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A Trojan horse?

Time was when some prominent members of the international community thought Sri Lanka was not equal to the task of defeating terrorism. Even after the army reached Kilinochchi, they did not want to believe that the Tigers would be confined to a small area in Mullaitivu within weeks and their roar reduced to a pathetic whine.

As for military assistance, Sri Lanka received none whatsoever from the self-appointed crusaders against global terrorism. Instead, they with the help of their INGO allies have gone all out to scuttle the war on terror here. Having turned a Nelsonian eye to the plight of civilians who went through hell under Prabhakaran’s jackboot for nearly thirty years, they suddenly woke up to human rights of those hapless people only after they were convinced beyond doubt that the LTTE's days were numbered.

It is reported that the US is toying with the idea of launching a humanitarian operation with the help of Marines in Mullaitivu to rescue civilians trapped in the LTTE-held terrain. Yesterday, our special correspondent in India said speculation was rife in the Indian diplomatic circles that the US was likely to discuss the matter with the Indian leaders shortly. The US has neither confirmed nor rejected the reports at issue.

How on earth could the US or any other country for that matter be so confident as to think that it would be able to rescue civilians in the clutches of the beleaguered Tigers? If civilians escape, the army will take only a few hours to finish off the LTTE. So, it is only wishful thinking that the LTTE dependent so much on a human shield for survival will let any country remove civilians without offering stiff resistance. However, the LTTE will not retaliate if the outfit is aware that the humanitarian operation in question is only a ruse to rescue its leaders as in Vadamarachchi in 1987. Else, the US Marines or any other foreign force will have to stage a forced landing to gain a foothold on the coast to begin their humanitarian operation. In such an eventuality, both the LTTE and the Marines will trade fire endangering civilians' lives. The LTTE, it may be recalled, does not hesitate to attack even ships carrying relief material, if yesterday's attack is any indication.

There is a better way the international community could help save civilians the LTTE has taken hostage. Pressure could be brought to bear on the LTTE to lay down arms and surrender without causing any more bloodletting. Mere words won't be sufficient to make the LTTE fall in line. There are tens of thousands of economic refugees cum notorious LTTE activists in the US, Norway, the EU, Canada, Australia etc. who have been funding terrorism in Sri Lanka. Their activities are documented and their whereabouts well known. If action is taken to round them up and deport them for the crime of sponsoring terrorism, the LTTE will receive a bigger blow than the military defeat in the Vanni and Prabhakaran and his cohorts will be left with a choice between releasing civilians and committing suicide.

Sri Lanka, which has defeated sinister attempts to derail her war effort and proved terrorism could be effectively neutralised militarily, is capable of handling her humanitarian situation by herself. She must beware of a Trojan horse from an unexpected quarter.

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