New Delhi, July 25 (): India Today on Tuesday reported that discussions are soon to begin with Sri Lanka for setting up a nuclear power plant by Pakistan at Sampur, Trincomallee.
Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok Kantha is supposed to have briefed senior officials in Prime Minister’s office, South Block about Pakistan’s proposal to build up its influence in the island nation, vigorously supported by China.
Pakistan is also believed to have discussed upgradation and rebuilding of T-55 tank engines besides modernization of the fire and tank gun control systems. Additonally, Pakistan looks to increase its defence trade with Sri Lanka. Such recent advances by Pakistan in Sri Lanka have set off alarm bells in New Delhi.
Pakistan is quietly making advances while the UPA government allies in Tamil Nadu continuously pressure New Delhi on its defence relationship with Lanka that takes a toll on India.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have always enjoyed strong economic ties and defence cooperation. Defence purchases for Sri Lanka from Pakistan started in a grand scale, way back in the year 1999. India was disinclined to sign a Defence Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka and reluctant to supply it with the kind of weapons it was looking for, which made Colombo turn to Pakistan increasingly.
Pakistan’s military assistance to Sri Lanka tripled in the year 2009 when it sent military advisers, ammunition and high-tech military equipment which played a significant role in Sri Lanka crushing the Tiger rebels, LTTE.
Earlier in 2000,when LTTE’s Operation Ceaseless Waves was feared to crush thousands of Sri Lankan troops positioned in Jaffna, Pakistan supplied high- tech weaponry which stopped the progress of LTTE forces. Soon after the defeat of the LTTE, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussein A. Bhaila of Sri Lanka stated that the government and the people of Sri Lanka have considered ‘Pakistan as a true friend of Sri Lanka,’ which has always stood by it in times of need.
The process of diversification of bilateral relations actually started when Pak President Asif Zardari visited Sri Lanka in December 2010. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Pakistan in Februray, 2012 gave a new dimension to the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Sri Lanka’s very cordial relations with China and strong mutual Sino-Pak ties provide an added strength to the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka while India’s recent US-backed vote against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has created a rift between the two countries.