Rajpal's Column

7th May 2000

Let history be the judge of what's 'national interest'

By Rajpal Abeynayake

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That's obvious, not from statements made in the media, but from assessments of high level government representatives such as Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who told CNN clearly " I make no bones about it, Elephant Pass was a setback.''

In this context, determining the exact fate Censored Censored Censored in the Jaffna peninsula is in the national interest. The military high command ultimately decides Censored Censored Censored , and that cannot be contradicted. But, it's in the best national interest to ensure that the hierarchy of the defence establishment arrives at the correct decision.

All other factors in the long term become marginal or irrelevant, and this decision becomes now the most pertinent one in the current national impasse. 

It has to be conceded, going on the Foreign Minister's very clear statement that "Elephant Pass was a setback'' that the forces somehow did not come upto scratch in the praxis of defending territory . Four wells which sustained the Elephant Pass garrison were blasted, and that in very plain terms meant 

. It also could mean, as Reuter report quoted in full in the Midweek Mirror stated yesterday, that "Sri Lankan troops are under imminent threats from the advancing LTTE troops in the peninsula.'' 

To reiterate, the same could be the position of the forces faced with the developing situation in Jaffna. It would be ludicrous to use censorship to conceal the status quo in the peninsula, because the government has already asked for military aid from India, on the President's own admission.

It's in the national interest at least from the Sri Lankan government point of view to size up the shortcomings of the Sri Lankan troops, Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored . This state of affairs is obvious, 

There is also the little question of letting the taxpayer and the citizen know exactly what is going on in the theatre of war; the process of ensuring accountability which is the responsibility of all members of civil society.

The few weeks that are to follow will probably be studied with a fine tooth comb and a microscope in history. Decisive weeks, they will be. 

Whether "national interest'' was considered as far as the troops in Jaffna were concerned, will all be grist for the mill of historians, perhaps of a coming generation. 

But without waiting for history to be the ultimate judge, 

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