The Case of the Missing H-Bomb


H-bomb_2
Things go missing. It’s to be expected. Even at the Pentagon. Last October, the Pentagon’s inspector general reported that the military’s accountants had misplaced a destroyer, several tanks and armored personnel carriers, hundreds of machine guns, rounds of ammo, grenade launchers and some surface-to-air missiles. In all, nearly $8 billion in weapons were AWOL. Those anomalies are bad enough. But what’s truly chilling is the fact that the Pentagon has lost track of the mother of all weapons, a hydrogen bomb. The thermonuclear weapon, designed to incinerate Moscow, has been sitting somewhere off the coast of Savannah, Georgia for the past 40 years. The Air Force has gone to greater lengths to conceal the mishap than to locate the bomb and secure it.

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PENTAGON LOSES

MOTHER OF ALL WEAPONS

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by Jeffrey St. Clair

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Note for WoP readers: As I mentioned in an earlier note, the US media day and night, cry wolf over possibility of Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of extremists (like al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Mujahideen or Islamic insurgents, the terminology mostly used for yesterday’s friends of the United States called the enemies today). In spite of the fact that the Pakistani nukes are being kept under a strict command and control authority, which amongst other things ensures not even a bit of information is leaked out, or equipment or its component being “taken hold of” as our American friends maintain, the strict codification, does not allow any misuse of such equipment by unauthorized or unwanted elements. These are the steps which every nuclear state takes and take it must. Nuclear equipments are no ordinary toys to be played with by every Tom, Dick and Harry as and when one may wish.

Seen in this context, it should be interesting that the country making such a big blah blah about our nukes under danger has herself lost many of its nuclear “things” including the world’s deadliest weapon, the hydrogen bomb which happened as late as in 1958. Being a matter of highly serious import the fact was a closely guarded secret. After declassification of the secret documents, the case has now come on the surface.

Jeffrey St. Clair of Counterpunch details this story. Not a Sci-fiction, but a real life sory of atomic weapons having gone lost in the Savannah River in Georgia, USA. Nobody knows what may happen to these monsters of destruction i.e. will they remain dormant or completely dead or one day may detonate cusing damage of immense proportions!! [Nayyar] (more…)

Advice From A Pakhtun Patriot of Pakistan


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TO ALL PAKISTANIS: It has to be unambiguously said that, at present, it is the admirable level of patriotism of the Pakhtuns that is saving Pakistan from a very ugly situation. However, aspects like these are never permanent and should not be taken as granted. We must remember that the Bengalis were perfectly patriotic Pakistanis too but are now very patriotic Bangladeshis after events pushed them away from Pakistan.

We must learn from our own history and rectify the overall national situation through good statecraft, backed by a strong military before time actually runs out on Pakistan. It is clear that blazing guns, tanks and gunship helicopters alone will not retrieve the situation for our homeland unless unprecedented and bold political and developmental initiatives are taken.  The Pakistani nation must understand clearly that the target of any internal or external force that is interested in weakening and disintegrating Pakistan is none other than the Pakistan Army itself. When, and if ever, those forces achieve the aim of neutralizing the Pakistan Army the disintegration of Pakistan would be a natural corollary.


by MASOOD SHARIF KHAN KHATTAK


The military operation in Swat, launched with a lot of fanfare, has entered its third week now. The army will, undoubtedly, roll over the disturbed areas and it shall look as if the militants have been completely wiped out. But then this is where reality takes over from the apparent.
It is a known fact that unconventional forces / insurgents never put up a pitched battle against an advancing and angry regular army. They wait for the army to tire itself through days of operations incited by sporadic acts of violence, ambushes, raids, etc., in the entire disturbed area so that the army extends itself, dissipates its resources and extends its lines of communications thus opening itself to more attacks in terms of raids, ambushes and other violent acts.
For the insurgents this can take days, weeks, months or even years. They have all the time in the world to fight when they want to and wherever it suits their purpose. This is what the Pakistan Army needs to guard against. It should locate itself in the disturbed areas in order to help the civil structure take root again rather than tire itself running after shadows over inhospitable terrain.
We must understand that the Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force are Pakistan’s first as well as last line of defence. Now that we are in the grip of  internal disorders the armed forces, essentially the army, have become our last line of defence. What will happen if this institution somehow suffers back-breaking defeats and the insurgents are able to control large tracts of the country? Must Pakistan let that happen? The answer is an obvious NO. But when the army is deployed to fight a seemingly endless insurgency of the intensity that we are today witnessing, all on its own, the results have to be detrimental.
We need to now understand that military actions that cause disruption to normal civic life in the country will always be something that favours the militants. Today, the entire country is in a state of siege. The question that begs an answer is regarding who actually is winning this war, the state or the militants? Most people would say that the militants seem to have the upper hand because the state is getting more and more stuck in quicksand and is steadily losing its ability to maintain its writ. Under the garb of security the sycophants have bottled up the leadership at the local level, the provincial and the federal level so that then they themselves can rule on behalf of the actual rulers at all levels.
Time is, indeed, running out for Pakistan. It is never going to be enough to throw the Pakistan Army into an endless cycle of counterinsurgency operations and then hope for a turn around. What will be of help are political actions at all levels aimed at providing a normal civic life to the citizens of Pakistan whether they live in small remotely located villages or in the bigger cities. The army should then form the punch under which the launching of those initiatives is possible – a punch that builds confidence in the population of the disturbed areas to carry on living in their homes because of just the simple presence of the army in the area.
Under the cover of that punch the revival of the civil machinery in all disturbed areas must take place immediately and when the population of an area realizes that the state of Pakistan is there to make life better for them in terms of civic amenities, schools and colleges for their coming generations, hospitals to provide them health care when they need it most, the state would have attained a decisive victory.
While dealing with the present crisis the Pakistan Army’s deterrent potential and its military balance needs to be kept intact in order to save Pakistan’s integrity from suffering a grievous blow. Most Pakistanis would agree that today, when Pakistan is in the grip of intense militancy, the Pakistan Army is the last hope to keep Pakistan intact. The Pakistani nation must understand clearly that the target of any internal or external force that is interested in weakening and disintegrating Pakistan is none other than the Pakistan Army itself. When, and if ever, those forces achieve the aim of neutralizing the Pakistan Army the disintegration of Pakistan would be a natural corollary. Therefore, people who matter have to join heads and hands immediately in order to make Pakistan cohesive all over again.
It has to be unambiguously said that, at present, it is the admirable level of patriotism of the Pakhtuns that is saving Pakistan from a very ugly situation. However, aspects like these are never permanent and should not be taken as granted. We must remember that the Bengalis were perfectly patriotic Pakistanis too but are now very patriotic Bangladeshis after events pushed them away from Pakistan. We must learn from our own history and rectify the overall national situation through good statecraft backed by a strong military before time actually runs out on Pakistan. It is clear that blazing guns, tanks and gunship helicopters alone will not retrieve the situation for Pakistan unless unprecedented and bold political and developmental initiatives are taken.

The writer is a former director-general of the Intelligence Bureau and former vice-president of the PPPParliamentarians. Email: masoodsharifkhattak@gmail.com
Source: AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists © 2007-2009
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The Pressure of an Expanding War


4-PAKISTAN-5-MCT.standalone.prod_affiliate.8Trying to escape the war: People frantically running away from battle zones in Swat. Almost 2 million people are rendered homeless living in tents and some with their relatives.

Going for Broke

Six Ways the Af-Pak War Is Expanding
by Tom Engelhardt
Yes, Stanley McChrystal is the general from the dark side (and proud of it). So the recent sacking of Afghan commander General David McKiernan after less than a year in the field and McChrystal’s appointment as the man to run the Afghan War seems to signal that the Obama administration is going for broke. It’s heading straight into what, in the Vietnam era, was known as “the big muddy.”
General McChrystal comes from a world where killing by any means is the norm and a blanket of secrecy provides the necessary protection. For five years he commanded the Pentagon’s super-secret Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which, among other things, ran what Seymour Hersh has described as an “executive assassination wing” out of Vice President Cheney’s office. (Cheney just returned the favor by giving the newly appointed general a ringing endorsement: “I think you’d be hard put to find anyone better than Stan McChrystal.”)
McChrystal gained a certain renown when President Bush outed him as the man responsible for tracking down and eliminating al-Qaeda-in-Mesopotamia leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The secret force of “manhunters” he commanded had its own secret detention and interrogation center near Baghdad, Camp Nama, where bad things happened regularly, and the unit there,Task Force 6-26, had its own slogan: “If you don’t make them bleed, they can’t prosecute for it.” Since some of the task force’s men were, in the end, prosecuted, the bleeding evidently wasn’t avoided.
In the Bush years, McChrystal was reputedly extremely close to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The super-secret force he commanded was, in fact, part of Rumsfeld’s effort to seize control of, and Pentagonize, the covert, on-the-ground activities that were once the purview of the CIA.
Behind McChrystal lies a string of targeted executions that may run into the hundreds, as well as accusations of torture and abuse by troops under his command (and a role in the cover-up of the circumstances surrounding the death of Army Ranger and former National Football League player Pat Tillman). The general has reportedly long thought of Afghanistan and Pakistan as a single battlefield, which means that he was a premature adherent to the idea of an Af-Pak — that is, expanded — war. While in Afghanistan in 2008, the New York Times reported, he was a “key advocate… of a plan, ultimately approved by President George W. Bush, to use American commandos to strike at Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.” This end-of-term Bush program provoked such anger and blowback in Pakistan that it was reportedly halted after two cross-border raids, one of which killed civilians.
All of this offers more than a hint of the sort of “new thinking and new approaches” — to use Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s words — that the Obama administration expects General McChrystal to bring to the devolving Af-Pak battlefield. He is, in a sense, both a legacy figure from the worst days of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld era and the first-born child of Obama-era Washington’s growing desperation and hysteria over the wars it inherited.

Hagiography

And here’s the good news: We luv the guy. Just luv him to death.
We loved him back in 2006, when Bush first outed him and Newsweek reporters Michael Hirsh and John Barry dubbed him “a rising star” in the Army and one of the “Jedi Knights who are fighting in what Cheney calls ‘the shadows.'”
It’s no different today in what’s left of the mainstream news analysis business. In that mix of sports lingo, Hollywood-ese, and just plain hyperbole that makes armchair war strategizing just so darn much fun, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, for instance, claimed that Centcom commander General David Petraeus, who picked McChrystal as his man in Afghanistan, is “assembling an all-star team” and that McChrystal himself is “a rising superstar who, like Petraeus, has helped reinvent the U.S. Army.” Is that all?
When it came to pure, instant hagiography, however, the prize went to Elisabeth Bumiller and Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, who wrote a front-pager, A General Steps from the Shadows,” that painted a picture of McChrystal as a mutant cross between Superman and a saint.
Among other things, it described the general as “an ascetic who… usually eats just one meal a day, in the evening, to avoid sluggishness. He is known for operating on a few hours’ sleep and for running to and from work while listening to audio books on an iPod… [He has] an encyclopedic, even obsessive, knowledge about the lives of terrorists… [He is] a warrior-scholar, comfortable with diplomats, politicians…” and so on. The quotes Bumiller and Mazzetti dug up from others were no less spectacular: “He’s got all the Special Ops attributes, plus an intellect.” “If you asked me the first thing that comes to mind about General McChrystal… I think of no body fat.”

From the gush of good cheer about his appointment, you might almost conclude that the general was not human at all, but an advanced android (a good one, of course!) and the “elite” world (of murder and abuse) he emerged from an unbearably sexy one.
Above all, as we’re told here and elsewhere, what’s so good about the new appointment is that General McChrystal is “more aggressive” than his stick-in-the-mud predecessor. He will, as Bumiller and Thom Shanker report in another piece, bring “a more aggressive and innovative approach to a worsening seven-year war.” The general, we’re assured, likes operations without body fat, but with plenty of punch. And though no one quite says this, given his closeness to Rumsfeld and possibly Cheney, both desperately eager to “take the gloves off” on a planetary scale, his mentality is undoubtedly a global-war-on-terror one, which translates into no respect for boundaries, restraints, or the sovereignty of others. After all, as journalist Gareth Porter pointed out recently in a thoughtful Asia Times portrait of the new Afghan War commander, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld granted the parent of JSOC, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), “the authority to carry out actions unilaterally anywhere on the globe.”
Think of McChrystal’s appointment, then, as a decision in Washington to dispatch the bull directly to the China shop with the most meager of hopes that the results won’t be smashed Afghans and Pakistanis. The Post’s Ignatius even compares McChrystal’s boss Petraeus and Obama’s special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, to “two headstrong bulls in a small paddock.” He then concludes his paean to all of them with this passage — far more ominous than he means it to be:
“Obama knows the immense difficulty of trying to fix a broken Afghanistan and make it a functioning, modern country. But with his two bulls, Petraeus and Holbrooke, he’s marching his presidency into the ‘graveyard of empires’ anyway.”
McChrystal is evidently the third bull, the one slated to start knocking over the tombstones.

An Expanding Af-Pak War

Of course, there are now so many bulls in this particular China shop that smashing is increasingly the name of the game. At this point, the early moves of the Obama administration, when combined with the momentum of the situation it inherited, have resulted in the expansion of the Af-Pak War in at least six areas, which only presage further expansion in the months to come:
1. Expanding Troop Commitment: In February, President Obama ordered a “surge” of 17,000 extra troops into Afghanistan, increasing U.S. forces there by 50%. (Then-commander McKiernan had called for 30,000 new troops.) In March, another 4,000 American military advisors and trainers were promised. The first of the surge troops, reportedly ill-equipped, are already arriving. In March, it was announced that this troop surge would be accompanied by a“civilian surge” of diplomats, advisors, and the like; in April, it was reported that, because the requisite diplomats and advisors couldn’t be found, the civilian surge would actually be made up largely of military personnel.
In preparation for this influx, there has been massive base and outpost building in the southern parts of that country, including the construction of 443-acre Camp Leatherneck in that region’s “desert of death.” When finished, it will support up to 8,000 U.S. troops, and a raft of helicopters and planes. Its airfield, which is under construction, has been described as the “largest such project in the world in a combat setting.”
2. Expanding CIA Drone War: The CIA is running an escalating secret drone war in the skies over the Pakistani borderlands with Afghanistan, a “targeted” assassination program of the sort that McChrystal specialized in while in Iraq. Since last September, more than three dozen drone attacks — the Los Angeles Times put the number at 55 — have been launched, as opposed to 10 in 2006-2007. The program has reportedly taken out a number of mid-level al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but also caused significant civilian casualties, destabilized the Pashtun border areas of Pakistan, and fostered support for the Islamic guerrillas in those regions. As Noah Shachtman wrote recently at his Danger Room website:
“According to the American press, a pair of missiles from the unmanned aircraft killed ‘at least 25 militants.’ In the local media, the dead were simply described as ’29 tribesmen present there.’ That simple difference in description underlies a serious problem in the campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. To Americans, the drones over Pakistan are terrorist-killers. In Pakistan, the robotic planes are wiping out neighbors.”
David Kilcullen, a key advisor to Petraeus during the Iraq “surge” months, and counterinsurgency expert Andrew McDonald Exum recently called for a moratorium on these attacks on the New York Times op-ed page. (“Press reports suggest that over the last three years drone strikes have killed about 14 terrorist leaders. But, according to Pakistani sources, they have also killed some 700 civilians. This is 50 civilians for every militant killed, a hit rate of 2 percent — hardly ‘precision.'”) As it happens, however, the Obama administration is deeply committed to its drone war. As CIA Director Leon Panetta put the matter, “Very frankly, it’s the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership.”
3. Expanding Air Force Drone War: The U.S. Air Force now seems to be getting into the act as well. There are conflicting reports about just what it is trying to do, but it has evidently brought its own set of Predator and Reaper drones into play in Pakistani skies, in conjunction, it seems, with a somewhat reluctant Pakistani military. Though the outlines of this program are foggy at best, this nonetheless represents an expansion of the war.
4. Expanding Political Interference: Quite a different kind of escalation is also underway. Washington is evidently attempting to insert yet another figure from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld era into the Afghan mix. Not so long ago, Zalmay Khalilzad, the neocon former American viceroy in Kabul and then Baghdad, was considering making a run for the Afghan presidency against Hamid Karzai, the leader the Obama administration is desperate to ditch. In March, reports — hotly denied by Holbrooke and others — broke in the British press of a U.S./British plan to “undermine President Karzai of Afghanistan by forcing him to install a powerful chief of staff to run the Government.” Karzai, so the rumors went, would be reduced to “figurehead” status, while a “chief executive with prime ministerial-style powers” not provided for in the Afghan Constitution would essentially take over the running of the weak and corrupt government.

(more…)

No gloating in Sri Lanka


LOGO_LTTEDeath of the Tigers

History teaches it’s imperative that the government should be magnanimous in victory


by Eric Margolis


The standard wisdom has it that conventional armies can’t win guerilla wars
The decisive defeat last week of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers shows there are important exceptions to this general rule. Chechnya, Angola and Ukraine in the 1950s were other examples of isolated guerilla movements that eventually were crushed by greatly superior forces with no concern for civilian casualties.
I’ve followed Sri Lanka’s bitter civil war between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils since it began 26 years ago.
As with those endless disputes between Israelis and Arabs, Indians and Pakistanis, Turks and Armenians, I have great sympathy for both sides and watch these conflicts with deep sorrow.
Oppression of the island’s 3.8 million Hindu Tamils by extremists from the 17 million strong Sinhalese Buddhist majority sparked civil war in the early 1980s. Britain lit the fuse for this conflict by putting minority Tamils in many plum positions, part of its divide and rule policy.
Sri Lanka’s Tamils are part of the ancient Dravidian race that once dominated India before being driven south by lighter-skinned Indo-European invaders. They are part of a rich, 2,000-year-old culture; Tamil is one of India’s classical languages.
Sixty-six million Tamils live in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and six million across southern India. Tamils are found from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean. Canada has become a safe haven for many Tamils.
A portly Tamil militant with no military experience, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, founded and led a guerilla force, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in a struggle for an independent homeland in eastern Sri Lanka. He soon became a renowned military leader, cult leader and even an unlikely sex symbol for Tamils everywhere.

Crossfire

Tamil moderates seeking peace were caught in a crossfire between government forces and the ferocious Tigers. Prabhakaran ruthlessly wiped out all rivals and Tamils seeking compromise. The Tigers, drawn from poor peasants and tea pickers, became one of the world’s most formidable fighting forces, repeatedly defeating the heavily armed Sri Lankan army and even the mighty Indian army when it tried to intervene in the war.
margolisAs a former soldier and war correspondent, I marveled at the courage, determination and tactical proficiency of the Tigers, who even had their own tiny navy.
Their suicidal courage, use of suicide bombers and attacks on civilian targets led them to be branded terrorists by many nations, including the U.S. and Canada. India’s late prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was killed in 1991 by a female Tamil Tiger suicide bomber.
Tamils are not “terrorists.” Nor are their opponents, the Sinhalese. Charges by Tamils that Sri Lanka’s government is practising genocide are wildly overstated. This has been an ugly civil war with constant atrocities committed by both sides. Aside from small arms, the Tamil’s primary weapons were often bombs on their bodies. This was a poor man’s struggle against massive firepower and modern weapons.
The Tigers were hemmed in relentlessly by superior forces. Government forces finally cornered the Tigers on the northeast coast and ground them down with heavy artillery, tanks and air strikes. The Tigers fought to the bitter end until leader Prabhakaran was killed.
The Tigers finally were defeated because they ran out of space to manoeuvre. Money, men and arms for the Tigers from the outside world had to run a Sri Lankan and Indian naval blockade. The world turned against Sri Lanka’s Tamils. Up to 100,000 people died in the war.

Power Sharing

History teaches it’s imperative that Sri Lanka’s government in Colombo avoid triumphalism or revenge and be magnanimous in victory. Tamils should be afforded a high level of autonomy — as in India — and power sharing in Colombo. There should be no prosecutions of Tiger leaders.
Unless Colombo is generous in victory, it risks rekindling a low-level insurrection. If Sri Lanka’s Tamils are subjected to a Carthaginian Peace, there is a risk that India’s millions of sympathetic Tamils could become the source of new woes on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.
Source: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/
Eric Margolis is a columnist for the Toronto Sun. His web site is foreigncorrespondent.com.

The Post-LTTE Sri Lanka: Challenges and Tasks Ahead


Mahinda%20Rajapskse%2012_1Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man who successfully eliminated the world’s most dreaded terrorist organization.


by Dr Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra


Aftermath of the demise of one of the world’s most dreaded terrorist organisations, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), the challenges before Sri Lanka are manifold, which include the issues of post-war rehabilitation, reconciliation and reintegration. The terror machine being vanquished to the last with the killing of its leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran and his top aides including his son, Charles Anthony, the most gruelling task before Rajapaksa will be three fold. First, it is the protection of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the government managed camps. Second, it is the issue of their rehabilitation. Third, and most important from a long term perspective, bringing back to the minority Tamils the sense of dignity and unity with Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan nation state.
In the government managed camps there are more than 2,00,000 people languishing as there is an urgent need for food, shelter and medicine all of which are in short supply. The government itself has admitted that the camps are overcrowded, and in the last days of the war, the UN has estimated further 40,000 -60,000 IDPs were huddled into these camps, particularly in the camp at Manik Farm in Vavuniya. In May 2009 so far the UN Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated just over $ 11 million to deal with the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country.

TRO_TamilNational

The more pressing concern of the government must be the rehabilitation of the IDPs. This is no doubt a mammoth task which the Sri Lankan government must undertake. The government has reportedly stated 80 per cent of the IDPs will return to their homes by the end 2009. An ambitious target indeed, but it needs to be seen how far the dream of the displaced to return would be fulfilled as the obstacles against their return are manifold. Their homes have been completely devastated by the war.
A_TAMIL_GIRL(Left) Whether conventional or a modern war, guerrilla attack or an ambush, children face more anguish, more trauma than do their elders.
For many people particularly the women and children the trauma is much deeper as they have lost their sole bread earner to the bullets of either the LTTE or the army. Among the IDPs living in the camps, there are about 55,000 children below the age of 18, many of whom are malnourished. They are also traumatised by the horrors of war and many of them who fought forcibly under the banner of LTTE suffer psychological trauma.
The UN apprehends the volatile situation may turn to a human catastrophe unless Colombo addresses the humanitarian issues swiftly. The other crucial issue is that of harmony and reintegration of the Tamils into the Sri Lankan society. As the international news pour in, there are already violent incidents breaking out between the diaspora Tamils and Sinhalese in different parts of the world. The government of Sri Lanka must take immediate steps to heal the pangs of suffering of the Tamils. Though it is understandable that the Sri Lankan media terms the defeat of LTTE and killing of its leader Prabhakaran a victory of Sri Lanka and showered praise on Rajpaksa as his cut-outs are displayed throughout the nation with enthusiastic supporters displaying national flag, in the post-LTTE phase it appears a national challenge before the government as to how it addresses the concerns of the minority Tamils, which constitute 18 per cent of the population.
The routing of the LTTE which at a time controlled about 15,000 square kilometre in the north east of the island nation, and which was at war with the government for about 26 years resulting in the death of more than 50,000 people, could be a cherished as one of the historic triumph for the Rajpaksa government. However, now in the post-LTTE phase will test the acumen and efficiency of the government in establishing rapport with all the minorities including Tamils to build a strong, united and prosperous Sri Lanka.
The displaced who witnessed the horrors of war from close not only need rehabilitation and resettlement but also reintegration in the framework of the wider, inclusive island nation state. While speaking before the parliament on the 19 May 2009 the beaming president, Mahinda Rajpaksa declared victory over LTTE. He also admitted the uphill task to accommodate diverse aspirations including the Tamil aspirations. While speaking part of speech in Tamil language the President tried to assuage the Tamil sentiment by invoking national unity. He further stated the defeat of LTTE no way entails the defeat of Tamils in Sri Lanka. These high spirited words need to be carefully weighed in coming months against their practice on the ground.
It needs to be seen how far the Rajapaksa government concedes political space to the Tamils in the overall ambit of the unitary Sri Lankan state. In this context, the Amendment 13 of 1987 to the constitution which provided Tamil a national language status, which aimed at addressing the Tamil concerns can be studied and utilised. Similarly, the Norwegian brokered peace deal which talked about internal autonomy to the Tamils within the Sri Lankan state can be considered. Beyond the past agreements and resolutions, the government can also meet the moderate Tamil leaders to devise novel mechanisms to address the minority concerns.
The LTTE might have been destroyed by the military might of the Sri Lankan army but it is the right time the government addresses the concerns of Tamils by appealing to broader themes of reconciliation and harmony in order to win their hearts. Any failure on part of the government to address the concerns might witness the emergence of LTTE like organisations with much more vengeance. There are fears expressed in some quarters that the scattered LTTE might resort to suicide and guerrilla attacks unless the issue of Tamils is not addressed with due urgency.
The most urgent issue before the Sri Lankan government at present, hence, is to address the issue of the displaced and then gradually move towards the political sphere to accommodate the minority concerns within the framework of unitary sovereign state. The government needs to display the political will which it displayed in destroying the LTTE to address the concerns of all its citizens including the minorities. The war ravaged nation must be supported by the international community in its efforts in nation building.
The writer is a research fellow at the Centre for Central Eurasian Studies, University of Mumbai, India.

Source