Colombo: Terming India its "closest ally", Sri Lanka has said its support during the war with the LTTE helped "reduce the pressure" mounted by the world community and allowed it to proceed with humanitarian operations in the war-ravaged north unhindered.
"The relationship developed over the past four years with our closest ally, India helped us in many ways in our war against terrorism," the powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya
India`s support greatly helped "reduce the pressure mounted by other nations," which allowed us to proceed with our humanitarian operations unhindered, Rajapaksa the brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said here yesterday.
"It is very important that we strengthen this key relationship even further in the years to come," he said while speaking at a function here.
Persuading western countries that they must help Sri Lanka more meaningfully to combat this threat requires us to unite as a nation and speak with one voice, instead of being weakened and divided by petty considerations, he said.
He said significant support was also received from other key allies that helped withstand the pressure being "directed by the international community to leave the war unfinished."
"These countries also provided us vital material assistance towards the war effort, when barriers were put in place that prevented our obtaining military hardware from our western allies," Rajapaksa said in his address.
He said even though the Tiger rebels will not be able to resurface in Sri Lanka, their financial network was a matter of concern.
"Although we will make sure that the LTTE cannot raise its head again in Sri Lanka, the continued existence of these financial networks is a danger to our country."
In addition to taking care of the external threats that could arise from the LTTE`s international network, the challenge of ensuring "our" security includes our taking preventative measures within Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa the capabilities of the Sri Lankan Defence Forces need to be further strengthened by maintaining high standards of professionalism and
sophistication. He said the surveillance and rapid response capabilities of the Sri Lanka Navy have to be enhanced to protect the country`s entire coastline and make sure that no arms or personnel can infiltrate the Sri Lankan territory.
"A key area that needed attention during the course of our operations, (ie) our intelligence services, needs to be further strengthened as we seek out and dismantle the LTTE`s network within Sri Lanka," he said.
It is also very important that the LTTE cadres who surrendered or were detained are rehabilitated so that their thinking changes and they see the propaganda they were fed by the LTTE were not true. This rehabilitation will allow them to re-enter society as productive citizens in the long term, Gotabhaya added.
"We need to make sure that the unsafe areas in the North are cleared swiftly, and that the former victims of the LTTE`s regime are resettled in their villages as soon as possible."
"Once normalcy returns, and these people see the far higher quality of life and opportunities available to them following the LTTE`s defeat, we will be able to win their hearts and minds," Rajapaksa added.