Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tigers in sheep's clothing

Two LTTE propagandists surrendered to the army yesterday. They are known as Daya Master and George Master––a former schoolmaster and a retired postmaster respectively. Interestingly, Daya Master, a one-time LTTE spokesman, was rushed with a police escort to Colombo for treatment during the UNF government, which earned notoriety for its shameless appeasement of the LTTE. Six or seven years on, the LTTE has collapsed like a ton of bricks under military pressure and key Tiger cadres are surrendering or perishing in their numbers––a feat that many thought was impossible until about two years ago. Is any more proof needed that appeasement does not pay in tackling terrorism?

What successive governments had been doing until 2006 was to try to cure a malignancy with mere placebos. Some governments tried their hand at surgical operations, but half-heartedly as well as haphazardly and therefore ineffectively. The present government for want of a better alternative opted for a life-saving surgery after initial dithering and its effort has manifestly paid dividends.

The same method yielded impressive results in 1971 and in the late 1980s, when the South was plunged into a bloodbath. An SLFP-led government successfully put down the first insurrection and a UNP government crushed the second one 18 years later. There were, of course unspeakable excesses on the part of those governments, but the fact remains that hadn't they defeated the southern terrorism militarily, the JVP would have turned Sri Lanka into country like Cambodia under Pol Pot. It was their failure to eliminate the LTTE militarily that paved the way for the emergence of a Pol Potish regime in the North and the East under Prabhakaran's jackboot.

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