Controversies behind unknown international agreements

By T. Rusiripala

The country is barely able to overcome the shock of the 21 April unexpected inhumane attack on innocent citizens perpetrated by a group with foreign terrorist attachments. Our security forces are actively engaged in search operations leading to alarming revelations about elements and factors spread throughout, very much indicative of the volatile potential danger we were exposed to.

This exercise invariably has to be followed by a process of comprehensive investigations as a legal requirement to prosecute and punish those responsible. There cannot be any doubt that this activity is more important than anything else in bringing about normalcy.

Nevertheless, due to the high political sensitivity of the matter particularly in a context of imminent elections, the focus of the issue appears to be diverted to other less important areas of exculpation and vituperation. Our politicians never agreeing to reach consensus even during a crisis have taken this to an arena full of amusable antics of a set of clowns. Hence the seriousness of the state of affairs is resting in the hands of the citizens hopefully relying on the security forces.

The ordinary citizens in desperation have a tendency in such circumstances to pay attention to what their religious leaders have to say. Both historically and in contemporary societies, religion has played a central role in political life, either way for the better or sometimes for the worse.

Today, according to the pathetic situation that the country is confronted with, the citizens remain exposed to the expectations of solace from some reliable source. Hence the religious leaders, in particular the religious dignitaries, are looked up to by ordinary people, who constitute the majority of the population, to come forward and help the country in course correction exercises, to save the marooned from all the consequential negligence of the politicians who lack the sense of a little precaution. Amidst the devastation caused to the country by the terrorists and the political masterminds behind the moves, who are hell bound to protect the involved at any cost, there appears to be several other emerging new situations in the magnitude of future national threats to our sovereignty. In as much as a terrorist attack is a threat to our economic and social development, any act which has a potential danger to our independence and sovereignty has to be considered as equally alarming, hazardous and treacherous.

Unfortunately the country is right now in the middle of a controversy where our national independence is threatened to be subjugated to domination by international powers with vested interests. It is alleged that certain agreements in the pipeline with the United States seriously endanger the independence of the country if entered into.  The following quote is relevant and appropriate in this context: “A fundamental principle of international law, incorporated in a wide range of international and regional instruments, is permanent sovereignty over the nations’ wealth and resources and all its economic activities as a basic constituent of the right of peoples for self-determination and its corollary, the duty of states to respect sovereign equality in their relations with other states.”

It is presumed that the fragility of security to which we are driven into following the international aggression manifested through the recent April attack by ISIS-inspired Muslims is made a cat’s paw opportunity by other international aggressors to propagate their dogmas and doctrines to promote direct, unilateral, preventive and pre-emptive intervention, including military, in our internal affairs. We have to seriously view this development that is being cultured by interested parties in the wake of our recent calamity and the manner in which the Government is attempting to hurriedly conclude such proposals being highly suspected international agreements.

There are several questions that arise.

Are we allies of the US or are we continuing with our non-alignments?

Have we got to agree to all initiatives of US security and foreign policy in the region, disregarding the fact that US has spectacularly gone wrong in such measures before and also disregarding the need to maintain a secured balance between the other emerging economic giants in our own region such as India and China?

Are we ready to sacrifice our existing cultural regionalism which bonds the Asian nations together with attachments with our neighbours?

Are we ready to disregard the growing effect of the ‘Dawn of the Asian Era’ in which we are more close to our region?

Is the recent terrorist threat to be regarded as circumstances leading to where we are pushed towards an impossible transition from a difficult security situation we cannot handle?

Are we a country emerging out of a situation ending a military dictatorship or in the beginning of a decolonisation process?

We have clear answers to all these questions. Our security forces have proven capability of ending a world-accepted heinous terrorist group which took the lives of two country leaders ending a 30-year internecine war. Immediately following the declaration of a State of Emergency the security forces went into action and brought the entire situation under control.  When the puerile politicos were engaged in mud-slinging battles the security forces are doing their best. The religious dignitaries played their role in containing an otherwise volatile situation by their timely interventions. The role played by His Eminence Malcom Cardinal Ranjith is great and inexplicable. The country owes its gratitude to the Cardinal for convincing the Catholic community, the main victims of the horrendous attack, and preventing any backlash.  The Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact offers which are subjective and directed towards sinister operations as a foundation to establish and propagate neo-liberal thinking to standardise and rationalise the global economy to ensure a monopoly and control over foreign markets has to be considered with great care. The conditionality attached has to be scrutinised independently.

The SOFA is paving the way for military interventions and conjectured by the majority of the citizens as highly damaging to the independence and the sovereignty of the nation. So much so such commitments to foreign powers would need ratification by the whole country under a national referendum. Therefore we have to call upon the Government not to rush through these steps at a time like this without affording the opportunity for people to freely express their views and opinions.

The need to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public authorities by giving effect to the right to access to information is accepted by the Government as its declared policy.

Thereby the Government envisages to promote a society in which people of Sri Lanka would be able to participate more fully in public life through combating corruption and promoting accountability and good governance.

It is time for the religious dignitaries to come together as one force and make a declaration to this effect since people have faith and confidence in them and the security forces than the empty politicos.

“Our foreign policy, politics foreign or domestic, could only be understood through a lens of conspiracy.”

(The writer is a Councillor, CMC.)

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