|Friday, 25 April 2003|
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The need to move steadily ahead
Problems present us with opportunities. The country cannot afford to lose sight of this maxim at this crucial juncture in the peace process.
While the decision by the LTTE to suspend talks with the Government should be seen as a setback, there is no getting away from the need to seek the positives in this situation and to build on them. Given the thorny issues separating the two sides in the peace process, setbacks of this kind shouldn't come as a surprise.
However, what is of utmost importance is that we analyze as to where we have gone wrong in our handling of the peace process and to rectify all shortcomings with a view to putting the peace effort on a stable track.
This is clearly not the occasion for naming and blaming. The ethnic conflict is all about differences among the communities, some of which are seen to be unresolvable. However, if peace is sought with determination and courage, even seemingly insurmountable obstacles could be overcome.
If most of us in the Lankan polity are agreed that peace and communal harmony are best for us, then we need to unitedly go ahead with the task of achieving these aims without side-tracking into naming, shaming and blaming, which are the epitomes of defeatism.
The problem with the disgruntled in our body politic and their backers is that they cannot come to terms with the fact that peace in Sri Lanka has to be based wholly and entirely on the principle of equality. To put it bluntly, the communities of this country can no longer treat each other in a step-motherly fashion.
Mutual respect and recognition are the cornerstones of harmony. In this connection, we welcome Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's recent statement that what is needed most now is a steady march forward. Peace has to be found in a spirit of partnership between the main parties and we hope a steadfast effort will be made by them to push forward the peace process.
It should be remembered that peace is also the concern of all. If peace proves elusive, all would suffer.
The peace-loving public is likely to be glad that the Government - LTTE sub committees would continue to function despite the LTTE's decision to suspend peace talks. These committees need to be result-oriented if the credibility of these bodies is to be enhanced.
Non-action on the ground and tardiness in the development process have contributed substantially in the past towards distrust and acrimony among the communities.
However, quick tangible results on the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement plane could convince the disaffected of the urgent need to put the peace process on a fast track.
Time is of the essence. The majority of the people rejoice over the cessation of hostilities. However, steadfast action needs to be taken to tackle the root causes of the conflict.
Produced by Lake House