of reckoning round the corner
That, peaceniks everywhere, means Eelam. The LTTEs political chief has unveiled the goal of the separate state of Eelam - traditional homelands, total autonomy, self-determination secession and all. The clincher is the demand that the IA should be "entirely outside the present constitution of Sri Lanka." So much for the "study tours" by MPs and terrorists to learn about federalism! All that remains is for the professor to have his finest hour by proving to his own satisfaction, in a few million words, that an IA outside the constitution is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Reneging on IA harmful to health
The LTTE went further. It made two separate orchestrated disclosures that there had been prior promises on these matters. The Hindustan Times report of May 20 says: Tamilchelvam said that prior to the December 2001 parliamentary elections, the present ruling party, the United National Party (UNP), had promised the LTTE that if it came into power, it would set up a completely autonomous IA in the NEP and it over to the LTTE, the LTTE being the sole representative of the Tamil people." Balasingham phrased it more diplomatically in his letter to the PM, reported in Tamilnet of May 21: "Originally the idea of an interim administrative structure for the Northeast was mooted by the LTTE months before the last general elections. The UNP leadership endorsed the proposal and the Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe openly campaigned in support of an interim administrative structure with the active participation of the LTTE..."
The LTTE never wastes words. It does not require too much imagination to figure out that Tamilchelvam and Balasingham were delivering none too subtle reminders that reneging on promises made to the LTTE can be harmful to health.
What did the UNP actually undertake to do? Its pre-election pamphlet A New Economic Future, A New Social Order stated, "An interim administration will be set up for the northern and eastern provinces. This was imprudent enough but nowhere near as extravagant as Tamilchelvam alleges. Or is Tamilchelvam suggesting that this was only the tip of an iceberg? If Tamilchelvam is lying about handing over the IA to the LTTE the GOSL would be well advised to issue a denial and demand a withdrawal. Failure to do so will raise issues distinctly uglier than incompetence.
LTTE toys with Norway, Japan
Any self-respecting government would tell the LTTE in words of one syllable what it can do with its latest demands. But the course of events since the LTTEs boycott ploy does not offer much hope. The chips have fallen much as the LTTE must have calculated. The boycott triggered panic all round. The GOSL scrambled to appease the LTTE still more. The original mediator alias facilitator, Norway and the latest intruder Japan, both rushed powerful delegations to the Wanni, one bearing gifts for Prabakaran, to beg of him to permit LTTE attendance in Tokyo. Both supplicants had much prestige at stake. Norways alleged expertise in peacemaking and its partisanship with the LTTE terrorists are already under scrutiny, and yet another failure might end its peacemaking role Japans Akashi, reportedly a candidate for UN Secretary-General, must be alarmed at the prospect of his maiden overture to the LTTE failing, leading to a loss of face in Japan and leaving an embarrassing hole in his CV. The LTTE spurned them both; unless they could persuade the GOSL to make still further concessions.
Scorned peacemakers turn on GOSL
The predictable reaction was that the peacemakers, snubbed by the LTTE, would put pressure on the submissive GOSL. It is therefore not surprising to read in the Hindustan Times of May 20 that there has been "intense lobbying" by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Peterson and Japanese Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi after which the GOSL buckled yet again and offered more powers to the LTTE in the areas of administration of the northeast and the management of funds. Nor is it surprising that the LTTE "totally rejected" the GOSL proposals. They know that when they reject proposals, more are forthcoming, starting from the higher threshold of the rejected proposals and that the process can continue all the way to Eelam.
It was after rejecting the GOSLs offer of more powers that the LTTE put forward its demands for Eelam in all but name. The presenting of the demand so openly was ominous in itself. At the best of times the LTTE had repeatedly outwitted GOSLs, and since the CFA it has trampled the GOSL underfoot. But despite its dominance, the LTTE chose to keep the Eelam wolf concealed in sheeps clothing. The Eelam wolf has had multiple cloaks over the past two decades, masquerading as the Thimpu demands, devolution internal self-determination, autonomy, evacuation of the HSZ, interim administration, national homelands, and Tamil nation. The fact that it chose to dispense with disguise on this occasion suggests either contempt for the GOSL, a readiness for renewed war; or indifference to the GOSLs response.
What to do
Agreement is out of the question, even for this petrified government. Nor should there be resort to covert deals, misleading verbiage and sophistry to further mislead our long suffering public.
A disturbing feature is the apparent failure to grasp that the LTTE is now bringing the Eelam objective out into the open. To judge from newspaper reports at the time of writing, the LTTE demand seems to be regarded as another common or garden request. There are protests, but not the kind of uproar and outrage one would expect from demands that strike at the heart of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the survival of Sri Lanka. We are close to a red alert situation.
One thing is clear. The GOSLs negotiating tactics and overall strategy lie in tatters. Two years ago, despite LTTE terrorism, we were a sovereign country Today we are at the mercy of the LTTE and its foreign cohorts who pose as the international community.
The path of negotiations has clearly proved a dead end. The question is what can be done to slow down, stop and turn back the onrushing LTTE juggernaut. This requires a policy face-lift and stiffening of backbone by all parties, if Sri Lanka is to survive beyond this year as a sovereign state.
What is involved is a major exercise in change management. "Always change a losing game" is a sporting axiom applicable far beyond sport. The first targets for review would be the disastrous tripod of blunders - the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) whose text undermines national sovereignty and integrity; the deproscription of the LTTE, which enabled the LTTE to claim recognition and equality; and the peace talks policy, which has been to grant concession after major concession without obtaining quid pro quos.
This would be an excruciating exercise, involving as it would the tacit admission that the LTTE and the international community have made monkeys of the GOSL. The peace team, which has scored many ducks, presented the opposition with juicy full tosses, and run out its own team- mates, need an early and prolonged holiday, the longer the better. Hard-nosed negotiators are needed, not flowery speech-makers.
As an immediate measure under the CFA the farcical SLMM should be reconstituted and the Norwegians expelled before they inflict further damage on Sri Lanka.
How we did it
In the 1960s our poor economic performance mystified professional economists who concerned themselves with developing countries. Our human and physical resources seemed to indicate a much higher level of achievement. Sri Lankan economists would sometimes be asked by foreign colleagues, without any trace of sarcasm, and with genuine curiosity, "Tell us, how did you manage to do so badly?"
Forty years on, the question is:" How did we manage to bungle so badly that our sovereignty is being destroyed by 15,000 terrorists, when terrorism is a dirty word worldwide?"
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