‘Military option’ in the war against drugs | Daily News

‘Military option’ in the war against drugs

President Maithripala Sirisena has declared war in earnest against the country’s drugs mafia. No doubt, desperate situations call for desperate measures. The narcotics business has today grown to monstrous proportions in this country and, if allowed to continue unchecked, is bound to spell doom for the country and its future generation.

Hence, the call made by President Sirisena to members of the Security Forces and the Police for an all out war against narcotics trafficking, to be fought with the same intensity as they did, to end the 30 year war against terror, no doubt, would be endorsed by all right thinking citizens of this country. Addressing members of the Police and Security Forces at the Janapathi Prashansa awards ceremony held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Monday the President, in what was virtually a clarion call, to eradicate the drug menace that is sweeping the country, urged them to come forward to accomplish what he called ‘this great humanitarian mission’, by deploying their skills and expertise, talents and heroism they used to defeat terrorism, pledging to provide them with the necessary leadership and resources in this endeavour.

The President, no doubt, is working with single-minded purpose to combat the narcotics menace that has virtually taken a stranglehold on the country. Recently he launched a programme countrywide targeting all Government schools to educate the young on the dangers of drugs, enlisting the support of the Army Commander in this endeavour. Apparently, now he has gone a step further and wants to get the army to get directly involved in his mission to eradicate narcotics trafficking. The President is only too aware that for an operation of such magnitude there is no better option than the military. This is considering the dimensions assumed by the drugs underworld which has individual armies operated by the kingpins.

Hardly a day passes without a major detection of drug hauls from some part of the country. The recent detection of 272 kgs of narcotics, said to be the largest detection made in this country, from the seas off Beruwela, no doubt, is a clear indication of the humongous proportions the problem has assumed in this country. Not long thereafter an equally large haul of narcotics was seized from a luxury house in Attidiya and five foreign nationals arrested, which shows how the tentacles of the narcotics business has spread far and wide extending beyond our shores. The President’s consternation at the exponential growth of the narcotics trade in this country can be gauged from the fact that his entire visit to the Philippines and Singapore recently was dedicated to finding ways of tackling the menace with the help of the leaders of those states.

No doubt, his decision to put the country on a ‘war footing’ in the fight against the narcotics networks was inspired by how the leaders of these two states approached the issue in their own countries. Although the methods used may vary, the President certainly could not have failed to ignore the effectiveness of using fire to fight fire, so to speak.

And few would disagree that the President’s decision is well thought out. If there is one agency which can deal a death blow to the narcotics trade in this country it could only be the combined might of the Security Forces, whose credentials for the job, no doubt, was derived from its resounding success in defeating what was described as the foremost terrorist organisation in the world. This is more so since the whole narcotics business has assumed the character of a war of sorts. Like the LTTE, the narcotics operatives are well trained in handling sophisticated weapons that are in free circulation in the drugs underworld. The frequent bloodletting on the highways where turf wars between the rivals in the narcotics trade are fought in the open needs special skills and expertise in dealing. This can only be achieved by men who are past masters of the game and who have seen it all before.

The deployment of the Armed Forces, therefore, is the only way to destroy the well entrenched narcotics business in the country. Besides, narcotics trafficking is an international phenomenon and it is the military which has the organisation and wherewithal to deal with the complex matter successfully. The President would also have factored in the reality that the country’s Armed Forces were the least likely to fall prey to the blandishments of the drug lords or the politicians who provide sanctuary to the racketeers. It is well known that the drug business in this country had expanded to this monstrous level chiefly due to the patronage offered by politicians to the drug traffickers, not to mention members of the law enforcement.

President Sirisena would also have come to the conclusion after his meeting with the Philippines leader that only a pro-active approach involving the military would work in his battle against the narcotics trade ala a search and destroy mission. It is only the Armed Forces who are capable of such a pro-active role after its success against terrorism.


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