Secretary Defence delivers Keynote address at Pakistan-SL
"Immense care was exercised by the Armed Forces to keep civilian
casualties to a minimum, while the LTTE relentlessly kept putting
civilians in harm's way"- Secretary Defence
Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa said so while making the keynote address at the
Pakistan - Sri Lanka Joint Seminar on 'Political and Diplomatic
Challenges Faced by Nations during and after Conflict Confined to
Borders' at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International
Relations and Strategic Affairs (LKIIRSS) this morning (11
The seminar was organised by the High Commission
of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in collaboration with the
Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and
Strategic Affairs (LKIIRSS).
This is the first ever seminar between Pakistan
and Sri Lanka that has brought together eminent personalities from
both countries to the deliberate on the ramifications of conflicts
on nations. The thematic relevance of the seminar to current
narratives of the two countries will provide an introspective
opportunity to develop framework for mitigation, averting and
management of internal conflicts. The expert panel will provide
inputs and frameworks for creating holistic paradigms to resolve
political, economic, and defence issues at home and diplomatic
challenges faced in the international arena.
The need to address post conflict humanitarian
crisis, establishing rule of law, maintaining macro- economic
stability and development of social services and infrastructure,
challenges in countering extremism and terrorism, promoting
pluralism and diplomacy in times of internal conflicts will be some
of the topics discussed at the seminar.
Making the keynote address secretary defence said
that there are many challenges that nations can face after the end
of a conflict confined to its borders and the Sri Lankan experience
in dealing with its post conflict challenges are worthy of close
examination. He said that the security forces had to take special
precautions to protect the lives of the hundreds and thousands of
people that the LTTE was keeping as a human shield during the
humanitarian operations. He maintained that the government
established a transparent system in dealing with the IDP issues and
the strategy adopted sets a good example to be followed by others in
He noted that due to the terrorists destroying the
private and public properties and heavy mining of the region during
their retreat the resettlement of the IDPs took time and that the
government took positive steps to assure their wellbeing of the IDPs
during that period. Accordingly, the Government established high
quality semi-permanent shelters at the LakshmanKadirgamar Village
and AnandaKumaraswamy Village in Manik Farm to house these civilians
The secretary lamented that due to
misinterpretations of the government's plans some international
donor organisations did not understand the extent of the problem
that had been caused by the LTTE in the areas the civilians had been
displaced from and sadly this lack of trust in the Government's
intentions on the part of the representatives of these International
Organisations was very unfortunate, and it is still more unfortunate
that such mistrust continues to be voiced amongst some in the
international community even today.
He further said demining posed a big challenge,
but the Government with the support of a number of foreign
organizations unhesitatingly undertook it immediately after the war
ended and within three years two main priority areas identified for
demining were cleared.
He told the gathering that contrary to certain
claims by certain political parties and various activists almost all
the IDPs were resettled in their former places of origin even in
areas such as Vellamullavaikkal where the final battles took place
thereby debunking the myths of mass graves. Resettling the IDPs
after a conflict situation is a task that any Government should
undertake with great urgency as it is the best way to help the
people who were most affected by the war return to normal lives
quickly he said.
Speaking on the de-radicalization of ex combatants
the secretary said that, a 'six plus one' rehabilitation process
model was adopted for all beneficiaries while special attention was
given to the 594 child soldiers. Adult beneficiaries were initially
housed in well maintained Protective Accommodation and
Rehabilitation Centres (PARC). The primary focus of the
rehabilitation and reintegration programme has been to equip the
former LTTE cadres with alternative means to a meaningful existence
the secretary stressed.
The secretary further said that war time
restrictions have been lifted and armed groups have been disarmed
and their members encouraged to enter mainstream politics.
He revealed that many LTTE activists in Tamil
expatriate communities have projected an incorrect picture about the
Humanitarian Operation in their host nations and due to that those
Governments exert pressure on Sri Lanka at various forums, including
the United Nations Human Rights Council over the last few years that
has become a major challenge that the Government has to face in the
present and the future context.
In conclusion the secretary said that Sri Lanka's
transformation into one of the most peaceful nations is the result
of a government that has shown unwavering commitment and resolve to
overcome all the challenges that it faced in the post conflict
situation and it is this commitment that more than anything shuold
be the lesson to be drawn from the Sri Lankan experience.
Acting High Commissioner for Pakistan in Sri Lanka
HE Ms. Amna Baloch in her speech said that Sri Lanka and Pakistan
share excellent economic, cultural and defence ties and Sri Lanka
has seen much development since the end of war. She also said that
bilateral economic ties should be strengthened to reach greater
targets. She reminded that her country has always stood by Sri Lanka
when it was isolated. Pakistan had extended unconditional support to
Sri Lanka during the war and will continue to do so, she stressed.
She also recalled of Pakistan's consistent support to Sri Lanka at
Geneva. Ms. Baloch also mentioned Pakistan's grants to the island in
the fields of education, medical assistance, and water supply and
said that cooperations should be diversified for mutual benefit.
The Executive Director of LKIRSS Mr. Asanga
Abrgoonasekara presented a special memento and a copy of the
periodic review of the LKIRSS to Secretary Defence during the
Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mr.
K Amunugama, Mrs. Sugandini Kadirgamar, distinguished diplomats,
members of the diplomatic corp, tri forces commanders,
Director General of the Civil Defence Department,
senior military officers, university dons and a number local and
foreign of dignitaries were present at the occasion.
The full text of the speech delivered by Secretary Defence and Urban
Development at the Pakistan-SL Seminar>>