Outlined below is rationale directed at dispelling some of the more popular fabrications currently in circulation. These thoughts are designed to re-inject logic that has been carefully (and intentionally) eliminated from the Nepali psyche as part of an ingeniously crafted Maoist political strategy.
Myth #1: “Asking the Maoists to disarm before a political settlement is reached is unrealistic and does not support long term peace.”
This argument is best visited by re-phrasing the proposition as follows: “Does the inclusion of armed Maoists in an interim government permit (or inhibit) the formulation of uninfluenced political settlements that support lasting peace?”
How strong will the moderate position on political settlements be in view of constant and lingering threats from an armed outfit that is prepared to engage in “peaceful urban uprisings” (designed to embroil the State’s security forces in urban combat)?
Moreover, with constant threats of an “October Revolution” at hand, with Maoist fighters occupying strategic positions within and around Kathmandu’s periphery, with the Maoists firmly in control of the countryside, what is the likelihood of any political “settlement” that deviates in the slightest from Maoist demands?
Inadmissibly, persons who rely on the argument that it is “unrealistic” to ask the Maoists to disarm before political settlements are reached, may be psychologically committed to an imminent Maoist victory in Nepal. Instead of rationalizing their own roles in the elimination of moderate Nepalese politics, subscribers to the theory of Maoist victory tend to rely on the argument that the Maoists are incapable of running a state and that should they try, they will ultimately fail, because the international community will reject them.
While such an argument does hold merit, it is also largely misguided. Just as Nepal’s political transformation has the potential to go down in history as the first successful “democratic” revolution of the 21st century, there is equal potential for the unfolding transformations to go down as the first successful “Maoist” revolution of the 21st century.
If Nepal can be a “first” by either of these standards, why must Nepal be just another number when it comes to succumbing to the will of violence-dominated political outcomes?
In other words, the question that needs to be asked isn’t, “Where else in the world have insurgents laid down their arms before reaching political settlements?”, but rather, “Where in the world have insurgents been brought into an interim government setup while refusing to give up their arms?”
The armed faction of the ANC (African National Congress) is cited as the default example in support of the position that Maoists should not be expected to disarm “prematurely.” On the flip side, the PIRA’s (Provisional Irish Republican Army) disarmament was what ultimately facilitated a political settlement to that particular conflict.
Just as proponents of an armed political element in Nepal’s government argue that there is little equivalence between the PIRA and the Nepalese Maoists, the same can also be said of the ANC’s armed wing when compared with the Nepali Maoists’ interchangeable militia/fighter combination of assets.
On the one hand, the same proponents may argue that no two historical conflicts have been resolved by the application of generic solutions. On the other hand, they tend to argue that peace in Nepal can only be achieved through the application of a scripted approach – permitting Maoists with their arms into an interim government setup so that agreement on political issues isn’t overshadowed by a debate on disarmament.
Not only is this perception questionable (owing to its faulty logic), it is also disingenuous because it attempts to decouple the political dimensions of Nepal’s conflict from its military aspects. In other words, this approach is fallacious because it recognizes only the political underpinnings of Nepal’s civil war while failing to appreciate the Maoists’ successfully executed armed insurrection.
In doing so, this logic applies a sequential approach to problem solving when what should be employed is a holistic approach – resolution on arms management and political solutions should be pursued simultaneously, just as these agendas have been applied simultaneously to bring the state to its knees.
The Maoists’ realization (assuming it is genuine) in favor of political process over military means is indeed an encouraging sign. Recent non-scientific polls conducted online indicate that if the Maoists laid down their arms and participated in elections next week, their margin of success would dwarf a combined NC and NC-D voter base.
More scientific survey, though, finds they would be in trouble. Hence, instead of suggesting the segregation of arms management from political settlements, a more prudent approach might be to encourage the Maoists to disarm unconditionally and thus to allow “the people” to drive their agendas to fruition. Successful pressure tactics that have brought the former government to their knees did not utilize arms. Neither should the “October Revolution.”
Since the Maoists are of “the people” and for “the people,” they should have nothing to fear from “reactionary elements” or “feudal conspiracies.” As repayment for the hard work the Maoists have put in over the years, there should be no doubt that “the people” will continue to shield the Maoist leaders from harm.
Yet, this suggestion is about as realistic as believing that negotiations with the prospect of armed (but peaceful) street protests will yield “political settlements.” More likely, the fear of armed political opponents (who are in firm control of both the initiatives of war and peace), will yield a settlement that wipes out the moderate agenda in favor of the Maoist line.