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Abhinav Shukla asked – What has been Sri Lanka’s position on the Kashmir issue? Has Sri Lanka been supportive of India in various international fora on the Kashmir issue or against Pakistani aggression?

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  • Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: Immediately after India voted in support of the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 22 March 2012, Sri Lanka cautioned India that this particular resolution could provide precedence for similar resolutions against India on Kashmir. This might have led the questioner to raise this issue.

    However, Sri Lanka has not so far taken any adverse position on Kashmir, and has rather maintained neutrality over the issue. As a smaller country, it had in the 1950s and 60s sought to project its soft power and had offered to mediate between India and China.

    Even in the late 1990s, there were moves by Pakistan to encourage Sri Lanka as a mediator and the then president had even indirectly offered to help the process, if there was a need for the same.

    However, Sri Lanka has largely respected India's reservations about any third party mediating between India and Pakistan. It has also taken a neutral posture on the issue in international fora. In view of the growing contacts between Sri Lanka, and India's traditional rivals-- Pakistan and China, it is being speculated that Sri Lanka may change its position on Kashmir in future. However, Sri Lanka is well aware that any such step would damage India-Sri Lanka relations and any Indian counter measure would be disastrous for the Island country.

    Against this backdrop, whether it would take any position against Indian interests on the Kashmir issue in international fora remains to be seen.