The Day After Tommorow

  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/date/date/date.theme on line 255.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/date/date/date.theme on line 260.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/date/date/date.theme on line 261.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/date/date/date.theme on line 255.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/date/date/date.theme on line 260.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/date/date/date.theme on line 261.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_page::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_page.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_node_status::operator_form() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::operator_form(&$form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_filter_node_status.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home1/unboweda/public_html/profiles/prosepoint/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

For those of us under 30, Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict ('civil war' if you like) has been with us all our lives. For the rest of us, it just seems like it has. Either way, even as successive governments have promised us a swift and glorious victory, few have stopped to think what that victory would mean, or what consequences it would have. Now, as we hang our heads and mourn the Silver Jubilee of 'Black July 1983,' and hear repeated promises of an early end to the war, it would do us well to pause a while and reflect on the fruits of victory, when victory does come. After all, no one doubts that a war - any war - can be won if only you kill enough people opposed to your point of view.

Gone are the days when the practicality of turning out large quantities of arrowheads set a limit to the numbers you could slaughter. Better bullets and bigger bombs have made slaying the enemy so much easier and safer that only the truly naive could doubt that one of these days we will wake up to be told it is all over.

It was Albert Einstein who, when his theory of relativity transcended everyday experience and human intuition, thought up what he called gedanken experiments - thought experiments - to explain how the theory could translate into situations we could easily understand without the need to actually perform the experiment. Let us then perform our own gedanken experiment to imagine that the war has just been won. Here's what the lead story in your Sunday Leader might be like in the aftermath of that great victory.   

There appears to be no sign (we might write, if only it were true) of any abatement in the dancing in the streets that began when the government announced last Thursday that the 33-year spasm of terrorism Sri Lanka experienced since 1975 has finally been brought to an end. "It is all over," a jubilant military spokesman told a hastily convened press conference last afternoon. "The north has been liberated and the Lion Flag flies over Kilinochchi." Colombo vibrated to the din of exploding firecrackers while in Jaffna, the municipality prepared for a massive fireworks display over the esplanade.

Declaring a public, bank and mercantile holiday on November 17, 2008 coincidentally his birthday - a beaming President Rajapakse in his televised address to the nation yesterday evening said Sri Lanka's troubles are now all over. "Our valiant armed forces fought heroically and won a resounding victory. The enemy has been put to rout. A new era of peace and prosperity for all the people of Sri Lanka has dawned."

Earlier in the day the President toured Kilinochchi, his entourage walking down the main street sans any security. Local people enthusiastically lined the streets, strewing flowers and confetti onto the President's path, singing a hastily-rehearsed version of the chorus 'Hail The Conquering Hero' from Handel's Judas Maccabeus. An 11-year old girl came forward to offer the President a humble garland of wild flowers, and an emotional scene followed when His Excellency hugged her and carried her in his arms. Murmurs of "He cares, he cares" could be heard from the crowd, many of whom were openly weeping with joy.

Asked by the President where her family was, the girl gathered up the pluck to tell him in broken tones that her 14-year old brother had been forcibly recruited to the LTTE and unfortunately killed by the security forces in 'Operation Free Kili.' Her father had died when their village was accidentally bombed in the course of a nearby terrorist camp being targeted by the air force, though miraculously her mother survived despite losing both legs, for which reason she regretted she could not be among those present. The President appeared to be visibly moved by this news and ordered his secretary to ensure that the mother was provided with a free wheelchair from the President's Fund, upon which the girl planted a kiss on his cheek and offered him a high five to raucous applause from the crowd.

As he toured the City of Kilinochchi, deftly sidestepping the craters on what had been the A9, the President received calls from world leaders on his satellite phone. American President John McCain was among the first to congratulate the Sri Lankan leader, going on to pledge that he had ordered General David Petraeus to visit the island to learn first hand how the US could defeat al Qaida. McCain is on record already as admitting that Sri Lankan "advisers" were assisting US troops in combating terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, where US forces are locked in desperate battles to restore democracy. An intensification of the military activity in Iraq, code named 'The Splurge,' is widely seen as a precursor to withdrawing American forces from that country. McCain told the President that US forces in Iran had uncovered and destroyed large stockpiles of bricks, cement and other materials used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

Much of yesterday's jubilation was the result of news of the dramatic events that led to the demise of the LTTE's Leader, Velupillai Pirapaharan. Acting on a tip off, a police detachment raided a bunker in the dense forests of Katkulam, west of Mullaitivu, and captured the terrorist supremo alive. Shortly after his capture, Pirapaharan apologised contritely for starting the war and voluntarily made a televised appeal to his cadres to lay down their weapons and surrender unconditionally to the security forces, formally bringing the war to an end. He thereupon offered to lead the police team to a cache of weapons stored in a secret hideout, in the course of which he drew a revolver he had hidden on his person and attempted to gun down his captors. A shootout ensued, in which Pirapaharan was regrettably killed, while one constable who suffered a tennis elbow was airlifted to Colombo for emergency treatment.

The tip-off that led to Pirapaharan's capture had, according to army sources, come from the Tiger supremo's valet, Ganesh Krishnan. "For thirty three years I washed his socks and ironed his jocks," Krishnan was quoted as saying, "But then I realised that what the LTTE needs is more democracy. So I called the police." Our attempts to contact Krishnan for comment were unsuccessful, however, as the mobile phone signal was weak from his helicopter. However, it is reliably learnt that he has already registered a political party, the People's Party for Eelamist Emancipation, popularly known as PeePee, the official symbol of which is a length of rope. PeePee is widely tipped to sweep the polls in the forthcoming elections to the Northern Provincial Council, which the government has pledged will be free, fair and on the lines of US presidential elections (i.e. the candidate with fewer votes wins).

Before boarding his helicopter Krishnan told reporters that the 100,000 lives that had been lost in the war on terror were a small price to pay given that the island's Tamil minority had won all its demands. "We will now be allowed to communicate in Tamil in areas populated by a Tamil majority," he said, adding that this was a major concession by the government. "His Excellency has also assured us that the cabinet will look sympathetically into our demand to allow those unfamiliar with Sinhala to sing the national anthem (Eelankai Amma) in Tamil, and to replace one of the four bo leaves at the corners of the national flag with a trident representing the Hindu gods Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. The lion, however, is widely expected to remain on the flag, one big cat being very much the same as another."

Krishnan went on to say that the powers vested in the provinces by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution were highly excessive. "The Concurrent List is far too long," he said, adding that he agreed fully with Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan that police powers should be reserved by the central government. "The police are the military wing of the UPFA," he said, "And provincial administrations should not be permitted to meddle in their efficient functioning." Krishnan denied, however, that he himself would be adopting an alias, quipping to chuckles from fawning reporters, "Aliases are for pansies." Unlike Chandrakanthan, Krishnan is given to shooting from the hip. He calls a spade a shovel. "That guy claims to have been a child soldier," he jeered. "Come off it. He was no child soldier, he was a child terrorist."

The Chief Minister presumptive was also optimistic that normalcy would return to the north and east soon, and pointed to the Tamils of Indian origin working in Sri Lanka's estate sector as a shining example of how a minority could win its rights without violence. "We made the mistake of going to war," he said, "Whereas the Indian Tamils chose the democratic path by electing leaders like Arumugam Thondaman to fight for their rights. At the time we became terrorists in 1977, the estate Tamils were leaderless, landless and poor. While we fought for 30 years, they plucked tea and behaved themselves. Now, after three decades of war, it is the northern and eastern Tamils who are leaderless, landless and poor, while the Indian Tamils on the estates are, well, leaderless, landless and poor."

Meanwhile a government spokesman scoffed at rumours that officials responsible for war crimes were to be extradited to The Hague to face charges of genocide. "These claims are highly exaggerated," he said. "Our inquiries have already revealed that the five students found dead on the beach in Trincomalee on January 2, 2006 with mysterious puncture wounds on the back of their heads died of natural causes." The spokesman said also that the deaths of 17 aid workers in Muttur on August 4, 2006 were in fact a mass suicide resulting from their belonging to a doomsday cult. "Such incidents are common in America," he added. "Anyway, the government is now effecting important amendments to the constitution to ensure that such things will not recur. In addition to the fundamental rights to free speech, assembly and association, we will now assure the fundamental right to life. This was a glaring omission from the 1978 Constitution, as a result of which some unfortunate incidents have happened. Soon there will be no more white vans with tinted windows lurking on street corners."

The one sour note in the orgy of national rejoicing yesterday came from supporters of the Hela Urumaya, who are steadfastly opposed to federalism and are calling for a repeal of the 13th Amendment, which gives sweeping powers to the provinces, including the right to pave their own roads and dispose of their own garbage. Speaking at a hunger strike the party is holding outside the offices in Colombo of Federal Express, which it claims subverts Sri Lanka's unitary constitution, a Hela spokesperson called for an end to foreigners investing in the Sri Lankan stock market. "Foreigners are buying up shares and driving prices beyond the reach of ordinary Sri Lankans," the spokesperson said. "It is time for the government to step in and protect local interests, if necessary by introducing a 100% tax. We also demand an end to the import of Norwegian salmon."

The UNP too, expressed cautious optimism in the wake of the government's military victory. "I have just gotten off the phone with former President George W. Bush," the party's leader and sole remaining MP, Ranil Wickremesinghe said. "Mr. Bush said we should express cautious optimism in the wake of the government's military victory."

Asked if the Muslims would persist in their demand for an autonomous region in the east, SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem remained noncommittal. "Maktub," he said laconically in his native Arabic. "It is written."

All the trade unions unequivocally welcomed the government's victory, save for the Federation of Undertakers, which is billed to stage a token strike next Tuesday to protest the unexpected downturn in business.

Meanwhile, the government announced plans to establish a further 973 military camps across the north and east so as to ensure that the local Tamil population do not harm themselves. "Now that we have liberated them," a cabinet source said on condition of anonymity, "We have to make sure they behave themselves and don't cause any further rannygazoo."