SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem queried from the government whether there was any truth behind speculations that about four outsiders had been interfering in the work of Foreign Ministry leading to the premature resignation of its Secretary, H. M. G. S. Palihakkara.
The SLMC Leader raised this question in Parliament on Saturday during the committee stage debate on the votes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Referring to the recent summoning of Sri Lankan mission heads to Colombo by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mr.Hakeem said during the Colombo meeting an impression was created that the diplomats lived in happy indolence like the proverbial Lotus Eaters, much to the embarrassment of hardworking envoys.
Pointing out the need to have a separate division for Indian affairs in the Foreign Ministry given the significance of the relations between the two countries, the SLMC leader also called on the government to set up a Sri Lankan caucus in the Lok Sabha. Mr. Hakeem said during his recent visits to India he came to know that there was a growing interest among Indian parliamentarians, even those outside Tamil Nadu on Sri Lanka`s conflict.
Recalling how the Ranil Wickremesinghe administration went out of its way to cultivate ties with Indian states like Andra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Mr. Hakeem emphasized the need to maintain strong relations especially with southern states.
Commenting on Sri Lanka`s international image on human rights, the SLMC leader reminded that the Sri Lanka`s seat in the UN Human Rights Council comes with `certain obligations` and raised concerns that with rapid rise in the cases of human rights violations, Sri Lanka is fast becoming a `mirror image of the LTTE` in abusing human rights.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera who responded to the comments made by Mr. Hakeem said there was nothing unusual about Mr. Palihakkara going on leave before the retirement as he would rejoin the ministry as a senior advisor. ?A public servant going on leave before the retirement has been a usual thing,? he said.