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A remarkable transformation

The just concluded SAARC summit had its share of diversions and sideshows, chief among which no doubt was the presence of one time LTTE fighter and now Chief Minister of the Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan pictured among the galaxy of invitees at the opening sessions of the Summit.

Of course he was an invitee in his capacity as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province but what would have been inescapable to the keen observer was the mind boggling paradox.

Nobody would have been faulted if they had juxtaposed an image of the one time rebel donned in battle fatigues hiding in his jungle trenches with the picture that he sported at the SAARC ceremonies as displayed in press photos of the event.

It certainly is a mindboggling transformation that few would have imagined possible given the background of his previous avatar. We are of course referring to the press photos of Chandrakanthan who was seen hobnobbing and rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in a rarefied atmosphere of the SAARC Summit.

It was certainly the stuff for the movies especially in this part of the world where the tales of rags to riches and the triumph of the underdog over the mighty and powerful are the staple.

Who would have imagined that a member of a terror outfit dedicated to the ushering a separate state would deign to symbolise the very sovereign unified state he opposed not very long ago, by his presence before a gathering of regional leaders giving the stamp of endorsement to the concept of one Sri Lanka.

Also who would have imagined an ex-LTTE who was fighting the Army in the jungles of the East would one day discard his fatigues and be seen in the company of world leaders amidst and pomp and glitter of an international event. This alone tells a tale of its own.

That is that opportunity beckons those who give up terrorism and mend their ways. Chandrakanthan has more than mended his ways. He has sloughed off all vestiges of his former life and embraced the path of democracy, contested elections and is now a Chief Minister.

One of the first acts he performed after assuming office was to pay homage at the Sacred Tooth Relic.

There are many parallels with his saga if one cares to look around. Robert Mugabe was a guerrilla fighter during the bush war days in the former Rhodesia.

The South African icon Nelson Mandela was a freedom fighter and served a long prison term before eventually assuming the leadership of his country.

Closer home we have the example of Prachanda the head of Maoist guerrilla outfit, who is today calling the shots in Nepal. All this goes to show that the sky is the limit for those who shun terrorism and pick up the pieces of civilian life.

This could be an ideal lesson to those in the LTTE who are still engaged in a futile war against the Lankan state. For as seen in all the above cases the protagonists eventually relented and had greatness thrust upon them.

The image of the one time LTTE stalwart decked in his finery enjoying the glow of fame and honour among world statesmen it is hoped would carry a lesson to those bent on the path of terrorism.

It is hoped this benign picture of the former hardcore militant would leave a lasting impact on the remaining LTTE cadres to rethink their options. Already the Government has put in motion numerous projects to ensure the welfare of the all LTTE surrrendees.

This includes vocational training programmes to enable them to obtain overseas employment. Rehabilitated terrorist cadres are welcome to join the political mainstream and savour the fruits of democracy.

From there onwards the sky is the limit to work their way to prominence and assume the role of leadership that would propel them to greatness.

Not long ago we had a former leader offering a 10 year rule of the Northern Province to the Tiger leader.

Had he grasped this opportunity he would have been in a similar or a much elevated position to the one his erstwhile comrade in the East now enjoys.

Even at this late stage it is hoped that the LTTE leader would see sense and seize the opportunities afforded by the Government to enter the democratic way of life because it will only be a question of time before his outfit is annihilated given the frenetic pace of the military juggernaut closing on his lair.

Colombo SAARC Summit: A forum of faith

SRI LANKA stood dragged towards a terrorist conflict. India appeared sliding again to experience terror. Pakistan and Afghanistan engaged in combat in their respective nations, to halt constant terrorist explosions. Nepal struggling for political supremacy after two decades of violence.

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Beijing Olympics:

One World, One Dream

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be held from August 8th to 24th. Athletes, referees and spectators from all over the world will be in Beijing under the slogan “one world, one dream”.

Full Story

 

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