Tamil Nadu State Chief Minister Karunanidhie is demanding a roadmap for peace with immediate effect, in order to protect Tamils in Sri Lanka. The demand is significant as the Sri Lankan forces are on the doorstep of Kilinochchi, having cleared the entire east and a major part of the north.
To start with, he demands an immediate ceasefire and a political solution. TN political parties are unanimous on this issue as an election stunt, in the wake of the elections next year. What right does Karunanadi have for this agitation is doubtful, as the majority of Tamils in SL live with Sinhalese safely. Secretary of the Communist Party D. Pandian too was a frontrunner in agitations for the safety of Tamils.
There is a sudden surge of interest displayed by Vaiko, Jayalalaitha and Nedumaran and a few others, on political gains. The majority of residents in Colombo and north-east are Tamils. The LTTE has some control only over a few hundred residents forcibly imprisoned in the small area under their control, which is also fast diminishing.
Also, ex-Police Constable Nadeson, the Chief of the Political Wing of the LTTE, has repeatedly offered a ceasefire at any given time. All ceasefire agreements entered into previously ended up in disaster and they gave the opportunity for the LTTE to regroup. Especially the CFA entered into between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on equal terms and footing carved out areas to be controlled by the LTTE.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa had to fight hard to abrogate the agreement facilitated by the Norwegians, whose intentions and conduct were suspicious and lacked credibility. Today, the LTTE is heavily pounded and is in a weak position. Prabhakaran is battered, wounded and in hiding. The LTTE has lost territory, manpower, funding resources and reputation as the most ruthless and powerful terrorist organisation in the world as categorised by the US Department of State.
Indian Central Government is not requesting for a ceasefire. They have no sympathy for Prabhakaran, who killed their beloved leader Rajiv Gandhi. But they are selfish and self-centred politically, since Tamil Nadu is a powerful ally. The Centre is depending on the Tamil votes in the coming election next year. They need the protection of civilians trapped in the conflict area, who are being used as a ‘Human Shield’ by the LTTE. That is why they need a political solution in the wake of the imminent fall of Kilinochchi.
Nobody speaks of the freedom of the trapped civilians or their freedom of movement to safe areas where majority Tamils live happily. This shows that LTTE propaganda machinery is still powerful and effective. The Opposition Leader, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Mangala Samaraweera fraction, some NGOs based in Sri Lanka and their superiors demand for a ceasefire and a political solution.
Wickremesinghe, who is currently in India, renewed the demand for a ceasefire and a political solution with former Indian Foreign Minister Jaswnat Sing and said that the Sri Lankan Government should discuss this again with the TNA and the APRC. Ironically, both the LTTE and the TNA always speak of Tamil aspirations, but not a set of proposals.
It is strange that all these parties are making the same agitation, suddenly in the wake of the imminent fall of the LTTE, which is a threat to the region as well as world peace. One cannot understand this ‘indecent hurry’ for a political solution after 30 years of struggle for peace and development, and sudden love for Tamils and the human shield created by the LTTE.
No one has yet proposed any political solution except for President Rajapaksa and his administration. Mahinda Chinthanaya is clear on the main issues and a final solution. It envisages, “An undivided country, a national consensus and honourable peace… Equal rights,” – and not the reasonable place as envisaged by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike – to all citizens, based on the local values and international human right instruments.
The LTTE has never proposed their solution, other than to meet the aspirations of the Tamil People – separate Eelam state – on the basis that the LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamils. Prabhakaran’s most recent e-mail interview has made this position clear. LTTE proxy TNA too has not come out with a set of proposals and not taking part at the APRC meetings.
Mahinda Chinthanaya envisages devolution on the village level and any further solutions proposed and approved by the people. The UNP Roadmap is not clear. The significant components of the UNP proposals envisage a political solution based on the CFA entered into by Wickremesinghe and Prabhakaran, devolution that goes far beyond the 13th Amendment based on the Indian Model.
Ironically, the LTTE today paints the picture of only the brethrens trapped and kept forcibly as a human shield in their captivity, as 52% live with the Sinhalese, and the rest in the east, parts of north controlled by SL Government and overseas, where the Tamil population is roughly estimated at six million or may be more.
In reality, Tamil population is well looked after by the newly emerged and veteran leaders such as Douglas Devananda, V. Anandasangaree, Karuna, Pillaiyan, A. Thondaman and F. Ashroff and many others belonging to various ethnic groups and different political ideologies such as the JVP, JHU, CWC, SLMC(F), UNP(D) and TVMP. They are represented in the Rajapaksa government, which is an excellent combination of all ethnic and religious groups.
The concept and the origin of a political roadmap was initiated in order to find a solution for the Israeli-Palestine conflict, which has not been resolved yet, despite attempts by the world community, the UN and other organisations and world leaders.
The plan to resolve the conflict was proposed by the UN, USA, EU, and Russia with high hopes and expectations. It represented a starting point towards achieving the end result in two stages. That is, abandoning terrorism and entering into a political dialogue. Abandonment of terrorism was proposed on the basis of (a) End of violence (b) Internal enforcement to support economies and (3) Agreement for a final solution.
Initial work was begun on May 27 by the Bush administration and again renewed by George Bush on April 14, 2004. The zenith of the programme was the Camp David discussion facilitated by the controversial Norwegians with the ulterior motive of aiming at the Noble Price and indirect political and financial benefits.
India is engulfed in a number of unresolved, current and internal issues such as Kashmir, and these issues are on the top of the list of agendas and terrorism and bombing is taking place frequently, despite the strict measures taken to crush terrorism. India itself is in need of a political roadmap and Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s position in the coming elections is doubtful with the emerging popularity of Jayalalitha and the opposition.
The Sri Lankan factor in India and international factors in the US have become insignificant in the present context. The interest in foreign relations is diminishing and the people in the US, India and worldwide are more concerned about the local issues on economy, employment and health than the outside world.
We are concerned about the ongoing issue as it directly affects us and the end of the war on terrorism will bring back our lost prosperity. Americans voted for Barack Obama, mainly as a solution for local issues such as healthcare and economy – not the Iraqi and Afgan war, or the foreign policy. Indians too are more concerned about their main issues and not what happens outside. Research has shown that 80% of Americans voted for local issues and not for the foreign policy Bush has given priority to. Now, President Rajapaksa leads SAARC and being the head of regional leaders, should lay the foundation for a political roadmap based on eliminating terrorism from the region in order to achieve for peace and prosperity.
TN and the world
Sri Lankan issue is now before the world stage and is very crucial. President Rajapaksa is firm and continues to stick to his guns and policies. He has the full backing of the masses and the popularity is ever rising on the humanitarian interventions and pushing and flushing of terrorists to a tiny part of Kilinochchi.
It is the time for the President to win over the average Tamil man poisoned by adverse propaganda by local and foreign media and politicians, including our own opposition. What has been offered by the President as a roadmap is fortunately accepted by all political groups except the TNA and the JVP.
The UNP is agreeable to the process, but wants to give more powers to Provincial Councils. The JHU reluctantly agreed, but the JVP is adamant against the 13th Amendment. The TNA, the LTTE proxy wants to fulfil Tamil aspirations, which they do not disclose. Stage is set for the President, who the ordinary masses have full trust on as a leader who will not let down the masses. He has all political parties and ethnic groups rallying around him. He has taken most politicians canvassed against him at the presidential election and before into his fold. They have been given powerful and important portfolios.
The way forward
The roadmap is set and we are in the correct tract, with the correct leadership. What is lacking is full corporation form all limbs of the government and political leadership. Opposition is making the biggest blunder by opposing every step taken by the President.
The UNP and Kumaratunga government failed to defeat the war menace for over 20 years. People say the UNP conducts the economy well, but this government is the best to resolve the ongoing conflict. Joint efforts made by the government and opposition are the ideal way as there is hardly any difference in their economic policies. The only different between the government and the opposition is mainly and basically on personalities. Therefore, it is easy to work with the personalities with new vigour and a plan of action in the interest of the country, if they really love the country.
By Sarath Wijesinghe ~ The Nation ~