On the eve of the peace talks there
is a rising expectation-quotient in the country. But there is a measure
of caution that accompanies this hope. Both the Norwegians and the
Prime Minister have asked that too much hope should not be invested
in the process so early.
It is a good
question why there is that amount of restraint being shown, and
why there is so much caution that's being sounded. It would be because
they know with whom they are dealing.
From all accounts
that reach us, next week's peace talks will be only a public statement
of positions, and a recounting of the historical aspects of the
conflict followed by the hammering out of an agenda.
will no doubt speak of state terrorism by the government, but he
will be silent on who murdered not just Premadasa and Gandhi, but
also, Duraiappah, Bastiampillai, Amirthalingam, Mr and Mrs Yogeswaran,
Dharmalingam, Maheshwaran, Sabaratnam, Pathmanaba, Tambimuttu, Thiruchelvam
etc., who were all snuffed out in the furtherance of the cause of
the oppressed Tamils of the North and East. We reproduce today Balasingham's
speech made less than a year ago, where he quotes his leader saying,'we
have a working plan - according to this we will bring Jaffna and
Batticaloa under our control. We will do this either through war
with his leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's assertion at the Killinochchi
press conference last April in reply to the question by an Indian
journalist that any one of his cadres is entitled to shoot him the
day he gives up Eelam - no wonder the Norwegians and the Prime Minister
are a bit wary.
All this brings
us to the situation in our own backyard, which seems to be developing
apace while the government talks peace with the outfit we have described
above. The President has scuttled plans by the UNF government to
revamp the army top command. There is a disgraceful situation in
which certain top level meetings in the Defense establishment have
to be interrupted in order to ascertain whether the army commander
will continue to hold that post or not.
While the civilian
high command does not know what is going on in the army, it is sad
to see the level of dissension among the top brass of the army,
navy and police.
There is no
doubt that the President has precipitated some of these situations
in furtherance of what seem to be cheap political objectives, but
that does not completely absolve all parties concerned who have
neglected the forces because there is a lull in the war.
While the LTTE
continues to keep its war machine in fine trim, the government seems
to have given all officers and gentlemen a breather. The going rationalization
at the current time seems to be that the army is for civilians to
run because there is no war on at the moment.
action in granting extension to those forces chiefs who are past
the age of 55 will effectively keep some of the others from ever
being able to hold the top positions in their respective forces.
do much for morale but what is worse is the fact that the infighting
in the forces is spilling over to the public arena, sending out
a bad signal that the so called disciplined forces are allowed to
be run in a free-for-all manner by a civilian command during peacetime.
Men who have made genuine sacrifices would ask themselves what they
have been fighting for, if the political high command cannot grasp
the command structure requirements of the armed forces still technically
The armed forces
of our country should not be an instrument for politicians to play
their own little power games with. If there is war again, all these
war games in Colombo will be over and the price this nation will
have to pay will be indescribable.