13th September 1998
47, W. A. D. Ramanayake Mawatha Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo 2.
With every claymore mine explosion killing civilians and military personnel indiscriminately, we are served with the grim reminder that we are dealing with one of the world's most ferocious guerrilla organisations.
The mine was aimed not only at the new civilian Mayor of Jaffna, the Jaffna Town Commander and others, but also at the Government's important task of restoring a civil administration in the Jaffna peninsula.
The attack shows how vulnerable and fragile the peace in Jaffna is. The way the LTTE has infiltrated the Town Hall to lay an explosive device on the ceiling three months ago and set it off by remote control at the time of a VIPs meeting, shows how insecure Jaffna is.
The LTTE had promised UN Special Envoy Olaru Otunnu it would not attack civilian targets, but the Tigers by reneging on it clearly have shown they will not and cannot change their stripes.
Are we then to talk to them? In this yo-yo politics of Sri Lanka now it is the UNP's turn from the opposition to call for "unconditional talks" with the LTTE and for the Kumaratunga administration to say there would be no unconditional talks.
It seems the government is learning from the UNP how to govern and the UNP from the government how to oppose.
The government, the security forces and the people of Sri Lanka have been bitten not proverbially twice but thrice over in going for talks with the LTTE. The Jayewardene administration after Thimpu. President Premadasa during the Hilton honeymoon talks and President Kumaratunga in the afterglow of the massive victory paid a big and bloody price before they saw the two faces of the LTTE or the killer Tiger in the home cats' clothing. The political wing of the LTTE headed by Thamilchelvam puts up a human face while the military wing headed by the elusive Prabhakaran remains faceless.
The problem arises when government troops cannot win this war despite all the gung-ho by different deputy defence ministers of all governments in the past 15 years.
It is something like all the recent US presidents — Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton — taking on Saddam Hussain who continues unrepentent.
Our armed forces have grown in numbers to such an extent that they outnumber the LTTE by ten to one. Our defence expenditure also has swelled by more than ten fold during the past 15 years. But why then can't our forces defeat the LTTE?
We have repeatedly highlighted huge arms deal that have been to the detriment of our Armed Forces.
This week we highlight another arms deal, involving China.
The media expose and the President refers to Komis Kakkas, but matters end there.
We are supposedly a nation at war but parochial politics often takes precedence.
The CID and the NIB are unleashed on independent journalists, judges or political opponents while suicide bombers draw up their devilish plans under their very noses.
How can we defeat the LTTE like this. Military strategies are mapped out to suit political agendas for personal or party gain. The UNP taught the PA how to do it to the detriment of our country.
The bleeding hearts call for peace talks with facilitators, negotiators or third party mediation with a group of terrorists who will stop at nothing but Eelam, a separate state. With whatever odds they face they have shown themselves to be resourceful and resilient enough to fight on and on. While peace talks may be the best way out of this log-jam, we must be realistic enough to accept the bitter truth that unless and until the LTTE is militarily weakened, make no mistake, there will be no peace in this once paradise island.
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