Avoid getting back to 'Square
the Parliamentary proceedings of Thursday could not have helped
being arrested by the feeling that the country is back to
'Square One' with regard to finding a political solution to our
conflict. It was mostly a case of one side contradicting the
other and the discussion remaining stalemated on the issue of
resolving the conflict for good on mutually-acceptable terms.
Frankly, there is nothing left to split hairs on. The country
knows for a fact that the subject has been exhaustively and
painstakingly discussed over the decades and that the solution
to the problem has virtually been found. What is left to be done
is to formalize the solution and to implement it. It is on the
question of formalizing this settlement or of making it take
shape as a coherent and intelligible set of proposals that the
Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) would prove useful.
However, the answer to this seeming riddle of our times is
already written in the hearts and minds of the people. That is,
they want to live in peace and amity with each other on the
basis of equality and non-discrimination, as long as violence
and bloodshed are not used to press claims and as long as the
unitary status of the country is not compromised. A solution
within these parameters would have been acceptable to all our
communities even 25 years ago, but what prevented the clinching
of an agreement was the opportunistic politics resorted to by
some quarters and the extremism practiced by the LTTE, coupled
with the communalism vociferously preached by some sections in
Southern Sri Lanka. The latter factors effectively ensured that
the finding of a solution was impeded and rendered long drawn.
But with the elimination of the LTTE, the doors seem to be
wide open to a relatively trouble-free clinching of the issue.
With the Tiger-inspired bloodshed and violence that sent
emotions rising high in all sections of the polity coming to an
end, a mood of rationality seems to have settled far and wide.
We are seeing this change of tone in Parliament itself. Rather
than the rancour and bitterness of the past we find that more of
our political parties represented in Parliament are speaking of
the need for cooperative and cordial living among communities,
although there is yet to be a meeting of minds on the shape and
substance of a solution.
Therefore, it is very unlikely that a fair and just solution
to the conflict, based on the legitimate needs of our
communities, would meet with fierce opposition in any quarter as
long as this solution is worked out within the parameters of a
unitary and united state. Therefore the national mood could be
said to be just right for the parties relevant to the conflict
to sit together at the negotiating table and to speak earnestly
to each other on a mutually-acceptable solution.
We need to make a concerted attempt to prevent ourselves from
getting back to those days of gloom when mutual recriminations
and accusations were the order of the day. Rather, the parties
to the conflict must seize the moment and talk to each other
with an intent to building on the positives that are already
there. One such positive is the accelerated development which
has been launched in the North-East. The state is in these
regions in a big way and the Tamil parties, in particular, would
do well to cooperate with the state in bringing concrete
benefits to the people of these provinces.
The way to peace is a peaceful disposition. There are really
no special techniques for the furtherance of peace. This needs
to be realized by all on the conflict resolution front. The TNA
and other relevant parties could chose to be destructively
critical and stand aloof from the development drive in the
North-East and thereby delay the arrival of a solution or
cooperate with the state wholeheartedly in its development
efforts and help in brining down the barriers between the main
parties. When the main parties to the issue give-up bickering
and cooperate in achieving some good for the people, they would
find that there are little or no differences between them. This
is on account of the good will joint efforts generate.
Finally, the consensus has emerged in Parliament that a
political solution should be worked out to the conflict. That
is, a national consensus on a political solution has emerged. We
urge all relevant parties to, therefore, seize the PSC mechanism
to forge a settlement. Rather than throw brickbats at the PSC
idea, they should look at it positively and exploit its
potential in an earnest spirit to deliver a settlement.