and Blake’s mighty hurry
United States Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, more
familiar to Sri Lankans as Uncle Sam’s former envoy in Colombo,
doesn’t appear to have stopped dabbling in this country’s
affairs, even though he has relinquished his posting here.
Blake was quoted as telling the equally partisan British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that delays in devolving power
among the different communities could lead to opportunities for
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to regroup.
Blake doesn’t hide his impatience either. In what amounts to
political blackmail, he says of the internally displaced persons
(IDPs) in the North: “Our ability to provide money for
reconstruction and for resettlement and livelihood...will depend
a lot on the progress that Sri Lanka makes in terms of abiding
by its commitment to resettle the IDPs as quickly as possible”.
Quite apart from the propriety of a middle level US
bureaucrat telling a sovereign country how it should handle its
internal affairs, Robert Blake needs to be reminded of some of
the stark realities of the Sri Lankan circumstances. Having
served in this country, if he is unaware of these issues, he
would be a dunce; if he chooses to ignore them, he is guilty of
hypocrisy of the worst kind.
Colombo has made its position clear on the proposed political
reforms that would follow the conclusion of the separatist war.
The government has already announced that any changes in the
country’s legislative and administrative structure would have to
await the conclusion of major elections -presidential and
general - due by April next year.
Although eight months more may test the patience of Robert
Blake, surely, it is not too long for a nation which waited 30
years for this conflict to end. Moreover, it makes perfect
political sense to implement reforms in the aftermath of major
polls, because these elections could be converted into virtual
referenda on the national question.
We have experienced ad hoc and unilateral attempts to resolve
this vexed problem such as the implementation of the Indo-Lanka
Accord over 20-years-ago. The people’s opinion was not sought,
and the result was an unmitigated disaster, both for the country
and for the United National Party government which initiated it,
for it gave life to and sustained a second southern insurrection
by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Surely, Sri Lanka
wouldn’t want history to repeat itself.
Then, Robert Blake is also is in a mighty hurry to resettle
the IDPs in the North. It is easy for Blake to say that his
country will loosen its purse strings only if we follow
Washington’s bidding and do what they want, when they want us
to. After all, it was Blake’s boss, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton who said that financial assistance to Sri Lanka from the
International Monetary Fund should be deferred. The less we have
of that kind of help with strings attached, the better it would
be for Sri Lanka.
What Blake and his handlers ignore are the security concerns
that surround the IDPs. It is no secret that many hardcore
terrorists are still taking refuge within the IDP camps. A
systematic weeding out of these elements is under way, and proof
of that comes in the many finds of arms and ammunition in the
south of the country, based on information provided by detained
Tiger cadres. Even high ranking police officers have been
unmasked as LTTE agents in this exercise.
Just one example would suffice to convince the rest of the
world - the arrest of Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) was made
possible by piecing together information collated from many such
LTTE operatives. KP’s arrest has provided the authorities with a
gold mine of intelligence that can only be used to undermine the
remnants of the LTTE and negate any chance of the organisation
regrouping. But Robert Blake would like us to abandon this
exercise for the sake of political expediency, just so that IDPs
can be resettled “as quickly as possible”!
Come, Come, Mr. Blake. Who are we trying to bluff here? The
LTTE- whether you like it or not - is dead. For achieving that
goal which many said was impossible, Sri Lanka deserves credit.
It also deserves the time and the opportunity to resolve
internal grievances in a manner that it sees fit, without self
appointed pundits telling it what to do. So, the less we have of
your myopic views on this issue, Mr. Blake, the better it is
both for Sri Lanka and for your own reputation.
The British are reputed to be a nation with a great sense of
humour, despite their proverbial stiff upper lip. They probably
Why else would it be, when the British High Commission in
Colombo summons the Attorney General of Sri Lanka for an
interview, when he applies for a visa? Let us be charitable to
the British and say it was all part of procedure, and that no
one is an exception, shall we?
How then did notorious gangster and drug lord ‘Kudu Lal’
emplane to the United Kingdom, with nothing more than a personal
escort right up to the tarmac by an equally notorious minister?
We haven’t heard that he was deported at Heathrow, so he
probably had a visa, courtesy of the same British High
Commission in Colombo that wanted to interview our Attorney
General in person!
We must hope that Her Majesty would not want to visit Sri Lanka
again. Why, God forbid, if she did, she would have to queue up
at our High Commission in Hyde Park Gardens, be interviewed
about her bona fides and get her visa to Sri Lanka, wouldn’t