|Wednesday, 4 June 2003|
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The need to focus on peace gains
Amid the continuing uncertainties in the peace process come two happy news stories which should help somewhat in boosting the public morale. One concerns the bumper Maha paddy harvest, which the past one and a half year long ceasefire has helped consolidate.
The other centres on the trendy LTTE-run restaurant in what were once the desolate wastes of Kilinochchi. The restaurant which is believed to be specializing in some exotic dishes of the Orient, could be regarded as a sign that more relaxed times are upon the denizens of the North.
Yet, these developments are only pointers to the happy lot which could be the country's if the peace process is persisted with and taken to its logical conclusion. Official sources quoted by us yesterday said that the extent of paddy land under fruitful cultivation had increased by 20 percent after the launching of the peace process. Vast areas of land which had lain fallow in the North-East as a result of the war, are today yielding a bountiful harvest. It is possible to transport items such as seed paddy, fertilizer and agro-chemicals freely to the North-East, following the lifting of travel restrictions.
On the other hand, our Kilinochchi-based, "star class" restaurant, besides testifying to the innovative genius and the entrepreneurial ability of the Northern people, hints at the job and business opportunities which a continued climate of peace may generate. The possibilities inherent in peace, in other words, are enormous and wide-ranging. The endeavour of the well-meaning should be to consolidate the present peace climate.
It is the considerable gains emanating from the peace process - and the above developments are just two such spin-off benefits - which are probably preventing the principal oppositional forces from overtly advocating a return to war or the military option.
Despite subjecting the current peace process to a volley of criticism, it should be noted that these sections broadly support the search for a negotiated political settlement. However the pitch is somewhat queered by their attempts to fly with the peace dove and to hunt with the Southern hardliners.
At this delicate point in the peace journey, it is up to the Government and those supporting the search for a political settlement, to constantly focus on the gains of the past several months of relatively war-less calm. This should be a principal element in future conscientization programs aimed at the public.
The Prime Minister has done right to switch to a strategy of talking to the Tigers directly to clear existing bottlenecks in the peace process.
This policy of direct, open communication should be applied by the State to the process of disseminating to the public, the gains of the peace process. There is no escaping the necessity for confidence-building and for closer rapport at both the Govt-LTTE level as well as the State-public level.
Produced by Lake House