Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday said that the ongoing crisis in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, over accountability issues here, should discourage those pushing for devolution of power under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
A hostile provincial administration in the Northern or the Eastern Province in Sri Lanka could be inimical to the post-war national reconciliation process, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said in an exclusive interview with The Island. Such an administration could be as intimidating as the conventional military challenge posed by the LTTE, he said.
Asserting that Tamil Nadu was clearly dictating terms to the Central government of India at the behest of some Western powers as well as the LTTE rump, represented by the UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF), the outspoken official said that the deepening crisis in Tamil Nadu was nothing but a glaring lesson for the Sri Lankan government.
“Could we afford to have a provincial administration here, which pointed a gun at the national leadership at the drop of a hat? We don’t want to be at the mercy of scheming provincial administrations,” the Defence Secretary said, highlighting the danger in foreign powers using bankrupt local elements to influence sovereign governments.
“We have had bad experience on a number of occasions due to foreign interference in our affairs. We are determined not to allow external elements to meddle in domestic politics at the expense of national reconciliation,” the Defence Secretary said. With an unprecedented two thirds majority in Parliament, the government could take tangible action in accordance with the country’s Constitution to safeguard national interests.
The Defence Secretary said that those wanting to drag Sri Lanka before an international war crimes tribunal should peruse a recent commentary by former Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal. He said that Sibal had lucidly highlighted the absurdity of the situation in one paragraph: “If our foreign policy towards Sri Lanka should be based on the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu today, then sentiments in West Bengal should dictate our foreign policy towards Bangladesh tomorrow, and those in UP and Bihar should determine what we do with Nepal day after. It would be a mistake to begin treating our relations with our neighbours as extensions of the pulls and pressures of our domestic politics. Our neighbours are independent, sovereign countries, which require that we control our domestic lobbies and prevent them from distorting our policies in our periphery. Moreover, when the states are today resisting strongly encroachment on their powers in a federal system, they should also respect the prerogative of the Centre to make foreign policy.”
The former Indian Foreign Secretary couldn’t have made the statement at a better time, the Defence Secretary said alleging that Tamil Nadu was being used by Western powers to influence the Center much to the embarrassment to all those concerned. India would never have voted against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for two consecutive years if not for heavy Tamil Nadu pressure over this particular issue, the Defence Secretary said.
According to Rajapaksa, in the backdrop of member states of the European Union and those waiting to join the grouping voting against Sri Lanka in Geneva, in accordance with a policy decision, the role of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should be examined. The Defence Secretary pointed out that EU countries and those waiting to join the grouping spoke in once voice during six votes moved against Israel also at the recently concluded UNHRC sessions, in spite of the US taking a different position. However, SAARC hadn’t probably discussed the issue, with major power taking position in Geneva contrary to the stand taken by other SAARC nations in two consecutive years, the Defence Secretary said.
Responding to a query, the Defence Secretary said that SAARC couldn’t be blind to what was happening, both regionally and globally. He insisted that whatever differences member states could have had on political issues, terrorism shouldn’t be tolerated and tangible action should be taken to protect interests of those countries fighting terrorism.
Gotabhaya said that an effort was still being made to undermine the government in a bid to effect a change of the Rajapaksa administration. But that wouldn’t be an easy task as long as the vast majority of people remained with the government, he said.
Commenting on the recent anti-Sri Lanka sentiments expressed by Tamil Nadu politician Sebastian Seeman during a meeting in Oslo, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that those who couldn’t stomach the LTTE demise were still propagating lies against Sri Lanka. He said that some of those countries taking a hostile approach towards Sri Lanka, like the failed peacemaker Norway should know the despicable strategies adopted by the LTTE. Had they bothered to go through the file pertaining to the Kadirgamar assassination and talks between Norwegian representatives and Anton Balasingham in London, the government would realize what was going on, the Defence Secretary said.
The External Affairs Ministry quoted Seeman as having said in Oslo: “Only 50,000 Tigers gave their lives for Eelam but there are over 500,000 Tigers in Tamil Nadu. We will start our war from this point.
“*Not only Karuna but also Tamils did not give Tamil names to their children and are using other languages when speaking. Therefore Tamils are their own traitors.
*We have to ensure there is a day where Sinhalese will combat for their freedom from Tamils like Tamils are fighting them now.
*If a Sinhala student gets 35 marks he will enter the University but a Tamil student must get 85 marks to enter the University in Sri Lanka.”
*Sinhalese who cut ladies’ breasts and hang on ropes now need Tamils thigh curry. Nine crore Tamils join hands and should chase out the one and a half crore Sinhalese.”