The visit of India's Foreign Minister Inder Kumar Gujral provides an opportunity for both countries, especially our big neighbour, to take effective steps to put Indo-Lanka ties on a friendlier and firmer footing.
Good neighbourly relations in today's global village perspectives are next in importance only to godliness. Thus we hope that steps would be taken to ensure that what happened in the eighties will never happen again.
India in those bad old days of not so long ago gave political and financial support to the LTTE and other militant groups to destabilise Sri Lanka and create havoc among its people and the economy.
Happily for Sri Lanka, India's policy towards Sri Lanka has turned for the better. Ironically it was J. R. Jayewardene who did the turn by signing the notorious Indo-Lanka Accord. That made the LTTE go against India - the hand that fed it. The LTTE killed Rajiv Gandhi for having Velupillai Prabhakaran fingerprinted and for sending the IPKF to crush the terrorists.
Since then India has adopted a detached position, occasionally helping the Sri Lanka government. In one instance, New Delhi passed information to destroy an arms ship carrying the LTTE's No. 2 Kittu. But otherwise India has given what is at best non-commital passive support.
Mr. Gujral like his predecessors after 1987 has said Sri Lanka's problem is Sri Lanka's own internal problem and India will not interfere.
That is not enough. If India created Sri Lanka's current internal problem, it must help resolve it. That must be done by giving all support to crush the LTTE insurgency here.
Without that, there is no purpose in talking of devolution and democratic politics in Tamil speaking areas of the North and East.
Mr. Gujral is a pacifist so he's not popular in India's north block (Defence Ministry). RAW, India's CIA is not happy with him either.
What is needed is a new Indo-Lanka Friendship Treaty based on mutual co-operation to replace the un-popular and one sided Indo-Lanka Accord which was forced down our collective throats in 1987.
Sri Lanka gave a draft to India sometime ago, but there has been little or no response. Merely saying India will not interfere in Sri Lanka's internal affairs now is not enough. Having interfered, India must undo the damage it inflicted on its southern neighbour.
The government's decision to appoint a committee to probe the shocking incidents of child prostitution in Sri Lanka, coupled with the closure of 30 illegal orphanages (Page1 lead story) will be welcomed by all decent people.
In recent months The Sunday Times and other media have exposed cases such as the Beruwela horror where children under the age of 12 have been used to satisfy the pleasures of depraved foreigners. It was indeed tragic to realise that the paedophile racket that is shaking Europe has also spread even to unspoilt Sri Lankan villages where poor children are being physically and emotionally massacred by sadists, mostly dirty old men from the west.
But we have seen enough and more of all sorts of committees and their widely publicised reports, without the all important dimension of effective implementation. Child prostitution, with all the other trauma this country is undergoing, looms as a cancer eating into our future generation and every step must be taken to check and correct it. And each such step by the government will be supported all the way by us and the public at large.
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