Tokyo conference is for Sri Lanka, not Eelam
The LTTE has, true to form, ignored the seven-day deadline given by Japanese Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi for it to inform the Japanese government whether or not it would attend the forthcoming aid donors conference in Tokyo. All efforts by Mr. Akashi, who even condescended to pay a visit to the terrorist leader in his hideout to ascertain a positive response, seem to have been in vain.
While the LTTE is practising what is termed brinkmanship, the terror acolytes are trying to have us believe that unless the terrorists attend the Tokyo conference, the donors will not loosen their purse strings. Eric Solheim was quoted recently by the pro LTTE TamilNet as saying that if the LTTE did not attend the conference, "the international community will be reluctant to commit funds" for the LTTE controlled areas in the North and the East as well as the southern parts of the country. No other lie could be bigger than this!
The main grouse of the LTTE is that the funds pledged at the recent Oslo meeting are not coming as fast as it needs them to. A sum of 70 million US dollars was pledged by some donors. The WB, as is well known, works at its own pace and the LTTE cannot dictate terms to it.
The main focus of the Tokyo Conference will be on Regaining Sri Lanka programme which includes needs assistance for the south as well as the rehabilitation and reconstruction in the north and the east. Sri Lanka expects 3 billion US dollars for a period of three years. Whether the LTTE attends the conference or not Sri Lanka will get the funds and the only outcome of LTTE boycott may be that funds for the development of the North and the East will not be forthcoming immediately given the donors concerns about the prevailing situation there. If this happens then the people who are suffering in the war torn areas will have to hold the LTTE responsible for aggravating their plight.
Although the LTTE has spurned Akashis deadline, it is very likely that it will change its stand later on and attend the Tokyo Conference. For, on the one hand, the conference provides an opportunity for the terrorists to derive some recognition. On the other hand, it cannot afford to embarrass the international community too much.
The ulterior motive of the LTTE appears to be to wrest as many extra MoU concessions as possible like removal of HSZs, recognition of Sea Tigers as a naval unit by holding the government to ransom and the international community in suspense. The LTTE knows how desperate the government is to keep the peace process moving, on which the latter has staked its survival. Now that the LTTE has suspended talks unilaterally, and a political battle is going on in the south, the government needs LTTEs participation at Tokyo confab to give renewed hopes to the people. The LTTE is cashing in on this situation.
It is interesting to note that the Tigers got wild when it was not invited to the recent Washington conference and cited it as a reason for pulling out from talks. But today they are refusing to attend the Tokyo conference even when they are not only invited but also pleaded with.
The main objective of the Tokyo Conference is to restore peace in Sri Lanka and help re-build it with special consideration being given for re-construction and rehabilitation of the war ravaged north and east. The LTTE is attempting to hijack the conference and make the donors contributions flow directly into their hands while stopping assistance going in for development of areas beyond the north and east. The LTTE should remember that negotiations at Tokyo are between sovereign nations and the sovereign state of Sri Lanka. The LTTE is only an adjunct and whether it attends the conference or not funds for the north and east will be pledged.
Balasingham may want the world to believe that aid for Sri Lanka has to come through the LTTE. He and his coterie should be told that the Tokyo conference is held with the objective of restablishing peace and regaining entire Sri Lanka - not creation of a separate state.
If the powerful countries, most of whom are donors themselves, are genuinely interested in helping Sri Lanka solve its problem and if their pledge to root out the scourge of global terrorism is not fake, they must tell the LTTE to go to hell and go ahead with the Tokyo conference.
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