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Sunday, 11 January 2009

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Road to Jaffna

With the capture of Elephant Pass by the Security Forces, the road to Jaffna is now open. Tigers are now cornered to a small area, in the Mullaitivu district. The battle for liberation of the Vanni from the clutches of terrorism is over in the main.

The total liberation of the land controlled by them is only a matter of time which no longer would be counted in years. It’s a matter of weeks.

The Sunday Observer joins the vast multitude of the Sri Lankan people in saluting the war heroes for this remarkable achievement. It has shattered all the myths about the invincibility of Tigers and the put to shame their military strategy.

While full control of the A-9 Kandy-Jaffna Road has great military importance, its economic significance is even greater. It is the Main Supply Route (MSR) from the south to the north and vice versa.

Its opening would pave the way for free flow of goods and services between all regions of the country. Unlike in the days of the Ceasefire Agreement there would be no extortion of money from its users by unlawful elements.

Traditionally A-9 has been the conduit for goods from Jaffna to reach Colombo. Kilinochchi was the transit hub where southern and northern traders exchanged their products.

People in the north would have a sigh of relief as prices of goods and services, including those of essential items would come down considerably.

This is the most tangible immediate benefit they would derive from the recent military victory.

What more, people to people contact would improve tremendously leading to a better understanding between the communities inhabiting our land. As before, the door would be open to intermix of cultures. Clearly, the A-9 opening’s social impact would have a beneficial effect on inter-communal relations.

The palmyra leaf curtain forcibly erected by the LTTE separating the north from the south has been torn asunder. People from Point Pedro in the north to Dondra Head in the South could unite as one nation.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the nation after the capture of Elephant Pass and the opening of the A-9 Road spoke thus:

“We are now engaged in giving new life to the unitary status of our country. We are enlivening democracy in our land. The defeat of terrorism means giving new life to an honourable peace and freedom.”

President’s words summarise the tasks that lie ahead to consolidate the victory achieved and make it meaningful for the people.

This would involve resettlement of internally displaced persons, including those Muslims forcibly evicted by the LTTE more than a decade ago, in their former places of residence, developing the physical and social infrastructure destroyed by the three decade old war and ensuring livelihoods of the people, rehabilitating the agricultural `glory of the region.

These would involve huge capital outlays and it is here the international community that was harping on the plight of Vanni civilians could show their true sympathies and solidarity with them by contributing generously to the relief and rehabilitation effort of the Government.


Stop Gaza genocide

The two-week old air-ground offensive by Israel against the Gaza Strip has killed over 700 persons, a third of them children.

What is more abominable more than the Israeli offensive is the impotency of the world community to do anything to stop this genocide. Israel is intransigently refusing to honour an immediate ceasefire that was called for by the United Nations Security Council.

What has irked the international community is also the complicity of the United States I this act of aggression which was demonstrated by its abstention from voting for the Security Council resolution.

Similarly intriguing is the silence of President-elect Barrack Obama, which brings into question his credentials as some one who would follow a policy different from his predecessor President George W. Bush on international affairs.

The brutality and inhumanity of Israel is seen from their violation of rules of war by delaying the ICRC access to the wounded.

It is futile to think that Israel bombs, rockets and tanks could stop the Palestinian people’s struggle for justice and rights. The continuation of the conflict carries the potential of engulfing the entire Middle East in an unwanted war.

A War in the Middle East would mean escalation of fuel prices and untold hardships for the masses throughout the world who are already suffering from the adverse effects of the world financial crisis.

It is time to halt the conflict, observe a ceasefire and begin talks on a meaningful Arab-Israel peace.

The urgent need is to halt the genocide.

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