4th March 2001

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Post LTTE ban

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar rightfully deserves thekudos for persuading the British to recommend the ban of the LTTE . An additional hand is due for having taken the initiative to ensure that international anti terrorism legislation is expedited.

Terrorism is becoming a particularly worrisome international malaise, and non-entities are becoming somebodies due to the international politics of terror.

The collateral beneficiaries are not just terrorists but also arms merchants. Entire groups of nations are in the habit of being arms purveyors to terrorist organizations, while preaching the peace and pretending to be pacifist.

The Contra deals and Irangate, to take a leaf from the foreign policy book of the US in a not-so distant past, showed the clout of the superpower arms bazaar of the world, and the murkiness that inheres in its operation.

Viewed in this backdrop, the extent of global terrorism is mind boggling. The British for instance, have lived with the terror of the IRA in its backyard, which is why it is inconceivable that Britain wouldn't enact anti terrorism legislation that would signal an end to the free run of organizations such as the LTTE. However, it is also circumspect to remember that the ban is still not law until given the assent by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

In retrospect, the LTTE has, apart from accounting for a slice of labour votes in and around London perhaps, been a terrorist organization which lost all credibility in its attempt to pose off as a group of freedom fighters.

Despite the full chronology of terror against innocent civilians the singularly crassly cold - blooded act of murdering Neelan Tiruchelvam, an intellectual with an international reputation to reckon with, could not possibly have been taken kindly by the higher echelons of the British political establishment for instance.

What's necessary now is the follow up action that should accompany the proscription of the Tigers in the UK. A cosmetic ban will be meaningless in the UK as well as in Norway, Germany, France and Switzerland why are the dragging their collective feet? Tangible measures should be taken to send out a clear signal that terrorism does not pay for any of its purveyors in this day and age.

Taliban ballistics.

The Foreign Ministry's good mood about the banning of the LTTE is bound to have been rudely shaken by the news that the trigger happy Taleban is to demolish Buddha statues which are deemed to be "offensive to Islam.''

The United States and UK will doubtless out-bomb Kabul's insistence on going ahead with the plan to bomb the Buddha statues, despite the obvious offense to international religious sensitivities.

Some good that has come out of the whole imbroglio in which the Foreign Ministry finds itself enmeshed in, is the support it seems to have received from the responsible Muslim community here in Sri Lanka.

Petty parochialism has not clouded the thinking of local Muslim organizations, and the obscurantist Taleban line seems to have been well exposed by the Muslims here who have shown that a certain sense of enlightenment probably is a corollary to existing in a pluralistic multi - cultural society such as ours.

On a philosophical level at least, it's interesting to note that a key Taleban cleric has questioned what the fuss is all about, because the Taleban is "only demolishing some stones.''

It's better to turn that argument on the flip side and ask how "a quarry of stones'' became so important, that the Taleban has had to resort to dynamite? The Taleban having spurned an offer from a US museums to purchase the statues shows its colours. Religio-cultural hegemony is the core issue here, and not granite.

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