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Lankans Keen to Host Modi: Mahinda Rajapaksa

2014 Aug 22

By P K Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should visit Lanka because Lankans are eager to host him.
“People want him to come here. If the Japanese Prime Minister and the Chinese President can come here, why can’t the Indian Prime Minister come, people ask,” Rajapaksa told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here on Tuesday.

“I had invited him when I met him last. And I will be meeting him at the next SAARC summit in November. Modi is keen on strengthening ties with SAARC countries,” the Lankan President said.

Asked if he was troubled by Tamil Nadu leaders’ opposition to any dealings with the Lankan government, he said: “It’s all politics. I don’t take it seriously.”

Meanwhile, the President announced the appointment of Avdash Kaushal from India and Ahmer Bilal Soofi from Pakistan, to the panel of advisers to the Commission on Missing Persons and War Crimes. Kaushal is a rights activist from Uttarakhand and Bilal is an internationally known lawyer from Pakistan.

Asked to react to the criticism that the panel of advisers may be biased in favour of the government, Rajapaksa said that such allegations will be there against any step taken by the government. “There are loads of allegations against the advisers on the UN investigation panel too,” he pointed out. Rajapaksa said that the commission had requested the appointment of advisers because it was lacking in expertise in certain aspects of international law.

Criticizing the UN panel, he said that government will not allow it to come to Lanka as it does not think it has jurisdiction over

Lanka. Furthermore, the UN Human Rights Commissioner had said it is not necessary to go to Lanka to collect evidence. Reacting to criticism that the government’s panel may be biased, Rajapaksa said that there are allegations against the UN panel members too.

“I am committed to finding the truth. I want to have the allegations of forced disappearances investigated,” he said.  Asked if Lanka is ready to face Western sanctions, the President said that no Western country has threatened to impose sanctions. “Britain and the US have explicitly stated that they do not intend to impose sanctions,” he said.

On the Tamil National Alliance, the President said that it is behaving as a “proxy of the LTTE” in clamouring for an international investigation. It is also not utilizing the powers under the 13th amendment to improve conditions in the Northern Province because it wants to get more powers through international interventions.

He categorically rejected demands for grant of police powers to the provinces saying that there is still a threat of the revival of the LTTE. “We have seen four or five attempts to revive the LTTE. National security cannot be compromised,” he said.

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