Primacy for peace
In what amounts to one of her most cogent public
pronouncements on the need to forge ahead with the process of working
out a political solution to our conflict, President Kumaratunga has
emphasised that not even the possibility of her losing the Presidency
would deter her from carrying out this momentous undertaking. For this
exemplary, courageous resolve, the President is likely to draw accolades
from many. For, peace is finally receiving priority over power.
In view of the fact that power has proved an ineradicable fixation
among the majority of our politicians, even to the point of eclipsing
almost all other considerations, including peace, we consider it
relevant to quote the President in full on this point: "In the process,
the Government may fall, several Ministries might be lost and even I
might lose the Presidency, but those things are not of national
interest, unlike bringing lasting peace to the country."
It is this spirit of self-sacrificial caring which needs to prevail
among our decision-makers, but which has been sadly lacking over the
years. For, power has usually taken primacy over all else, including the
public weal. By adopting this position, the President takes the moral
high ground and exposes the spiritual poverty of her detractors. To be
sure, power and its fleeting plums cannot be allowed to get in the way
of the great undertaking of bringing peace through a political solution
to our conflict.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, particularly over the past two decades,
power and power only has taken primacy over nation-building, which is a
fruit of working out a political solution to the ethnic conflict. For, a
united country at peace with itself is the proof that a nation-building
process is at work. These considerations, however, have not proved to be
of any significance among our major political parties which have cast
the national interest aside and thought it fit to be locked in a
self-destructive struggle for power.
What have been the consequences for all of us, as a result of this
unrelenting power struggle? Unstable governments which are not in a
position to work towards the collective good of Sri Lanka.
Alas for us, even now these political parties do not seem to have
learnt their lessons. Already, the UNP is engaging in wishful thinking
of coming to power by next May Day. The term national interest seems to
have lost all meaning for our principal political parties.
We are duty-bound to tell Lanka's body-politic, once again, that
there is no future for this country without a stable peace. And a
stable, just peace could be built only on an arrangement to share power
between the centre and the regions. Only such an arrangement will cement
Sri Lanka into a united whole and restore peace among its communities.
Those opposing a negotiated, just peace would be only strengthening
the separatist forces in this country. Doesn't it stand to reason that
the loss of hope in a negotiated solution would compel separatist forces
to intensify their struggle for a division of the land?