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In a post-war-scenario, what is more important is for the Government and the other stake-holders to ensure that they prevent even the smallest spark that would cause another crack between the communities of the country.

So far, almost seven years after the end of the war, things have been quite cordial communities except for a few instances. But those issues did not snowball into what we had been facing for 30 years, thanks to measures taken by the law enforcement authorities and the common sense that prevailed among the people.

On the one hand, it is important to bridge the gap between the communities in the country. All the major communities in Sri Lanka have common features, from language to customs and cultural values. But, the sad reality is that all these common features get overshadowed by trivial issues.

Today, the Government and the Opposition, which is led by the Parliamentary Group Leader, R. Sampanthan, have been given the opportunity to work together for the greater interest of the country.

TNA’s 10-member committee
The Coordinating Committee of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) met last week to plan its future moves pertaining to the issues of the Tamil speaking people. A decision was reached to appoint a 10-member committee at the next meeting to draft a set of proposals to move towards a solution to the long-standing ethnic question.

The sudden move comes amidst allegations that the TNA had been dragging its feet without making substantial progress in addressing the immediate and long term needs of the Tamil speaking people in the North and East.

The TNA’s decision comes days after the visit of United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

However, it is not only up to the TNA, its 10 member committee and the government to work towards a solution. The main stake-holders here are the people who were affected by the war. Their voices should be heard if a durable solution is to be reached.
Another important factor that needs to be looked at is to work on the common features of the communities, instead of analyzing the differences. Tamils and Sinhalese share a lot of common values. Those values need to be approached with a different perspective and with a broad mind.

Today, we have a Minister for National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages. Its Minister, Mano Ganesan, has been at the forefront of voicing the concerns of the people. While working towards solving the national issue, Ganesan and his Ministry will have to play a crucial role in bringing all parties together and ensure that there is smooth progress towards a solution.

Looking behind
In the process of finding a solution, the other important factor is to look back and learn from the mistakes made in the past. However, the process of looking back could trigger sour memories and could therefore hamper the process.

The Government recently extended the mandate of the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons by another three months. The Commission headed by Maxwell Paranagama has conducted several public sittings in the past and has received over 18,800 complaints islandwide.

In a further development, the Mullaitivu Magistrate court on February 17 ordered the 58 Division of the army to produce the list of names of individuals who surrendered to them during the final stages of the war in 2009.

The court gave the directive following a writ of habeas corpus hearing filed by Northern Provincial Council (NPC) member Ananthy Sasitharan and five others.

The above developments could be welcome sign for those who have been affected by the war. It is important that the families of the dead and missing find a sense of closure pertaining to their loved ones whom they had lost during the war, But these processes should be carried out in a way that the aggrieved parties do not harbour ill feelings against the other communities.

Reaching for the common ground (2)