Kicking into our own goal

The ability of the LTTE to have survived for 18 years can be attributed to two main reasons: Support extended to it from abroad and the Sri Lankan penchant for kicking into our own goal.

How Sri Lankan terrorist groups grew from rag-tag bands into formidable fighting forces with the overt and covert assistance of India is now history.

The determined efforts of the Sri Lankan armed forces to wipe out the LTTE and drive them out of the Jaffna peninsula with Operation Vadamarchchi are all on record. The Indian High Commissioner of that time, J.N. Dixit of Napoleonic stature and pretensions, wagging his forefinger and threatening: ‘India will not permit the Sri Lankan armed forces to take over Jaffna’, is well remembered.

Later, by a queer quirk of fate, when the LTTE took on the Indian armed forces and the latter deployed tremendous resources to wipe out the LTTE, President Premadasa kicked into his own goal by arming the LTTE to fight the Indians and ordering Indian troops out of the country.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga commenced by kicking into her own goal by permitting the terrorists to infiltrate the Eastern Province that had been cleared of terroists earlier, in order to keep ‘peace talks’ going.

Right through this conflict, the Sri Lankan armed forces were vilified by self appointed human rights groups with foreign support that sprung up like mushrooms since 1983. This proved to be an effective brake on military operations while helping terrorists who violated all forms of human rights. The NGOs looked on and are still looking at them very sympathetically.

NGOs have attempted to take on generals and battalions and stymie military operations with their international propaganda. The current vilification of one of Sri Lankans outstanding military commanders, Maj. Gen., Janaka Perera, now our High Commissioner in Australia, by NGOs and fellow travellers of the LTTE, is being done in the fear that he may return back to the defence establishment.In today’s world the namby-pamby NGO individuals living off foreign funds have shown themslves to be as potent as generals of the armed forces.

With world opinion turning on against all forms of terrorism, the existence of LTTE organisations abroad is being threatened. The proscription of these organisations and the likelihood of freezing of funds of their fronts could cripple them. In addition many ex- patriate Tamils who were subjected to extortion would now feel free to go to the police without coughing up forced contributions.

With the UNF front government accepting the LTTE proposed cease- fire and granting of LTTE demands such as lifting of the embargo on certain goods that could help LTTE’s military efforts, the question is being asked whether the LTTE demand to lift the proscription placed on it by the Sri Lanka government, should be conceded. There have been long periods during this conflict when the proscription placed on the LTTE had lapsed. Effective action was taken by resorting to other legislation. But in this instance, the vital consideration is whether Sri Lanka lifting the proscription could result in countries that have proscribed the LTTE rethinking their decision.

These countries have proscribed the LTTE because of the threats posed to their national security. Sri Lanka’s demands for proscription too would have contributed much. But if Lanka lifts the proscription, LTTE lobbies abroad are bound to create a furore asking why it should be proscribed in their countries if it is not done by the country that is affected most.

During the recent election campaign, UNP leader Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe when asked about his stance on the issue of proscription said that the question would be taken up as the talks on a negotiated settlement proceeds. That indeed is the correct attitude to be taken but already demands such as the lifting of the embargo have been granted even before agreeing to start negotiations.

Before any more demands are conceded, the LTTE should be asked to state their basic demands. If the old Thimpu demands are still being made, there is no purpose in commencing negotiations. If this issue is overcome then the LTTE should agree to forsake terrorism. Then only can the question of proscription be considered. If not Sri Lanka will once again be kicking into its own goal.

While peace is the ultimate goal, we cannot forget that there is an on going ‘war’ and that no war can be won if there is no determination to win. Negotiations have to be on a firm and hard basis. Vacillation between war and peace has brought the nation to this lamentable state it is in.

Your comments to the Editor