Ruining Lanka's chances of finding a solution

Prabhakaran is dead and an LTTE rump is limping along overseas. It is sure to suffer some splits before long. There may be internecine clashes among the surviving senior Tigers staking claims for leadership. Prabhakaran died intestate, so to speak, and the LTTE's unaccounted for wealth in many hands may cause the aspiring leaders to fall out and break ranks. So, the LTTE’s revival as a military outfit in this country is out of the question. However, this does not mean that everything is going to be hunky dory for us.

Nothing could be more unfavourable to democracy than the unbridled militarisation of a society. That a country faced with war against a formidable enemy is compelled to unleash extremely ferocious forces perhaps disproportionate to the real threat is only too well known. And what needs to be done immediately after the conclusion of any military campaign is to put the genie back into the bottle, look after the war affected civilians and remove the politico-economic causes of the conflagration so that it won't recur.

Regrettably, instead of helping Sri Lanka achieve these daunting tasks, the western powers have resorted to a course of action that militates against her normalisation and conflict resolution processes. An aid blockade they have slapped as part of a witch hunt and their campaign to press war crime charges against some Sri Lankan leaders by way of retaliation are fraught with the danger of leading to the country's politico-economic instability in this crucial postwar period. The worst affected by their action will be the war displaced who would face a double whammy, should the economy suffer a debilitating setback.

The Rajapaksa government must honour its promise to find a political solution and obviate the root causes of the conflict which plagued the country for nearly three decades. India's support, without which Sri Lanka could neither win the war nor withstand pressure from hostile international forces aligned with the LTTE, was conditional upon President Mahinda Rajapaksa's personal commitment to a political settlement, which also made the western powers wary of going the whole hog to scuttle Sri Lanka's war aimed at removing the biggest obstacle to peace––LTTE terrorism. Reneging on his promise or taking India for a ride is something President Rajapaksa cannot afford.

The elimination of northern terrorism has strengthened the hands of southern extremists with a history of plunging the country into bloodbaths. They are now on the warpath vowing to defeat even the implementation of the 13th Amendment while having representation in Provincial Councils and contesting elections to them!

Rathu Sahodarayas are now pretending to be the greatest patriots to have inhabited this land! It was not for nothing that they boycotted the National Victory Parade last Wednesday, which even UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe attended in spite of his previous criticisms against the government's war effort. They do not want to be seen sharing President Rajapaksa's platform, as they are planning to take him on when he unveils whatever solution he has got to offer. Having reached the end of the road in mainstream politics as evident from a string of crushing electoral defeats during the past few years, the JVP is at present desperately looking for a cause in a bid to make a comeback. In the late 1980s, it sought to use the Indo-Lanka Accord to arrest its downhill journey albeit with disastrous consequences for both itself and the country. It seems to be essaying the same method once again.

The fact that the first person President Rajapaksa telephoned to share the good news of victory over the LTTE was JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe has inflated the JVP's ego immensely. It is also preening itself on the de-merger of the North and the East. In fact, the JVP deserves the full credit for having moved the Supreme Court successfully against the North and East merger.

So, Rathu Sahodarayas can now claim that President Rajapaksa owes his victory to them, as they helped him win the executive presidency. However, they only made a virtue of necessity! They supported Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last presidential election not out of any love for him. They were all out to prevent the election of their bete noire Ranil Wickremesinghe. It was a case of Rajapaksa's enemy's enemy becoming his friend! One year before, it may be recalled, the JVP had opposed Rajapaksa's appointment as Prime Minister!

In 2005, it was nothing but adversity that made strange bedfellows of the JVP and Rajapaksa. The JVP feared that Ranil, if elected President, would have its leaders arrested as the first thing after assuming duties! Rajapaksa was without anyone else to lean on as his political boss President Chandrika Kumaratunga and several other SLFP stalwarts were pulling for his opponent Ranil. Thus came into being a marriage of convenience between Rajapaksa and the JVP.

There is no threat of an armed insurgency in the South––at least in the foreseeable future––for two reasons. The armed forces have successfully quelled two JVP insurrections and crushed 'the world's most ruthless terrorist group' much to the astonishment of even the military super powers struggling to destroy their terrorists. No one in his proper senses will ever want to pit himself against an in-form military. Secondly, democratic politics has a mellowing effect on the threadbare shibboleths of leftists and, as for the JVP leaders, good living has taken off their revolutionary sting. Today, they are flying like bees and stinging like butterflies!

However, the JVP will try to unsettle the government by some other methods such as aggressive protests and wildcat strikes by unleashing its trade union and university hounds. The UNP thirsting for power without any prospects of capturing it for many more years to come will fish in troubled waters given half a chance thus making governance impossible for President Rajapaksa the way the SLFP did in the late 1980s, when it shamelessly joined forces with the JVP in the name of a 'national liberation' movement only to be disillusioned later.

One may not like or agree with President Rajapaksa but one should grant that by liberating the country from the scourge of terrorism he has won the public confidence unlike any other leader in Sri Lanka's recent history and is, therefore, in a position to find a feasible political remedy acceptable to all communities and ensure its implementation. To trip him at this juncture is to ruin Sri Lanka's chances of putting the conflict behind her. Unfortunately, that exactly is what some western governments blinded by animosity towards Sri Lanka, are trying to do!

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