by Rajkumar Sivapatham, Harrow, UK.
As the JVP and SLFP find out how difficult it is to be in government and to find a peaceful solution to the civil war, events are moving elsewhere. The promises and charges that UFPA has laid against the UNF government have returned to haunt the PA and the JVP in particular. The JVP is getting to know the hard way that peace in Sri Lanka means accepting certain things which were accepted by the UNF and the International community. Whether they will learn from this or not is the million-dollar question. They know now that just because they cried “No LTTE, No Norway, No ISGA and Come in India”, they are not going to happen. To understand this fully and to become a national party, they have to come out of the Buddhist Sinhala extremist straitjacket.
The President has made her job tough by trying to satisfy the extremist elements and trying to find peace with the LTTE. As if it were not hard enough for her, she is also trying to change the constitution to ensure her own political future. For that, she will probably have no friends other than Mr. Kadirkamar and Mr. Devananda. Every one who can become president wants the presidency to be intact and wants her out as soon as possible. This applies to everyone, including her brother, the Prime Minister and even Mr. Weerawansa. This is politics and it is a funny old world.
As far as the peace process is concerned, the donor countries have made it clear that there should be progress in the peace talks before they release any money. The UFPA government, with its desire to isolate and weaken the Tamils and LTTE, tries to create unrest in the east. It hopes that it will certainly drag the LTTE into a conflict and resumption of war, which is desired by the extremists in the South. As there will be no tangible military help forthcoming from the Western countries, the UFPA heavily relies on India. The question is: how far India can be dragged into the conflict for the advantage of the UFPA? India has made it clear now that only a federal system of government will save Sri Lanka. If the LTTE and the Tamils are advocating such a system, why would India want to oppose it? India is reluctant to get involved in the peace process now. Given that, how eager is India to get involved into a war in Sri Lanka? Even when the LTTE was knocking at the door of Jaffna after overrunning Elephant Pass, India was only willing to "evacuate" the SL army, if the need had arisen. Here again, nothing is certain in this world.
In another development, Central Minister T.R. Balu has announced that the Sethusamuthiram project will start soon. One has to wait and see whether it will really start or not. However, the fact is that the UNF government in Sri Lanka tried hard to get that project dumped. It had agreed in principle with the BJP government to build a bridge between India and Sri Lanka, in order to make sure this project is dumped for ever. It is interesting that the Congress government allowed Mr. T. R. Balu to make that announcement when the BJP could not do that for its Tamil allies. It should be noted that T. R. Balu was part of the BJP government, too. With Sonia Gandhi in the actual driving seat of the Congress Party, is the attitude towards the southern neighbour changing in India? Or, has the Congress government with its formidable leader found courage to do things when BJP could not do? How does one interpret the Indian willingness to help the LTTE-controlled areas? Is it a genuine desire to reach out to the Tamils and the LTTE or one of those things to get intelligence operatives in the area? It is a funny old world.
In the absence of a genuine desire for finding peace by the Sinhalese leaders, the donor countries including the US, Japan and EU are putting pressure on the SL government to re-start the peace talks. Whether the government wants to put the brakes till 10th of July or not, these countries are the ones that want to see a peaceful solution in Sri Lanka. They have even accepted that the solution should be in a federal form and with individual freedom, ensuring the rights of Muslims. Japan’s envoy has even stated that the talks should be on the ISGA. But the Sinhalese rulers are reluctant to accept this, while wanting to get funds from these countries. Most of these countries had banned the LTTE, the representatives of the Tamils, after the campaign by the then and current foreign minister of Sri Lanka. Yet, they have the same view as the LTTE on how to find a peaceful solution in Sri Lanka. It is a funny old world.
In the good old days when the former Eastern commander of the LTTE enjoyed the respect, freedom and trust of the leader of the LTTE and the Tamils, he was the de facto deputy leader of LTTE and visited many countries. He also met many world leaders and intellectuals. Call it a change in planetary aspects or a rush of blood, but the fortunes have changed now. He may be in a Sri Lankan Army camp getting food and freedom only in return to his "services." It is a funny old world.
Posted June 7, 2004