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Where are the peddlers of that 'secret pact'?


When Prabhakaran threw down the gauntlet and performed ablutions in the Mavil Aru reservoir in 2006, he surely did not realise the ultimate cost he would have to pay for his military adventurism. Emboldened by the government's pusillanimity in spite of previous provocations like claymore mine attacks on the security forces and the police, he may have thought President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was not in the good books of the international community, would take it all lying down. Not many people thought that in capturing that reservoir he was triggering a military avalanche that would cost him Kilinochchi one day.

Today, he is paying for his terrible military miscalculation. The army is poised to march on the Kilinochchi town, which the LTTE once proudly claimed as the capital of its Eelam, having captured if from the army in the late 1990s.

It is being argued in some quarters that the LTTE might make a comeback the way it did several times in the past in spite of crushing defeats. It may have done so in the past but, the proponents of that argument have failed to see or cannot bring themselves to believe that the LTTE is too weak to do anything to reverse the battlefield gains of the military at present. For the first time in the history of the conflict, the army is in control of the East, Jaffna and a large section of the Wanni at the same time. When the LTTE lost Jaffna in 1995, it had places to retreat to as the Kumaratunga government had captured that town at the expense of the Eastern Province which the UNP government of the late President D. B. Wijetunge had cleared. Therefore, the LTTE could always depend on the East for recruitment, supplies and refuge. But, no longer can it do so. It lost the East the day the Karuna-Pillaiyan group broke away.

Another problem that the LTTE is faced with is the broadest ever front the army has opened in the North thus making it difficult for the outfit to attempt an effective counter attack. The army seems to have learnt from its past mistakes like the ill-fated Operation Jaya Sikuru, which exposed its flank to the LTTE and invited disaster as could be seen from the way it is repulsing LTTE attacks. Fighting on several fronts has left the LTTE overstretched, exhausted and demoralised. It is also not in a position to replenish its supplies.

The Navy has successfully eliminated almost all the LTTE arms smuggling ships and is dominating the sea. Prabhakaran, it may be recalled, once boasted that the final battle for Eelam would be fought on the sea. But, the Sea Tigers who used to boast that they were ruling the waves in the eastern and northern seas have been rendered toothless. And the Air Force is carrying out a devastating bombing campaign destroying as it does vital LTTE targets. Most of all, for the first time a government is prosecuting the war with a single minded will to defeat the LTTE militarily. So, today, the Tigers trapped in the Wanni have the same chances as a cat in hell of turning the tables on the military.

Among those who have found it difficult to come to terms with the LTTE's impending defeat are the rivals of the Rajapaksa government as the political fallout of the success of the present military campaign will prove to be disastrous for them. They are aware that a decisive military victory in the Wanni is sure to be followed by a crucial election. It is very likely to be a presidential election. It is therefore natural that those who fear elections hope and pray that the Tigers will hold out till the cows come home regardless of what will befall the country and the vast majority of the people who are hoping for an early end to the scourge of terrorism in such an eventuality. The polls-fearing politicos, we learn, are now banking heavily on the weather gods; they want rains to come soon in the Wanni and wash out the battle for Kilinochchi. Their thinking is that if the war gets protracted, the economy will collapse!

On Thursday, the Air Force bombed the LTTE Headquarters in Kilinochchi. Whether any LTTE leaders perished in that raid, one may not know. The significance of that attack, in our book, is more political than military. For, the critics of the government's war effort including the SLFP dissidents have persistently claimed that the LTTE HQ would never be bombed as the war was being fought according to a secret pact between the government and the LTTE. The military, they said, would be made to steer clear of key LTTE facilities in the Wanni. Discounting the importance of clearing the Eastern Province, they said the real war had to be fought in the Wanni and challenged the government to take the war to that part of the country if it dared. In the East, they insisted, the LTTE was retreating in keeping with the 'secret agreement' and when the troops took control of Thoppigala, they said the government had provided the LTTE with a safe passage to retreat into the Wanni! Some of them even claimed the LTTE had got money to run away!

It will be interesting to know from the peddlers of that secret pact why the Air Force has finally attacked the LTTE HQ. They owe an explanation to the public. What has become of that agreement? Did they tell the people a diabolical lie? Or, could it be that the government has flouted that agreement? They owe an explanation to the public.

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