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Sunday, 6 March 2011

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Govt won't harp on its victory

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has made it explicitly clear that the Government would never attempt to harp on the victory of its humanitarian operation which was conducted by the valiant Security Forces with the support of the peace-loving people in the country.

This message was brought into sharp focus at the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) at the Ratmalana Air Force Camp premises on Wednesday. President Rajapaksa said although certain groups wished to dismiss this fact, the people would never forget the victory over terrorism.

Those who wish to dispel the memories of the victory in the humanitarian operation are the very people who attempted to disrupt the forward march of the Security Forces. While certain groups attempted to project a distorted image of our Security Forces during the humanitarian operation, the Air Force played a remarkable role by precisely targeting enemy locations to maintain a zero civilian casualty rate at all times.

Nobody in their right senses would dispute the fact that the Sri Lanka Army had to encounter the major ground operations during the battle against terror. The Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force also played an equally important role to destroy enemy positions and block the supply routes of LTTE terrorists.

Had the Sri Lanka Air Force not discharged its responsibility, Sri Lanka's history would have been written in a different manner largely due to external pressure to put an end to the battle against terror. LTTE sympathisers and a few countries which had a soft corner towards the Tigers, are still reluctant to concede the fact that the country was destroyed not by a war, but by a group of ruthless terrorists.

These very same elements are now making a desperate attempt to level war crimes charges against Sri Lanka and its valiant Security Forces. It is a matter of surprise that none of them cared to utter a word about the thousands of people who were brutally killed by the LTTE and the misery inflicted on them due to their merciless terror acts for nearly three decades.

The Government has embarked on a determined mission to rebuild the nation that was destroyed by LTTE terror. The extensive training and discipline of the Security Forces which was used to liberate the nation, would now be utilised to rebuild the nation.

Having liberated the country from LTTE terror in May 2009, President Rajapaksa has transformed the country to be peaceful and prosperous. Despite natural calamities and the global economic food crisis, Sri Lanka has beaten all overwhelming odds to march towards new economic horizons. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States (USA) have commended Sri Lanka for the exemplary manner in which it had managed its affairs.

IMF's Deputy Managing Director Naouki Shinohara, during a meeting with President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees recently said that Sri Lanka successfully managed its economy during the global financial crisis. Shinohara had commended Sri Lanka's development achievements and pledged further IMF assistance to support Sri Lanka in its development drive.

The US too has hailed Sri Lanka on its reconciliation efforts having eradicated terrorism. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the US State Department Robert O. Blake last week praised the Government for implementing the measures recommended by the investigative body, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and appointing 350 Tamil-speaking policemen to serve in Jaffna.

While maintaining that the United States is not imposing any special standards, Blake told a press interview that probes into killings during the battle against terrorism need to be investigated, preferably by the Government of Sri Lanka and its own institutions. The US Assistant Secretary said that the US would prefer to see Sri Lanka taking its own measures to handle those issues. Blake had also commended the Government's initiatives to enter into a dialogue with the Tamil political parties.

Blake has quite rightly pointed out that Sri Lanka is one of the countries in South Asia that has great promise and could truly realise its potential. Sri Lanka must achieve national reconciliation so that all citizens could experience a just and durable peace.

The Government has always upheld the democratic rights of the masses and had never postponed elections even during the height of the battle against LTTE terror. As a truly people's leader who firmly believes in democracy, President Rajapaksa has displayed an abiding interest in going before the masses to get fresh mandates. When he could have been in power for two more years as the Executive President, he went before the masses after his first four of the six-year term to obtain a fresh mandate and received a thumping majority of over 1.8 million votes. No other leader has done so in the country's history.

Having conducted the Presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial Council elections, the Government has now given the masses a chance to exercise their democratic rights at Local Government level.

Simultaneously, the President has called upon the UPFA candidates contesting the forthcoming Local Government elections to work as a team to propel the UPFA to victory while maintaining discipline and upholding democracy during their campaign. The President has told the UPFA candidates that other political parties too should be allowed to engage freely in the polls campaign.

The Opposition should, at least now, abandon its day-dreaming by looking at global political trends which would never see the light of day here. These opportunist Opposition politicians may be doing so perhaps under an illusion, to get rid of their losing mentality after a string of election defeats. These opportunist Opposition politicians should bear in mind that Sri Lanka is a democratic country and the masses would never seek anything outside the democratic framework of the Constitution.

Although the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) had been in the Opposition for 17 long years until 1994, it never resorted to undemocratic acts. The United National Party (UNP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) must do likewise and seek democratic means to regain power. However, they have little or no choice if the masses continue to reject them albeit at elections. The voice of the people reigns supreme at all times in a democratic set-up and all politicians should understand this reality.

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