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Government Gazette

Western double standards

On June 23, Saturday, the American and NATO supported (and installed) President of Afghanistan Ahmed Karzai said the following.

He was upset over the deaths of civilians caught in the middle of fighting between coalition US led troops and militant fighters.

“The disproportionate use of force to a situation and the lack of coordination with the Afghan Government is causing these casualties,” Karzai said.

“You don’t fight a terrorist by firing a field gun some 30 kilometres away into a target. That is definitely surely bound to cause civilian casualties.”

Those are pretty harsh words coming from a man installed (and preferred) by the British and the US regimes in their fight against Taleban rebels and al-Qaeda terrorists.

There have been many innocent civilian casualties caused by the forces armed with the most sophisticated weapons guidance systems, intelligence gathering, electronics and best trained forces in the world.

According to President Karzai, an incident where 25 civilians were killed occurred when NATO Forces came under fire in a village at around sunset and then the NATO Forces went and bombed the village late night.

He asked the question ‘why?’ Even the US military admitted confirm that seven children died when they bombed a building in the Eastern Afghanistan where al-Qaeda fighters were believed to have gathered.

According to International press reports on CNN and BBC, Karzai stated “They cannot bring standards from their countries in the West and try to apply it in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a different country.

It has different values systems. It has a different community structure. From now onward, they have to work the way we ask them to work in here. That’s the line.”

Karzai’s remarks reflect growing unease among Afghans at the rising civilian death toll as foreign troops continue efforts to rid the country of Taliban.

Will the US Ambassador and the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka who are critical of accidental civilian casualties be able to spin this news or explain away/rebut these harsh criticisms from their own man in Afghanistan?

Teaching English through media

There is much discussion about the parlous state of proficiency in the English language among the students in particular and adults in general.

There are many English lessons in the print and electronic media.

I happened to watch one such programme telecast over a State TV channel recently. Several glaring blunders in simple English grammar and usage were noted by me in these programmes.

In the programme on May 15 the sentence ‘floods affects our daily life’ was used to illustrate the use of Simple Present Tense.

In another instant the presenter used the expression, “I hope there is no any problem.” The programme telecast on May 29, on greetings etc, the lady presenter obviously presumed the expression “How do you do” to be a question and as a response she used “I am well”.

She did not know the difference between “How are you?” which calls for the response “I’m well” and “How do you do?” which is a polite response by both parties on being introduced to each other.

The SLRC lessons are avidly followed by GCE (O/L) students and others interested in learning English.

Therefore it is imperative that care be taken to present correct grammar and usage.

These programmes should be conducted and prepared by competent individuals. Otherwise great harm is done to young learners by presenting such howlers.

Sometime back too, I had the occasion to write to the SLRC about this for which they apologised.

Fruit wasted

Nowadays anybody knows that the fruit trees are full of fruits during the Vesak season starting after the Sinhala-Hindu New Year festival.

Our countrymen are fond of having a fruit tree in their home garden and so they get improved varieties of fruit plants from elsewhere and plant them in the home garden.

A person who walks on rural roads nowadays can observe that the road under the fruit trees are covered with plenty of rotten fruits such as mango, jak, rambutan etc. It seems that nobody is harvesting these fruits and nutritious and delicious agricultural products are wasted.

The problems faced by the community may be that they are unable to get a person to pluck the fruits and difficulties in protecting fruits from wild animals such as monkeys and owls etc. I have a problem whether there is a market for these products as well. Especially there are avenues for preparing chutney; jam and cordial etc. by using mango.

The country is not making use of the fruits for the said productions and improves the economy. I see that the raw fruits are purchased only from large plantation for value added industries.

The perished fruits lying on the roads have caused environment pollution as well.

The Department of Agriculture and Industrial Development board have the technology for making use of fruits for value added industries.

The people should be trained and educated on making use of fruits and shown them the market opportunities by the authorities concerned.

It is very important to create awareness on nutritional value of locally grown fruits rather than imported costly varieties available in the market.

Elders in our society

I refer to an article appeared in last week’s newspaper regarding the above subject.

Age-old people are senior citizens of every country whom we have to look at with due respect, honour and dignity. It’s very unfair to treat them disgracefully since they are old and may be a little nuisance, perhaps.

People who belong to younger generation and have this mentality must think that one fine day they too will have to climb the same ladder of time which certainly makes them also old. How do we regard if a tender leaf sarcastically laughs at a withered leaf!

The present, overlooking the past, cannot be healthy and helpful in the long run. Similarly, the younger generation trying to overlook the elderly people without paying due respect to them is unacceptable and not conducive.

The article under reference reveals that elderly people are not allowed to open gates or doors when some visitors arrive.

Because of some exceptional cases, entire populations of elderly people must not be penalised.

I don’t think, in general, we cannot find most suitable people to receive visitors than elderly folks since they can easily and comfortably identify the visitors better than others. In conclusion, I appeal to all concerned to treat our elderly senior citizens with due respect for they are instrumental for existence of the younger generation.

Abduction of Muslims

The ordinary Muslim citizen needs to know the veracity of the rumours spreading about abductions of Muslim businessmen.

A Sunday Newspaper (not of the Lake House group) even quoted the exact sums of money paid as ransom.

However the figures mentioned against certain businessmen create doubts as to the authenticity of the news items as apparently the ransom money extracted in some cases exceed the businessmen’s networth on the face of it.

Rumours spread like wildfire even engulfing the Sri Lankan Muslim diaspora in several countries.

Suddenly Sri Lanka appeared to be a dangerous place and many leading Muslim businessmen were reported to be packing up seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

The UNP which was in limbo and in a state of slumber awakened to the smell of a new opportunity to tarnish the Government. They even threatened street protests against the Government if enough was not done to protect Muslim businessmen.

On the other hand Government Ministers played down the issue dismissing the rumours as baseless and unfounded.

The truth is as reiterated by the Minister Fowzi there were a few abductions but the matter was blown out of proportion by various interested elements and mischief makers.

The President and others in the Government who matter have assured adequate security to Muslim businessmen. It is also reported that the President has instructed authorities concerned to investigate all complaints regarding abduction and demand for ransom and bring the culprits to book.

Therefore, Muslims should not panic but trust in god and tie the camel as prophetic wisdom enjoined.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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