The importance of Karuna to the LTTE
Cutting through all the country's multifarious problems, ranging from dengue to provincial elections, to rising crime to rising prices, the northern insurgency succeeds in drawing our attention, once again.

The Norwegian special envoy was here once again to meet the two warring parties in this two decade and more long conflict. And once again, he left our shores empty handed. This time, the LTTE deflected the issue in a new direction. As both, our Political Editor and Defence Analyst say in these pages, the guerrilla leaders brought out the Karuna factor as the one and only item on the agenda. Everything else, went into abeyance - in the backburner for another day. It is quite natural that the LTTE would be upset over the fact that the Government in Colombo, and the military high command were handling the breakaway guerrilla leader from the East in a way that would be to the detriment of their organisation.

They have made a song and dance over the issue, saying they cannot trust the Sri Lanka Army, and kept away from joint meetings between the two to maintain the Ceasefire. As a reaction to all this, the Government spokesman made a mess of things by making contradictory statements about the UPFA government's role in the saga, and the incumbent Army Commander paid the price for providing ' protective custody ' to this ruthless fugitive. All this in what was a strained effort to placate the leadership in the Wanni jungles.The fact that the LTTE wants the Karuna factor sorted out is understandable in more ways than just a case of wounded pride. There surely is more to this.

Their entire drum-beat of being the sole representatives of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka has taken a terrific beating by this split in their ranks. Without the backing of the Eastern Tamils - all those Tamils residing in Trincomalee, Batticaloa and up to Ampara, the platform of the LTTE claim falls apart.

This organisation is already challenged for exclusive rights over the Tamils by one-time militant groups now in the democratic mainstream like the EPDP led by Minister Douglas Devananda. Elements in the mainstream TULF like V. Anandasangaree, its embattled President have joined forces with the like-minded EPDP, and have formed a Common anti-LTTE Front. Mr. Anadasangaree has left for Europe and together with sections of the anti-LTTE Tamil diaspora, they are drumming up support to counter the LTTE. On the other side, Tamil politicians belonging to the TNA have taken their campaign to win legitimacy for the LTTE on to the world stage.

Next week, TNA MPs R. Sambandan and Gajan Ponnambalam, now in Washington DC have been granted an interview with the US Under Secretary of State for South Asia, Ms.Christina Rocca. Their special assignment; to request the US to lift the ban on the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. Coming as it does in this background, it is clear that the LTTE is in disarray, their only card - the deadly suicide strike. They desperately want to get over their problems over the Karuna factor. In this context, what is it that the government must do? Undoubtedly, the government cannot behave like a terrorist organisation. And yet, which government in the world doesn't behave like a terrorist organization when dealing with terrorists?

It would seem that the government has been in two (or more) minds, unsure how to handle the LTTE split. It happened during an election campaign, and it was like hot potato that fell on the lap of the new government. Confused, to an extent frightened, the government found scape-goats and valiantly washed its hands off.

From what we see, there seems to be no way the government is capable of handling a covert operation in using the Karuna factor to the country's advantage in its fight against separatism. The only visible answer seems to be to let him loose as a political entity, and hope, that even if it does not pose much of a military threat to the LTTE, it would at least challenge it in the East, politically, very much the same way the EPDP is doing its job in the North. That of course, would only prove its worth if there are elections, not sham elections, but genuine, free and fair polls in the East. These polls are envisaged in a 'final solution' to the proposed negotiations with the LTTE, which bring us to the next question - where do the proposed negotiations stand right now?

There is some confusion that the LTTE has dropped its demand - or never had it in the first place - to make the ISGA ( the interim self-governing authority) as the “basis" for talks. We are now informed that the LTTE simply wants " an interim authority " in place, not necessarily ISGA, and they would welcome a counter proposal from the government, which we sincerely hope remains the critique of the ISGA made by the PA in November last year.

The fear in the 'south' is that any "an interim authority", and certainly ISGA is a fait accompli to a separate state. But the Karuna factor has overtaken these events for the moment, and we once again urge this government not to continue making the mistakes of the past, and to have a wider think-tank, map out scenarios (like the Karuna factor), collate Intelligence more professionally, study what the LTTE says and does, and generally, have a more microscopic look at the organisation, and how best to deal with it in the months ahead.

No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka.
Tel: 2326247, 2328889, 2433272-3. Fax: 2423922, 2423258
Editor - editor@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
News - stnews@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
Features - features@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
Financial Times- ft@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
Subs Desk - subdesk@sundaytimes.wnl.lk,
Funday Times - funtimes@wijeya.lk

No. 48, Parkway Building, Park Street, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka
Tel: 0115330330, 0115330808, 0115330808. Fax: 2314864
Email: adve@lankabellnet.com


No. 47, W.A.D. Ramanayake Mawatha, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka.
Tel: 2435454, 2448322, 0114714252. Fax: 2459725

Back to Top  Back to Index  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to