Making Independence more meaningful
Sri Lanka celebrated its 63rd anniversary of Independence on Friday with pride and joy as the country is marching towards new economic horizons after terrorism was eradicated.
Coincidentally, the 83rd anniversary of the Sunday Observer also fell on the same day. Sri Lanka's flagship English newspaper published its first issue on February 4, 1928 and on this same day after 20 years Sri Lanka gained its independence.
The Sunday Observer continues to remain the undisputed market leader for over eight decades due to the implicit trust reposed by millions of readers from all walks of life. During this period, the Sunday Observer made a worthy contribution to the nation and its well-being as a responsible national newspaper.
We note with a sense of pride that the Sunday Observer, through thick and thin, backed the Security Forces in its battle against the terror unleashed by the LTTE. Despite the local media turning out to be firm supporters of the Security Forces when the final battle was being fought in the Nandikadal lagoon, those with vested interests attempted to brand us as warmongers when we supported the battle against terror at its very early stages in Mavil Aru.
Nevertheless, even those who branded us warmongers in the early stages of the battle, eventually understood the crucial need and joined hands with us to fulfil a national obligation by getting all Sri Lankans to rally round our valiant Security Forces.
When President Mahinda Rajapaksa took over the reins of Government over five years ago as the First Citizen, the country was in a state of near collapse due to the heightening terrorist activities and a crumbling economy.
In sharp contrast, President Rajapaksa has now transformed the country into a booming economy after eradicating terrorism. Sri Lanka is now triumphantly marching towards achieving its objective of becoming the Wonder of Asia.
Sri Lanka scored a first and became the only country to eradicate terrorism due to the valiant efforts of the Security Forces and the indomitable leadership they received from President Rajapaksa as the Commander-in-Chief.
Sri Lanka's Security Forces not only eliminated the scourge of terrorism, but also achieved all those magnificent victories against the world's most ruthless terror outfit which had indiscriminately killed thousands of hapless people apart from political and religious leaders. The successful battle against the LTTE to end three decades of terrorism was indeed a landmark achievement in the annals of Sri Lanka's history.
This is all the more significant when one considers the increasing internal and external pressure exerted on Sri Lanka - both militarily and diplomatically. Despite all overwhelming odds, President Rajapaksa directed the Security Forces to step up the battle against terror and meet the aspirations of the entire nation.
When President Rajapaksa took office on November 18, 2005, people across the length and breadth of the country sought just one thing - to liberate the country from the clutches of terrorism which took Sri Lanka to the brink of disaster.
This seemed to be a Herculean task and only a handful of people believed that the LTTE and its leadership could be vanquished in less than four years. However, when President Rajapaksa declared that the island was fully liberated from LTTE terror on May 18, 2009 Sri Lanka gained her 'second independence' to unite its people under the Lion flag. Protecting the territorial integrity is as important as gaining freedom.
This paved the way for a new era of development as the President evinced a keen interest in rebuilding the nation and raising it from the ashes. The initial task of resettling over half a million people displaced due to terrorism, was achieved in next to no time, thereby setting an example to the international community. Following the liberation of the North and the East and having rescued those who were held captive by the Tigers, the Government launched mega infrastructure development projects in the North and the East. Those timely investments paid dividends for the people in the two provinces to return to their normal life.
In doing so, President Rajapaksa simultaneously took on the challenge of waging the war against terror and embarking on massive development projects. Development work was not hampered due to the battle against terror and the wherewithal was found to set up new projects.
This was precisely how Sri Lanka got back to business swiftly and recorded a remarkable economic development within a matter of months after terrorism was eradicated. No country which had confronted such a devastating situation before had bounced back so fast as Sri Lanka did. The visionary policies of President Rajapaksa and his Government helped Sri Lanka reap the dividends of peace.
The President not only won the battle against terrorism, but also ushered in a peaceful environment for all to unite in harmony. The President is now even more determined to win the economic war as well. Sri Lanka would achieve that goal as well during President Rajapaksa's second term in office.
Against this backdrop, this year's Independence Day celebrations were of greater significance since people even in the remotest areas of the country are making optimum use of the prevailing peace and are working steadfastly towards economic development. The results are now crystal clear and the encouraging economic indicators portray an encouraging overall picture on economic prosperity.
The future belongs to one and all and unity should be promoted at all costs. Social injustice is today a thing of the past.
Promoting stronger bonds of unity among communities in Sri Lanka is the need of the hour. Sri Lankans must work together irrespective of caste, creed and political affiliations and make Independence more meaningful.