Army Chief Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya yesterday told ‘Putrajaya Forum’, the International Defence and Security Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia how the GoSL had tackled post-war issues with the support of the international community.
The then Vanni Commander said that Sri Lanka had developed a coherent national plan integrating all Government ministries and agencies, UN agencies, NGOs, INGOs and other aid organizations. The strategy was in two parts. Part I focused on rebuilding the Eastern Province and part II the Northern Province.
The three-day event began yesterday. The Army Chief discussed the Army’s role in the nation building in post-LTTE environment. The SL delegation comprised Secretary Defence and Urban Development, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal H. D. Abeywickrama and the Army Chief.
The ‘Putrajaya Forum’ in Malaysia is attended by Chiefs of Army Staff from 45 countries in the world and is themed on ‘Enhancing Multilateralism for Regional Defence and Security.
Chief of Defence Force, Malaysia General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin made the opening remark at the Chief of Army Around Table Talk on Tuesday (17).
Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya said: "It could be safely stated that the comprehensive defeat of the LTTE was none like any of its kind in the recent history of conflict. But, what is astounding is the completeness of the defeat, and the abrupt cessation of violence, which created a sudden "mission vacuum". The soldier in high intensity combat yesterday, had to continue to be the guardian, whist transforming overnight in to peace facilitator, law enforcer, administrator, health service provider, humanitarian agency and subsequently in to a nation builder."
He said: "There could be no doubt that we are on our way to winning the peace after winning the war. After decades of violence and conflict we face the new millennium as a united nation with hunger for prosperity and enduring peace. The nation’s progress towards where we are today, is governed and guided by the Mahinda Chintana, a vision for the future declared by HE the President in his second election manifesto. The opportunities for our nation are many fold and so are the challenges that run parallel.
The eradication of terrorism comprehensively has provided an opportunity for enduring peace for all communities. Reconciliation enabled through effective resettlement, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration continues steadily. However, challenges in the form of attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the nation through false human rights allegations could derail the ongoing reconciliation and peace building efforts. The challenge of the Army will be to maintain its "Army for all" image, which will support the reconciliation process. Ultimately, the hearts and minds of the people will decide the fate of the nation.
By virtue of the geo-strategic positioning of the nation, a host of regional and international challenges emerge and needs to be addressed. These could challenge the non aligned policy the nation has always followed. The reshaping of the Army in to a more professional outfit will provide deterrence and contribute to the effectiveness of foreign policy.
The Government’s policy for enduring peace gives prominence to economic prosperity. The Presidents vision for the future encapsulated in the MAHINDA CHINTANA exploits the geo strategic positioning of Sri Lanka and aims at developing the nation as a naval, aviation, commercial, energy and knowledge hub linking the east and west. This will include the regeneration of the urban centers such as cities and implementing of rural centric integrated initiatives to empower villages. In addition to the war fighting skills the Army would have to acquire a new set of skills in reconstruction and particular development fields, to aid the development process. Our manpower, organization and planning skills could be put to good use for development. Already we play an active role in urban regeneration."