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Editorial


Shooting down flying Tigers

Can we just ignore the ‘flying Tigers,’ by calling them a ‘buggy cart syndrome’ in the night skies of Colombo?
The LTTE’s air-wing appears to be a new dimension in their three decade long war against the state, aimed at creating a separate state in the north and east. As far as the LTTE is concerned, their air-wing is a phenomenal change in their long drawn out terror campaign against the government. The disconcerting factor in the circumstances is how the citizenry in the south would face this new situation.
The LTTE’s intentions are obvious. Their main objective is to inflict maximum damage to the state through their night raids and create mayhem in the city.
The three raids carried out so far by the LTTE had caused a fear psychosis in the people, which, more than the damage to the country, would have lasting economic repercussions. Their (LTTE) thinking is that the best way to reap maximum results from the present situation is to cause economic mayhem, which would lead to ultimate economic paralysis.
While the LTTE is working on creating economic horrors, the government, though boasting that it would be a matter of time before they crush the LTTE’s air power, wasn’t able to do anything meaningful during the previous raid. They have only activated the air defence systems randomly, without even locating the enemy. The cost of this exercise would have been enormous. Some people sustained injuries and their houses were damaged due to the fire emanating from various points in the city. The most important thing under such circumstances would have been to identify the flight path of the enemy and take appropriate action, rather than fire at random, which caused havoc.
Whatever assurances the Air Force Commander had given the people of the country, they are wondering as to what meaningful action the Sri Lanka Air Force would take to track down the low flying air Tigers. Is the Mig29 interceptor the answer for the ‘buggy cart syndrome’?
The so called bombing of the LTTE airstrips had not caused substantial damage to the flying Tigers since they operate light aircraft, which could be taken off and landed on a tarred road, or even on a 100 metre strip on the A9.
In the present state of affairs, what is more important is proper air surveillance and a vigilant air force that will bring down the flying Tigers. Failing to have these would create a snowball effect on the whole world.
‘Flying Tigers,’ would create a bad precedence, if allowed to operate without taking cognizance of the danger it would pose to the entire region. This is especially because other militant organisations also can very well acquire such capabilities thus creating a new dimension in terrorist activity throughout the region. Such a situation can no doubt cause disastrous consequences. The pertinent question that arises here is whether the LTTE would be looked upon as a role model by other militant organisations in the region.
The matter has to be dealt with appropriately by the countries in the region, before it is too late and crush the air power of the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world without allowing it to grow into a destructive clandestine operation.

***

Pushing for peace through religion

Last week we had two important personalities visiting our country. Out of the two, the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev. Dr. Rowen Williams bears more significance since Dr. Williams is the Head of the Anglican Church.
The Archbishop’s visit coincides with that of Richard Boucher, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State of the United States of America.
Both visits took place at a crucial stage, when Sri Lanka was facing a tough time, unable to persuade the LTTE to return to the negotiating table.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Rowen Williams has been quoted as saying, “I’m very much aware of the continuing difficulties being faced by the country and the present situation gives cause for real concern. Sri Lanka is a place in which conflict and violence have become a reflexive response to political difficulty. It is clear that people are suffering greatly. It is a very difficult situation and one which is constantly in our prayers. I trust that the witness of Christians in Sri Lanka will go on helping to provide real ground for hope.”
The sentiments expressed by the Archbishop should be taken in the correct spirit and all communities representing various religious denominations should act together and yearn for a peaceful solution, which we badly need today.
The Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and all others should take the cognizance of Dr. Williams’ message to Sri Lanka and turn the searchlight introspectively to ascertain whether we, as responsible Sri Lankans, have taken a single positive step to give some hope to the people who are suffering due to this senseless war. A simple step taken towards achieving peace in our crisis ridden land will take us a long way.
It is important to understand people and respect their inherent right for life. A small step in this direction would help immensely to ease off the tension that has gripped minds of the people and make them think humanely enough to respect entire humanity. Such tidings would no doubt make Sri Lanka a paradise on earth, especially because of its bountiful resources.
Indian President Abul Kalam also had made sentiments similar to that of the Archbishop of Canterbury when he addressed a gathering at the Vesak celebrations held in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.
Today, several countries are adopting the principles of Buddhism and people are being attracted towards the values and ideals preached by the great Buddha. Peace and prosperity would only be achieved in the world by following the path shown by Lord Buddha.
Sri Lanka being a predominantly Buddhist country would find solace and a path for peace in the teachings of the enlightened one.
It is time for us to ponder and mend our ways to achieve peace for the sake of the future generations.