Lewke: Global action against terrorism forces LTTE to talk peace

By Shamindra Ferdinando

pp1.jpg (13496 bytes)Claiming that the LTTE was able to wage war for so long because the international community allowed them a free hand until the devastating September 2001 Al-Queda terror attacks on key US targets, SSP Nimal Lewke last week expressed the belief the attacks prompted global action against cross-border terrorism, forcing the LTTE to negotiate with the Sri Lankan government.

"We have been given a golden opportunity to negotiate and to arrive at a lasting solution to the so-called ethnic problem," Lewke, the deputy commandant of the elite Special Task Force[STF] told commandos when he visited their detachments at Ampara, Maha-oya, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Akkaraipattu, Karaithivu and Batticaloa, security sources said. They would not have offered to sit down for talks unless the international community swung into action following the attacks on the US. The attacks propelled the international community to act, he said.

Lewke toured the Ampara-Batticaloa sector where he briefed the officers and men of the ongoing efforts to revive the peace process amidst the global fight against terrorism. He has pointed out that the LTTE offered to return to the negotiating table because the international community moved swiftly against groups engaged in cross-border terrorism. They were forced to talk peace, he has said while expressing the belief that they should adhere to the guidelines with a view to facilitating the peace process.

Lewke, a veteran in para-military operations, twice tasked with protecting leading politicians under terrorist threat, has pointed out that "no soldier has ever won a war" by dying for his country. At the end of this war there would not be any winners or losers. There will be only survivors. So every man who takes part in this exercise to defend the country should be determined to survive at the end of the war. By doing so, the soldier will be identified as a true son of the soil who stood by the motherland at her darkest hour.

He has also explained the difficulties faced by the officers and men engaged in anti-terrorist operations while explaining the difference between fighting a conventional war and a terrorist campaign. He has emphasised the need to keep terrorists away from the civilian community. They would not be able to survive without the civilians, Lewke has explained.