Gota: let us zero-in-on the common enemy
by Shamindra Ferdinando
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa wants the UNP to
stop playing politics with the ongoing war effort against the LTTE.
In an interview with The Island, Rajapaksa regretted
the UNP-led Opposition had chosen to undermine the military campaign
which he asserted was on track despite the LTTE and its sympathisers
frantically fighting to save the day.
Fielding questions, the outspoken official said the
Opposition could play a constructive role, thereby facilitating the
military effort against the common enemy. "We need to zero-in-on-the
enemy. Unfortunately politicians are distracted and seem interested in
petty squabbles, jeopardising the war effort."
"Unfortunately, in the eyes of some, I am a traitor,"
the retired infantry officer said, accusing the Opposition of
conveniently turning a blind eye to what he called significant progress
on the battle-field. No one would deny their right to attack the ruling
coalition over spiralling cost of living, waste, corruption and
irregularities, but the war against terrorism should not in anyway
become an issue, he said.
He regretted the Opposition hadn't acknowledged the
significance of break-up of the LTTE triggered by one-time Batticaloa
leader Karuna, clearing of the Eastern Province of the LTTE, the
breakaway faction contesting local government elections and provincial
council election on the government ticket and the gradual disintegration
of the enemy's Vanni bases. The Defence Secretary urged the Opposition
not to throw a lifeline to the common enemy now struggling on the Vanni
and Welioya fronts. He said the Opposition's strategy had allowed LTTE's
overseas supporters to constantly meddle in what he called an
essentially a domestic issue.
Recently UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe accused
Rajapaksa of deserting the army in the early 90s and went on to call him
Rajapaksa said he would have expected to heavy attacks
on himself if he had signalled any interest in entering politics. "I
have absolutely no interest in politics." he said. Rajapaksa emphasised
that he would never seek to take political advantage over his critical
role in what is widely believed to be the most successful campaign in
the Eelam war.
The three service chiefs were responsible for the
implementation of the overall security strategy, and the government was
confident of their ability and capacity to execute the war successfully,
he said, stressing the pivotal importance of the government and the
Opposition co-operating on the war effort.
Drawing attention to a spate of indiscriminate attacks
on public transport in the city, its suburbs and the provinces,
Rajapaksa warned the Opposition not to shirk its responsibility.
"Whatever our differences on other issues including the economy, there
should be a common approach towards terrorism," he said. The country
would never have another opportunity to wipe out the LTTE.
According to the Defence Secretary, the combined
security forces were making significant progress on the Vanni front. The
army on Mannar (Task Force 1), Vavuniya (57 Division), Welioya (59
Division) and Omanthai west (61 Division) fronts were gradually taking
over enemy territory, he said. Although the LTTE would continue to make
attempts to bring in fresh supplies, recruit more cadres and adopt new
tactics, security forces had the wherewithal to meet any eventuality.
Commending the Canadian ban on the World Tamil
Movement, a major supplier of funds to the LTTE war chest, the Defence
Secretary said the Canadian action could not have come at a better time.
"We expect other governments to follow the Canadian example." The
international community no longer could encourage terrorism by turning a
blind eye to massive fund raising operations undertaken by various
groups, he said.
Hard on the heels of the Canadian action, the Italian
government arrested 30 LTTE activists engaged in a major extortion
racket. The Defence Secretary said the government was confident that the
ongoing crackdown on the LTTE in various parts of the world would
facilitate the destruction of the group. He accused a section of the
Opposition of coming to the enemy's rescue as the military turned the
heat on the Vanni.
Courtesy: The Island