|Saturday, 4 October 2003|
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A trial of Lankan resourcefulness
This is testing time for Sri Lanka on a number of important fronts. Foremost among these is our capacity for humanity and our consideration for 'the Other'.
If inter-group petty-mindedness, lack of empathy and callousness towards each other, have, in the final analysis, hurtled this country into an inferno of ethnic strife, no less important as a factor in our problems is the lack of creative imagination and vision on the part of our political elites in both North and South to accommodate each others interests in innovative power-sharing arrangements.
There is also the obsessive concern with power and short-term political gain on the part of some sections of the local power elite, which is continuing to plague this country.
This factor is so crucial today that it would be futile to think-up an innovative political solution to our conflict, without first enjoying the assurance that there would be broad agreement on it among the major Southern political parties in particular. However, the problem is that the major political parties of this country are notoriously opportunistic and this tends to cloud all hope of resolving our crisis expeditiously.
So, the upcoming months are likely to test Sri Lanka to the hilt in a number of crucial respects and unless we put our house in order, assurances of continued external succour would prove of little use.
Even in the case of such external assistance, there is no guarantee that we will be the recipients of freely bestowed largesse with no strings attached.
A couple of days back, for instance, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation were quoted as pledging to increase "the pace of implementation and effectiveness" of their development projects in this country, despite the peace process slowing down, but expressed some concern over the ability of our line ministries to collaborate effectively and efficiently in the conduct of the envisaged development ventures. In other words, how speedily would our public sector institutions deliver the fruits of development to particularly the North-East?
Time is of the essence and the decision of the LTTE to temporarily pull out of the peace process has proved this. The signal which was sent out by the LTTE is that they do not have unlimited patience. Over the months during which they remained engaged in the peace process they did not see any substantial development gains on the ground. This, besides other factors, prompted their pull out. This is adventurous, precipitate action, the critics would say, but from the LTTE viewpoint it was a needed "shocker" to emphasise their concern for concrete results and not simply, "jaw, jaw, jaw."
If a closer look is taken at past failed peace attempts, it could be seen that concrete results, earnestness and honesty are indeed crucial factors for success. In the early Nineties, our line ministries failed to devolve power substantially on the North-East Provincial Council, for instance, and this prompted, it is believed, a Unilateral Declaration of North-East Independence.
So, we are being severely tried in a number of crucial areas. Seen in a positive light, these are opportunities to rise and shine as a resourceful, courageous people.
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