations were of critical importance in the post-war era. Acknowledging that Sri Lanka should be mindful of India’s interests and concerns, yet, they said whatever the circumstances the government couldn’t undermine Pakistan.

Muzammil alleged that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration had been bending backwards to promote US interests in the region. "We are being unfair by Pakistan," the former JVPer said, recollecting Islamabad throwing its full weight behind Sri Lanka at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) when US and India campaigned against Lanka during the previous government.

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