South Asia and Beyond

We Won’t Do Anything That Will Harm India’s Interests: Gotabaya

COLOMBO: Seeking to allay India’s apprehensions ahead of his first scheduled trip abroad as Sri Lankan President—to New Delhi this week—Gotabaya Rajapaksa has a reassurance to offer. We will work with India as a friendly country and won’t do anything that will harm India’s interests, he told Nitin A. Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief of and StratNewsGlobal, in his first interview after taking over the top political job in the island nation. He favours Sri Lanka to be neutral as “we don’t want to get in between the power struggles of superpowers. But we want to work with all countries”. Asserting that Sri Lanka’s involvement with China during the presidency of his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa (who was President till 2015) was “purely commercial”, Gotabaya feels giving away the Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease was a mistake by the previous government (when Maithripala Sirisena was President and Ranil Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister). The deal has to be renegotiated, he says. And what does the ex-serviceman have to say about allegations of him being ‘authoritarian’ and ‘racist’? It’s a wrong perception, he counters, created during the conflict period (the Eelam war IV). “I am a disciplined person but that doesn’t mean I am racist”.

Nitin A. Gokhale

Author, thought leader and one of South Asia's leading strategic analysts, Nitin A. Gokhale has forty years of rich and varied experience behind him as a conflict reporter, Editor, author and now a media entrepreneur who owns and curates two important digital platforms, and focusing on national security, strategic affairs and foreign policy matters. At the beginning of his long and distinguished career, Gokhale has lived and reported from India’s North-east for 23 years, writing and analysing various insurgencies in the region, been on the ground at Kargil in the summer of 1999 during the India-Pakistan war, and also brought live reports from Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009. Author of over a dozen books on wars, insurgencies and conflicts, Gokhale relocated to Delhi in 2006, was Security and Strategic Affairs Editor at NDTV, a leading Indian broadcaster for nine years, before launching in 2015 his own digital properties. An alumni of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, Gokhale now writes, lectures and analyses security and strategic matters in Indo-Pacific and travels regularly to US, Europe, South and South-East Asia to speak at various international seminars and conferences. Gokhale also teaches at India’s Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), the three war colleges, India's National Defence College, College of Defence Management and the intelligence schools of both the R&AW and Intelligence Bureau. He tweets at @nitingokhale


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