Lanka’s LTTE problem

IT’S appreciable that Sri Lankan President Rajapakse is showing a sense of realism in dealing with the Tamil Tigers. There, hence, is a semblance of hope that Sri Lanka’s present line of action vis-à-vis the LTTE will bear fruit in the long run, if not in the immediate future.

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Published: Sun 11 Feb 2007, 8:08 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:52 AM

Simply put, the president’s is a ‘carrot and stick’ policy, that is making a positive difference to the situation. His government is seeking to endear the Tamils alienated by decades of rebel brainwashing and military onslaughts, by extending them material and medical aid and seeking to engage them in a political dialogue. At the same time, it is giving the rebels back in their own coin; through aggressive retaliatory attacks. The recent retaking of an eastern province from the clutches of the rebels, breaking a decade-long impasse, is indication the Sri Lankan military finally means business.

Rajapakse is a leader who has risen from the ranks; a reason why a sense of realism guides his initiatives. That he has a vision for the future is very clear. A part of that vision is reflected in his decision to strengthen the military. Hence the 30 per cent hike in the defence budget this year. Any close observer of the Sri Lankan scene would admit this is the way forward, rather than Colombo depending on other nations for military support.

At the same time, it is important that Sri Lanka makes every effort to buy peace through a negotiated political settlement with the rebels, so as to hasten its development process. The nation won independence from its colonial masters a year after India did, but, by comparison, there has been very little of progress in the island. The rebel menace has taken its toll on development.

Under the circumstances, however, any solution to the LTTE problem is impossible without India being made to play a positive role. It is here that the political maturity of the Sri Lankan leadership will be tested. It can neither afford to ignore India nor engage it in the peace efforts beyond a point. Rajapakse’s sense of realism will hopefully guide Sri Lanka in this respect.

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