6th July 1997

47, W. A. D. Ramanayake Mawatha Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo 2.
Telex:21266 LAKEXPO CE
EDITORIAL OFFICE Tel: 326247,328889, 433272-3 Fax: 423258, 423922
ADVERTISING OFFICE Tel: 328074, 438037
CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 10, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. Tel 435454, 548322

A beggar’s wound

July jinx

A beggar’s wound

“Operation Jaya Sikurui” (or Victory Assured), which was designed to link up the Jaffna peninsula with the government controlled northern province has been temporarily stalled as a direct result of two LTTE counter attacks.

The re-opening of this route was expected to yield political benefits in the battle for the hearts and minds of the Tamil polity. This would also have had significant effect in marginalising the LTTE.

Political pronouncements also forecast that with the success of “Operation Jaya Sikurui” the war would be over, come end of 1997.

The government relied heavily on the military successes of this operation to put into place its political agenda towards the northern conflict. This is tantamount to putting the cart before the horse. Surely a tangible political programme should have been in place in tandem with the military operation.

The history of the separatist war is that there has been no political options which would be the logical culmination of the military effort. That this was not so reflects the void in our national politics.

In the absence of a viable political agenda, the stalling of “Operation Jaya Sikurui”, however temporary it may be, has put the ball back to square one. As importantly, any politico-military initiative the operation hoped to gain has not resulted in any significant setback to the LTTE position as the indispensable factor for any political negotiation.

The government also would have hoped that a successful completion of the Vavuniya-Kilinochchi link up would create the correct political mood to present the devolution package to the public.

As things stand now, it would appear that it is unlikely that the fuller aims of the operation will be accomplished before the onset of the north east monsoon. This would mean that the war would continue into the next year and at the same time give the LTTE and Velupillai Prabhakaran a much needed respite.

The government would have hoped to reap the fallout of “Operation Jaya Sikurui” to put into effect its political programmes well before the next hustings which is a little over two years away.

The prevailing impasse re-confirms the Clausewitzian philosophy that war is an extension of politics. This requires objective and clearly defined political and military strategies. Thus indeed, unless the government and the political leaders of all parties get their act together, the country may be unfortunately destined to have the war continue as a political beggar’s wound.

July jinx

Fourteen years after the ‘Black July’, the war and the political poll-vaults are continuing but thankfully majority of Sri Lankan people have matured to see this conflict in proper perspective.

In 1983, the murderous arson and looting was largely the work of hired political gangs and fiery pseudo patriots but they were able to go on the rampage because of inaction both by the government and the people. Perhaps it was because many people then saw it as just a Sinhala-Tamil conflict. Today most people are aware of its horrendous ramifications here and abroad — involving multi-million dollar international arms dealers, drug traffickers and other notorious elements who get rich on the blood, sweat and tears of the people.

While the people have a proper awareness now, they also need to be alert to the machinations of the evil forces that still want to provoke some bloody backlash to achieve their own ends. Thus everyone needs to cooperate with the police and security forces in maintaining high security during this ‘Black July’ anniversary month. On their part, the security forces, difficult as their task may be, must ensure that the law or even emergency regulations are basically used humanely to help people rather than to harass or humiliate them.

Go to the Political Column

Return to the Editorial/Opinion contents page

Go to the Editorial Archive