Diplomacy of Reward & Retribution!

"Although Karuna was a former student of Central College in Batticaloa , he was very much junior to Ali Zahir and they never knew each other at school. However Ali Zahir kept a clandestine relationship with the LTTE leaders in Batticaloa to avoid hassle or threat as he largely relied on UNP Tamil and Burgher voters in the Batticaloa District to secure his seat. His relationship with the eastern LTTE leaders became closer and noticeable soon after the CFA."

by S.M.M.Bazeer

* “Nixon’s philosophy was that if two wrongs don’t make a right, try three”
Laurence J. Peter

(December, 29, London, Sri Lana Guardian) Ali Zahir Moulana always maintained a clandestine relationship with the LTTE during his political career in Sri Lanka. One of the Muslim body guards of Ali Zahir Moulana was an ex LTTE member, who deserted the LTTE following the LTTE massacre of the Muslims in Eravur in August 1990. He stood with Ali Zahir until Ali Zahir fled Sri Lanka. Ali Zahir Moulana fled Sri Lanka and relocated to the USA where he was reported to have sought asylum for fear of being pursued by the LTTE and harassed by the new government which came to power in the year 2004. When it emerged that  he was involved in the smuggling of Karuna out of the East he had to save face of the UNP and sacrificed his position as a MP in parliament albeit a nominated one. During the last parliamentary elections Ali Zahir campaigned that Ranil Wickramasinghe was showing the way of “Sathya” (truth) and failed to win the parliamentary election as the late Rajan Sathiyamoorthy withdrew his support to Ali Zahir and decided to contest under the TNA. Due to Rajan Sathiyamoorthy’s decision Ali Zahir could not muster up support from the UNP Tamil voters. Although Ali Zahir lost the 2004 General Election, he was nominated to Parliament through the National List of the United National Party. However his act of fleeeing created a vacum and left his supporters to be shared by both Segu Dawood M.P (SLMC) and Ameer Ali (Minister for natural disaster) in the Batticaloa District.

He was formerly a student of St. Michael College in Batticaloa. He worked as a maths teacher for sometime in Eravur and later embarked on a lucrative “jelly fish” business in Batticaloa with some foreign enterprises. He was married to an orthodox Christian girl in Paivas family in Batticaloa and moved to the USA to live with his wife. He returned to Sri Lanka a few years later, with his wife when he felt things were conducive for him to enter politics. On his return he applied for the post of MP to fill the vacancy created by the untimely death of Dr. Fareed Meeralebbe, a UNP Member of Parliament for the Batticaloa District. He faced the interview with Harsha Abeywardena a former UNP Secretary in Sri Kotha and lost his chance to become a MP. Thus he entered politics soon after he had returned from the USA. He became annoyed by the appointment of the late Risvy Sinnalebbe in place of the late Dr. Fareed Meera Lebbe and switched sides. He joined the SLFP with the help of his “uncle” Alavi Moulana , The governor of the Western province. He first contested in the general election in December 1989 under the SLFP in the Batticaloa District and secured about two thousand votes in the poll. He could not swim against the tide of the SLMC, and he retrieved from the public eye for a while. In August 1990, the late Ranjan Wijeratna , former defence minister facilitated Ali Zahir to fly to Eravur to participate in the mass funerals of the Muslims who were slaughtered by the LTTE in Eravur, Thus Ranjan Wijewardana politically sidelined the SLMC parliamentarians at the need of the hour and enabled Ali Zahir to lay a strong foundation for his re entry into politics under the UNP in Eravur.

Although Karuna was a former student of Central college in Batticaloa , he was very much junior to Ali Zahir and they never knew each other during their school days. However Ali Zahir kept a clandestine relationship with the LTTE leaders in Batticaloa to avoid hassle or threat as he largely relied on UNP Tamil and Burgher voters in the Batticaloa District to secure his seat. His relationship with the eastern LTTE leaders became closer and noticeable soon after the CFA. Ali Zahir once narrowley escaped when his convoy was attacked by the LTTE and it was reported that two of his body guards including his cousin were killed in the attack. This incident compelled him to reinforce his relationshp with the LTTE to a protective level. Ali Zahir found ways to get around with the LTTE. He always liked publicity and comfort and could not live in hiding and always palyed safe. His position was observed by Omar Khayyam “ It is not only Hisbullah And Zahir Moulana who advocate the policy of not antagonising the two-legged felines”, even Njeeb Majeed from the Trincomalee prefers to maintain a low profile, although increasingly Muslims are becoming very frustrated being caught between the army and the tigers now vying for control in theses areas” (“ Minority politics” -Omar Khayyam- the Sunday leader 26th April 1998). His LTTE relationship was observed by Sathya ( Kethes Loganathan - Deputy general secretary of the Peace Secretariat) in the Sunday Times “ Ali Zahir Moulana a UNP National List Member of Parliament and a close confidant of Ranil Wickremesinghe, with equally close contacts with the Vanni-based LTTE leadership, revealed publicly that he had established contacts with Karuna at the request of LTTE Batti-Amparai leader Ramesh in order to escort Karuna and his comrades to Colombo as part of a deal aimed at offering Karuna an `exit'.”
Ali Zahir Moulana who had lived in the limelight in Sri Lanka felt overshadowed by his refugee life in the USA , seized the opportunity to meet Mr. Aswar, former UNP stalwart and the present media advisor to President Rajapaksa and secure an appointment in the Sri Lankan Embassy, Washington. D.C, when Mr. A.H.M. Aswar came with the President during his visit to the Sixty second Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007. It is learnt from the reliable sources that Mr. A.H.M Aswar was happy to help his erstwhile party man and on his personal recommendation President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed Ali Zahir with the position of a high ranking diplomat in the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington D.C., How was he appointed to such a high ranking diplomatic post in Washington when his application for asylum was pending consideration. The Sunday Times Diplomatic Editor raised this question. “ In an unprecedented move -- and perhaps a first for the Guinness Book of Records -- the Sri Lanka government has appointed an asylum seeker in the United States as a high ranking diplomat in Washington DC. Ali Zahir Moulana, who helped facilitate Karuna's defection to Colombo, has been rewarded for his services with the job of minister, the third ranking diplomat at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington DC.”

Photo: Tiger Colonel Karuna with Sri Lanka colonel Godegoda (From pro LTTE weekly 2002)

In one part of the world , when Ali Zahir was rewarded by the GOSL for his involvement in the smuggling of Karuna out of the East , in another of the world Karuna was detained and arrested for having used a forged diplomatic passport allegedly issued by the GOSL. It is recalled that when the celebration for the capture of Thoppigala was in preparation a UNP Parliamentarian from Kandy District bragged in parliament that they helped Karuna smuggle out of the East hence they deserved the credit for the victory of the East. When the man who helped Karuna leave the east was rewarded with a diplomatic post, Karuna in the UK was arrested and detained in Britain for alleged passport offences. The writer recalls what the Sunday times Diplomatic Editor wrote on the President’s visit to the UN “Sri Lanka is still a political non-entity in the world of international diplomacy.” (Sunday times 3oth September 2007). Does the end justify the means?.


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