Is Pakistan being taken for granted by Sri Lanka ?

Ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan ,Benazir Bhutto once, in a letter addressed to former President,the late Premadasa said : the only thing on which she and Zia had agreed was providing Pakistani assistance to Sri Lanka.

By this what she meant was that , although she was diametrically opposed to the decisions taken by Pakistan’s former President Zia ul Haq’s administration , she did not however oppose the solitary decision to render assistance to Sri Lanka.

Zia ul Haq came forward to lend support to Sri Lanka in 1983. During the 1983 Sri Lanka North East war , the Sri Lanka Govt. sent a cable message to Pakistan requesting assistance via its High Commission in Sri Lanka. The reply received for Sri Lanka’s request for arms and weapons sprung a surprise : no sooner the cable message was received than Pakistan’s President Zia sent the arms and weapons by a PIA flight. !

When the Pakistan officials questioned on the dispatch of arms by a civil aviation flight , President Zia who was obviously enraged , summoned the PIA aviation Chief and retraced past history : he reminded him as to how Sri Lanka Govt. helped them by allowing its soldiers to travel through Colombo in civil attire during the Indo -Pakistan war in 1971.

In 1970 -71 , when the East Pakistan conflict broke out , Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Sirima Bandaranaike gave permission to the planes carrying arms and soldiers to Tikka Khan of East Pakistan to land in Colombo .This was at a time when the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka , Bandaranaike and the Indian Prime Minister , Indira Gandhi were having close friendly ties.

Indira Gandhi who was offended by this assistance to Pakistan ignoring the close relationship she and Bandaranaike had at that time , sent her Foreign Minister to Sri Lanka for an emergency meeting. Mrs. Bandaranaike however , was not deterred or daunted.

Pakistan in appreciation of this support of Mrs. Bandaranaike when it was at the brink of dividing into two, reciprocated in 1983 when Sri Lanka was threatened with a division. This was the year when the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka flared

Later, when President J.R. Jayawardena sought Pakistan’s assistance to continue the war, India registered its protests When Mrs. Bandaranaike began supporting India on this , J.R. had to remind her how she helped Pakistan against India in the war in 1971.

Whether JR stated this to justify his own actions seeking Pakistan’s support for the war , or to create hostility between Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike and India is a matter of conjecture.

It is an acknowledged fact that no matter what relationship Sri Lanka maintained with India , and whether it was beneficial or not to Pakistan , the latter has never hesitated to show its gratitude to Sri Lanka. It did not give consideration to which political party is in power or who is the leader in Sri Lanka when making its reciprocal gestures. Pakistan had continued to grant assistance to Sri Lanka : from 1977 to 1988 , when J.R. Jayawardena’s Govt. was in power ; from 1989 to 1993, when Premadasa ‘s Govt. was in power ; from 1994 when the alliance was in power ,and even now when the present Mahinda Rajapaksa Govt. is in power, without any discrimination .

But, whether Sri Lanka is honestly aligned with Pakistan or is it using Pakistan to overcome the pressures brought to bear on Sri Lanka by India is a serious question.

In 2006 , an assassination attempt , abortive though ,was made on the Pakistan High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Bashir Wali Mohamed . The Govt. is yet to release the report on the investigation in this connection

When the war began in 2006 and the Govt. sought aid to destroy the LTTE aerially , it is Bashir Wali Mohamed who took the initiative and played an intermediary role to assist Sri Lanka with advice and guidance of Pakistan’s Air Force War combating specialists. Yet, the Govt. has still not been able to tell about the investigation findings on the claymore mine attack on him.

When the Foreign Ministers of member countries recently moved to eliminate Pakistan from the Commonwealth , the Sri Lanka Foreign Minister too supported this move, although the Govt. later retracted this decision . The Govt. has so far taken no punitive action against the Foreign Minister . It was the view of a great many that the Minister should be expelled for this blunder – nothing of that sort happened .

It is to the Rajapaksa Govt. that Pakistan has extended most support and aid to fight the war , when compared with the other Govts. Yet, when India ‘s Air Force and Naval crafts are being deployed for the security of the Indian prime Minister arriving here for the forthcoming SAARC summit , the Govt. does not worry or has explored the implications and possible adverse impact it can have on the Pakistan Prime Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka for the summit.

In 1991, the Prime Minister of India did not attend the SAARC summit on the scheduled date , whereby the President of Sri Lanka at that time was embarrassed and driven to much anxiety. Even at that juncture, it is Pakistan which came to Sri Lanka’s rescue . It urged all its friendly countries in the SAARC membership to participate and lend strength and support to Sri Lanka. Premadasa got down the Indian Prime Minister on a later date.

In any event , Premadasa too tried to exploit the antagonism existing between Pakistan and India by fanning that hatred After the assassination of late Premadasa, a Minister of the Nawaz Sheriff administration related an astonishing story to the Foreign Media.

The Minister said that when he had occasion to visit Sri Lanka , and was staying in a Hotel, he received a call late in the night from Premadasa ‘s office , and within a few moments Premadasa arrived.

At the meeting with Premadasa , the latter had disclosed to him that there was a conspiracy by the Indian secret service to assassinate Premadasa and the Prime Minister of Pakistan .

Premadasa had told him that this information he had got from very reliable sources. Upon insistent queries by the Minister for details, Premadasa had finally told him, he had learnt of it from the LTTE Organisation.. This was the time when the Premadasa Govt . was having discussions with the LTTE.

This information was transmitted to Pakistan through Premadasa’ s office .

The Pakistan Minister told the Media , it became a puzzle to him whether LTTE was trying to sow seeds of dissension between Pakistan and India via Premadasa, or whether Premadasa was trying to use LTTE label to achieve that objective.

The Minister who immediately knew that this was a fabrication and a lie did not talk or discuss this with Nawaz Sheriff.

It is discernible and deducible from all this that the Sri Lanka Govt. is possessed with a skill to exploit Pakistan to achieve its purposes against India.

But , what is most intriguing in the light of all this is ,why Pakistan having its own skills and strategies not enlisting the support of the LTTE against India ?