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Sunday, 17 February 2013

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No overnight miracles!

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Jaffna earlier last week rekindled fresh hopes for people in the North. Apart from the Tamils in the North and the East, the Muslims and Sinhalese in the two provinces were also happy to welcome the Head of State. The visit also helped those in the North and the East to perceive the Government's efforts to uplift the living standards of the people in the two provinces, contrary to the negative picture projected by some extremist Tamil politicians.

The Tamil politicians, who fostered racism during the height of LTTE terror, continue to mislead the international community and the Tamil Diaspora, alleging that the Tamils are not treated properly.

TNA Parliamentarians, who had at one time been remote-controlled by Velupillai Prabhakaran, did precious little for their own community, except globe trotting and selling the Tamil community. It has now come to light that the TNA had even failed to use funds allocated by the Government for development.

There had been numerous instances where such budgetary allocations had been returned to the Treasury as the TNA Parliamentarians and Local Government members had not shown any interest to use these funds for development. These are the self-same people who scream to the high heavens about the well-being of the Tamils and the problems faced by them.

The President stressed at the Jaffna District Special Development Committee meeting that all Sri Lankans have a responsibility to ensure that there is no room whatsoever for terrorism to raise its ugly head again. It was the merciless LTTE terrorists who had inflicted untold suffering on the people of all communities for almost three decades.

Is there a better person than President Rajapaksa who understands the grievances of the people in the North and the East? These problems are by no means unique to any particular ethnic group in the two provinces. The President feels the pulse of the Sinhalese in Matara, the Tamils in Jaffna and the Muslims in Batticaloa. This is precisely why he is called a truly people's President. The President understands the emotions of parents, irrespective of which part of the island they reside in. As a leader who has championed human rights, he is deeply conscious of the feelings of mothers whose children had become unfortunate victims of LTTE terror or JVP extremism.

The President's prompt action, following a mother's plea to release an undergraduate of the Jaffna University bears testimony to his humanity. The President said that it is the duty of Northern parents to ensure that their children do not spread separatism or be misled by LTTE sympathisers.

It was due to the President's political sagacity that over half a million civilians in the North and the East, who had been forcibly held by the LTTE as a human shield, were liberated in the world's largest human rescue mission. Else, those hapless civilians would have been undergoing untold misery even today.

The Tiger terrorists had made a desperate attempt to brainwash people in the North and the East by projecting a frightful picture of the Security Forces. It was only when their villages had been liberated from the clutches of the LTTE that these Tamil civilians realised the true nature of the Security Forces who even shared their food and dry rations with those rescued.

The LTTE, under the guise of liberating of Tamils, inflicted misery on those in the North and the East. The LTTE cohorts or extremist Tamil politicians could no longer mislead the Northern Tamils, who will never revert to that dark era again even in their wildest dreams.

Most of the infrastructure development projects in the North and the East have already been completed and the remaining work is going on apace. The Government is now restoring everything that had been destroyed by terrorists. The Government is investing heavily on many mega development projects to give a new lease of life to people who had been liberated. The Northern railway track which was destroyed by terrorists would be rebuilt up to Kankesanthurai and construction work will be completed by March next year. Reconstruction work on the A9 Jaffna-Colombo highway is being carried out swiftly and the entire Jaffna district has recorded unprecedented development in the social, health, power and energy and agriculture sectors.

Those who are weeping buckets of tears over the well-being of Tamils must take serious note of the marked economic growth of around 22 percent in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces, compared to the country's overall performance of around eight percent. More importantly, the Government has given preferential treatment to these provinces, thereby spending the bulk of the sum allocated to the country's development.

Regrettably, certain Western countries and international organisations have turned a Nelsonian eye to these development programs for reasons best known to them. Considering the fact that over half of the country's Tamil population mingles peacefully with their Sinhalese and Muslim counterparts in other provinces, one wonders whether anybody needs to worry about reconciliation.

It was the opportunist Opposition politicians and NGO goons who thrive on foreign funding who had projected a negative picture on Sri Lanka at the behest of LTTE cohorts. Is there any other country where the majority has become the minority in the capital city? Colombo is a unique example of peaceful coexistence and harmony among people of different races and faiths. Those who are trying to frame Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) should first and foremost visit the country and gain first-hand experience on ethnic harmony. President Rajapaksa told the world community in his 65th Independence Day address to the nation, that the best answer that Sri Lanka could give is to invite all critics to visit the country and see for themselves the massive developments taking place.

Any untoward action against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC would seriously hamper development and curtail the dividends of peace enjoyed by one and all. No country or organisation has the right to exert undue pressure on Sri Lanka as Sri Lankans are already enjoying the fruits of reconciliation. Had this not been so, the Tamils and Muslims would never have lived among the Sinhalese for centuries.

The UNHRC and the international community should take serious note of all these developments and act prudently before initiating any further action against Sri Lanka in Geneva. Bringing in successive resolutions would not serve any purpose, but only derail the hard-earned peace.

The UNHRC must give Sri Lanka sufficient time as the first resolution was passed early last year. They should not expect miracles overnight from a country which had been plagued by terrorism for almost three decades. Surprisingly, none of these countries which are now levelling charges against Sri Lanka even bothered to utter a word when the LTTE went on the rampage, killing tens of thousands of hapless people.

The major force throwing its weight behind the resolutions against Sri Lanka is the Western politicians who depend heavily on the vote of the Tamil Diaspora in their countries. They dance to their tune not because they have a score to settle with Sri Lanka, but merely because their political future depends on the Tamils who have taken up residence in their countries. The UNHRC should not be carried away by the concocted stories dished out by Tiger cohorts and a section of the Tamil Diaspora. If the UNHRC is sincerely interested in the well-being of the people in Sri Lanka, especially those living in the North and the East, they must give Sri Lanka sufficient time to strengthen national reconciliation. It is needless to state that there are no instant solutions to a problem which had continued for three decades. Is it fair for the UNHRC or the international community, for that matter, to demand that Sri Lanka performs miracles overnight when other countries which are recovering after a protracted 'conflict' situation have taken a longer time to recover?

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