When the resolution against Sri Lanka was being tabled in Geneva, it was the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar, who appeared to be the busiest person, perhaps, even more so than our own Minister of External Affairs. She took special pains to instruct to the Pakistan High Commissioner in Geneva, Zamir Akram, to rope in the Muslim countries to defeat the resolution against Sri Lanka.
Akram had separate discussions with the countries of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation to convince them of the necessity to defeat the resolution. The decision by Kuwait, Mauritania, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to vote against the resolution was a sequel to these discussions.
However, less than two weeks after the voting in Geneva took place, an extremist group launched an attack on the Fashion Bug warehouse in the outskirts of Colombo, a Muslim business establishment. This was not an attack based on sudden provocation. The extremist elements had been carrying on a publicity campaign for some time now, initially over the 'halal' issue which then spilled over targeting Muslim business organizations. This has seen pressure being exerted on Muslim business entities.
The Saudi Gazette reported the situation thus:
"It is becoming increasingly obvious the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is again giving tacit support to communal provocations against Sri Lanka's minorities to deflect attention from the country's deepening economic and social crisis. But that is a dangerous strategy, one that is guaranteed to backfire.
Meanwhile, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries with their economic muscle and the Organization of Islamist Countries (OIC) should begin to sit up and take notice of the events happening in the island. A message should be sent to the Sri Lankan Government the widening of racial and ethnic hatred against the Muslim minority or any other will not be tolerated. Failure to heed the message should bring economic and political sanctions into consideration.
We wish the island well, but not under the present circumstance."
The Muslim countries voted in favour of Sri Lanka and against the US-sponsored resolution at the UNHRC in Geneva. Largely due to the Pakistani Diplomatic Campaign. However, it seems today, the Muslim countries – specifically Pakistan, are not focusing much attention on the dire situation faced by the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.
It is a cause for surprise that the grave concern shown by India towards the problems of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka is not being shown by Pakistan with regard to the Muslims in Sri Lanka. In fact, it is not just Pakistan; even the other Muslim countries ought to be showing concern for the Muslim community in Sri Lanka (who are now being persecuted), with as much enthusiasm as that displayed by them in their support of Sri Lanka before the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Yet, it has become obvious it is only the western media that has been levelling charges of human rights violations and war crimes against the Sri Lankan Government, is focusing attention on the Muslim issue.
Driven to a deep quandary
Needless to say, the failure of the Muslim countries, to draw the attention of the Sri Lankan Government to the issue has driven the Muslim community into a deep quandary.
In contrast, the tremendous interest and concern shown by India towards the Sri Lankan Tamils is a great solace for them. Perhaps, the Muslim countries, including Pakistan, are apprehensive of voicing their concerns over the Muslim issue within Sri Lanka, fearing that they may be subjected to the criticisms levelled by extremists. In that event, the Muslim countries, including Pakistan, must join with America, India and the Western countries in the campaign for justice for all races in Sri Lanka via the reconciliation process. Seeking to safeguard Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and leaving the Muslim community in the lurch is absolutely unfair.
The silent and insouciant attitude of the Muslim countries with regard to the issue of the Sri Lanka Muslims will only create a situation where the latter may turn to India for help. The danger here is the situation can be easily exploited by India to its advantage. The worst case scenario, on the other hand, is that the Sri Lankan Muslims who are being harassed, could be driven to taking up arms and joining with one of the many Muslim extremist organizations, in which case, it will be detrimental to the security of India.
If the Muslim countries, do not address the Sri Lankan Muslim issue, there is a likelihood of the extremist organizations in Pakistan inducing the Sri Lankan Muslims to join them in their brutal campaigns. If such a situation arises and when the government tries to stifle and suppress the Muslims, conflicts can flare up between Sri Lanka and Muslim countries, including Pakistan.
In such circumstances, there is a great likelihood of the accusing finger now being pointed at India by the Sri Lankan Government, that India's Tamil Nadu extended support to the Sri Lankan terrorist group, being directed at Pakistan as well.
The attitude of the Sri Lankan Government and the silence of the Muslim countries including Pakistan towards the Sri Lankan Muslims' plight also carry the dangers of pushing and prodding the Muslims to that same dire position.
It is for India to forestall this trend by addressing the issues of the Muslim people as well, without focusing only on the problems faced by the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Such an effort will enhance India's image, not only in Sri Lanka, but within the whole of the region.