Sri Lanka is looking to seek proactive assistance from India to modernize its military infrastructure, a development that is set to enhance strategic ties between the two neighbours.
Addressing a military passing out parade in the central town of Diyathalawa, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said: “In Asia only the armies of India and Japan are older than our Army.” “It is important to maintain defence ties with militarily advanced nations such as the US and Britain. India, China and Pakistan are also important,” he added.
Mr Wickremesinghe stressed on the need for the Sri Lankan Army to be educated on future warfare to become a modernised army by 2025. “The army fought a war for over 30 years and they deserve all the credit,” Mr Wickremesinghe said. He added that politicians must not try to build their images through military victories, an all too obvious reference to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Mr Rajapaksa, under whose watcch Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE after a 30-year civil war, was criticised for using the military victory for his personal political gains. The Sri Lankan army has been accused of committing several atrocities during its decades-long campaign to defeat the LTTE, a Tamil separatist group in the northern part of Sri Lanka. According to some estimates, up to 40,000 people may have been in killed in the final five months of the conflict alone.
The comments of Mr Wickremesinghe came in the backdrop of Britain announcing last month, an assistance package for Sri Lankan military reform. A 6.6 million pounds assistance package was announced in November by the UK for “military reform, displaced persons and reconciliation” in Sri Lanka. The package, which is a part of a UN Human Rights Council resolution, will be given to Sri Lanka over three years as per the resolution.
“The UK is clear that credible investigations into alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s civil war are vital,” according to the statement . “We are already playing a key role in encouraging progress on this, including through the UNHRC resolution which set Sri Lanka on a new path towards reconciliation and a more prosperous and inclusive future,” the statement added.
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