A negotiated end to Sri Lanka’s
conflict is still possible but not before the Tigers are
“verifiably demilitarised and democratised,” senior diplomat
Dayan Jayatilleka has said in Geneva.
This is a very sound argument, considering that Tigers have
always negotiated with their weapons intact. They made a mock
show of handing in their weapons after the Indo-Lanka Accord,
but it was never a long-term intention of the Tigers to become a
All Sri Lankan Governments have negotiated with the Tigers in
good faith and never really imposed any conditions on the
terrorist group. No Government has requested them to lay down
arms first and then talk. But the Tigers always took advantage
of this position to backtrack on talks and launch attacks
against the Security Forces.
Time and again, they have shown their lack of enthusiasm for
a negotiated settlement.
This is the simple logic behind Ambassador Jayatilleka’s
argument. The Tigers will never honour any pledge for peace as
long as they remain armed. They are likely to come for
ceasefires and peace talks only to buy time for strengthening
There could be elements in the LTTE who may want to pursue
the path of peace. This was in fact what happened in the case of
the East as Karuna Amman decided that enough was enough and
decided to join the democratic mainstream.
Today, his deputy Pillayan is the Chef Minister of the
Eastern Province. And he did not get this position through the
power of the gun. It was the power of the ballot that took him
It could be the same in the North. It is fairly well known
that some leaders of the LTTE are wary of Prabhakaran’s strategy
of war and violence, even if they do follow his commands. This
is why some say that a LTTE without Prabhakaran or with a
demilitarised Prabhakaran will be a more amenable entity.
The bottom line is that the LTTE must be genuinely interested
in peace for the Government to reciprocate in the dame manner.
The Government is still keeping its doors open for peace talks
with the LTTE.
As long as the LTTE attacks Security Forces and innocent
civilians, the Government will have to take military action
against them. But if they do change their ways and opt for
genuine peace, they can be accommodated in the country’s
All eyes will be on the Food and
Agriculture Organisation Summit which begins today in Rome.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will address the parley, which is
expected to be attended by around 3,000 delegates from UN Member
Earlier, FAO summits were only of academic interest. This
year, it has assumed added significance in the wake of massive
food price hikes around the world. Some countries even witnesses
so-called ‘food riots’.
The food crisis will be one of the main topics at the FAO
Summit, with millions of poor people around the world facing
starvation. Food security will be a prime topic. The poorest
sections have to be protected from the vagaries of food price
hikes. A recent SAARC (South Asian) initiative would be an ideal
answer - a SAARC Food Bank. Each region in the world should have
at least one food bank.
Another major topic will be the impact of climate change on
agriculture. Here in Sri Lanka, we have noticed slight changes
in rainfall patterns and seasons, which can have devastating
effects on agriculture.
The recent rains and consequent floods inundated hundreds of
acres of paddy lands. Likewise, prolonged droughts can also
destroy crops, especially those heavily dependent on water such
as paddy. A temperature rise will also cause damage to crops.
The use of food sources for biofuel production is another
controversial issue. After all, the food grains used for fuel
production can feed millions of hungry people in say, Africa. It
is true that we must find alternatives for petroleum, but
depriving the world of a food source to do so may not be a
It is clear that rich nations have to do more to end hunger.
A recent newspaper report revealed that Japan has ‘rice
mountains’ which can be exported to countries experiencing a
rice shortage. Several Western countries have doubled food aid
but regional groupings in the West can and should do more to
alleviate hunger in less privileged parts of the world.
Technology transfer and better access to agri products from
the Third World are just two ways in which these countries can
Wider cooperation is essential to end the current food crisis
and this FAO Summit can be a precursor in that direction.