|Cross-flow of cadres a threat to ceasefire
A look into Prabhakarans strategy
By a Special Correspondent
People are relieved by the on-going ceasefire. Peace must be given another chance. If we can war, there is no reason why we cannot try to find a negotiated solution.
Prabhakaran too may have to change his mind provided we push him to the right political point where there is a confluence of the interests of all parties and the integrity of the country.
The criticism against the government is that Prabhakaran is inflexible in his aim and method. We all tend to agree to this but if we make a determined effort, we might be able to make him amenable to a negotiated settlement. Perhaps we may fail. The benefit of doubt has to be given to the peace efforts. The all-important thing in the whole exercise is that strategy has to be countered with strategy short of resorting to military confrontation unless, of course, Prabhakaran draws the gun first. He appears to be preening himself on the claim that hes a master strategist. The government too must try to beat him at his own game by working out better strategies in dealing with him.
If the government thinks of handing over administration of North and East to Prabhakaran first and then try to solve the problem then the government leaders are living in a Fools Paradise or are deceiving the people. Now the initial task before us is to sustain the ceasefire until the peace process fructify. It is here that a fool-proof MoU becomes of paramount importance.
Certain provisions in the present MoU need to be scrutinised in this regard. From the time the Cease-fire is on, to the time of ratification of the final peace treaty or whatever that may be, in a situation like ours, where each party controls areas bounded by lines of control, it is customary let alone judicious for rival cadres and paraphernalia, in our case Army and the LTTE, to be frozen at the points where they were prior to the ceasefire coming into effect. That is, crossflow of personnel and arms is prohibited.
But this is not so in the MoU now in force. The provision of the MoU related to movement of LTTE cadres says that at the end of the first month 50 unarmed LTTE cadres will be allowed into Army controlled areas for the purpose of political work and so on, and at the end of 3 months all of them will be allowed in unarmed.
Perhaps an interim administration for the LTTE is what the government intends by way of facilitating this kind of movement.
Once the floodgates open, the LTTE having consolidated itself in the government controlled areas, will establish their jack-boot rule much to the detriment of the populace in those areas. One word from them is more than enough to make everyone in Jaffna dance to their tune.
No one in those areas will want to end up being corpses tied to lamp posts. Tamils are used to this and put up with this kind of atrocities without complaining. Otherwise how can they forget that they have lost the cream of their leadership, friends, kith and kin, cadres and party supporters to Prabhakaran, the murder? Even the senior most veteran Tamil politician has gone on record saying, "let us forget the past." This is the problem with these politicians; they forget the past so soon! Worse still, they want the people also to do the same.
These shameless Tamils trot the globe and scream about atrocities committed by the Sinhalese. Yes, they must be brought to the notice of the international community - the dastardly manner in which Tamil were burnt alive in the streets of Colombo, their businesses properties destroyed in 1983 and their rights have been violated over the decades. The Tamils in the north and the east are going through hell. But the fact remains that more Tamils have been murdered by Prabhakaran than the Sinhala goons.
Why isnt the world told about Prabhakarans crimes as well? The picture that is painted by these Tamils is that the Sinhalese are genocidal maniacs and the LTTE is an organisation of ministering angels.
Have we ever heard of these Tamil leaders ever mention child conscription or the murder of dissidents or the Tamils languishing behind the iron curtain put up by Prabhakaran? What moral right do these Tamil leaders who are silent on the LTTE crimes have to talk about the rights of Tamils?
Let us also ponder on the provision in the MOU that allows individual unarmed combatants to visit their families and friends in the areas under control of the other party for a period of 6 days. The reason given is the reunion of cadres with their families! But is this what the LTTE really has in mind?
Take the cadres in the Wanni in 1995, when the LTTE was pushed out of the peninsula it is common knowledge in Jaffna that those who had fear of reprisals because of their connections with the LTTE followed the LTTE to the jungles. Only those who had no connection with the LTTE remained in Jaffna. So, the question of the LTTE cadres wanting to visit their families in the areas under government control does not arise.
Even otherwise, why cant the families of the LTTE cadres travel to the Wanni, which is less than 50 miles and see their children? In other areas a free flow of people across the lines of control is already there. So why should there be this provision in the MoU? I just dont understand.
The LTTE cells operative in Jaffna are weak. The LTTE has to strengthen them and rebuild its fragmented organization in Jaffna by making use of the free movement of cadres now permitted by the MoU. It wants to reorganise its Baby Brigade, revive the cash making unit; and more importantly to stage an insurrection from within in the event of their advancing into the army controlled areas in the peninsula.
In 2000, they almost achieved this. But the hastily acquired MBRL of the Army started booming from Jaffna and they had to retreat. Days before the reversal, India had been requested to evacuate 40,000 odd soldiers trapped in there.
Since the MOD clearance for travel to Jaffna has been done away with, the defence circles in Jaffna are well aware that specially trained LTTE cadres brought to Colombo from the Wani and the East have already flown into Jaffna. They are operating undercover for the moment.
So far they havnt been able to organize group activities openly in Jaffna. The tip of the iceberg is visible in Jaffna and the army is helpless to do anything about it. There are hidden dumps of arms in the peninsula. These arms will be sufficient for the LTTE to create havoc in the peninsula militarily if the war flares up and the LTTE tries to take back Jaffna.
It all looks as if the people were in for re-living miseries. We have to remind ourselves of the Premadasa fiasco, in this connection. The IPKF was sent back. This was a blunder. The blunder two was to give Prabhakaran a free hand. The LTTE consolidated its power in the vacuum created by the IPKF pull out. What he has done ever since is history.
However I am not saying that Prabhakaran will repeat this once again. Much water has flowed under the bridge. But knowing Prabhakaran for what is capable of, why should one do experiments again?
He still can do what he wants and get away with it. Despite all assurances that Washington has given, Americans wont go in for him unless he decides to commit harakiri by taking some targets in the US like bin Laden. This is highly unlikely. India has enough and more problems to sort out and wont bother to give us a helping hand.
What is on is not a permanent ceasefire, which requires agreement of both sides on a solution. A fragile cease-fire like the present one, as I have said earlier, requires separation of the combat formations carefully in keeping with the positions they held prior to the ceasefire. The Norwegians are no babes not to know that this elementary condition has to be met to sustain the cease-fire in an atmosphere pervaded by mutual distrust and suspicion.
Why this condition was not met is a question that defies an answer. It might be better if the troops are pulled out without exposing them to danger of being trapped once again.
The LTTE claims that it wants to rebuild the war devastated Tamil regions. They could very well begin this in the Wanni and expand activities to other areas if there dawns peace by any chance. The atrocities being committed by the LTTE in the east are well known to us. Incidents of abduction and extortion are rampant.
The Norwegians and the international community have a lot to do in this regard. Unless Prabhakaran mends or is made to mend his ways peace will be never possible in this country.
Those whom he holds in high esteem will have to tell him this. No amount of seminars, peace marches and the like are going to be of any help. Prabhakaran must be told to put an end to murder, intrigue, treachery and hypocrisy. And most of all, cross-flow of cadres and material must be prevented.
Sri Lanka needs an end to this war!
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