Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday accused the UNP of undermining the battle against terrorism as part a wider campaign targeting the government.
`A section of the UNP seems to be hell-bent on weakening the government,` the retired Colonel said, `Unfortunately, in their haste to grab power they are playing pandu with the war effort.`
Dismissing the latest allegation that the Rajapaksa administration had facilitated the release of an LTTE frontliner in Thai custody under a pre-presidential poll deal between his brother Mahinda and the terrorist group, he said this was nothing more than a `sick` joke.
`There`s absolutely no truth in this. This is a figment of somebody`s imagination,` he said.
UNP spokesman Lakshman Kiriella, MP, Wednesday accused the government of facilitating the release of Tharmalingam Shanmughan alias Kumaran Padmanathan (KP) from Thai custody. Kiriella claimed that Thailand had released KP after the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry leaked the arrest to local press.
Rajapaksa said that the Defence Ministry posted a report on KP`s arrest on its website only after international wire services reported his seizure. The UNP derived a sadistic pleasure by mocking security forces, he said. They levelled a spate of allegations against security forces. At first, forces were accused of taking over the East with the LTTE`s tactical understanding and then allowing hundreds of enemy fighters to leave for the Vanni with their arms, he said. Then on the other hand, forces are accused of indiscriminate arrests, killings and extra judicial activity.
Rajapaksa asked whether the government seized two dozen artillery pieces, heavy mortars and a mini-multi barrel rocket launcher, a sizeable quantity of an assortment of ammunition, destroyed over a half a dozen floating arsenals on the high seas, bombed LTTE bases, killed over 1,000 cadres as part of the Rajapaksa-LTTE deal. Then, may be they had dropped bombs on Colombo and Katunayake and the EU proscribed them also as part of this deal, he said.
Rajapaksa asserted that their triumph over the LTTE had even forced the UNP to abandon its long standing policy on a negotiated settlement based on a Federal concept. The government had everything possible to weaken the LTTE, he said, highlighting the recent repatriation of three LTTE cadres arrested in March 2004 while engaged in the procurement of armaments in Thailand.
The recent arrest of LTTE cadres overseas including the US where the FBI had cracked a major arms procurement ring which dealt a massive blow to the enemy was evidence that the government had the support of the international community to cripple the LTTE.
`The UNP must be jealous and upset over the prospect of a defeated LTTE,` he said, emphasizing that the government would go all out to destroy the LTTE as long as it held arms.
Thailand`s decision to disown the arrest of KP prevented Sri Lanka from unravelling the LTTE`s vast global procurement network built on, what a security forces officer called, `a foundation laid by India.``
KP`s network had ensured that that the LTTE shipping fleet was kept busy in moving artillery pieces, aircraft, boats, surface to air missiles, considerable stocks of various types of ammunition and communication equipment among other items.