The Wall Street Journal: Give Sri Lanka Time

December 24, 2014 at 10:23 am

Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Washington, responds to “A Chance to Close Sri Lanka’s One-Family Show” (Dec. 16).

Dec. 23, 2014 12:38 p.m. ET

Regarding his Dec. 16 op-ed “A Chance to Close Sri Lanka’s One-Family Show,” Razeen Sally grossly belittles the remarkable economic, political and social strides Sri Lanka has made recently coming out of a quarter century of war on terrorism.

The war-affected northern region is witnessing a remarkable 24% growth. The country’s GDP growth has averaged more than 7% in the past five years and there is real advancement in other macroeconomic and social indicators. The IMF/World Bank/UNDP statistics corroborate Sri Lanka’s progress, and the World Bank ranks Sri Lanka as the top South Asian nation in its 2014 Doing Business Report.

Postwar efforts were focused on the humanitarian and rehabilitation needs of the 300,000 rescued people, such as providing livelihoods, reopening schools and rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by the Tamil Tiger terrorists. The government restored the right to vote in the northern region, a right prevented by Tamil Tigers for 40 years. The Northern Province now has stable governing bodies.

Today, 95% of all Sri Lankans have electricity. Life expectancy is one of the highest in Asia, and maternal and infant mortality rates are among the lowest for the continent. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report ranked Sri Lanka 22nd in the world in terms of political empowerment of women.

None of this progress can be considered superficial. But rebuilding a nation from a quarter century of brutal terrorism needs space and time for carefully calibrated home grown reconciliation, truth seeking and rebuilding processes to succeed. And all Sri Lankans are equally working hard for this purpose.

Prasad Kariyawasam
Ambassador of Sri Lanka

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