Gota doesn’t want Ranil’s advice on post-war military strategy

Calls UNP’s handling of war and CFA "pathetic’’


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says he doesn’t need UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s advise on post-war military strategy.

An irate Defence Secretary says the Opposition leader cannot expected to be taken seriously regarding military and foreign policy issues due to the UNP’s pathetic handling of the war effort and so-called Ceasefire Agreement brokered by Norway.

The tough-talking war veteran was responding to Wickremesinghe’s demand that the Rajapaksa administration should confiscate the entire range of LTTE assets and utilize them for the benefit of the people.

Attacking the government for trying to rush through a Bill titled ‘Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets’ , Wickremesinghe said that the UPFA should recover money and property belonging to Kumaran Pathmanathan alias ‘KP’ and the LTTE.

Rajapaksa alleged that Wickremesinghe was obviously blind to post-war accelerated development programmes, booming tourism, foreign investment etc. which had brought tangible changes to the lives of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims who lived in constant fear of terrorist attacks.

In a hard-hitting letter to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga, MP, alleged that some provisions of the Bill would have an adverse impact on the national economy.

In a brief interview with The Sunday Island, President Rajapaksa’s brother alleged that the UNP had conveniently forgotten that in spite of it being the main Opposition party, it never supported Sri Lanka’s war effort.

In fact, the UNP never believed the LTTE could be brought to its knees through military means, he said, challenging Wickremesinghe to produce a statement issued by him or his party during the Eelam War IV (July 2006-May 2009) or in the post-war era supportive of the military.

The Defence Secretary challenged the UNP to make its position on the accountability issues known without playing politics with what he called national security issues. Rajapaksa alleged that Wickremesinghe feared to take on the LTTE, which exploited the UNP’s weakness to further strengthen its conventional military capability.

"Where were Wickremesinghe and his advisors when the LTTE brought in ship loads of arms, ammunition and equipment," Rajapaksa said.

"Nothing can be as stupid as UNP’s guidance on military issues. Those silent on such matters, during war can remain silent. We finished off terrorist leader Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, captured almost 12,000 LTTE cadres, recovered a massive stock of arms, ammunition and equipment and secured Prabhakaran’s successor, Kumaran Pathmanathan and seized one of the LTTE’s ships.

``What we have achieved is tremendous and unthinkable in spite of a section of the international community throwing its weight behind the LTTE. Wickremesinghe and his party never supported the war effort. Instead, they always undermined our efforts and went to the extent of ridiculing the military."

A few months before the liberation of Kilinochchi on Jan. 1, 2009, the UNP declared that the army was marching towards Medawachchiya, while the Defence Ministry predicted fall of the LTTE stronghold, he said. The UNP also asserted any fool could wage war and compared the military with the Salvation Army.

The Defence Secretary said that Sri Lanka continued to battle the LTTE rump abroad, though the likes of Wickremesinghe acted as if they were not aware what was going on. The recent ‘confrontations’ during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth highlighted the threat posed by the LTTE and those supportive of its operations.

The first indication of an LTTE-spearheaded move came to light in the pre-CHOGM process with Canada, wanting to change the wording in the original draft communiqué on the issue of the venue for 2013. At the COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting, the Canadian delegate proposed to change the word ‘reaffirming’ the decision of Colombo hosting 2013 to ‘recalling’.

The Senior Additional Secretary, External Affairs Ministry, Ms Kshenuka Senewiratne intervened on the basis that accepted language in past has been the reaffirmation of similar decisions. Hence, the original position in the draft communiqué was maintained.

In spite of that at the pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Canada yet again sought to raise the human rights issues in Sri Lanka, by seeking to criticize the country on its human rights record. A protest was recorded by External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris that the Commonwealth being an inappropriate forum for a discussion of this nature, and those domestic issues couldn’t be taken up in this manner.

Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that the UNP should reveal the total amount of funds successive UNP administrations had made available to the LTTE directly beginning with the transactions carried in the run-up to the Eelam War II in June 1990.

Rajapaksa alleged that the government had documentary evidence of some of the transactions, including payment of duty on behalf of the LTTE for state-of-the-art radio equipment procured by the group with the help of Norway and the then Peace Secretariat, which facilitated their operations.

The UNP, the Gajaba veteran said had lost its right to advise the government on issues relating to national security due to its conduct during the war. Whatever the experts and analysts had said, the UNP’s miserable electoral performances since the conclusion of the war in May 2009 could be attributed to failure on its part to support Sri Lanka’s successful war effort, he said.

The Defence Secretary said that he was contemplating a cohesive examination of all financial transactions involving successive governments and the LTTE. The recent revelation that the LTTE had invested its ill-gotten money through global financier, Raj Rajaratnam was nothing but what was going on since the signing of the CFA in Feb. 2002, he said.

The amount of money received by the LTTE from several countries and international organizations during the CFA, too, should be scrutinized, Rajapaksa said, adding that those who silently extended their support to the LTTE was today shedding crocodile tears for Tamil speaking people and question government military strategy.

"We went after LTTE ships and targeted them on the high seas without anyone’s support. A section of the UNP ridiculed that too. Some claimed that the SLN blew up abandoned ships for propaganda purposes. Let politicians fight over issues affecting the national economy or any other subject. But they shouldn’t play politics at the expense of national security, thereby strengthening the hands of those waiting to undermine us."

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