Sri Lanka shuts door on Pakistan

Source: m.timesofindia.com

NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka has banned visas on arrival for Pakistanis after investigations showed that jihadist groups targeting India were using Sri Lanka as a transit point. Lanka is also one of the few countries that extended such a facility to Pakistani nationals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in New Delhi.

A bomb blast in a Chennai train in May revealed new plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadist groups using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. A multinational investigation including Malaysia zeroed in on a Lankan national, Shakir Hussain, who confessed that he had visited India over 20 times on reconnaissance trips.

He told investigators, as was reported by TOI, that he was facilitating militants from Maldives who were tasked with attacking American and Israeli consulates in Bangalore and Chennai, critical infrastructure like airports and power plants in Chennai among other targets.

The investigation, sources said, also pointed to involvement by Pakistani officials at their mission in Colombo. Indian officials confirmed that Sri Lanka and Maldives have been red-flagged by Indian security establishment for some time. The new Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, too, has been sensitized to the growth of fundamentalism among youngsters who may be traveling to Pakistan for religious studies.

Modi, in his first conversations with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had raised this issue which he said was of particular sensitivity to India. On his return, Rajapaksa is believed to have launched an investigation. The results of the probe have contributed to the decision.

In a related development, Sri lankan authorities have been rounding up Pakistani asylum seekers — almost 1,500 of them will be deported back to Pakistan. This has invited sharp criticism from human rights activists and the UN, because many of them are Ahmadiyas (a banned sect in Pakistan) and Shia Muslims… read more at m.timesofindia.com

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