The game of bluff
The LTTE theatrics continue to sap the collective energies of a weary nation - the issue of the week being the pressure that's being applied on the Government to bring back peace and normalcy to a tortured nation and her people of all faiths and races.
They keep distracting the Government, the people, and even ourselves, from many other urgent matters that relate to good governance and the re-building of a war-ravaged economy.

But then again on the other hand, there is in the overall scheme of things, no issue that is larger than the issue of the North East conflict, and no greater resolve than that is required than to solve this conflict.

The LTTE is now playing the familiar hard-to-get tactics in this game of high stakes poker. Bluff is one of the aspects of this game, and when appropriate one needs to know not only to call a spade a spade, but also to call the bluff.

Does the Government and the international community really think that the LTTE is going to keep off the negotiating table, and from all those mouth-watering dollar pledges that come along with it? It is plain. If there are no talks there are no dollars. In the unlikely event that there is even a hint that the LTTE will return to the battlefield -- which is what the LTTE is implying with its hard to get tactics -- then the Government had better get ready for war.

Already the Government's deep penetration unit has been castrated under our noses. Last week, we were witness to LTTE dressed in their battle fatigues commemorating the great Elephant Pass debacle of the Sri Lankan forces, and in the process they showed off their long-range guns. Striking simultaneously, they want to push the army out of Jaffna and their Sea Tigers recognised. Take it from us, the LTTE will come back to the table come what may. They want the dollars, and the army moved out of Jaffna for nothing in return.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister and the Japanese special envoy will next week pay homage to the LTTE while coaxing them to return to talks. At the same time they will twist the arm of the Sri Lankan Government to yield to LTTE demands in order to get them back to the table.

The twin issues of the re-location of troops in Jaffna and monies for the LTTE must be part of the negotiating process. Cash on delivery is what the international community must tell the LTTE. Otherwise, as our Defence Correspondent says on the opposite page, the Government will find itself having yielded and there would be no need to go to the negotiating table to discuss 'core issues' of human rights, multi-party democracy and laying down arms.

The words of Anton Stanislaus Balasingham from December 2001 must ring in the ears of the Sri Lankan Government's political and military establishment. "We will get back Jaffna either militarily or politically,' he said.

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