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DateLine Tuesday, 1 January 2008

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Government Gazette

An end to terrorism

The new year was ushered in last night with the lighting of fire crackers, dances, and other forms of merriment and celebrations by the well to do sections of society in the cities while in other parts of the country affected by the ethnic conflict the picture would no doubt have been a grim one with people living amidst fear of exploding bombs and the ever present threat to life and limb.

It is in this light that the confidence expressed by the three Armed Forces Chiefs on completely defeating terrorism in the new year would have been received with a huge sigh of relief by all citizens yearning for peace not to mention those who have borne the brunt of the three decades long civil war.

According to our lead story yesterday the Forces Chiefs had declared 2008 as the year of Prabhakaran's waterloo indicating that the remaining LTTE fighters numbering nearly 2,000 would be eliminated, citing the course of the battle now fought in earnest inside the Tiger heartland.

There is no reason to doubt the claims by the Service Chiefs given the unprecedented success achieved in the battlefield over the past year particularly the liberation of the entire Eastern Province from the grip of the LTTE. If all goes well on the military front as predicted by the Service Chiefs 2008 could well be a turning point in the history of the ethnic conflict which could see the dawn of peace with the ridding of the cancer of terrorism that had bedeviled this nation for over three decades.

The Government may well face many challenges from LTTE sympathizers both here and abroad not to mention the international human rights lobby once the heat is turned on in all intensity. These elements may try to pull out all stops to stall the killer punch delivered to the outfit.

We have seen this happen in the past eg. the Vadamarachchi operation not to entertain any views to the contrary. It is hoped that those at the helm will not be detracted as a result of these machinations and forge ahead with single minded purpose.

We are certain that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be equal to the task in giving leadership to the final phase of this war that had bled the country for over three decades.

The defeat of the LTTE should be accompanied by a political package that would satisfy the aspirations of all moderate Tamils and hopefully the new year would usher in an era of unity and brotherhood among all communities that was witnessed during the time the country gained independence.

That was an era where race and ethnic boundaries had no place in the Lankan polity and relations were marked by harmonious coexistence. There should be efforts to build bridges into the hearts and minds of our Tamil brethren if the country is to benefit from the anticipated return to peace in the new year.

The Government on its part should aspire to consolidate on this achievement and put in place the necessary mechanism to empower and assuage the feelings of the minority communities so that the old wounds and bitter rancour would not resurface again.

The APRC should be activated and mandated to come out with a reasonable package to meet the demands of all communities. It is time the UNP and the JVP put aside parochial considerations and re-enter the process for it is vital that we put up united front is solving this most vexed problem confronting the nation.

In addition the development programmes earmarked for the East should be implemented speedily so that the long suffering public would reap the immediate fruits of the return to peace.

It is heartening to note that the Government is taking measures to ameliorate the conditions of the economically deprived by addressing the problem of the soaring cost of living in a meaningful way. While the people would condone the high cost of living in the midst of the Government's genuine efforts to defeat the LTTE, a safety net should be worked out to protect the most vulnerable sections of society.

The New Year no doubt is going to be an year of many challenges for Sri Lanka which has been in the international radar as never before and it is hoped the Government would be equal to these challenges while also resolving to take the country forward on the path of progress and development surmounting all obstacles.

Government turns to new directions

Sri Lanka sorely needs aid from abroad for her developmental and infrastructure building activities which the government says will continue simultaneously with the war against terrorism. That is why Mahinda Rajapaksa is looking elsewhere.

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Beyond Pakistan's 9/11

Benazir Bhutto's assassination on December 27, 2007 virtually amounts to Pakistan's 9/11. As the country was rattled by shock, disbelief and outrage, Baitullah Mehsud, Al Qaeda's chief in Pakistan, and a cleric in Waziristan were congratulating each other on Bhutto's killing, as indicated by the transcript of a telephonic conversation between the two released by the government on Friday.

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