When terrorists cease to talk peace... ?

We wonder whether all those international diplomats who call on Velupillai Prabakaran and his cohorts, laden with gifts, ever pause to think of the unique contribution made by these terrorists to current international relations: the suicide bomber.

When the world’s first suicide bomber, a LTTE woman cadre, killed Rajiv Gandhi, the world was aghast. After that the victims were Sri Lankans but who cares about Sri Lankans? After that suicide bombers made their appearance in Israel and the world remembered the inventors and propagators of this deadliest terror weapon against which there is little or no defence even by the best of anti- terrorist forces. Now suicide bombers are a global phenomenon from Bali to Israel and on Sunday it was Casablanca. The LTTE is obviously quite proud of such inventions. Recently in a BBC interview a LTTE ‘ admiral ‘ of sorts boasted that the modus operandi of those who attacked USS Cole in the Gulf was a product of LTTE genius. Perhaps belligerent nations appreciate such inventions. Wasn’t the inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel in whose memory the celebrated peace prize is named?

Whatever the sentiments of these interantional representatives towards these death merchants may be, we Sri Lankans cannot take such a liberal attitude . But our leaders have now handed over this entire ‘Peace Process’ to such liberal minded negotiators who fraternise and sanitise these terrorists.

With Prabakaran and his cohorts, who have made these mighty donors of finance, mendicants pleading to accept their invitation to the Tokyo conference, there is little doubt that Prabakaran et al must be feeling on top of the world.

Under such circumstances would Prabakran, who has repeatedly told his followers: Even if I stray away from the glorious path towards Eelam, kill me’ be satisfied some kind of Chief Ministership which this devolution process, if successful, is expected to throw up?

With the LTTE refusing to talk peace, it is quite prudent to presume that they are preparing for war. Our Lotus-eaters in the Defence Ministry, Prime Minister’s office and other echelons of power may be dreaming of Prabakaran as an angel of peace. We, however, cannot afford to do that because Prabakaran may be thinking of a lightning strike, running over the Jaffna peninsula and then offering to talk peace! And then, our dear friendly nations, going by past records, will encourage us to sit down and talk peace again!

Given past experiences of Prabakaran it will be prudent to assume that when he ceases to talk peace, he is preparing for war.

What should Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and President Kumaratunga do? Keep talking peace?

Come hell or high water

There is no answer to nature’s furies, despite all the advances of modern science. For weeks, satellite pictures of the BBC and CNN weather reports showed big black clouds moving towards South India and Sri Lanka. And those weathermen and weatherwomen issued bad weather warnings. But no one did anything about it.

It is indeed doubtful whether any person could have done very much about it. Even in the most technologically advanced nations, despite such warnings being made in advance, there is very little that has been done to protect the people or the environment. The only effective precautionary measure taken in developed countries is to ask residents to evacuate threatened areas in time. Yet, mass death and devastating destruction have not have been avoided.

Limited precautionary measures can be taken but these are long term measures to be taken in advance such as moving out people from low lying areas that get flooded or those living in regions prone to earthslips. But in poverty stricken countries like ours, over population particularly in urban areas has resulted in the poor moving into low-lying areas as is evident from the slums that have sprung up in Colombo East.

We are said to be experiencing the worst floods experienced in the past fifty years. What can be done immediately is to marshal all resources and appeal to foreign nations for assistance, particularly our neighbours. India has already responded. No doubt there will be more generous responses to this troubled isle always in distress. The challenge will be to manage these resources and funds that will be coming in instead of squandering and permitting exploitation by human vultures.

In times of such national calamities the tendency is to call for the nation to rally round those in distress and mourn for the dead. But this nation in recent years has forsaken all that. Instead we continue to play cricket —- come hell or high water. Yesterday, the nation was concerned about the fate of those marooned by the swirling waters around them as much as whether Sri Lanka will be able to scrape through the ODI against New Zealand at Dambulla. At the time of writing these comments, a cricketing zealot claims that it would be another national calamity, if we lost to New Zealand!

Hundreds of thousands, particularly the poorest of our community have been affected disastrously by this calamity. The government as well as private citizens and organisations should contribute their utmost to help them.

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