The US has realised that it cannot defeat terrorism in Afghanistan without eliminating Osama bin Laden. Gen. Stanley McChrystal was quoted by the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday as having said that Osama had become an `iconic figure` among terrorists and therefore had to be removed physically. But, while the Sri Lankan military was closing in on Prabhakaran, another `iconic figure` of terrorists, the US and its allies demanded that war be suspended. Had their demand been met and Prabhakaran and his trusted lieutenants given a new lease of life, the war would not have ended last May and we would have found ourselves in the same predicament as the hapless Afghans.
The US and the EU hauled Sri Lanka over the coals for the mass displacement of civilians in the conflict zone. It was claimed that IDPs were being interned some human rights activists and journalists chose to call IDP centres `concentration camps`. Less than seven months on, the IDPs are being resettled successfully and the process of resettlement is due to be completed towards the end of this year or next month.
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and former US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake has viewed the post-war situation positively. `For the first time in over a generation, Sri Lankans live in a country that is not divided by war or marred by violence,` he told the media in Colombo on Wednesday. But, if the Sri Lankan government had buckled under foreign pressure and abandoned its war against the LTTE, Blake would not have been able to say so.
After the war was brought to a successful conclusion, it was claimed in some quarters that the army had committed war crimes during the final stages of the conflagration. A special session of the UN Human Rights Council was hurriedly summoned to initiate a war crime probe against Sri Lanka and the US and the EU led that human rights offensive from the front, but in vain. The US went so far as to block an IMF standby facility for Sri Lanka and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never misses an opportunity, nay she goes out of her way, to inveigh against this country. She once blundered by bracketing Sri Lanka with the countries where rape was used as a weapon of war!
Blake has said the US does not intend to probe allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka and that it is up to Sri Lanka to investigate and take action against anyone involved in war crimes.
But, today, even the worst critics of Sri Lanka`s war on terror, who cried blue murder about `war crimes` and human rights violation by the army are supporting former army commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka in the presidential race, to the hilt. Democratic People`s Front leader Mano Ganeshan, the winner of international awards for his human rights mission, was critical of the war but now he says Gen. Fonseka, who led the army in its successful war against the LTTE, is fit to be the Executive President! Would an eminent human rights campaigner like Ganeshan ever have thrown his weight behind the former army chief, if war crimes had been committed by the army under his command? Even the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which openly campaigned against war claiming that the military was committing grievous crimes against civilians, is humming a different tune at present. Both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka are making overtures to the TNA in a bid to tap its block vote.
If the TNA is convinced beyond doubt that the government and the army were responsible for war crimes or other forms of serious human rights violations, it should be able to reject requests from both Rajapaksa and Fonseka out of hand saying that it would not touch either of them with a barge pole. Instead, the TNA says it will study their election manifestos before making a final decision!
So, there is no reason why the US should continue its witch hunt against Sri Lanka without following the valuable advice given in the latest report on Sri Lanka by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which advocates a `less confrontational approach`. The time has come for mending fences.