Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says the new SLFP-led UPFA government should be prepared to thwart a fresh attempt by separatists operating abroad to throw a lifeline to the LTTE. A section of the international community, he says, is bent on reviving the LTTE and giving it recognition.
In an exclusive interview with The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa discussed a range of issues, including the need to maintain political stability, strengthening the economy and the responsibility of the new government, which would be installed next week, to sustain a cohesive security policy. He also emphasised the pivotal importance of the judiciary, particularly the Attorney General s Department, in supporting the government s efforts to suppress terrorism.
Suppressing the separatist movement and tackling its propaganda apparatus should be a major part of Sri Lanka s strategy against the LTTE, he said. The new government should go all out against any local element promoting separatist sentiments regardless of political consequences, he said, emphasising that the country could not afford to make way for terrorists.
The Defence Secretary said that the next parliament should introduce new laws to meet security requirements. Responding to a query by The Island, the former Gajaba veteran said that Opposition political parties or constituent partners of the ruling coalition should not be allowed to engage in divisive politics.
In his first public comments after the April 8 general election, the Defence Secretary said that the LTTE would not have lasted 30 years, had previous governments acted wisely. The destruction of the LTTE s conventional military capability about a year ago might give a false sense of complacency to the political establishment, he said. Pro LTTE sections of the Tamil Diaspora, he said, were carrying out a high profile campaign against Sri Lanka. The Global Tamil Forum was lobbying overseas to win over foreign politicians. He said that the presence of high profile British politicians and officials at a recent gathering of GTF in the UK had revealed the gravity of the situation.
The Defence and Foreign Ministries should work together to meet new threats posed by a determined enemy, which had financial resources at a global level even to subvert a sovereign country, the Defence Secretary said.
Referring to recent British press reports that Islamic radicals had infiltrated the British Labour Party, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that the Tamil Diaspora could adopt a similar strategy, if it had not already done that. The Telegraph recently quoted Environment Minister Jim Fitzpatrick as having said that the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) had infiltrated the Labour Party. Minister Fitzpatrick alleged that the IFE was trying to create an Islamic social and political order in Europe. The Telegraph quoted him as having said, `IFE had become, in effect, a secret party within Labour and other political parties. They are placing people within political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power `
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that the next six years would be of crucial importance to the country as the first government elected in a post-LTTE era had to tackle a separatist threat in a different manner. They may not have artillery pieces in their arsenal and their strategy will be different, but let me tell you their goal will be the same,` he warned. He expressed concern that a section of officialdom could help the separatist cause by trying to appease foreign governments and some funding agencies. He said that those who pontificated to Sri Lanka about the virtues of human rights, media freedom and democracy were the worst culprits responsible for crimes against civilians. He said that international press coverage of the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq would help people understand to what extent foreign powers would go to protect their security and economic interests, though Sri Lanka was being asked to give in to a bunch of killers.
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that they could not turn a blind eye to about 12,000 LTTE cadres taken into custody at the end of the war. Although a sizeable section of them had been released, the government could not totally dismiss the possibility of their being recruited again by what was left of the LTTE, he said. He urged political parties to be aware of the danger of promoting separatist opinion at a time the new government would have to rehabilitate and gradually release over 9,000 detainees.
Gotabhaya said that the recent move to release some LTTE operatives held in connection with the assassination of Gen. (retd) Janaka Perera revealed the danger in taking the situation lightly. Timely intervention by the Defence Ministry had prevented their release. He said that the political establishment would have to take into consideration the security aspects of even on-going judicial proceedings as part of their overall measures to sustain maximum possible pressure on the separatist movement. He said that many hasten to criticise the armed forces, particularly the intelligence services for lapses, though those critics never lifted a finger to help the armed forces in war against the LTTE.