“The Government of Sri Lanka has approved the Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka to conduct a pre-feasibility study of using nuclear energy as a viable option beyond 2020 for power generation with the technical cooperation of the Agency.” This was the statement made by Sri Lankan Minister of Power and Energy Patali Champika Ranawake at the 54th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Now circumstances reveal that Sri Lanka is budging forward to materialize that statement. While India was dedicated to collaborate with Sri Lanka on nuclear front, the indulgence in Colombo is reportedly stirring in the direction of nuclear pact with Pakistan. There is an ample probability that South Asia is going to see generation of nuclear power in yet another country soon.
Indian media has unleashed biased and lavish reporting regarding this development ignoring the hardcore causes which forced Colombo to lean towards Pakistan. For instance nuclear threat from India is a much-discussed issue in the present day Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan scientists from the Ministry of Power and Energy have exposed and conversed information and intimidation posed by the two nuclear installations in South India – Kalpakkam and Kudankulam. Opposing this Indian court recently bestowed Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project can goes critical in coastal Tamil Nadu, to start power generation in August. There are also reports that India has installed Agni type Missile system targeting Sri Lanka’s strategic institutions. Among these strategic institutions are, Colombo and Hambanthota Ports, Ratmalana and Mattala Air Ports, Military Headquarters, Putlam Coal plant and Kerawalapitiya-Kelanithissa oil fired Power Plants etc. If these concrete threats perceptions accumulate in Sri Lankan strategic thinking then tilt towards Pakistan for securing peaceful nuclear energy is not astonishing.
Another factor of Colombo convergence towards Islamabad is Sri Lankan notable contentious relation with New Delhi. Going back to the early 1980s when the late Indira Gandhi facilitated Sri Lankan ethnic tumors by funding, training and arming terrorists against legitimate government. Underpinning Sri Lanka’s apprehensions are of course political gripes stemming from India’s domestic power play that resulted in India voting against the island at the controversial United Nations Human Rights Council session that was held in March 2012. Therefore Colombo is ardent to finish the role as Indian satellite, so looking for further alternatives for their economic welfare rather than India.
Indian media is creating phony perception that Pak-Lanka relations are recently developed phenomenon. Contrary to this argument Pakistan and Sri Lanka have always enjoyed sturdy economic ties and defence collaboration. Defence procurements for Sri Lanka from Pakistan started in a striking scale, way back in the year 1999. India was reluctant to sign a Defence Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka and hesitant to supply it with the kind of weapons it was looking for, which made Colombo turn to Pakistan gradually more. Pakistan also 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.”
India believes that regardless of power generation through nuclear power, Sri Lanka was trying to get hold of nuclear technology for weapons through Pakistan. It’s an asinine observation. If Pakistan and Sri Lanka collaborate to nuclear cooperation then this will merely an extension of Atom for peace. Pakistan might not want to cooperate at level which includes nuclear reactors because of the possibility of diversion and subsequently possible military nuclear programs. This cooperation is probably going to be in benign areas like regulations, medicine and agriculture etc.
As Pakistan, Sri Lanka too is facing a relentless power crisis in the country and introduction of a nuclear energy installation is one of the viable options. The bottom line, though, is that just as India does what is best for India, the Indian press must understand that Sri Lanka will execute its best to do what is best for Sri Lanka. If this involves nuclear cooperation with the assistance of Pakistan, China, Russia or Mozambique, that’s Sri Lanka’s business.