No sooner had President Ranasinghe Premadasa been blown to smithereens in 1993 than a theory was concocted that he had been hoist with his own petard. His political enemies claimed that reeling from public opprobrium in the aftermath of the assassination of his bête noire, Lalith Athulathmudali, the blame for which was laid at his doorstep, President Premadasa had 'organised' an assassination attempt to eclipse Lalith's killing and distract public attention but it had backfired on him.
Prabhakaran's killing gave rise to another absurd theory: The Tiger chief had been captured and brought to Colombo, where President Mahinda Rajapaksa slapped him before ordering that he be killed and his body dumped in the Nandikadal swamp! Tiger backers claimed their leader was alive and kicking in spite of reports that he had been killed. They even published a picture of an amused Prabhakaran watching a TV screen with his corpse shown on it!
Immediately after war broke out in 2006, SLFP dissidents Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathy Sooriyaarachchi began to shout from the rooftops that war was being fought according to a secret agreement between the government and the LTTE. It was not in the East that the war had to be fought but in the North, they clamoured challenging the government to attack Kilinochchi if it dared. According to the Mahinda-Prabhakaran pact, the SLFP dissidents and UNPers chorused, the government had agreed to steer clear of Kilinochchi. When the LTTE lost Thoppigala, its last stronghold in the East, they said the terrorists had been paid and given safe passage to retreat into the Vanni jungles!
Then the Vanni operation kicked off, Kilinochchi fell and Prabhakaran as well as his trusted lieutenants perished. After the fall of Kilinochchi, which, LTTE supporters and critics of the government had thought, was pie in the sky, little was heard of the secret pact for months. But, of late, the Opposition has retrieved that pact from the political attic. On Tuesday, Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe asked President Rajapaksa to reveal 'his government's secret pact with the LTTE' to the people.
Prabhakaran used to take pride in the fact that he had outfoxed all Sri Lankan leaders including the Old Fox himself. His modus operandi was to lure government leaders into peace pacts, buy time, wrong-foot them and strike. Is the UNP leader telling us that Prabhakaran met his match in Mahinda at long last and got beaten at his own game? If the Opposition's claim that the government paid the LTTE to stage retreats is true, a reasonable conclusion may be that Prabhakaran got paid to be killed! What a way to die!
The Opposition has, no doubt, sought to dent President Rajapaksa's credentials of patriotism by reviving the 'secret pact' that the public were treated to ad nauseam in the past. But, that method has proved to be counterproductive; it has only made the President look smarter than all his predecessors in the eyes of people who abhor terrorism!
The UNP Leader says President Rajapaksa's deal with Prabhakaran prompted the LTTE to call for a polls boycott at the presidential election in 2005 and to engineer his (Ranil's) defeat. True, the UNP had been banking heavily on the northerners' votes to secure the executive presidency in a closely contested election and was disappointed when the LTTE prevented them from going to the polls. But, in fact, the LTTE was without any alternative to a polls boycott; the CFA in force at that time had paved the way for what came to be called a de facto separate state in most parts of the North and the East, where the government's writ had manifestly ceased to run. It was not for nothing that the late Anton Balasingham boasted at Prabhakaran's 'international' press conference in Kilinochchi in April 2002 that Prabhakaran was both the Prime Minister and President in the areas under LTTE control. The LTTE had its own 'public service', 'judiciary', 'police', 'army', 'navy', 'banking system', 'currency' etc and nobody was able to enter its 'territory' without a 'visa'. Therefore, Prabhakaran did not want to allow an election to be held in those parts of the country. If people under his jackboot had voted for either Ranil or Mahinda, his claim of the LTTE being the sole representative of Tamils would have been debunked. His intention was to make the Presidential Election look like an electoral exercise by a foreign land which had nothing to do with his own 'Eelam' awaiting international recognition. Bringing about either Ranil's or Mahinda's defeat could not have been foremost in his mind; he had his own interests to mind.
If there had ever existed a 'secret pact' between President Rajapaksa and Prabhakaran, as the UNP claims, the Norwegians could not have been unaware of it; or the LTTE itself would have made it public during the final stages of war to ruin President Rajapaksa's prospects at a string of elections so as to unsettle the government and demoralise the military. Even now, it may not be too late for the UNP to solicit Norway's help to locate that 'pact', if any.