The TNA in parliament yesterday criticized the motives of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in attempting to involve India in the peace process in order to hold the LTTE in check.
Making a statement in the House yesterday TNA group leader R. Sambandan said that it was necessary to question the motives of the Foreign Minister and his officials in attempting to befriend India and give it an all important role in the peace process because of their perception that India has the potential to contain the Tigers.
"Such manipulations need to be roundly condemned", said Sambandan adding, "We have not the slightest doubt that India would become prey to such manipulations. But we are greatly concerned about the immensely harmful impact that could be caused to the credibility of the peace process by such manipulations".
Mr. Sambandan made these accusations while quoting media reports from the Daily Mirror and Island newspapers on statements made by the Minister on India's role in the peace process during a recent visit to India and also views expressed by delegates from the Bandaranaike Center for International Studies (BCIS) of which Mr. Kadirgamar is the president, on the signing of a defence agreement between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Quoting an article from the Daily Mirror of March 2, Mr. Sambandan said the Sri Lankan delegation in Pakistan were attempting to forge a defence pact with Pakistan "to strike a calculated balance in relations between India and Pakistan given India's potential in containing the Tigers".
According to Mr. Sambandan, Minister Kadirgamar had told the Island in an interview on March 3: "We would like to see India taking more than an academic interest, to begin to indicate what kind of solution, India would like to see in Sri Lanka". Sambandan added that the Foreign Minister said in the interview, "if India suggested federalism type of solution, all parties in Sri Lanka would agree on it".
However, Mr. Sambandan charged that the Minister had not stated this view in his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and also noted that this view was not contained in the statement issued following President Chandrika Kumaratunga's visit to India in November 2004.
Quoting the Daily Mirror of February 25, Mr. Sambandan added that Pakistan had expressed its willingness to go ahead with the signing of a defence agreement with Sri Lanka in discussions with former army chief Gerry de Silva, "despite whatever reservations others might have". Mr. Sambandan further said, "There is no doubt that the visit and the contents of the discussions had the fullest approval of the Foreign Minister," while also reasoning that the 'others' referred to in the statement are India and the Tamil people.
Mr. Sambandan also questioned whether the Foreign Minister was acting in a manner contrary to the views of the government and carrying out the dictates of the JVP and the National Patriotic Front. He said the government does not speak with one voice on the continuance of the peace process and that 'no tangible progress' had been made in the past eleven months by the government on the commencement of peace talks.
Mr. Sambandan also requested for a parliamentary debate to be fixed in the first week of April to debate the current state of the peace process.