The Government will declare a ceasefire only if the Tigers lay down weapons and surrender, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told India Today in an interview
Speaking to India Today Managing Editor Raj Chengappa at Temple Trees, President Rajapaksa said the Forces have Prabhakaran cornered and he will be caught soon. The day Prabhakaran is caught, military operations would be over. Soon after that we will give a political solution as we did in the East, the President said.
Asked whether the war would be over if Kilinochchi falls, he said: I don t call it a war. It is a military operation we have launched to wipe out terrorists. Kilinochchi is the LTTE headquarters.
We are also advancing from the East to take Mullaitivu. Progress is slow because we want zero civilian casualties. Now, one of LTTE s child soldiers is the chief minister and another of Prabhakaran s commanders is a Member of Parliament. But Prabhakaran must be punished for his crimes.
Let s not forget he killed Rajiv Gandhi apart from so many Sri Lankan leaders. He has to undergo trial and if India is interested in having him extradited we will do that, he remarked.
The President recalled how the LTTE used ceasefires to strengthen themselves-buy weapons, firepower,
recruit soldiers and make bunkers. We know they will not honour a ceasefire now. Let them lay down their arms and surrender. We will declare a ceasefire.
He disclosed that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not mention about a ceasefire during their recent telephonic conversation.
No, he didn t request me to declare a ceasefire. His concern was about the Tamil civilian population. India has been fair. It is focused on the humanitarian issue, especially of the Tamils in the North and the East, which we are taking care of.
I agree that there can be no military solution. Soon after I took over, we appointed an all party committee to look into this issue. I believe that if the southern political parties, that form the majority, do not accept a political solution then we can t implement it. I don t want to thrust a solution on parties.
If I can have all the parties agree to a solution to solve the problem it would be appreciated by the people. Otherwise there will be riots and no Government will be able to implement it, the President noted.
Asked as to why the Government sent out humanitarian agencies from the war zone, he replied: We have only prevented those NGOs that were helping the LTTE consolidate, with some even transferring weapons and money.
Plus, when fighting was going on, there was concern about their safety. But we do allow the UN and Red Cross to supply food and medicines, which in any case is distributed by the Government. We are not harassing Tamils. This war is not against Tamils or Muslims. This war is against terrorism. That has to be understood.