The Security Forces last week totally defeated the LTTE after a relentless three-year campaign that began from Mavil Aru in the East. The Forces battled the ruthless LTTE for 33 long years and many brave sons and daughters of Mother Lanka sacrificed their lives in the process. Their commitment to rid Sri Lanka of the cancer of terrorism was absolute.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa firmly believed that the Security Forces were capable of eliminating the enemy from our soil. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, with the Forces Commanders, translated this vision into action.
The Defence Secretary was 100 percent trusted by the Commander-in-Chief and the Forces Commanders to take decisions that would enable the Forces to complete the noble humanitarian mission. Having himself served on the frontlines, he understood their needs and wishes perfectly. It was this perfect combination of political and military leadership that led to the magnificent victory of the Forces.
The Security Forces have proved themselves that nothing is impossible if we have perseverance and dedication. Their sacrifice for the past 30 years for a peaceful country has borne fruit, the Defence Secretary has said.
This victory would not have been possible without the support of the people. Many families gave their children to the Forces. Others thwarted many attempts by the LTTE to wreak havoc in the South through their vigilance. They donated lavishly for the Forces welfare. The soldiers were always in their hearts.
The soldier s task is not over yet. Although guns have been silenced, there is a long way to go before the Forces can relax their guard. Disruptive elements could still be on the prowl. The LTTE s hidden weapons and splinter cells have to be exposed.
The entire Northern region has to be demined and people resettled. Thus the Forces will also have a significant role to play in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of war-torn areas and the Forces need the people s support more than ever. More youth should join to strengthen the Forces as they consolidate in newly liberated areas.
The biggest tribute that the public can pay to the Forces is to carry forward their mission of bringing peace and prosperity to the country. This is precisely what the Defence Secretary urged the masses to do, speaking at a ceremony held to felicitate Security Forces who defeated LTTE terrorists:
The people can take a cue from the Security Forces victory and render their optimum service to the country s development. He stressed that the public should carry out what the country expects from them without hesitation.
This is the need of the hour. In his twin addresses to the Nation after the victory over terrorism, President Mahinda Rajapaksa called on the people to join hands to rebuild the country. The end of the conflict has presented us with a golden opportunity to shed all differences and work together to develop the country.
As the President said, there would be only one division in the country from now on - patriots and non-patriots. It is the duty of all patriots to rise to this challenge.
Development should now be the priority. Many Governments proffered the war excuse to delay or cancel development projects.
The present Government deviated from this practice, commencing several mega development projects soon after coming to power. The President told the massive rally at Parliament Grounds that as the conflict is finally over, no Government would henceforth be able to cite the war as a weak excuse to stop development projects.
It is not possible to prune the defence expenditure immediately, but there is every possibility that more funds could be diverted to development over the next few years as normality is fully established in the North.
The Government is poised to start a massive development drive in the North under the Northern Spring program. This will require investment and manpower on a massive scale. All patriots must assist this endeavour.
The President has also appealed to Sri Lankan expatriates to help this effort. This is a great opportunity for sections of the Tamil Diaspora which previously supported the Tigers to participate in a more meaningful exercise to truly liberate and empower the Northern Tamil community. More professionals living overseas should return to Sri Lanka to assist the development efforts.
All Lankans should now join the quest for lasting peace. It is time to eschew thinking along ethnic lines. The North and the South is being linked physically with the opening of the A9. Likewise, Northerners and Southerners should be linked in their hearts to fulfil the common aspirations of all masses and attain the goals of development.