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A major victory on the diplomatic front

Straws that Prabhakaran is clutching are snapping one by one. About two years ago after the army had begun its northward push and covered a considerable ground, Prabhakaran summoned some TNA parliamentarians to Kilinochchi and asked them to bring international pressure to bear on the government to give up its military onslaught and promised to hold out until then. Such was his unwavering faith in the international community. He was banking on India to bury the hatchet and come to his rescue. He expected his backers overseas to mobilise sufficient international support to scuttle the government's war effort. He made a terrible miscalculation!

Help for him came from the least expected quarters, but too late in the day. Whoever thought the US would sully its hands by trying to throw a lifeline to the sinking Tigers? The US policy on Sri Lanka's terrorism, one thought, was consistent and devoid of duplicity. But, unfortunately, one is disillusioned. If not for the backing from the steadfast allies like China and Russia, even the UN Security Council may have been moved against Sri Lanka in favour of the LTTE.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told the Congress recently that Pakistan is a 'mortal threat' to the world, the reason being that it has failed to battle terrorism successfully. She has said: "Pakistan poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world and I want to take this occasion to state unequivocally that not only do the Pakistani government and the Pakistani diaspora … need to speak out forcefully against a policy that is ceding more and more territory to the insurgents…"

Claiming that Pakistan is not doing enough to defeat terrorism, the US is taking targets inside Pakistani territory without giving a damn about human suffering. But, when Sri Lanka liberates territory and civilians from terrorists and readies for crushing an internationally banned terrorist group once and for all, there is resistance from the US and its allies. Yesterday, we reported that Clinton had said the world was disappointed that in its effort to end a 25-year-old conflict Sri Lanka was causing ‘untold suffering’.

Who doesn’t know that war is synonymous with suffering? War is hell, as General Sherman, who was notorious for savagery and instrumental in winning the American Civil War for President Lincoln, said later in life. Sri Lanka, Clinton should be told, is not fighting this war to inflict suffering on people. It is fighting to defend its territorial integrity and citizenry against terrorism.

As war brings about ‘untold suffering’, why doesn’t Clinton tell President Obama to stop war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Going by Clinton's logic, if Pakistan poses a 'mortal threat' to the world as its policies have resulted in more and more of its territory being ceded to terrorists, then by the same token, the countries that try to block Sri Lanka's war aimed at wresting control of territory from terrorists are also a 'mortal threat to the world'.

As Prabhakaran has hidden behind civilians to escape death so have the so-called world leaders taken cover behind humanitarian issues in a bid to rescue the cornered Tigers. Instead of ratcheting up pressure on the LTTE to release hostages by cracking down on Tiger sympathisers on the rampage in western capitals without pandering to the whims and fancies of those terror collaborators, they have been calling for an end to the military offensives thus encouraging Prabhakaran to tighten his grip on civilians.

Even at this late stage, attempts are being made to give oxygen to the LTTE. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has come out with a suggestion that France and Britain launch a joint humanitarian operation in Sri Lanka by using British and French boats. He has claimed that some of the displaced people fleeing the LTTE are drowning in the sea! One cannot believe that a French Foreign Minister could be so ill-informed and naive! He seems to think that Sri Lanka's problem is a dearth of boats and once the British and the French arrive in their boats, hey presto, everything will be hunky dory for civilians. Does he think Prabhakaran is going to release the civilians in his clutches on seeing the French and the British boats?

What's more surprising is that Kouchner’s Sri Lankan counterpart has prevaricated on the issue. It is hoped that Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama will lose no time in countering that baseless allegation which will be used against Sri Lanka by its enemies. A Foreign Minister of the late Lakshman Kadirgamar's calibre would have silenced detractors like Kouncher in style. (It is a pity that the Rajapaksa government cannot at least have the late Mr. Kadirgamar's statue erected at an institute named after him in recognition of his service to the nation! His statue has been relegated to the backyard of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. What an insult to a great Sri Lankan who laid down his life for this country!)

It is against this backdrop that Sri Lanka's diplomatic victory at the UN on Wednesday should be viewed. President of the UN Security Council Ambassador Claude Heller said at an informal briefing, "The LTTE is a terrorist organisation and should be condemned for its use of civilians as a human shield. The LTTE should immediately lay down arms and renounce its terror tactics."

As we report today, the Security Council did not call for a truce or a humanitarian pause, which would have given the LTTE a breather. Instead, it stressed that the only way out was for the LTTE to disarm and surrender thus letting the political process proceed, as there was no military solution. One could not agree with Ambassador Heller more! It is hoped that he will not succumb to western pressure and make a U-turn.

There has been a great deal of backstage manoeuvring to have a UN resolution passed against Sri Lanka's war. That the US is behind those moves is only too well known. So, the position the Security Council has taken up on Sri Lanka, as spelt out by Heller, could be considered a defeat for those who sought a UN intervention to rescue the LTTE. Ambassador to the UN H. M. G. S. Palihakkara and his team must be commended for a job well done.

The war Sri Lanka is about to conclude is not just a war against a terrorist outfit. It is a world war, if resistance she has had to overcome from the world powers, save a few, promoting terrorism on the sly, is anything to go by.

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