PM pulls his punches
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghes mild and conciliatory reply to LTTE spokesman Anton Balasinghams letter of fire and ire, suspending peace negotiations and announcing the boycott of the Tokyo conference, has been crafted with the objective of not aggravating the crisis that has emerged and saving the peace negotiations.
It is a kind of diplomatic communication meant to calm the Tigers but whether the terrorists will take his attitude as a sign of weakness is of great concern to the people.
Since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, Mr. Wickremasinghe has conceded much to the LTTE, mostly by ignoring the violations of the agreement as well as the laws of the land. The LTTE leadership may assume that the prime ministers mild reply implies that their main demand, the evacuation of the High Security Zones (HSZs) by the armed forces could be accomplished by applying further pressure. This week, after the threatened suspension and boycott the Army headquarters in Jaffna have been shifted from the two hotels where they were located to the highly vulnerable Jaffna Fort. The future of other HSZs is not decided on yet and the report of the retired Indian General Nambiar who has been appointed by the government and the LTTE to report on HSZs will be presented when talks resume, Mr. Wickremasinghe has said.
If the decision is taken to abandon the HSZs and thereby endanger the lives of 50,000 soldiers as well as the governments defence against terrorists, the prime minister as well as the entire cabinet will be answerable to the people for the consequences
Mr. Wickremasinghe has indeed handled the Tigers with kid gloves in his reply whereas Balasingham has frothed and fumed in his letter to the prime minister accusing the government of a grave breach of good faith by excluding the LTTE from the Washington Conference and attempting to marginalise our organisation in approaching the international community for economic assistance. Mr. Wickremasinghe has ignored this froth and fume of Balasingham and given an account in chronological terms how the Washington conference came about and cogent reasons why it was needed to be held in Washington. What was called for was a resounding slap pointing out that terrorists are not tolerated in Washington even though the Sri Lanka government has recognised them for the sake of peace and that Balasinghams anger should be directed at the United States for not welcoming a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in the list of such organisations proscribed by the State Department!
Mr. Wickremasinghe was no doubt attempting to save the peace negotiations but in the process he has badly let down the people of this country who are furious about the way the LTTE has been riding rough shod over the rights and privileges of the people. This week the twenty first killing of an army intelligence operative by LTTE gangs that have infiltrated Colombo took place. Mr. Wickremasinghe was bound to ask the LTTE in public whether such killings were a part of the peace dividend for the government.
By being nice and kind to the Tigers and not throwing the dastardly crimes committed by them in their face, particularly about the treatment of Tamil and Muslim people during this ceasefire period, Mr. Wickremasinghe have let the law-abiding people down. While Balasingham in his letter had accused the government of: Exclusion of the LTTE from the Washington Conference, non implementation of terms and conditions of the truce agreement, the continuous suffering and hardship experienced by hundreds and thousands of internally displaced Tamils, the aggressive Sinhala military occupation of Tamil cities and civilian settlement, the distortion and marginalisation of extreme conditions of poverty and deprivation of Tamils of the northeast in macro economic politics while undermining the confidence of the Tamil people and the LTTE leadership in the negotiating process.
Mr. Wickremasinghe, on the other hand, has not even mentioned a single outrageous violation of the provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement and the law of the land by the LTTE. Indeed the government has many more reasons to call off negotiations such as: Blocking the A-9 highway and taxing even government departments for their passage through the Omanthai check point; Illegal extortion of civilians Tamils and Muslims; smuggling of arms, sinking of ships including foreign ships, abduction of children for baby brigades, build up of clandestine police, navy and army forces and public displays of them; declaring open banks of Eelam and even attempting to print their own currencies.
A government that has regard and respect for law and order and accepted values of the civilised world would not even have continued negotiations with such a despicable band of political thugs and killers.
Mr. Wickremasinghe has in his reply pulled his punches to save this Peace Process while the LTTE has been delivering vicious blows below the belt. How long can this go on before he and the nation are knocked out?
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