From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : India-Sri Lanka relations in recent times
Pakistani PM is in Colombo on a two-day visit for ways and means to enhance trade and connectivity with Sri Lanka.
What is the news?
- Pakistan PM’s visit has attracted a fair amount of controversy because of a cancelled invitation to address the Sri Lankan parliament.
- India too granted permission for using its airspace for the Pakistani PM’s aircraft.
Try this question:
Q.The triangulation in the ties between Sri Lanka, China and Pakistan is an emerging threat in the Indian Ocean Region. Discuss.
Sri Lanka- Pakistan Relations
- For Colombo, the visit holds much value. It comes at a fraught time for the government on the international stage.
- Imminently, it is bracing to be hauled over the coals at the UN Human Rights Commission for withdrawing from resolution 30/1 of September 2015, under which it committed to carrying out war crime investigations.
- To make matters worse, the Islamic world is appalled by Sri Lanka’s tight rules for the cremation and not burials of Muslims who have died of COVID-19.
- The rule created a storm in Sri Lanka, with community leaders convinced that this is nothing but an extension of the state’s persecution of Muslims.
(1) Trade ties
- Pakistan is Sri Lanka’s second-largest trading partner in South Asia after India.
- Sri Lanka and Pakistan have a free trade agreement dating back to 2005.
- Pakistan’s top exports to Sri Lanka are textiles and cement.
- Sri Lanka’s top exports to Pakistan are tea, rubber and readymade garments.
(2) Cultural ties
- In addition to trade cooperation, Pakistan invokes cricket and Buddhism, topics that most Sri Lankans share a deep connection with.
- Over the last decade, Pakistan has also been projecting its ancient Buddhist sites to promote cultural ties with Sri Lanka.
(3) Defence ties
Defence ties are a strong pillar of Sri Lanka- Pakistan bilateral relationship.
- During the 1971 war, Pakistan Air Force jets refuelled in Sri Lanka.
- India pulled back the peacekeeping forces in 1990, it provided no active defence support to the Sri Lankan military.
- Sri Lanka turned to Pakistan for arms, ammunition as well as training for its fighter pilots.
- Gotabaya, who was defence secretary at the time, visited Pakistan in 2008 to make a request for emergency assistance with military supplies.
- Earlier this month, Sri Lanka participated in Pakistan’s multi-nation naval exercise Aman.
India’s observations and concerns
- As Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour with strong, all-encompassing ties, even if these are sometimes problematic, India has not perceived Pakistan as a serious rival in Sri Lanka so far.
- Sporadically, the Indian security establishment has voiced concerns about Pakistan’s role in the radicalization of people, especially in Eastern Sri Lanka.
- Funds have poured in for new mosques from some West Asian countries, and the effect that this could have in India.
Emerging threats from the ‘Triad’
- There is now a new wariness about triangulation in the ties between Sri Lanka, China and Pakistan in defence co-operation, though it has not been publicly expressed.
- In 2016, India put pressure on Sri Lanka to drop a plan to buy the Chinese JF-17 Thunder aircraft made in Pakistan and co-produced by the Chinese Chengdu Aircraft Corporation.
- The most recent threat was from excluding India from the Colombo Terminal Project.