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
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
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
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.