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Probe into war crimes: Pakistan to back Sri Lanka against UNHRC’s resolution, say sources

March 21, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to support Sri Lanka and will be voting against the UN Human Rights Council’s new resolution in Geneva, which calls to investigate allegation of war crimes by all sides during the final months of Sri Lanka’s civil war, confirm government sources.

Pakistan was re-elected in January to the UNHR Council for another three years with the highest numbers of votes and in the past Pakistan has supported Colombo by voting against the resolution.

The United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia had submitted a draft resolution for consideration by the 47-member Human Rights Council.

Pakistan’s decision to support Sri Lanka comes after Colombo reversed its earlier policy statement and its Foreign Office clarified that it was not going to ban burqas worn by Muslim women nor shut down 1000 Islamist schools.

In a statement it clarified that the remarks of Sri Lanka’s Minister for Public Security, Sarath Weerasekera, were only a proposal and discussions were still continuing. “The government will initiate a broader dialogue with all parties concerned and sufficient time will be taken for necessary consultations to be held and for consensus to be reached,” said the statement.

The change of policy by Colombo comes after there was severe backlash against the announcement of banning burqas and closing down all Islamist schools since they only taught Arabic language and the Quran.

Pakistan too in a rare move against a close ally had severely criticised Colombo and its High Commissioner in Sri Lanka had publicly stated that recent steps taken by Sri Lanka were ‘divisive’ and would ‘injure’ the feelings of Muslims.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Maj Gen (R) Saad Khattak tweeted, “The likely ban on Niqab by Sri Lanka will only serve as injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. At today’s economically difficult time due to pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country at international level, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as a fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country”.

According to reports from Colombo the Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage said that India had been forthcoming in its support and would back Sri Lanka by not supporting the UNHR resolution.

However, there has been no official announcement by New Delhi in this regard.

Earlier as proceedings commenced in Geneva, Sri Lanka told the UNHR Council to reject the new resolution with its Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena asking if the resolution was politically motivated.