Last Sunday was an important day for Sri Lanka, especially since the aftermath of the Easter Sunday terror explosions.
The arrival of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to our island country not only benefited the government, but at this moment of time his arrival also sent a strong message to the world that Sri Lanka was a safe destination once again.
When the world wondered if Sri Lanka had returned to normal, Modi was the first world leader to arrive on our shores, strengthening the trust between the two nations. During his few hours in the country, he held discussions with the government and also held strong fruitful discussions with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Modi and Rajapaksa are strong nationalist leaders in the region who have always adopted a country first policy. Even during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure, despite third parties attempting to strain relations between the two nations, both leaders remained committed to take forward the bilateral ties with India also pledging several mega investments which was for the benefit of both countries and its people.
Infact today, most of the investments which the UNP government is thriving on is the projects signed and agreed upon during the Rajapaksa government. The country cannot deny the economic growth which Sri Lanka witnessed during Rajapaksa’s leadership and today many of those projects have placed Sri Lanka on the world map of development and growth.
When the two leaders met on Sunday, both Modi and Rajapaksa discussed in length the need for closer collaboration between the two countries in the fields of counter terrorism, security and economic development and the importance of political stability in our respective countries and in the region. Unfortunately Sri Lanka has been hit by political instability under the present UNP government which has costed this country heavily today.
Sri Lanka is grateful for the strong friendship shown by India at a time when our island has been hit by terrorism. It has now been bought to light that Indian intelligence had, on April 4, warned Sri Lanka of possible terror attacks which was neglected by our authorities. In the aftermath of these attacks, Sri Lanka can only be appreciative of Modi’s presence in our country. His words which followed after that boosted the country. He assured that Sri Lanka would rise again and cowardly acts of terror could not defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka.
As Modi starts his new term in leading India towards a path of development and prosperity, we hope to see India play a stronger role in countering terrorism from the region. Infact the need for all countries in the region to join hands in sharing intelligence information and adopting counter terrorism tactics is the need of the hour. It is inspiring that India has pledged its support in helping Sri Lanka overcome the new terror threats and Mahinda Rajapaksa will always stand ready to assist in whatever way possible due to the strong experience he posses after freeing the country from the clutches of terrorism in 2009.
In this new juncture, we only hope India will take a lead role in the region to wipe our terrorism in the region and work collectively to transform Asia into the new global superpower. By inviting leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Member States for his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on 30 May, Modi has already signaled that he will focus on this South and South East Asian organisation during his second term.
India’s strong role in the SAARC will also play a pivotal role among these countries. It is most unfortunate that SAARC member states have not gathered for a Summit since 2014 due to tensions between India and Pakistan back in 2016, but with the strong leadership of Modi and Imran Khan, countries in the region are confident of holding a successful summit next year where several key subjects will be taken up for discussion.
I have already stressed several times that with a strong political leadership Sri Lanka can play a strong role in Asia’s transformation. It is now time that all countries in the region unite, leave their differences aside and work for the region and work collectively towards eliminating terrorism.