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Sound proposition for Opposition

ALL well-meaning and peace-loving persons and sections, besides the State, are likely to be encouraged by the sentiment voiced by religious and business leaders at a meeting recently with President Mahinda Rajapaksa that all political parties must extend their unconditional support to the Government in these challenging times.

The sentiment was expressed against the backdrop of the President's invitation to the UNP to cooperate with the Government in resolving the National Question. It is, of course, our conviction too that the UNP and the rest of the political Opposition should help the Government in the task of settling the ethnic conflict by political means.

We are happy to note that responsible sections of our polity - such as the religious and business leaders - think in the same terms on these questions. We hope they will help propagate the message over the length and breadth of Sri Lanka that earnest efforts by the Government to resolve our conflict should be supported by all.

As in the case of the country's numerous clergy, the business community too interacts closely with the people. Time and again business leaders have made it clear that if the best is to emerge from our people, there needs to be peace and harmony in our country.

A conflict-ridden country not only dampens a society's economic prospects but kills a people's spirit and has a deleterious impact on their productivity. A discouraged people cannot be expected to take a country along the path of prosperity. This is a truth which cannot be disputed.

Therefore, we call on our political Opposition to delay no further, but actively and willingly cooperate with the State in taking the country to a bright future.

The question is: for how long more are opposition parties in particular, hoping to exploit the National Question to their short-term benefit? It should be plain to them that delays in resolving the conflict by political means only helps the LTTE. The LTTE is in no hurry because a Sri Lanka which is endemically in turmoil serves their purposes well.

The Tigers take double-delight in a Southern Sri Lanka which is at cross-purposes. Such a situation comes about when the major political forces of the South ruthlessly undermine each others efforts at bringing peace.

Accordingly, if the UNP, the country's major Opposition party, continues to blow hot and cold on the peace process, it would be only helping the LTTE - national enemy number one.

Let there be no more dangerous dilly-dallying, is our plea. The major political parties of the country should close ranks with the State to work out a lasting political solution to our conflict.

Twenty five years of war and bloodshed should convince our polity that only Sri Lanka would be the loser from delays to resolve the conflict. Let us reverse this sad situation and take the country to an era of prosperity which will make every Sri Lankan a winner.

It should be realised that a bright future awaits us. The Commonwealth Finance Ministers' Meeting which would be held in Colombo in a few days time, would help underscore this fact. We are a country brimming with economic promise but all our hopes would fall asunder if the conflict is allowed to drag on.

Let there be a united and sustained effort to pull Lanka out of this rut.

Captains Courageous

THE country is finally being led by a new set of leaders who wish to assert its sovereignty. Previous leaders did their best to convince the people that buckling under the LTTE threats was the road to survival. They failed to say it was their personal survival that they were thinking of. Our soldiers in common with other South Asian nations are neither going to Iraq nor are they interested in chewing gum or religious revivals.

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Lankawata mama adarai

I love Sri Lanka. I already miss Sri Lanka. I have been in Sri Lanka for eight months and planned to be here for another four. But this morning I received news that I must leave the country in two weeks.

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No, not through religion

Whoever advised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to have a meeting with Muslim religious leaders did not serve him well. One, there is no recognised religious leader in the community. There are only a few institutions ploughing a lonely furrow. Two, the influence of religious leaders is more negative than positive. They issue too many fatwas which evoke controversy, not consensus.

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