Army Commander wants ex-military officers as diplomats | Daily News

Army Commander wants ex-military officers as diplomats

Considering the current situation that has arisen in the country after the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, it is important to be mindful of the Sri Lankan diplomats posted to serve in other countries, said Army Commander Lt.Gen.Mahesh Senanayake.

In response to a question posed by the Daily News on what measures should be taken once the Emergency is lifted, and the role of the Army and long term measures to prevent any future threat, he said, “The main issue is intelligence. We have to enhance our intelligence capacity not just within the country but also in BIMSTEC countries such as India, Nepal, the Maldives etc. Then relationships and diplomacy should be enhanced. Even in posting of Ambassadors these areas must be looked at. Ex-military persons sitting there or military officers working for embassies is required in today’s context. It is not suitable for somebody’s somebody to be posted to these diplomatic positions. That person could be the best lecturer at any university but will not be the best ambassador in this part of the world. The authorities need to understand the importance of this. I believe they will understand it. I am not trying to take advantage of this situation, but it is a fact taking into account the current situation.”

The Army Commander also highlighted the importance of cooperated, integrated intelligence which should come under one ministry.

“Earlier, we were under two ministries but now at least we are all under one ministry. You can have any name, but you need to have a sensible man heading this and not a thug,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Senanayake noted that secondly, the Army can conduct covert operations, monitoring surveillance. “So I am enhancing my army and developing its capabilities within a very short period. At least each and every soldier within the army, whether they are on leave or not, is the eyes and ears of the Army Commander.

“This education is also currently being done. There are around 700 Muslims in the Army and I want to ensure that they never feel they are second to anyone within the Army. That is the psychological operation which is required. We also need the clergy to understand that every citizen of this country should be watchful and mindful of what is happening around them,” the Army Commander said.

Explaining why the Security Forces succeeded in Sainthamarudu, he said Zaharan’s family had moved there newly and the Muslims in the vicinity are the ones who provided the information to the Security Forces.

“Likewise if there are suspicious elements in your own areas,you should be vigilant.The Armed Forces cannot cover the whole island. It is easier if the people are vigilant and notify the Security Forces if something suspicious is observed and then the Police or the Army can carry out these search operations,” Lt.Gen.Senanayake said. The Army Commander noted that like in the past where the Grama Niladhari’s had the list of all household occupants in their areas, the Security Forces have recommended the recommencement of this system.

“It is vital that we have the lists of residents in an area in terms of keeping an eye on those who may infiltrate these areas. However, I am sure there will be allegations of human rights violations being thrown at us when we start implementing this system, but it cannot be helped as we have to ensure national security and we will face these allegations later,” he added.

With regard to the North and those who earlier accused the Army of encroaching on their lives and committing atrocities had requested for security to be beefed up and military presence be increased, the Army Commander said he had directed his Director of Operations to take advantage of this situation and make notes and inputs to other agencies to counter allegations against the military internationally.

“If we had committed the kind of atrocities that they are accusing us of, then how come they are calling us back and now asking to increase the military presence in the North? Hence, it is clear that these are all fabricated stories and therefore, this is a good opportunity for the Sri Lankan military to have these baseless allegations against them removed and have its name cleared,” the Army Commander said.

In conclusion, he urged the people to stop focussing on the swords and weapons that are being recovered and have confidence on the Army. “I am not talking about the government, but let the Army do its part and I request others to do their part. What I mean is someone who has nothing to do with security should not talk about security. I don’t know about religion or schools, so I cant talk about them. But, I can talk about the security of schools and that is why I said if students can attend tuition classes, there is no reason why they cant go to school. This is politics. That is wrong.”

When asked if he could give an assurance to parents that schools will be safe, he said ‘yes’ of course. “Last week schools were opened and nothing happened because we provided security. Strangely though, some schools in very remote areas where no one even knows where these schools are, had the least number of student attendance. Something is wrong here. These schools don’t even have 200 students but even they don’t come. This shows the psychological effect created by some media. The majority of the media have been very supporting and have reported very responsibly, but there are a handful who have used every minor incident to create a mountain out of a mole hill and spread panic. We are a nation that has been moving forward and I urge the people not to panic and get back to their normal routines. We will protect you, have confidence,” he urged, adding that this is not the first time this happened to the country which had suffered 30 years of war. Hence, he said this is nothing new.

In an appeal to the media to be mindful in reporting news, the Army Commander said, “The media also has a role to play in all this. I humbly request the media to do the right thing by doing justice to the people. Please don’t use this opportunity to compete with each other in order to increase your ratings or circulation. The people know who the best is and this is not a time to try to cut others and make your mark.”

He said musical shows, carnivals and other events should all be held and the military will provide security.

“Even the Christians can go to church as every family belonging to a parish have been issued a family book. They can form vigilance committees and community groups to support the Armed Forces in their operations,” he added. 


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