Tuesday, October 31, 2006
To fulfill the agendas (peace and democracy through the election of Constituent Assembly) of the Janandolan II, respective parties responsible for leading the Janandolan II need to conduct a thorough evaluation and analysis on the prospect of fulfilling the desired agenda of establishing peace and democracy through the elections of a Constituent Assembly. However, as the precarious political trends suggests, the possibility of attaining the goal of free and fair elections (to a Constituent Assembly), look rather bleak.
In line with the 12-point agreement and Janandolan II, the immediate end of all autocracy is essential for the establishment a full fledged democracy in Nepal. Preservation of the reinstated democratic structure and simultaneous evolution of the reinstated system (into an inclusive paradigm), should provide the basis for addressing the needs of minority groups. The fulcrum of the existing problems plaguing Nepal is the issue of incorporating minority groups into an inclusive polity. Therefore, in line with the 12-point agreement and Janadolan II, it is critical to mainstream minority groups through a democratic exercise. In order to achieve the noble goal of holding free and fair elections to a Constituent Assembly, there is a genuine need for an environment which unleashes people from the psychosis of fear.
However, to achieve such magnanimous tasks under perilous circumstances, the necessity for the formation of a structured alliance amongst democratic forces is the need of the hour. The initiation and the responsibility of orchestrating the a democratic alliance should be adhered to by the largest democratic party in the country.
In the prospect of amalgamating all democratic forces in the country, it is essential that the meaningful exercise of a democratic alliance (amongst democratic parties sharing analogous perceptions), reach a meeting point. The basis for which a meeting point can be agreed, should be the acceptance of the declaration of the House of Representatives, and the acceptance of a changed political context after the successful conclusion of the Janandolan II.
On the other hand, if a lack of unity amongst democratic forces persists (in the absence of a structured democratic alliance), the existence of the nation state and the continuity of a democratic system will be at stake. Therefore the failure of the formation of a democratic alliance will amount to the loss of democracy and consequently the disintegration of the state.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Although war in one of the world’s poorest countries makes little sense, the resurgence of leftist ideological warfare that epochs a quasi democracy dictated by the proletariat can only bee seen to undermine the foundations of democracy in South Asia.
One of the dynamics of the late 20th century and early 21st century politics has been the import of democracy in third world countries. However, democracy (in the purest, most liberal sense) has succeeded in only a handful of countries around the world. The reasons behind democratic failure can only be evaluated by reviewing historical, social and economic factors.
Democracy is not indigenous to South Asia, however democratic principles have prevailed in South Asian societies for a very long time. One the most important facets of a maturing democracy is the connection between public reasoning and development of democracy. As Nobel economist Amritya Sen argues:
Public reasoning includes the opportunity for citizens to participate in political discussions and to influence public choice. Ballot can be seen as only one of the ways – albeit a very important way – to make public discussion effective, when the opportunity to vote is combined with the opportunity to speak and listen, without fear. The reach – and effectiveness- of voting depend critically on the opportunity for open public discussion.
In line with Sen’s assessment of democratic evolution, the Nepali Maoists waged their people’s war primarily aiming to re-engineer the roots of the foundation of an evolving democracy. Naxalites and other leftist rebel outfits in India have waged a bloody war aiming to topple the widely accepted form of democratic governance. The fact that India’s successful absorption of democracy has indeed had a remarkable impact in South Asia, the resurgence of a leftist movement will only work as catalyst to dismantle the very foundation of democracy in South Asia.
The notion that democracy can only flourish if there is an opportunity for political discussions in (and the opportunity to speak and listen), without fear, is the most important dimension with which to scrutinize the leftist notion of democracy. Silencing of opinion makers through harmful means, assassination of opposition leaders, forceful abductions of unarmed civilians, are only a few examples of the atrocities of leftists movement in South Asia (and Nepal in particular). A violent movement that stifles the peaceful process of public discussion (or dissent) does not qualify as progressive democratic evolution (the murder of Gansesh Chilwal and his deputy after they burnt effigies of the Maoist leader is an excellent example).
From a different angle, the Hindu caste system is an elaborate example of systematic disparities. Unfortunately, secularization has only worked to isolate the many minority groups within Hinduism – a phenomenon that Fareed Zakaria refers to as “the tyranny of the minority over the will of the majority.” Other religions have reaped the benefit of the quota system and other privileges offered by governments with an aim to foster an inclusive society. But these benefits come at the expense of groups within the majority which may not align 100% with the majority views.
The leftist movements in South Asia have primarily concerted their effort to exploit areas of disparities – a viable political platform to ascend power but not necessarily sufficient to retain power. Likewise, the Maoists of Nepal, evoked the idea of ‘self determination’ for the mobilization of masses in their favor. However, such a fallacy can only instigate ethnic and communal violence that will eventually lead to the disintegration of the nation state.
Economic disparity has led to successive convulsions and the resurgence of leftist movements in South Asia. The ruthless leftist movements in South Asia, especially the Maoists of Nepal, have worked strenuously to dismantle the economic development achieved after introduction of democracy in 1990 – basically, the Maoist organization today consists of one faction that fought and lost in elections and another to which the notion of the ballot if completely foreign.
Vital state infrastructure that had finally made its way into rural Nepal (electricity, telephone, education and road building) have succumbed to premature “deaths” with the rural population deprived of the fruits of democratic development. Consider for example, that the education system in areas such as Rukkum, Rolpa, Jajarkot, Sallyan has been virtually replaced by systematic indoctrination of the Maoist variety which does not really substitute for education as the rest of the world knows it. An entire generation of Nepalese have grown up in the hinterland, with knowledge of guerilla warfare and Maoist doctrine, but no practical knowledge with which to make a living.
Economic autonomy, a market based on competitive consumer choices and minimalist government regulation are the cornerstones of an emerging democratic economy. However, leftist ideology (by its very ethos) is designed to dismantle the cornerstones of democracy and challenge economic development through economic stagnation. The intentional deceleration of free market economic progress is part and parcel with both Maoist rhetoric and Maoist tactics designed to bring the state to its knees.
The Maoists’ have systematically uprooted local economies and devastated the supply of essential commodities. The lack of government response provided the Maoist guerillas the leverage and the audacity to run propaganda campaigns throughout rural Nepal, blaming the government for the poor state of the economy (while actively partaking in acts designed to run the economy into the ground).
The political implications of a possible Maoist victory in Nepal will inevitably alter the dynamics of South Asian politics. More importantly, democratic ideals and institutions will be challenged. Nepal will serve as the core state for leftist ideologues throughout South Asia and the world.
Although the BJP and Congress in India will continue to sustain their popular support through the Northern and Mid-Western states, states plagued with Naxalites and violent communist movements will continue to gain momentum posing serious threats to Indian national security.
As nation states throughout South Asia, particularly India, fails to acknowledge the seriousness of the threat posed by a resurgent leftist movement, democracy in South Asia will fall victim to a negligent counter insurgency policy.
Ancient social structures that have so far provided moral guidelines through which societies across South Asia have evolved harmoniously will come under increasing threat from a resurgent leftist movement. The idea of ‘self determination’, as envisioned by the Maoists’ in Nepal, aims primarily to warn India about the possible consequences that the Maoist can impose by destabilizing India’s security.
Minority groups (Kashmir, Assam, Telganga) which have for long battled with the Federal government in Delhi will see in a Nepal, a benchmarking model through which a violent movement succeeds in addressing the needs of minority groups.
As India has sustained an economic growth of over 8 % for the last six years, a leftist resurgence in South Asia will cripple markets for further economic growth.
Therefore, an immediate reversal in policy at the South Block and Race Course Road is required to contain the imminent threat posed by a leftist resurgence. The ultimate aim of leftist policies are to replace democratic institutions with proletariat setups, dictated by COMPOSA and PWG (amalgamations of South Asian leftist forces). The end result would be the erection of the Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ) – a red zone that will stand against any and every notion of liberal democracy and market based economics as we know them today.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
As far as the peace talks are concerned, the Maobadis and the SPA have more or less, reached a consensus, i.e. on most political issues. For example, the fate of monarchy is to be decided by the constituent assembly elections. However, the talks at the moment have stalled due to the issue of weapons management. Therefore the prospect of the peace talks succeeding depends largely on the Maoist stance on arms management. Credible information has become available that Prachanda in his talks with the Prime Minister has more or less agreed to all issues including that of weapons of management. But Prachanda changed his stance dramatically after his proposal was turned down by the dominant hardliner faction within the Maobadis.
On the UML…
The UML is having dilemmas vis-à-vis its own ideological ambiguity. The Maobadis are moving aggressively, indoctrinating cadres of the UML into their ranks while the top leaders of the UML are in doldrums regarding how to deal with Maobadis. The Maobadis have already exerted their influence into the rank and file of the UML and clear divisions are beginning to surface in the UML.
On the Royalists…
The royalist are jockeying for political space. There were reports (although not verified) that about 3-4,000 small arms were sneaked into the palace about 3 weeks ago. Maoist militia responded to this revelation by raiding the house of Bikram Thapa(RPP Chairman of Kathmandu). No arms were found.
However, a few days later, news reports emerged that a royalist outfit (through statements circulated to media houses across the country) proclaimed its emergence in Nepal’s political space as yet another armed element.
It is difficult to determine whether this group really exists as a Royalist outfit or whether it is a figment of the Maoists’ imagination, to make the SPA nervous.
On the Maoists’ sincerity (again…)………..
Despite some optimism that the peace talks might succeed, there are reasons for us to doubt the sincerity of the Maoists.
First, the emergence of numerous Maoist check points within the Kathmandu valley is cause for concern. These check points resembled army check points during the state of emergency – only this time, they raised money on one side and stopped vehicles on the other side of the road.
Secondly, the Maoist have started patrolling the streets of Kathmandu while the army remains confined to its barracks.
Patan and Barajas Industrial estate have become detention centers and Kangaroo courts for the Maoists. The Maoists have conducted preemptive operations by “apprehending” some thugs in Kathmandu (of the typical influenced too much by the God Father movie types), fearing that such elements be used against the Maobadis in time.
On the Maoists political front…
On the political front, the Maobadis have decided on the following :-
a) Political parties – Continue to divide and rule. Although they have portrayed GPK as the next president, they are simultaneously engaged in talks with other parties. The Maobadis along with the UML have proposed Deuba to lead the Republican Alliance. Hence, the call from Koirala for the early unification of NC to quash the plans of the UML and the Maobadis.
Another important facet is the labelling of political parties as regressive forces should they not toe the Maoist line. Sadly enough, the most regressive ideologues on the planet are using regression as an accusation to weaken their opponents. Even sadder, there are signs the tactics are working.
The so called Nepali intelligentsia (especially those who like to pat themselves on the back for brining democracy to Nepal) seem to be in shock. As predicted, the Maoists have conveniently outsmarted those who are considered to be Nepal’s smartest. No one is complaining to Senator Leahy’s office about the Maoists today and no one dares to burn an effigy of Prachanda – the last time anyone did this (Ganesh Chilwal), the individual was gunned down in broad daylight inside Kathmandu.
b) Armed forces - The UML too has assimilated itself into the Maoist plans of systematically disturbing the balance of security forces. Their intention is to continue labeling the military as human right violators and to discredit the army so that when the times comes for deployment, the NA will already be shunned in the eyes of the people. The other side of this strategy is to instigate the army into action therefore turning the political table against them – this is a mistake the new leadership in the army is probably not going to fall for, twice.
c) Judiciary - The appointment of judges has been delayed for quite some time. In the absence of judges, the judiciary has not been able to function. Therefore, people are consequently going to kangaroo courts established by the Maoists for justice (even in Kathmandu). Additionally, the Maoists indeed have a big hand in the delay of the appointment of judges. More importantly, leftist judges have filed a petition against the appointment of army chief, hence bringing about a direct confrontation between the state judiciary and the executive. The Supreme Court has also questioned the legality of the HOR proclamations.
On Sitoula and the trust issue….
The good news is that GPK has slowly started to become aware of Sitaula’s undeclared dealings. Sitaula was on the verge of being fired and KP Oli was to replace him. But the Maoists intervened and objected.
Nonetheless the point is that Girija has roped in Arjunnarsingh KC, Dr. Ramsaran Mahat, Ramchandra Poudel and Mahesh Archarya into the talks with the Maoists.
At no time is Sitaula left alone in dealing with the Maoist. However, the utility of able backbenchers is still marred due to pending cases at the CIAA. Although most allegations have been cleared for the likes of Khum Bahadur, Govinda Raj etc., their cases are still hinging in the court due to the direct interference of the Krishna Sitoula.
It is believed that direct orders have been given to prolong these cases. The plaintiffs, especially Khum Bahadur and Govinda Raj Joshi, harbor approaches to the peace talks that are different from those of Sitoula.
More importantly the likes of Govinda Raj and Khum Bahadur believe in the formation of a greater democratic alliance to fight the leftist forces in the political spectrum. It was Khum Bahadur who orchestrated the divide in UML in 1998 after which GPK announced general elections resulting in a majority Congress win.
The majority of the SPA constituents are leftist parties and the end result desired by leftist constituents of the SPA and the Maoist is to establish a ONE PARTY COMMUNIST STATE. Therefore, any prospect of the amalgamation of able backbenchers with democratic principles within and outside the parliament is being hindered by the home minister and his leftist allies, in and out of the government.
On Surya Bahadur Thapa……..
Surya Bahadur Thapa is by far is the biggest obstacle to the Maoists. The man still exerts influence and commands respect in the Nepali Congress and with the Indian establishment.
His reading is as follows: If steps are not taken immediately, anarchy, followed by Maoist control and then a disintegration of the state is near guaranteed.
The Maoists are systematically aiming to take over politically and the last resort is an urban rising. By this the Maoists don’t mean an urban uprising will not be staged. It will be staged but before that, the Maoists will exhaust all political options to control the centre and if that fails, the last resort is an urban uprising.
SB Thapa has continued to raise the issue of the Maoist militia. Provided the peace talks do not delve in the aspect of containing or disarming the militia, the Maoist will have an overwhelming majority in the CA elections and then write a constitution that will make Nepal a one party communist state.
Feb. 1st (stupidly) and the 12 point understanding (by design) led to a situation where the institution of monarchy was the casualty. Secondly, after the HOR proclamation and the 8point agreement the constitution became the casualty and now if proper home work and a strong stance is not taken against the Maoists, the third casualty will be democracy.
It is important to rope the Maoists into the mainstream. However, the parties to have be to equally committed ideologically, politically and strategically motivated to deal with the Maoists. In other words, the idea of mainstreaming the Maoists should not be confused with the idea of defining the mainstream.
On the necessity of disarming the Maoist militia….
The PLA has so far fought with the state security forces. But on the other hand, the Maoist militia is the organ through which the party recruits, extorts, abducts and attempts to discipline society by instilling fear with the use of guns.
According to intelligence reports, there are approximately 25,000 militia through the country armed with small weapons. While the PLA has fought with the state security forces, the Maoist militia remains the most vital party organ that deals with the people on day to day basis.
So even if the PLA is disarmed, it still leaves a large and potent force of Maoists armed with small weapons. Therefore, should elections come, the Maoist will mobilize their armed goons throughout the country and the end result of the elections will tilt in favor of the Maoists.
The political parties on the other hand will pose no threat to the Maoists during election campaigns as the Maoist will have an unfair advantage - disposal of small weapons in their hands. Consequently a desired atmosphere for free and fair elections will not surface and the Maoists will overwhelm the elections with an absolute majority.
Therefore, the issue of weapons management and that of disarming the militia along with the PLA is the most vital issue in Nepali politics today. Thinking that Nepal’s police force (of which only a fraction is armed with anything more than sticks) is a match for the Maoists militia is a fool’s dream.
On internally displaced persons……..
There are about eight hundred thousand displaced people in Nepal today. It is thought that along with peace process, those who have been displaced by the conflict will be rehabilitated during the transitional phase.
For free and fair Constituent Assembly elections and for the larger Nepali population to take part in the this democratic exercise, it is essential that internal refugees are rehabilitated.
However, the rehabilitation process of the displaced people is not desirable to the Maoists. This is because the majority of displaced people fled due to Maoist atrocities and mainly during the initial phases of the war. The majority were Nepali Congress and UML cadres, accused (sometimes rightly) and targeted by the Maoists as class enemies.
The popular slogan of the Maoist needs to be reassrted - "Congress lai khoji khoji, A-MALEY - lai roji roji, RAPRAPA lai sodi, sodi". Therefore, should the rehabilitation process be delayed, genuine voters of Nepali Congress and UML will be deprived from their right to vote. As the Election Commission demands, voters must return to their constituency for voting, these eight hundred thousand refugees who have been squatting in the capital, abroad (and various district HQs) will be denied the right to vote.
Hence it is in the interest of the Maoist to delay or altogether sabotage the rehabilitation process of internal refugees.
Friday, October 20, 2006
It is universally believed that what retards Nepal's progress is the lack of extraordinary leadership. Be it in politics, business, public administration or civil society. A recent research finding of Warren G. Bennis and Robert J.Thomas, foremost joint authority on the art and science of leadership, states that it has something to do with how people handle adversity.
In the wake of the grave national adversity that Nepal is currently facing, can we now expect the flowering of leadership in all spheres of public life? In their words, " an extraordinary leader is a kind of phoenix rising from the ashes of adversity…". As each and every one of us , be they primary school children or octogenarians, are talking of a 'new Nepal' it is time we asked ourselves whether we have the skills to be the new leaders for the much sought after 'new Nepal'.
These authors believe that one of the best indicators of the likely emergence of extraordinary leadership is the individual's ability to find meaning in adversity and to learn from it. For this to happen each of us need get back to basics: ask who you are and what really matters to you? This way one emerges stronger and more committed to one's mission in life and being able to find effective solutions to the traumatic problems. And in the process transforms oneself creatively.
Experience shapes leaders. These life-shaping experiences. Bennis and Thomas call "crucibles of leadership" that transform individuals: just as the medieval witches, wizards and alchemists used such dishes hoping to transform ordinary metals into gold. There can be many kind of crucibles--- wars, national disasters, violence, injustice, electoral defeats, prejudice, discrimination, major surgical operations, bankruptcy, self-doubt, authoritarian parent/s or boss and many more life changing experiences that force one to re-visit one's cherished values, vision and life's mission. So too the guidance and advise received from powerful mentors and gurus can be transformational.
Whatever be the crucibles of leadership, Bennis and Thomas determined that there are four essential skills possessed by all great leaders that allows them to transform themselves in the crucible of leadership. They are : (a) integrity combined with a strong sense of values , (b) power of communication to engage followers and peers with purpose and meaning, (c) ability to grasp context and (d) perseverance and toughness. It is with these qualities that truly great leaders can turnaround nations, communities, public institutions, business houses, non-profit organizations and, even, informal households from the pangs of despair with new opportunities and a new hope .
One understands that Thomas is writing a book describing how organizations can use crucibles to grow leaders. Undoubtedly, leadership training must be promoted on a massive scale in Nepal if we are to improve not just the critical mass of leaders but also the quality and effectiveness of our existing leaders especially in the political realm, where no educational qualification whatsoever is required. Greater is the need for leadership training where Nepal is to adopt a policy of positive discrimination in favour of dalits, janjatis and women.
To lead in the 21st century will be to live dangerously as terror, violence, anarchy,
conflict and instability will be the order of the day. Leaders will have to adapt to the frenetic forces of change driven by the revolutionary advances in information, communication and bio-medical technologies. They will have understand not just one's own culture but also those of others to be engaged in a peaceful dialogue between civilizations as each individual seeks his and her identity under the sun. The normal tendency of mediocre leaders will be to play the game of maintaining the status quo which will spring disaster for the nation and any organization within it that refuses to change with the times.
Towards this, it would be optimal if all national political parties get involved consciously in organization development (OD) endeavours so that an enabling environment is created for the flowering of leadership and training of leaders. Two dimensions need top most priority, namely system development and devolution of responsibility in pursuance of the parties' broad ideologies and electoral manifestos.
Moving from a highly centrist unitary system of governance to a federal one is not going to be smooth sailing without massive OD exercises by each political party. Even more challenging it will be with the probability of proportional representation in elections. A system must be designed to permit each party to define the objectives, outcomes, if not also the goals, and regional/district and community inputs for the federated parts and sub-parts of the body politic therein.
In this manner, the party leaders would evolve dynamically and systematically and the senior executives could be the targets for the proposed leadership training. Specifically, it may be optimal to have party OD retreats to be engaged in (a) knowing thyself and one's style, (b) knowing the party's mission and communicating it, (c) knowing the broad economic realities —global, regional and national and (d) knowing parliamentary protocol and procedures.
The past week was full of hopes from the SPA & Maoist dialogues. It took place four times on 8th, 10th, 12th and 15th October, 2006.
Each time participants came out and said that they were making progress and the next session would be successful until on October 15, 2006 the last meeting ended with Maoist Supremo concluding the meeting in few minutes with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Sher Bahadur Deuba.
The rest of the leaders were seen clamoring to figure out what happened and the next date hasn't even been announced. The seven-party alliance looked more like a 5 person get-together because despite the grandeur of the supposed representation, there were only 5 voices that emerged from the talks; no, actually, only 3 because the other 2 were from the Maoists.
Some believe this latest round of shenanigans has again taken the Nepalese people for a ride. Despite all the rhetoric, the bottom-line seems to be that the SPA and Maoist can't agree on the mechanism and timing of Maoist arms management.
This begs the question, what was actually accomplished during the talks? Can someone please tell the people what progress was made?
On the delicate nature of talks…
With the Maoists holding on to their weapons neither the Nepalese people nor the SPA will get a fair deal. Without it the Maoists might not get a fair deal from the people who have been terrorized and traumatized for the last decade. Nor can there be a let up on the international insistence that the Maoists disarm before they join the mainstream.
But at present neither side wants to be blamed for breaking the dialogue at least as yet. The Monarchy seems to be just a red herring anyway.
After Tihar it remains to be seen whether the Maoists will press their advantage by urban guerrilla warfare before the government forces get reestablished and properly reequipped or whether the Maoists will walk straight into Singha Durbar with or without the SPA.
Basically, the talks seem to have been so “delicate” and the mood so “cautiously optimistic” that no one said what they meant and no one meant what they said.
The only person rumored to have said anything of substance was Girja who reminded the Maoists that they had agreed to a ceremonial monarchy in Delhi (the Indian bottom line) and claimed the talks were over (for now) because he needed oxygen. Apparently, he said what me meant and meant what he said – he was short of breath so the talks were postponed.
On Nepal’s bid for the non-permanent member of the UNSC….
So much for the euphoria suggesting that the whole world appreciated and lauded the political developments in Nepal. Even if the lip service was there, the actions of the international community demonstrate neither appreciation nor confidence in Nepal’s political process.
A manifestation of this lack of confidence was Nepal’s loss to Indonesia for the UN Security Council seat by 130 votes (158 for Indonesia and 28 for Nepal). While there is truth to the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister’s claim that the Maoists should be held responsible for the international community’s perception, the fact of the matter lies in the truth that Nepal is inching toward a period of great instability which is expected to affect her performance and contribution in any role of international significance.
To add insult to injury, a former Military General leads the government of Indonesia.
On reviving the death penalty….
Members of the House of Representatives demanded the revival of death penalty. One hundred twenty-nine nations of the world have abolished death penalty. Nepal also abolished this punishment through the 1990 Constitution.
After all, compared to the past, human rights organizations have become much stronger as has the trend that flows dollars in the pockets of genuine human rights groups and genuine anarchists who pose as human rights champions.
One wonders what the HR cartel and civic society has to say on the topic of re-instating the death penalty? Is it good for business or is it bad for business? Is it profitable to oppose it now or is it more profitable to take up the cause once the problem has become more serious?
Basically, the reason behind the call for bringing the death penalty back into the legal system is the rampant break down of law and order in the country which is a product of political developments. But everyone knows that the death penalty has been in practice since the Maoists launched their armed rebellion and that if the House is to follow the Maoists foot steps, it will sill be the weak and poor people who are hanged, not criminal with connections.
On the last three days…..
A businessman was shot in Birgunj; a motorcyclist was looted in broad daylight. A man was tortured till he confessed that he murdered his wife. Meanwhile, his wife is alive and well.
On the highways, the Maoists openly set up barriers and raised funds from passengers. This continued even though the official Maoist line was that such taxation activities were ordered to be stopped.
Moreover, now the Maoists even check the IDs, playing the part of the state’s legitimate security forces that are locked up in their barracks. If all these incidents were reported in a newspaper 10 years ago, people would assume that it was a Gaijatra (macabre/humerous) publication.
Slowly but surely, more reports of crimes are making the headlines but less reports from the police are making it to the courts. The biggest danger is that people are literally keeping quiet about these excesses because of the fear of being killed.
On the illusion of Maoists curbing crime….
Reports have come in that local street gangs in the capital have been corralled by the Maoists and “punished” for their crimes against the people.
The irony is that the most notorious of these typical Nepali “dadas” are as follows: Mr. Milan Gurung, also known as “Chakre Milan,” also known as the UML’s most valued asset in capturing poll booths during elections.
Then, there is the idiot by the name of Deepak Manage, also known to have sold hot dogs on the streets of New York, later provided cocaine to Kathmandu’s richest and also known to have been evacuated from Nepal (when charged for a double homicide) by none other than the man who was most vocal about Krishna Sitoula’s resignation – Pashupati Rana.
Naturally, Manange and Gurung were know arch rivals because Gurung was commissioned to steal votes for the UML and Manange, to steal votes for others. And this list goes on and on.
Although presented as a ploy to curb crime in Kathmandu, everyone knows that after these criminals were “reprimanded” by the Maoists, they were then commissioned to aid the Maoists conduct their “October revolution.” People think the Maoists have done them justice when in fact, the Maoists are continue to do what they’ve always done best – to mobilize in the most effective ways possible.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
It is an October replete with irony. The most definitive treatment to date on Mao Tse-tung’s final crime against humanity, his “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” is out to solid reviews. Peru, in confirming the life sentence of Marxism’s self-proclaimed “Fourth Sword,” Comrade Guzman, has ensured that the country will not have on its streets a “democratic politician” whose only tangible achievement was to unleash the Maoist nightmare that left 60,000 of his countrymen dead. In Thailand, amidst the buffeting of democracy, the 14 October anniversary passed with hardly a thought. It was on that date, in 1973, that the authoritarian state crumbled, beginning the process whereby democracy defeated Maoism. And in Nepal, the Maoists, sensing power just ahead, again issued a slew of statements denying that their Maoism and the catastrophe it has brought to the country has anything to do with the bloody 20th Century crimes of Marxist-Leninism.
It is striking how much similarity there is structurally between the Thai and Nepali cases, with the profound exception that the monarchy proved a bastion of strength in Thailand, a source of weakness in Nepal. If one includes in a comparison other Maoist people’s wars, such as those in the Philippines, Sri Lanka (the JVP twice tried to carry out armed struggle), and Peru, we see the same structural patterns play themselves out but with the Maoists on the losing side. What is fundamentally different in the Nepali scenario has been the crucial role played by the clueless united front allies of the Maoists, especially groups that bill themselves as “civil society” or even as “nonaligned.” They have lent critical strength to what otherwise would be a political movement in much the position of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) prior to its participation in the peace process, when its front Sinn Fein at peak garnered less than a fifth of the electorate.
What remains ill understood is that the Maoists are not using even the same vocabulary, much less the same game plan, as the present political system. They continue to see themselves as a people’s war on the offensive. They simply are proceeding along an avenue of approach complementary to armed actions. Violence and non-violence are but two facets of a unified struggle, very much as, in boxing, feints and movement of the body are as necessary as punches thrown.
A Strategy of Armed Politics
People’s war is a strategy for armed politics. The mistake is to think it is merely “war,” by which we normally mean action between armed forces. To the contrary, people’s war is like any parliamentary campaign – except violence is used to make sure the vote comes out in your favor. Significantly, sub-state rebels such as the Maoists claim they are merely doing what the state itself has been doing all along. In Nepal, they claim there never has been “non-violent politics.” Rather, they assert, echoing Lenin, that democratic politics practiced by the “old-order” – ancien regime – is but a façade for oppression, oppression that is carried out using the violence of the state through its armed component, the security forces, as well as the “structural violence” of poverty and injustice.
Thus the Maoists see themselves as engaged in a struggle for liberation, of self-defense even. Such a struggle will proceed along different but orchestrated lines of operation. There will be many campaigns carried out in myriad ways. Use of violence, now “in support,” was but one line of operation. Within that line of operation, there were many forms of violence, from assassinations – such as that of APF head Mohan Shrestha in 2003 – to main force attacks – the large actions that seek to overrun district capitals. These forms of violence, in turn, were “bundled” into campaigns. We can speak, for instance, of the campaign of terror that the Maoists used to eliminate all who opposed them in local areas, whether individuals or police. The family of Muktinath Adjikari, for instance, the teacher hanging in the best known image after he was assassinated in early 2002, has recently surfaced to demand justice.
Yet such terror occurred for a reason: to clear the space for political action, to eliminate competitors. This is why UML activists were such particular targets. They advanced a competing program which had won a majority of seats in Nepal’s 3,913 VDCs, or Village Development Committees. They had to be driven out so that the Maoist cadres would have uncontested access to the electorate. Only in this way could the Maoists mobilize a mass base using their own electoral platform, if we may call it that – they call it their “mass line.”
Of course, such methods are anathema, even as certain portions of their (Maoist) party platform are attractive. It is for this reason that the Maoists have sponsored a multitude of front organizations, the wide variety, for instance, of ethnic and community rights organizations. On the surface, they are not Maoist, but in reality they are controlled by the Maoists. The student and labor organizations are especially prominent in this respect. The important thing about fronts is that they can present themselves as independent, even as they are being used to enhance Maoist strength. Lenin called those who unwittingly join such fronts, thinking they are acting on their own, “useful idiots.”
Even as this goes on inside the country, the Maoists work outside. States tend to focus upon the tangible links, such as the Maoist presence in India. Much more important is their information campaign, designed to present their movement as almost benign. As states make mistakes, such as seen in instances of indiscipline when military units are deployed, these are exploited to claim the state itself is the problem, terror as but a natural component of the solution. As seen in the Nepal case, the sheer level of terror inflicted by the Maoists has been quite forgotten in the rush to attack the army, the APF (Armed Police Force), and the hapless police (who, recall, at one point in the conflict, had actually suffered a majority of all dead when considered as a proportion of the total victims).
Power as the Goal
For a Maoist movement, the goal is always power. This has been stated quite openly by all major Maoist figures. They must have power, because their “end-state” is to refashion society. They are not seeking reintegration. That would be to accept the structure that exists and to play by that structure’s rules. Quite vocally, they reject the legitimacy of that structure and its rules. That is why they are adamant that there must be a constitutional convention. They see themselves as in the driver’s seat. They are like any political machine in a rough neighborhood – they can “deliver” the vote. It is what occurs in many areas of India during parliamentary elections but carries the jostling to an extreme. It is “boss politics” played by “big boy rules” -- the film, “The Gangs of New York,” provides useful visualization.
In seeking “peace” and holding that they are “not for violence,” what the Maoists mean is that they would much rather the state delivered to them (the Maoists) power rather than making them (the Maoists) fight for it. They are not fools. They are not interested in dying. They are interested in building a new world. Yet they hold that violence has been the indispensable tool for creating a new correlation of forces, a new electoral map, if you will. That is why they will not give up their weapons (alternatively, they say all forces must lock up their weapons, but this does not include their local forces, their “militia”). They have run the opposing parties out of the neighborhood, and now they are demanding a vote. They do not see this as hypocrisy – they see it as doing precisely what the state has been doing in years past. But they hold that their motives are superior, because they aim to revolutionize society, to make Nepal a “true” or “authentic” democracy, because they are carrying out the will of history, “of the people.”
Have they worked out the details of what this new democracy will look like? No, aside from vague notions of “sectoral” representation. They have stated, as Prachanda recently did, that they oppose “parliamentary republicanism,” by which they mean democracy as Nepal had but with the parliament sovereign. But they have not laid out what their “real democracy” alternative will be. That is the beauty of being the political challenger. Today’s realities are opposed with tomorrow’s promises. This is what politicians always do, even those who run “on my record.” The danger of left-wing ideologues, such as the Maoists, is that their worldview dramatically constrains their view of possibilities.
They tend to think of fantasies, such as “self-reliance” and “independence,” as ends that can be achieved if only “will” is harnessed. It was just such fantasies, implemented through violence, that gave us the astonishing crimes of the past century – crimes, it must be noted, the Maoists deny occurred. Yet there is no doubt what went on under Lenin, Stalin, and Mao (photos of all these individuals are used as veritable deities by the Maoists), any more than there is any question as to what occurred under Hitler or Pol Pot. What they shared was a worldview startlingly similar to that held by the Maoists.
The Maoists’ way of dealing with this is, first, to deny reality (just as the leader of Iran seeks to deny the Holocaust); second, to claim that Nepal will be different (which is easily claimed, since there is a startling lack of knowledge in Nepal of what has gone on globally in similar previous situations to that of Nepal now); and, finally, when all else fails, to claim that the critic has no right to speak. This is a favored tactic of my activist internet correspondents, who purport to find all Americans responsible for everything from US foreign policy to the decimation of the American Indian tribes. None of these three ways, it bears reiterating, addresses the issue: the Maoists really have no answers to the challenges facing Nepal. They simply claim that they will do better than the bumbling (and bloody, they claim) incompetents who have preceded them.
The Maoists have used the monarchy as their foil, as a surrogate for what they claim is its role in the old-order. If the “feudal monarchy” is swept away, they endlessly repeat, all will be right with Nepal. In this, they certainly have been assisted by the tragic circumstances which placed the incumbent, Gyanendra, on the throne. Similarly, they have been assisted by his mistakes in maneuvering through the maze of Nepali politics. However, having forced the monarch to a position most claim he should occupy, that of a ceremonial monarch in a parliamentary democracy, the Maoists are still left with the fundamental issue: what to do about Nepal? They see structural issues that can be addressed by “will.” Most of us see a population that has exceeded the carrying capacity of the land.
Though marginal in an objective sense, Nepal and its troubles have implications for the region and beyond. The decimation of a democracy, the turning over of a people to the same tired solutions that have led to tragedy after tragedy, is of concern enough. Just as serious are the regional implications of allowing an armed, radical movement to force its way to power through terror.
Role of India
India is the ultimate arbiter in Nepali affairs for reasons of geostrategic interest and Nepal’s geo-fiscal realities.. From Nepal’s standpoint, this has not always worked out well. From India’s standpoint, it has worked out reasonably enough. Nepal has steered clear of engaging in behavior that threatens India’s interests, and Nepalis have proved a valuable component of the Indian labor pool (especially militarily, where Nepalis apparently comprise one-eighth of the manpower of India’s infantry battalions). India’s interest in the current situation is in having a stable neighbor, especially one that does not contribute to India’s own growing Maoist problem. To achieve this goal, New Delhi desires in Nepal a functioning democracy committed to addressing the needs of its people. How to balance the elements of this general prescription just related has long been the challenge of Indian regional foreign policy and, apart from Nepal, has led to some real flies-in-the-ointment at times. Sri Lanka leaps to mind.
Irony again surfaces, because it is India (not the Maoists) that has seen its policy of the past decade go awry. Hence it finds itself in bed with Maoist insurgents and in search of a “soft landing.” New Delhi’s strategy is to get one by facilitating in Nepal creation of a “West Bengal” or a “Kerala” – states where the tamed Indian left challenges and even rules, where it continues with its nasty verbiage and bizarre worldview, but where it must respond to the realities of power and hence stays within the lanes on the national political highway. What New Delhi has overlooked is that such realities occur in India only because of the capacity of the national state to force compliance. Subtract the Indian military, paramilitary, and police forces from the equation, and India would be anarchy. Not surprisingly, that is the very term being used by many to describe the situation in Nepal.
As has been discussed previously by any number of sources, it is difficult to tell precisely where “our Indian friends,” as Prachanda has taken to calling them, fit in. A number of elements figured into New Delhi’s calculations. First, as the hegemonic power in an unstable subcontinent, India wants restoration of order. This is necessary for precisely the reasons stability is desired in Sri Lanka. Disorder produces refugees, unleashes intra-Indian passions, transfers elements of the conflict to Indian soil, and sucks New Delhi into foreign policy nastiness. Second, having opted for order, India has played a hand well known to its smaller neighbors: intervention. The only question has been how to intervene.
Here, there are several schools of thought. My past work in Sri Lanka has led to my being less than charitable as to Indian official motives. In the Sri Lankan case, New Delhi was into everything from supporting terrorism to running covert ops in a friendly, neighboring democracy. Only when the Frankenstein it helped to create, LTTE, turned on its former benefactor did logic and morality reassert themselves in New Delhi’s policy. In this case, in Nepal, it is perhaps too early to speak in such terms. What we know at the moment is that is that the weak position of the coalition government in New Delhi, combined with its normal “Great Game” psychology and the eagerness of certain Indian personalities, especially on the left, to expand their own role and spheres of involvement, led to a policy shift that supported SPAM (the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists). It seems equally clear that India, as it did previously in Sri Lanka, went into the present endeavor quite misinformed by its alleged experts, not to mention its intelligence organs, and that it is quite ignorant as to the actual nature of the Maoists – no matter the efforts of those same personalities just mentioned to claim how wise, thoughtful, and caring Prachanda and other members of the Maoist leadership are.
In once again misreading the situation in a neighboring state, India was virtually pushed by the nationalism of the king. Whatever else he is, the monarch is a Nepali who does not think it is for India to dictate Nepali realities. Ironically, this is a position also held by the Maoists. They have simply realized, of late, that it is a position best relegated to the shadows. Better to rail against the old bugaboos of Indian politics, especially in unison with those who think the Cold War is still going on, “America and world imperialism.”
As the US Ambassador has made quite clear – and the cases of Hamas and Hezbollah illustrate well – there are consequences connected with actions that seek to talk peaceful politics but engage in behavior labeled terrorist by virtually the entire world. It is noteworthy that in their quest to carve out an identity as “independent” actors, the Maoists claim to see exemplars in very unsavory types – Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, North Korea. One can understand why these odious regimes are “picked” – on the surface, they stand for a divorce from the present world-order, which Maoist dogma holds responsible, in league with the Nepali local representatives of world-capitalism (that is, anyone who owns anything and makes a decent living), for the lack of development that is present-day Nepali reality. In reality, Cuba and North Korea have long been economic basket-cases noted for their political repression, while Venezuela and Iran are political basket-cases determined to remain such by exploiting a single resource, oil, something Nepal certainly does not have. Cases such as Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia also offer a certain fascination for the Maoists, since these states claim to be “socialist.” Each, though, has particulars not relevant to Nepal. Indeed, the most apt comparison for Nepal would seem to be to the Albania of the Cold War, when its lack of resources and close affinity with Maoist ideology reduced it to a complete backwater.
What now looms for India in Nepal is what Israel has faced with Hamas and Hezbollah. Whether events play themselves out as we are witnessing in the Middle East depends quite upon what the Maoists are actually up to. Hamas and Hezbollah, for example, thought they could be both respectable and disrespectable, that they could be both in government and carry our terrorist actions. Their fellow citizens have paid a terrible price for such folly. Hamas is particularly tragic, because the Palestinians thought they could elect a group that both wanted to defy world norms and be supported by its money. The similarity to the Nepali case is compelling. Hamas and Hezbollah, one could argue, have behaved as the Nepali Maoists seem determined to behave, to participate in “the system” only to use it for their own ends. Those “ends,” obviously, have now made life even worse for the Palestinian and Lebanese populations.
PIRA in Northern Ireland, to the contrary, has reintegrated, worked to move beyond what it was and to build a better Ulster. Ulster today is an improvement upon the Ulster that existed when the civil rights movement erupted in the late 1960s over ill-treatment of the Catholic minority. In the Nepal case, it was disappointing and tragic that the SPA and the Palace could not have a meeting of minds. Parliamentary democracy should have been the ultimate bulwark against the Maoist challenge, but the very nature of Nepali parliamentary democracy, with its corruption and ineptitude, led to its marginalization. The increasingly bitter split between SPA and the king became all but inevitable in such circumstances, but personalities also played a central role, as they do in all that occurs in Nepal. It was the nastiness between Congress personalities, for instance, that incapacitated government at the moment when focus and response were most needed to insurgent challenge. India has sought to alter this reality long after the fact, by coming down squarely on the side of “democracy.” Yet, as happened in Sri Lanka, New Delhi’s political class seems to have seriously miscalculated.
Though certain Indian commentators hold there are no connections between the Indian and Nepali Maoists, this has never been the case. Indeed, the two sides previously discussed openly their linkages, and individuals from the two movements were apprehended or killed in operations “on the wrong side of the border.” Only with a move to exploit the nonviolent line of operation did the Nepali Maoists stop claiming to be integrally linked not only with South Asian Maoism, through CCOMPOSA, but also with global Maoist forces through RIM. Of course, these were never “command” relationships, only liaison and, in the case of the Indian groups, some presence. It is naïve to claim the radical wing of a radical Maoist movement will simply salute and call it a day, even if the leadership decides reigning in the combatants is the best tactical course of action. Further, it is inevitable that any Maoist government would encourage the usual flocking of left-wing groupies that we see – and have seen – in every other case of a radical government. Indeed, there already are here in Nepal the usual international activists engaging in “revolutionary activities” and supplying information to the Nepali left-wing press and even to the Maoists themselves.
On the one hand, there is hope for the Nepalese future. What is happening now politically should have been the response to the Maoists, with the security forces providing the shield. Though a plan was in fact drawn up in the pre-April 2006 period, it was mechanical, devoid of substance, precisely because the mobilization that occurred in April was not used by Nepali democracy as its weapon. That is the irony of Nepali parliamentary democracy – it proved incapable of using mobilization of democratic capacity to defend itself. It did not do what the Thai, the Filipinos, the Peruvians, and the Sri Lankans did to defeat their Maoists. They brought reform to imperfect systems and made them better. They are still imperfect, but so are all systems. And they are not man-eating systems as desired by the left-wing, of which the Maoists are the premier representatives.
It should be obvious that the claim that there is “no military solution” to insurgency is simply a canard. One heard it endlessly in Nepal, most often from “the foreigners who would be gods,” as one acquaintance was apt to put it. Armed capacity enables the campaign of reform, because armed capacity is what enables the challenge to the old-order. In circumstances such as Nepal, no army can be committed simply to defend the status quo. It must be committed to defend transformation. That transformation, though, must look rather more like what can be seen in India and a lot less like that witnessed in Mao’s China.
If Nepal wishes to move forward, it has all the pieces right before it on the table. This has been said before. What separates the sides is the Maoist notion that revolutionary transformation will now be delivered by surrender when force of arms could not take it. “The people have spoken,” goes their claim. In reality, the people have spoken, but they have not at all supported what the Maoists have in mind, precisely because the Maoists have worked so hard not to let their vision and plans get out into the open. What Nepal needs now, more than ever, is equitable representation and good governance. What the Maoists keep demanding is retribution and marginalization of all who do not see a solution in their terms. There seems to be the idea that one can simply one day announce a decision has been reached, which will include a declaration that, in effect, a significant slice of the Nepalese old-order should present itself at the chopping block. To say that will not “just happen” is not to be a pessimist or even a realist, only to reiterate a point I have made previously: hope in not a method.
For reconciliation, all elements of society need to be engaged. At the moment, the Maoists and some misguided elements of SPA are proceeding in much the same fashion as did the government of Sri Lanka when it marginalized its Tamil population. Half of all Nepalis, in recent polls, said they would be content with a ceremonial monarchy. The security forces number more than 160,000 individuals in intact units. Yet there has been little effort to involve the forces represented by those statistics. For Nepal to move forward, to use a constitutional assembly as a basis for more equitable new arrangements, is a laudable goal. To think a socialist reshuffling of Nepal’s demographic and physical pieces will produce a panacea is a pipe dream. To the contrary, in advancing their “triumph of the will” solution, the Maoists seem quite unawares that they have fixed upon, as course of action, the very title of Hitler’s most powerful fascist propaganda film.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Based on interactions with people living outside of Kathmandu (and other urban areas), there is a lot of concern about the direction in which Nepal is heading. The management of arms, the issue of monarchy, stability and independence are areas of anxiety for pockets of relatively educated individuals in the Nepalese hinterland.
Others are committed to the Maoist line and speak of a “new Nepal,” free of American capitalist influence and Indian intimidation. They speak of their leader’s vision to raise a “people’s militia” the size of a small nation that will be able to stand up for the rights of downtrodden Nepalis and fight the regional “Indian hegemony” and the global “American imperialism.” They speak of the current talks as the pursuit of victory according to a modified Maoist philosophy and remain confident that triumph will be theirs.
The majority of Nepalis however, are simply content that the killing has paused and are busy meeting the daily challenges of feeding their families one square meal a day, collecting water and firewood and harvesting their fields in preparation for the winter time. Mixed emotions of optimism and pessimism pervade the majority of the Nepalese people.
While news of the Non Resident Nepali conference and the hopes of money flowing into Nepal has momentarily sidetracked those educated enough to appreciate the importance of such investments, the large majority of Nepalis are satisfied by the break in every day violence.
On the progress of dialogue between the SPA and Maoists……..
The dialogues between the Maoists and the SPA are proceeding without any meaningful results. Each day (and on some days at different times of the day), different rumors circulate in the capital. Even mentioning the variety of rumors that have flown around would be a waste of time.
No one expects results immediately and all one can do is eagerly await the outcome whether it is a temporary breakdown of talks (and the resumption of Jana Andolan III) or another round of “peaceful protests,.”
From what the Maoist leader Prachanda had recently said, it seems to expect anything but the resumption of violence (of a different variety) is almost unavoidable. Prachanda’s suggestion that people would soon find out what the “October Revolution” means and also the decisions already taken by the Maoists during their talks in Dhulikhel leave less room for outward optimism.
It is impossible to predict the consequences of another round of protests. What methods Maoists with guns in urban centers will adopt, how (or if) the police force under Minister Sitoula will react, how the country’s economy will be impacted is anyone’s guess.
On the “official” versus the unofficial view on talks……..
The official version is one of optimism, that progress is being made and a settlement is imminent. Despite this optimism, it is better to be realistic and rejoice with good news, but not become overjoyed when after two rounds of talks, the only concrete decision is on the least contentious of issues – when elections should take place.
The conventional wisdom is that whatever is happening now lacks constitutional and legal validity. Therefore, the first objective is to adopt the interim constitution to provide that legal validity. The second objective is to form an interim government with Maoist participation, so that the Maoists’ crimes against humanity are wiped under the rug and their violence is rationalized once and for all.
There seems to be much greater flexibility on all issues (including the mode of decision-making on the issue of monarchy). The only issue that remains non-negotiable is the management of arms.
Enormous pressure is being exerted psychologically by the Maoists on the SPA government. Pressure is also being exerted by India to reject the idea of bringing the Maoists into an interim government with arms. There is also pressure on the Maoists from radical organizations like Revolutionary International Movement to which the Nepali Maoists belong.
Although not in public, even Civil Society groups who receive a majority of their funding from aid money are pressuring the government to do everything possible so that the aid promised by the Americans and Europeans can still be available to “help the Nepalese people.” But of course, even the NGOs and INGOs run by Civil Society need funding before they can help the people.
The parties, the government, the Maoists, the civil society are all very much aware of how important international aid and funding is to the functioning of the state. If entire governments can rise and fall with changes in funding, there is nothing that can save a shaky coalition government that has partnered with one enemy to destroy another enemy.
On the impact of North Korea’s nuclear testing……..
The Maoists becoming less and less weary of the Americans, especially after North Korea's daring move. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s regime is also better positioned than before North Korea’s testing. With the axis of evil growing in strength and Indian policy on Nepal as shaky as ever, the little American focus that existed is bound to be distracted in more pressing theaters.
The Maoists are completely joyful. Rumor has it that a small gathering of the Maoist leadership held a private, closed-door reception to celebrate the coincidence of peace talks with North Korea’s nuclear testing.
Members of Parliament who expressed outrage at Thailand’s military coup and warned that a repeat may happen in Nepal also commented on North Korean testing. Obviously, the leaders were much more worried about the military coup in Thailand (that has proved to be a complete non-issue to the rest of the world) but expressed much less reservation on North Korea’s nuclear testing (which has angered even China!).
No one was listening in either case and if memory serves correctly, none of these leaders even dared to raise their voices when India conducted testing in 1997. Not that it matters because neither India nor Pakistan would take Nepal’s leadership with a grain of seriousness.
Interesting to note is that neither Human Rights Watch nor Amnesty International has extensive coverage on the Thai coup. Perhaps Thailand is not as easy to exploit for funding purposes as Nepal was. Where nuclear testing is concerned, this is so far beyond the field of human rights that criticism of nuclear armed states will probably drown criticism of North Korea’s testing because if America hadn’t invented the nuclear bomb, we wouldn’t be in this mess to being with!
On Maoist atrocities (during peace talks) that missed the media headlines………
Meanwhile Maoist abductions, illegal people's court verdicts and extortion (fund raising) continue, unabated. The incidents that happened from the first till the tenth of October 2006 are as listed below:
-- Balibhadra Rana, former Mayor of Tribhuvannagar Municipality
-- Five persons in Pyuthan
-- One youth in Darchula
-- Deepak Dahal of Sijuwa, Morang
-- Porter Narayan Dunwar of Kavre
-- Former DDC President Khadga Chamling and 30 persons in Taplejung
-- Arun Sunwar, student from Bouddha, Kathmandu
-- Three persons from Khotang
-- Army man Nar Bahadur Chand in Baitadi (while at home on leave)
-- Laxman Shrestha of Sallyan
Collection of Tax
-- Collection of Rs.500 to Rs.2,500 from tourists
-- Collection of tax, with barrier posts, in Tulsipur (Dang), Bankatta-Deukhuri
(Dang) Agaiya (Banke), Dolalghat (Kavre), Fikkal (Ilam), Salakpur (Morang),
Jhumka (Sunsari), Bhardah (Saptari), and Marchaiya (Siraha)
Control over Public and Private properties
-- Private School in Chitwan to set up Maoists Training Centre
-- Compound of Petrol Pump in Inaruwa to set up Maoists post;
-- Sharada High School in Khanar, Sunsari to set up Maoists training camp
-- Panchkanya School, Bhojpur to set up Maoists army camp
-- Police Post, Suryapur, Jhapa
On charges of corruption by party leadership against a party leader in the current government….
Nepal Communist Party United Left Front (ULF) has itself initiated an inquiry commission to probe corruption charges leveled against Land Reform Minister Prabhu Narayan Chowdhary. Mr,. Chowdhary is a representative of this party in the SPA government.
It is alleged that the minister has amassed enormous wealth through transfers, promotions and appointment of civil servants. He is alleged to have collected money from different district land revenue offices under the pretext of Dashain kahrcha (festival expenditure).
ULF has set up an enquiry committee under Hemant B.C. to probe allegations that Chowdhary took bribes while appointing the new Guthi Prashashak (Trust Administrator) as well. People are asking for Chowdhary's resignation.
It seems the excuse of “the past government was much more corrupt than we are” is not being considered as acceptable by anyone, any more.
On child recruitment and international law……..
It seems that Maoists and the UML are competing with each other in enrolling young students for membership of student union. Thakur Gaire, President of UML's student union has made pubic the decision of the Union to give Union membership to students studying in Grade 1 to Grade 7.
Either the UN human rights body in Nepal is not aware of this public declaration or they are choosing to disregard it as lip service. For larger international human rights bodies, this affair is not worth the trouble of writing volumes on what is happening because it is happening under a democratic government that is struggling to keep it together. No point in pressuring this government and causing it to weaken. Also, no point in raising an issue that will never make international headlines.
On the historic outcome of the third round of talks…
The much awaited historic outcome of the third round of talks (which reportedly lasted slightly over 1 hour) is indeed historic. It is historic in the sense that there are probably very few examples from history when a rebel outfit (that has no democratic credentials) have adjourned peace negotiations by telling a coalition of 7 democratic political parties that they need to get their agendas straight. How about that for historic!!
The third round of talks in Baluatar coincided with a separate historic talk between the rebel leader and the UN’s man on the ground, Ian Martin. This was also historic because Martin is reported as pleading with Prachanda that the UN is helpless to act until the Maoists and SPA come to an agreement.
In response to this plea, Prachanda’s rejoinder was that the management of arms could only be discussed after political settlements. In other words, Prachanda told Ian Martin that he should expect no special treatment from the Maoists just because he represents the UN. Also, what Prachanda indirectly told the UN is that the UN’s usefulness to the Maoists expired the moment the UN recognized the insurgents as a political force. The UN’s usefulness for the rest of the peace process now hinges on whether the Maoists’ political agenda prevails without going through a political process.
All very experiences that will definitely go down in history!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
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.
It’s important to distinguish here, the difference between James Moriarty as an individual and James Moriarty as the American emissary to Nepal. The former view furthers the myth of unwanted “American intervention,” whilst the latter view exposes the dubious thought-processes by which this myth was created.
Parties in Nepal that advocate the Maoist line would have the Nepalese people operate within the individualistic prism. This entails the adoption of the following worldview: “Asking the Maoists to disarm before entering the government is Moriarty’s pet peeve.”
Moriarty’s demonization (as an individual) achieves two sets of goals: First, it suggests that had there been any other American Ambassador in Moriarty’s stead, the insistence on disarmament would not be an issue. Second, it attempts to sideline the management of Maoist arms as a peripheral issue that is inconsequential to the outcome of the peace process.
The facts, however, are as follows: As opposed to the “interventionist” manner in which Moriarty’s position is framed (by Maoist sympathizers), the extent to which the supposed “intervention” is permitted is completely up to Nepalis.
As America’s official representative to the Nepalese nation state, Moriarty is at liberty to exercise some degree of discretion. Such discretion may be applied in feeding information to the US State Department, thereby impacting policy decisions that are ultimately made.
However, a position that implies that either American Policy regarding Nepal is carried out solely at the discretion of James Moriarty – or that the Ambassador’s opinion is the only opinion that carries weight for American law makers – is ludicrous.
For emotionally detached observers, Moriarty’s position is simply the execution of his job function – the representation of American foreign policy. It’s not up to Moriarty whether the US Congress passes legislation that forbids American aid from being transferred to governments that include armed political constituents, and it’s not up to Moriarty to determine which groups are placed on (or removed from) the US terrorist watch list.
For his part, Moriarty has expressed what is mandated by American law. The government of the United States cannot provide material aid to any country that includes an armed constituent as part of its national government – the Palestinian government is an example, and what is happening in Palestine today is also a trend worth noting.
Highlighting this legal requirement to power brokers in Nepal is Moriarty’s job. A decision on whether to comply with or reject American aid requirements is up to Nepal’s policy makers. This is precisely why the suggestion of interventionist American policy is a lot of hype and exaggeration. Nepal is free to choose as she wishes. Her political actors just need to figure out their priorities, make decisions, and run with them.
If the SPA government decides to negotiate armed Maoists into power (and there is every reason to believe they will), the outcome should be viewed for what it is – a conscious decision based on collective wisdom and not a forced outcome, unduly influenced by external American pressure.
Instead of seeking scapegoats to pass blame on, Nepali decision-makers need to demonstrate more willingness to be accountable for decisions that they make. This is the heart of the issue, not American intervention, as is often forwarded for public consumption.
Alternatively, if the issue at hand is intolerance for interventionist policies in general, then the American position isn’t necessarily the one Nepalis need worry about. Much more transparent is direct, material intervention of the Indian variety.
To the Maoists’ credit, they are conceivably the only actors in Nepal (at least the non-Baburam faction) who appreciate this fact. Unfortunately, they too are more than willing to exploit whatever they can get to further their cause in the interim.
In either case, although American policy may factor into the decision-making process, Moriarty as an individual should not.
Myth #3: “The Americans are contributing to an eventual meltdown in the peace process, which will ultimately precipitate another political crisis in N
The proponents of this argument have a point. Yet the point appears to be more a search for a psychological scapegoat to shift blame rather than a mindset that forces Nepali decision makers to be accountable for their decisions.
How Nepal handles her internal affairs need not be open to any sort of interpretation other than that of Nepalis themselves. In a utopian situation, no interests outside of Nepal’s own would factor into Nepal’s policy making process. Yet a realistic understanding of Nepal’s geopolitical stratification and her economic position dictate otherwise.
There are a minimum of two competing, external interest that concern Nepal, in addition to numerous sub-interests and interests within these sub-interests. This is not a symptom that is peculiar to Nepal, rather an indication of a living, breathing (perhaps in Nepal’s case, hyperventilating) political process.
To perceive any single interest as disproportionately important to Nepal’s political direction could be the outcome of only two (or variations of these two) elements. Either policy makers appreciate that the views proposed by a particular interest group (external or internal) serve long-term Nepali interests, or they realize that the absence of a particular viewpoint would imprudently unravel a delicate political balance.
Instead of seeking avenues to single out a given position, what critics (committed to intellectually exercising the boundaries of their imagination) need to ask is why most of their political representatives aren’t forwarding critiques of the American position similar to their own.
For the sake of this argument, the question that need be posed is why only a minority within the SPA leadership and Nepalese Civil Society continue their assault on the American position, while the majority of Nepal’s self-proclaimed Civil Society leaders and previously elected politicians remain quiet.
Adherents of the argument that American policy in Nepal pursues the rationalization of yet another political crisis need to consider the possibility that American legal parameters may actually be serving Nepal’s interest by permitting the survival of a political viewpoint that moderates agree to in private but do not dare speak in public.
If this was not the case, why hasn’t a single moderate leader spoken out against the American position? Why is it that even advocates of a republican setup from within the Nepali Congress remain silent? Why is it that only the most rabid and borderline leftist extremists in the SPA coalition continue their offensive against what they often refer to as “Moriarty’s position?”
Critics who feel that the American position is bound to precipitate an eventual political crisis may wish to communicate with Nepalis familiar with procedures on lobbying Staff Members of the US Congress.
Proponents of Senator Patrick Leahy’s position on Nepal (including the Maoist leader Pushpa Dahal, who has sung Leahy’s praise) should evaluate why the Senator’s office has not issued statements that contradict the American position on Nepal. Senator Leahy is, in fact, a Ranking Member for the Appropriations Committee’s Sub-Committee on State and Foreign Operations – a very powerful position to say the least.
Senator Leahy is also a leading critic of the Bush Administration. This is the same administration that Maoist, Dev Gurung, recently cited as a root-cause behind friction on the issue of managing Maoist arms.
The fact of the matter is that neither Senator Leahy nor American Nepalis (accustomed to visiting Congressional aides) are likely to contradict current American policy on Nepal. The reason is that no American politician (or moderate Nepali American) is likely to engage in a debate over the provision of aid to a government that houses an armed faction (be it in an interim government or otherwise).
Additionally, no one wants to be perceived as aiding a group that features on the US Terrorist watch list and seems to take every opportunity to sing the praises of America’s enemies (a fairly odious crew, whatever one thinks of American policies themselves). Some may forward the argument that Nepali Maoists no longer deserve such dubious credentials. Others, who have born the brunt of Maoist atrocities may hold a different view.
The point here is not to embark on a semantic debate over whether Nepal’s Maoists belong on the US Terrorist watch list – this is an American decision that is justified by American standards. Rather, the debate should focus on whether Nepalis perceive Maoist actions as those that have invoked terror to achieve political agendas (and whether the Maoists are likely to continue leveraging their terrorist pasts to sustain their political agendas into the foreseeable future).
If the answer is “no,” the Americans retaining the Maoists on their terror watch list is irrelevant, and there need not be a looming political crisis that being “forwarded with American sponsorship.” If the answer is “yes” (or “maybe”), then the looming political crisis isn’t a figment of the American imagination – it is real, it is present, and it is in fact tethering at the back of Nepali minds.
The only brinksmanship here is of the psychological variety that the Maoists continue to employ. The Maoists’ proposal to manage arms only after political settlements are reached is a great example of this strategy in action. That the Maoists have maneuvered into a position where they control the peace initiative is not of the Americans’ doing. This is the result of a series of conscious decisions made by Nepal’s mainstream political actors and their signatures on various agreements hold testimony to this fact.
Once more, it is Nepal’s leadership on whose shoulders the eventual outcome of ongoing negotiations rests. Actors in the international arena are bound to pursue interests and forward policies that fit into their particular world-views. Ultimately, though, it’s up to Nepal’s politicians to exercise good judgment and decide which world-views are conducive to Nepal’s interest and to act accordingly.
If the overwhelming perception is that the American position is contributing to instability, the American position should be ignored. It’s that simple.
At the same time, those who believe in this viewpoint should not expect American sympathy or aid when barriers within the American legal system provide unambiguous guidelines on the types of governments that should and should not receive aid.
Critics who advocate the “unhealthy” nature of current American policy should be prepared to forego the benefits that American aid provide the Nepali population (this includes funding for multiple NGO and INGO related activities, capacity building programs, etc.). Doing so automatically liberates Nepal from the perceived risk of an “inevitable political crisis.”
Suggesting that the American position is designed to debilitate the peace process but then demanding that American tax payer dollars continue to flow in support of a coalition government that includes anti-American elements is more than slightly illogical.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Reports by news agencies (and those posted on local news portals in Nepal – e.g. “e-kantipur”) outline unspeakable cruelty displayed by Chinese authorities against Tibetans attempting to escape flee China. Such acts of inhumanity cannot be permitted to pass.
According to reports, a group of about 70 Tibetan refugees including women, children and monks tried to cross into Nepal from the Tibet, on Saturday. Chinese soldiers having prior information of the flight “arrived with weapons and opened fire.” According to published reports, about 40 refugees managed to cross into Nepal while two were reportedly killed. Additionally, 2 others have gone “missing.”
While the world is focused on conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Sri Lanka and other hot spots, Tibet remains till this day, under a brutal occupation. The Chinese entered Tibet with military forces in 1950 and consolidated it after 1959.
China’s indifference towards the people of Tibet is reflected by Saturday’s tragic event. In stark contrast to universally accepted standards, Chinese soldiers chose to mow down fleeing and unarmed Tibetans for what was termed a ‘border violation’. Despite the modernity of their economic enterprise, the Chinese seem wed to the Stalinist dictum of keeping foreigners out and insiders within. The actions of China’s border troops show parallels with the attitudes of KGB (border guards).
China may think that its economic prowess and its capacity as the world’s largest market gives it the go ahead to suppress the Tibetan people. It is now an established fact that China has colonized Tibet with Han Chinese to such an extent that Tibetans are now a minority in their own homeland.
Tibetans are in such a sorry predicament that no country in the world (including the United Sates) is openly willing to challenge China on its Tibet policy. The US needs China’s vast market to sell its produce while other major European powers also do not want to antagonize China for fear of economic retaliation. China, as the largest holder of the US Treasury’s 30-year bond, exercises considerable leverage not just in bi-lateral regional trade, but truly in the smooth functioning of the entire global economy.
Owing to China’s increasing economic might, the cause for Tibetan freedom is now championed only by individuals and diminishing groups. They do not receive government support, for fear of antagonizing China. And despite the Tibetan spiritual leader (the Dalai Lama’s) heightened stature as a Nobel laureate, the cause he champions appears to be losing momentum.
China’s reaction towards the Dalai Lama has been harsh. Beijing puts pressure on foreign governments not to welcome the Dalai Lama in their countries. Such pressure is acutely felt in countries like Nepal which are forced to bow down to Beijing in the name of ‘peaceful coexistence.’
Beijing’s propaganda in tandem with the aid it provides to Nepal has been consistent over the years. The leftist and communists in Nepal have steadfastly backed China’s claim to Tibet. Nepal has held a long relationship with both China and India. Nepal was a trade partner and co-belligerents in different wars of the past. Nepal is one of the few countries besides India, which can trace the independence and sovereignty of Tibet in the past through a careful study of history. Despite China’s constant claim that Tibet was forever part of China, historical analysis reveals that Tibet was only an ally of China during its wars with Nepal. In fact, the China laid claim on Tibet after the Tibetans asked for Chinese military assistance during a war with Nepal. The Chinese simply decided never to leave.
It was a miserable decision by the former Nepali government to close the Tibetan contact offices in Nepal. Tibetan people are Nepal’s earliest neighbors. Many ethnic groups in Nepal (including the renowned Sherpas and Tamangs) are said to have migrated to Nepal from Tibet. Nepalis and Tibetans have fraternal relations that go as far back as the time of the Lichhavi King Amshuvarma who married his daughter Bhrikuti to the Tibetan King Srong Chong Gampo.
The Chinese on the other hand, came into contact with the Nepalis only after the Tibetans felt threatened by Nepal’s expansionist policies in the 18th century. Tibet sought military support from China, which brought them to Nepal’s border at that time.
It is commonly held misperception that the Tibetans and Chinese are one people or of the same stock. The language, script and culture stand wide apart when these two peoples are compared. The current existence of Tibetans as a Chinese minority is but a recent invention.
For a country like Nepal, it cannot allow Tibetan freedom fighters to operate from within its borders. In the past, Tibetan Khampas (supported by the CIA) had launched anti-Chinese operations from inside Nepal’s borders.
However, as is the case today (as it was then), Nepal’s geo-strategic position does not permit any actions that could potentially provoke China. But, this should not stop Nepal from providing moral support to the beleaguered Tibetans.
China has no right to ask Nepal not to allow such figures as Dalai Lama into the country. It also cannot ask Nepal not to accept Tibetan refugees, from entering Nepal.
There have been incidences of Nepali security agencies arresting and deporting Tibetan refugees back into China. These kinds of activities cannot be condoned as they violate internationally accepted human rights standards and humanitarian laws.
As a self-declared loktantric nation, Nepal cannot be seen enforcing hypocritical standards in aid of draconian Chinese policies in Tibet. Nepal should not be an accessory to such immoral and despicable activities. Human and political rights are not just for the Nepalis, the Tibetans in Nepal should enjoy these rights are well. As a secular state, there should not be prohibitions on Tibetan refugees gathering at Boudhha during Dalai Lama’s birthday celebration.
Nepal and Nepalis should learn to tolerate and show solidarity to the Tibetan people if we are expect similar support during the hour of their need. Conflicting standards that tout universal human rights and freedoms for purposes of convenience are morally unacceptable.
When it comes to the issue of Tibetan refugees seeking asylum in Nepal, our rights activists need to do much more to ensure their rights are protected. Moral pressure from American Senators or Indian politicians should not be our guiding principles. Rather, our own conscience should guide Nepal’s policy on Tibetan refugees.
There are approximately 150 Nepali Maoist leaders including the real number two, CP Gajurel, being held as prisoners in India. Given the rationale for India to align the Maoists and the SPA, the compulsion to keep selective Maoists as Indian prisoners (while Red Corner nominees like Bhattarai were chauffeured around Delhi) seems out of synch.
It has been apparent for quite some time that India has gone to great lengths to selectively imprison only the Nationalist faction members of the Maoists. By doing this, India has ensured that the pro-Indian faction under Baburam remains a relevant force within the Maoists.
Be that as it may, for negotiations with the Maoists to be fruitful, discussions must be had in the presence of the main ideologues of the Maoist movement. Trying to substitute CP Gajurl and Mohan Baidya with Baburam Bhattarai and Hisila Yami is like swapping Ian Martin with Sushil Pyakurel (or Devendra Raj Pandey) to guarantee human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A half way gesture full of good intent but with little in the way of tangible results.
Brining the imprisoned Maoists home is a job for the Home Minister Krishna Prasad Shitoula. The Home Minister (no pun intended) is well positioned to leverage his Panchayat contacts from his days in the National Sports Council and his contacts through his wife (in India’s legal Left) to cut a deal and bring the nationalists back to Nepal. What good is a face and a name when the people who “wrote the book” aren’t by Prachanda’s side to argue their points?
(More) On the law and order situation in Nepal
With the Maoist decision to recommend the continuation of their “people’s court” at the village and district levels, Nepal could become the safest country in the world. Most countries have a single legal system; Nepal will soon have two. One at the national level run by the SPA government and another at the local level, run by the Maoists.
In reality, this set-up makes a lot of sense, that is, non-sense. Even the UN has acceded that the SPA government has no hold over the countryside so in essence, the only functional legal system is that which is operated by the Maoists.
Let’s face it, a legal system that sanctions accused elements being thrown off of cliffs for “defying the party line” is one hell of deterrent! It’s just too damn bad for the SPA that there no laws in the Maoist rule-book that say that “SPA members should be allowed to return to their districts to campaign for upcoming elections” and “any Maoist found guilty defying this people’s provision, will be punished by extreme tickling till tears are dropped!”
Fortunately for the Maoists, all legal provisions at the national level (that previously prohibited their armed activities in urban centers) have been nullified. In fact, lately, when criminal activities go up, the government of Nepal politely asks the Maoists to check the rise in crime.
In response, it is rumored that the armed Maoists instruct their unarmed cadre to stop extortions and start donation drives instead. Crime takes a plunge, the Maoist coffers fill up, the Home Minster looks good and the Maoists look even better.
On the UN’s deployment of “assets” to help further Nepal’s peace process
Ian Martin did such a spectacular job of turning around the human rights situation in Nepal that his temporary posting to East Timor prompted rumors of an imminent collapse in Nepal’s peace process.
Apparently, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan agreed on Mr. Martin’s indispensability to Nepal’s peace process and sent him back to Nepal as the Secretary General’s Special Envoy.
Recognizing the vast potential for an amicable outcome from the upcoming peace talks, the UN has broken with tradition and sent a whopping two (that’s right, as in the number that comes after one) experts to shore up Ian Martin’s mission. One is a electoral process expert and the other, a military expert.
The electoral process expert will probably advise the government that an interim constitution will take at least another 18 months to draft and that constituent assembly elections won’t realistically materialize for another 24 months.
The military expert will probably consult with present and former Nepalese military officers (who have actually performed the role the expert is supposed to conduct in Nepal), to determine how best to contain the Nepalese military.
The expert (being who he is), will quickly realize that his job of “containing” the Nepalese Army, is practically done. Nepalese Army personnel are content earning a living without having to fight. The military expert will likely also realize that containing the Maoist fighters is going to be a little more challenging because they are interchangeable between civilians, party workers and Maoist militia, based on time and circumstance.
Cantoning civilians is probably going to be against human rights norms. Demobilizing Maoist party workers is going to be against the spirit of a democratic setup. The 100,000 strong Maoist militia is supposedly going to join forces with the Police and oversee elections – no point in keeping these people under watch. The UN’s military expert will experience a first hand ‘walk” in the shoes of the Nepalese military as the expert comes to terms with what he’s up against.
Naturally, the most logical conclusion that both experts are likely to arrive at is this: If the UN is to have a meaningful impact on the peace process, Nepal is probably short of 27 experts now, 297 experts in 3 months and probably 497 experts when the time comes to actually manage arms.
Funding for all these expertise might be an issue but hey, Nepal will take what she can get. Especially when someone else is footing the bill! Plus, we are talking about “expert” opinions here, from the United Nations and if these experts indicate the need for more experts to impart expert advice that result in exceptional outcomes, who’s to argue?
On the Maoist leaders’ expert opinions on budgetary matters
As with most practical matters of market economics, in the mind of Maoist leader Dina Nath Sharma, the Nepal Oil Corporation’s indebtedness is a ploy by the country’s feudal elite to suppress the progressive aspirations of the proletariat masses. According to Mr. Sharma, he is not ready to agree to any uplifts in the price of fuel, till his people have had a chance to personally examine the finances of the NOC.
Apparently, Mr. Sharma’s people have access to complex crude oil price projection models that have a 90% rate of accuracy in forecasting future fluctuations and their impacts on Nepal’s current account deficit. Incidentally, the same models also have the capabilities to formulate dynamic hedging strategies that assign weights to an evolving portfolio of foreign and domestic debt and equity instruments, straddles, currency exchange and interest rate swaps. Somewhere in this immensely complicated formula, the price of the aphrodisiac yarcha gumba is also factored in.
Either this or Pushpa’s prediction of a 300,000 strong militia that can go head to head with even India is an alternative to raising oil prices in Nepal. Perhaps the plan to is deploy a fraction of Nepal’s future militia to relieve American troops from Iraq in payment in oil. One never knows, Nepal’s Maoists are quite the mastermind strategists.
On the topic of Pushpa Dahal, his “inspection” of the cable cars that operate in Manakamana resulted in the most fascinating observation. Not long ago, this same cable car operations had to shut down owing to threats from the Maoists who at the time were on national infrastructure destruction spree. Surprisingly, yesterday, after having “inspected” the cable car system, the wise Mr. Dahal suggested that similar projects should be started in other parts of the country too.
The plan here is that once Mr. Dahal and his clan come to power, foreign investor confidence will be sky high. What’s more, according to Maoist forecasts, the world price of yarcha gumba is also expected to exceed the price of crude by 2009. Combined, there should be no difficulty in realizing Mr. Dahal’s goal to expand cable cars all over Nepal. No problem at all.
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