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Domestic

Gota says US Statement at UN HRC Positive, Underscores Govt’s Responsibility to Maintain Peace

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says the global community should realize the growing danger posed by terrorism and take tangible measures to deal with the threat.

Sri Lanka, he says, can share her experience with those fighting non-state actors in difficult circumstances in various parts of the world. “Anyone perpetrating terrorism should be considered as the common enemy and the world should be united to meet the challenge,” he said.

Responding to a query by The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said nothing could be as accurate as what US Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer told the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva on Friday (Nov.5).

The Defence Secretary was referring to Brimmer’s speech at the first comprehensive review of the US before the UN Human Rights Council, in which she noted it was “our own people, to whom we are ultimately accountable.”

The human rights review comes in the wake of whistleblower website, Wiki Leaks releasing a plethora of classified military documents relating to excesses by US forces fighting non-state actors and the US military turning a blind eye to abuses by those working under its command both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

War veteran Rajapaksa said that Brimmer was spot on. According to the Defence Secretary, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had emphasized on many occasions that his responsibility was for the people of Sri Lanka. The Defence Secretary said that the Sri Lankan government dubbed its military campaign a humanitarian operation as one of its major objectives was the rescue of the Tamil speaking people.

The outspoken official said that the position taken by the US Assistant Secretary could be applied to any other country fighting state or non-state actors, in Sri Lanka’s case a formidable internal threat backed by powerful external factors.

Commenting on an interview given by US analyst Stephen Cohen headlined ‘Lanka lauded for triumph over Tigers, asked to reconcile with Tamils,’ carried on the Oct. 17, 2009, issue of The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa pointed out that the former US State Department employee had referred to the situation in Somali waters and what could have happened if the Sea Tigers established control over Sri Lankan waters.

The Defence Secretary said that the world could learn from Sri Lanka’s experience in fighting an unconventional enemy, who would stop at nothing to achieve its military targets. “For 30 years there was a constant change of strategies. They adopted strategies to counter ours, and we had to take on counter their new plans,” the Defence Secretary said, adding that the government always believed that it was responsible for the people and the entire military effort was directed at restoring civilian control over the entire country. Had there been any other objective, the war against terror wouldn’t have been successful, he said, adding that the people threw their weight behind the military campaign as they felt the action against the LTTE was justified.

Categories
Military

Sri Lanka Rules out Defence Agreement with Pakistan

Sri Lanka has firmly ruled out any defence cooperation pact with Pakistan although they maintained very strong military ties during the height of the ethnic war in the country.

Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the powerful defence secretary, said the government did not discuss the possibility of a Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) during the recent four-day visit by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

`President Mahinda Rajapakse hadn`t discussed any defence-related proposal with his Pakistani counterpart,` the privately-run Island newspaper today quoted the Defence Secretary, who is also the president`s younger brother.

The Island said the defence secretary dismissed what he called unsubstantiated media reports on a post-war DCA between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

However, a joint statement issued by Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the end of Zardari`s visit last month said they had agreed to promote a dialogue on, among other things, defence and security issues.

Zardari, who held closed-door talks with President Rajapakse, discussed increasing trade and defence cooperation, the president`s office said on November 28.

It gave no details of the defence cooperation, but Pakistan was a main supplier of arms and ammunition when government forces were locked in combat with Tamil Tiger rebels.
Pakistan provided heavy weapons that were used to crush the Tamil Tigers in May last year which brought an end to their 37-year violent struggle for a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka.

Gotabhatya told the Sri Lankan daily that his brother`s government had not entered into any DCA during the fighting with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), though the country acquired arms, ammunition and equipment from several countries, including Pakistan.