Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa today asked western governments to engage constructively with Sri Lanka as international pressure especially by western nations misled by LTTE sympathisers would have an adverse impact on the country’s economy.
“Instead of narrowing the scope of their engagement with Sri Lanka because of many misinterpretations and lobbying by special interest groups in their own countries, the nations should engage constructively with the Government. It is only then that they will see for themselves the good work being carried out here despite significant constraints,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.
He made these comments at a joint seminar on political and diplomatic challenges faced by nations during and after conflict confined to borders. The seminar was organized by the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies and the Pakistan High Commission.
Mr. Rajapaksa said one of the challenges that a nation faced after an internal conflict was in dealing with other nations where human rights had become one of the most critical topics in the relationship between states.
He said militant groups could be skillful in using their activists around the world to exploit these issues to create problems for the Government in post conflict situation.
“During the course of long conflicts, people will leave the country and seek asylum abroad. Over the years, these asylum seekers will end up getting citizenship in these foreign countries and become a powerful political voice there. For example, the large number of Tamils who migrated to Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and many European nations during the past three decades now comprises a powerful lobby in those countries,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.
He said there were many lessons to be learnt from the Sri Lankan experience in dealing with its post conflict challenges and that there could be people from the defeated militant group who were still active domestically, working in secret or sometimes more openly.
“In a democratic country, when the security situation and restrictions are relaxed, the allies of the terrorist groups can even work through democratic political parties to propagate the same ideologies that led to militancy in the first place. They may work towards rousing the ideas and feelings of people once again to lead them down the path to armed violence. Any responsible Government needs to be watchful of such developments,” he noted.
Mr. Rajapaksa said there was no doubt that its members will try very hard to restart the conflict in Sri Lanka. This is a threat that must be guarded against, that is why the Government of Sri Lanka will not compromise when it came to providing security to the nation.(Supun Dias)