Make them pay | Daily News

Make them pay

The unfolding details before the Presidential Commission inquiring into the Easter Sunday bombings is indeed a revelation of the extent to which the country’s security had been compromised due to the tug-o-war between its leaders and breakdown in communication in the security establishment.

Former Defence Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s testimony before of the Commission says it all.The blame game and passing the buck appears to be the order of things as the evidence unfolds in all its stark details. The result - 270 innocent lives were lost and more than 400 injured in the worst carnage witnessed in the country in living memory.

Security was compromised in other ways too by the inaction of those responsible at the top hierarchy of the security establishment. Details of lapses, omissions and ego problems among the top security brass contributed in no small way to the tragedy which could have been easily avoided had the proper mechanism put into operation.

This was clearly revealed in the evidence of former Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi before the Commission on Friday. Testifying, Hettiarachchi told the Commission that the officials did not go all out to investigate acts of Muslim extremism due to fears it would antagonise minority political parties who helped return the Yahapalanaya Government to power.

He said Intelligence agencies kept tabs on the promotion of extremism by certain mosques and madarasas but were hesitant to take action because of political implications. "If those things were happening in the majority community we could have easily done something.We had to be very careful with Muslims and Christians”. He said the Yahapalanaya Government came to power with the votes of minorities and officials felt helpless.

In other words those responsible for the country’s security and safety of its citizens did nothing because this would have caused problems for the Yahapalanaya Government.Why pray then have a security service at all if its hands are tied due to the exigencies of the political party in power. Is the same yardstick going to followed in the future as well? Why spend millions of public money in maintaining the security intelligence network if it cannot take action in certain circumstances. What is the whole purpose of this apparatus if it is rendered defunct due to political expediency?

True, the minority vote largely tilted balance in bringing to power the Yahapalanaya Government. But it was the majority vote which laid the foundation for this. If the evidence of Hettiaarachchi is to be taken to its logical conclusion, the safety and security of the majority community did not matter so long as the minorities were not touched even if sections of the latter indulged in the kind of extremism that endangered the security of the country. Alas, it is this same indulgence that was witnessed down the years in Parliamentary politics in this country where the minority political parties were allowed to have their say for far too long.They held the Government of the day to ransom by their bargaining strength in Parliament to making unreasonable demands which were yielded to by the Governments - not only in obtaining plum ministerial portfolios but also other lavish favours such as top jobs in Government institutions and diplomatic postings for kith and kin and associates .

Thankfully, this equation has now changed with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa initially and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna obtaining a clear majority without the help of any of the minority parties obviating the need for giving into their demands.

This also brings into focus the whole issue of the need for changing the present Proportional Representation (PR) system that hitherto provided the needed leverage for minority political parties with the bargaining strength in Parliament by virtue of amassing the numbers in areas contiguous with their kind .

Minister Professor G.L Peiris has stated that among the key changes to be made in the 20th Amendment would be the dismantling of the current PR system for a mixed electoral option, which, indeed, augurs well for future political stability.

Be that as it may, the security lapses that led to the Easter Sunday carnage should be viewed with the seriousness it deserves and all those who shirked their responsibilities whoever they may be ,made to answer. We say this because the casualness and lethargic approach by the top officials in the concerned security arms that is now unraveling in all its bizarre details is unpardonable and deserves the severest punishment. It is clear that there had been a break in the line communication of the security top brass that led to the tragedy. It is also clear from the evidence been heard that political expediency had eclipsed concerns for national security.Hence all those guilty should be made accountable.The Government owes this to the public on whose money the security apparatus is maintained.

Not just the officers of Intelligence bodies who failed in their tasks but the political authority who knew what was happening and did nothing too should be made to answer if justice is to be done to those innocents who perished in the Easter Sunday carnage.