Saturday, November 25, 2006
You have to hand it to the "Fierce One." A man oversees the greatest crimes Nepal has ever experienced, and now he's being hailed as a peacemaker?
What has to be watched, of course, is what happens now that the paper has been signed. "Talk's cheap," as the saying goes.
This is how it was with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega was the smiling face, and behind the scenes the behavior of the Sandinista version of "Maoism" alienated tens of thousands by stealing their land and meager belongings in the name of "socialist" solutions. They poured into the resistance movement called the contras.
The left to this day tries to portray the contras as a creature of the CIA. They can’t deal with the reality: the Americans couldn't even run fast enough to keep up with the popular upheaval. Literally, say my friends (both American and Nicaraguan) who were involved in the campaign, the American effort simply could not arm all the peasants who showed up demanding the right to fight the regime.
In Nepal, a similar popular upheaval looms. For promises have been made to the Maoist cadres and militia which simply cannot be kept -- there aren't enough belongings to steal from those who "have" in order to pass out to those who "have not." The Maoists have already displayed their way of dealing with this reality. Thus the rampant lawlessness which has afflicted the land.
Where does the crime come from? From grand promises that can not possibly be kept. Hence Maoist-inspired young people "take," following the violent methodologies that continue to be sanctioned by the movement itself.
At some point, reality always must set in. The Maoists are split, and they have, in positions of power and in command of rejectionist factions, some very ideological, very nasty types who continue to be purveyors of violence. In their minds, they haven't engaged in struggle to be consigned to the lower end of the pecking order. They expect positions, jobs, money – and they can only get these from others.
In other words, for Nepal, the question looms urgently: how to "give" when there's nothing to “give”? The Maoists have convinced their following that there really is gold "in them thar valleys," if only they assert the right of those from the hills to seize the "ill-gotten wealth" of those in the valleys – and to take the land in the hills themselves from those who have it now. That there are objective reasons for Nepal's poverty is a message lost in the Maoist cant concerning "exploitation."
Why should the beliefs of the Maoists matter in an era of loktantra, of "peace in our time"?
The phrase is that used by Neville Chamberlain as he waved his paper, signed by "Herr Hitler," in which the Nazi leader promised – for a mere country (it was Czechoslovakia) – that he would behave. He didn't, the world vanished in the flames of the Second World War, and Chamberlain died in disgrace.
There are many contenders for the Chamberlain role in Nepal. What to think, for instance, of the investigating committee who, gazing out at the charnel house their world has become, tries to lay the blame not at the feet of the Red Nazis but of the hapless monarch? Can it really be forgotten that it was the same “peace in our time” Koirala whose feud with Deuba incapacitated Nepali democracy, even as the Maoists ran rampant and destroyed everything there was to be destroyed, even the innocence of Nepali youth? What had the king to do with any of that?
Was his crime that he fought the criminals? True, “peace in our time” demands that no such awkward discussion occur. Editors in Kathmandu’s “periodicals of record” have ordered just this, lest “peace be endangered,” as one was heard to state. No one especially is to mention the heinous crimes committed by the Maoists! Or the disgusting pseudo-revolutionary verbiage of the UML! Instead, we are to focus on the lathi charges of the police during April!
Faced with the awkward reality that there are no laws that make the acts of the “202 and the monarch” crimes, the esteemed committee has suggested that appropriate statutes be passed hastily so that charges can be rendered. In such shameless action, we see the face of the looming new order. Not surprisingly, the same approach was used by Mao himself, who made Hitler look inefficient as a butcher.
As we have discussed before, the Maoists see themselves as accepting the surrender of the old-order, not as having reached a compromise agreement.
There will be no "demobilization" upon their part as we would interpret the word. There will be a thuggish infiltration of all elements of the system in an effort to neutralize the remaining power of the old-order from within, in particular to destroy the army.
The Maoists still have as a goal to cashier the entire NA officer corps and to replace the individuals with their own people. They give press conferences claiming this is an objective.
They are not sure what to do with all the NA enlisted ranks, but they do know they must integrate their own manpower into the existing forces in such manner as to be able to checkmate anything the government does.
What Nepal has stumbled into, of course, is an unwillingness to grapple with specifics. Instead, the demand is that vacuity be embraced, with specifics (aka “reality”) left until later.
What is necessary now, since the “peace in our time” deed is signed (turning over the keys to the house, so to speak), is for the government to have clear in its mind a framework into which actions are to feed – and a plan for what to do as the Maoist violations continue.
It must further make at least a feeble effort to move beyond the politics of personalism and to articulate a vision of democracy that stands in contrast to the worn socialist solutions being advanced by the Maoists.
As a useful start, “peace in our time” must be used as a political rallying point to hold the Maoists to account. Astonishingly, the Maoists keep claiming to see coup preparations by the old-order, when they should be looking to the streets and recognizing the self-defense wave that is mushrooming.
For they cannot have it both ways. Either they are "in control" and can "deliver" their followers to a peaceful solution. Or they are not in control. The claims that the rampant criminality is "exaggerated" or "concocted" only serve to tar them as powerless, clueless, or shameless prevaricators.
A coup is not the issue. "Civilian supremacy" is accepted by the security forces. But the way "the street" is playing itself out is very dangerous. For the government is not even talking to the security forces as it makes concessions that, should the present trajectory continue, ask the security forces to go as lambs to the slaughter.
That is being scripted by the Maoists, in speech after speech. For every attempt at soothing words, there is a chilling diatribe reiterating the themes of societal “reordering” that have been the Maoist mass line all along. It is significant that Prachanda in Nepali knows precisely what NOT to say in English, and vice versa.
Bhattarai is even more pointed, his message invariably boiling down to: "You fools of the old-order have demonstrated an inability to develop the country -- now it is our turn. Give us the power, and we will see what comes from it."
That's a pretty lousy basis for anything lasting.
The midwife of all this, New Delhi, I suspect is congratulating itself at having supposedly dodged the Sri Lankan bullet. Unlike the IPKF experience, South Block has avoided casualties yet to stand at last on the threshold of domination of Nepal. Formal absorption is not desired, with all its attendant problems, just a Bhutan-like lapdog with no irritating displays of independence: a "union territory" in all but name.
Neither can anything be expected from the international "mediators," any number of whom (in their role as "the foreigners who would be gods") are longtime, self-professed haters of the "old regime" -- and the NA, in particular. "Process" is the name of the game with them.
Regrettably, "process" is simply another way of using "hope as method." There are no t's being crossed, or i's being dotted. That is very bad -- unless one wants to be a Maoist and relive the dreary and nasty fantasies of the Cold War left.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Nepali intellectuals' estimation that a conflict on both extremist fronts could be fought simultaneously was heavily premised on the idea that external support would be unconditionally available to counter either extreme. This assumption has proved true in taming one extreme, now the democrats can pray that it will also hold true when the time comes to tame the other extreme.
The Chinese are bound to extend their support to any nationalist force in Nepal and the Indians have coddled the Maoists for so long, they would rather back a winning horse over a pack of spent mules. So again, “se la vie” to the would-be democrats and “hear! Hear!” to our comrades in arms.
The American position on Nepal remains the most logical but is prey to each and every tactical pillar the Maoists have advanced to power on. It's not easy doing business the liberal democratic way when informed decision making is virtually absent. Complicating matters further is a group of useful idiots who are wasting more time rationalizing the negative consequences of their doomed assumptions than planning to play the role of much needed opposition.
Again, even less hope in this area because the Nepali Congress (NC) is too proud to ever consider itself an opposition party, the United Marxist Leninist (UML) still believes the attrition of its cadre to the Maoists is nonsense and the rest of the smaller political entities are yet to recuperate from the royal onslaught.
Given the pace at which events are moving on the ground, the emergence of credible political opposition to the inevitable leftist onslaught seems virtually impossible. The icing on the cake will be when the Nepalese military is commissioned to "train" Maoist fighters and integrate them into the national military's rank and file - any guess on where loyalties are going to lie when it's time for the last round?
The NC appears to have taken some precautionary measures in this regard by placing key security assets in strategic postings. However, even with these assets in place, there remains serious doubt over the priority of loyalties individuals may exercise (which could easily run contrary to what popular expectations predict).
The outpouring of euphoria to mark the end of Nepal’s brutal insurgency is exceptionally high, as it should be. However, less heartening is the ease with which democracy as an idea is being systematically abused to engender the realization of a form of polity that could easily be so much further from the democracy that Nepal’s educated think they fought for.
Prachanda has already thanked American Senator Patrick Leahy in one of his monologues. He should really be thanking a wider audience whose sense of sustainable democratic polity continues to extend no further than 12-14 months down the road. We are already on month 6. Another 8 down the road Nepal is traveling and the world will see a form of democracy never before witnessed. And there's a whole slew of individuals and organizations we can credit with Nepal's democratic experiment over the coming months.
India, in particular, deserves mention for the role it has palyed in halting the Maoist assault on the Nepali state. The point being made here is not that Nepal's ailments all lie with its southern neighbor. Rather, the slew of deals and agreements that have all taken place in New Delhi should appraise even the casual observer where the key to Nepal's Maoist insurgency has always been.
It is no coincidence that Indian embarassment over Gyanendra's invitation to China (as an external observer within SAARC) sparked the 12 Point agreement. This agreement in turn, led to successive understandings and agreements (most of which were advised upon by the Indian Ambassador in Kathmandu) and resulted in the halting of cessations between the Maoists and the State.
It was never the case that the Nepali people did not want democracy or peace or stability for the 11 year duration of the brutal insurgency Nepal suffered. It was simply a matter of convenience that demanded Indian involvement in the insurgency be presented in a positive limelight for the truth to come out. To the occasional observer, Indian involvement in Nepal's peace deal is seen as paramount and magnanimous; to those who have studied Nepal's Maoist insurgency (particularly aspects of the rebels' military strategies), the evidence is simply overwhelming to write off Indian instigation, support and participation as a mere conincidence.
Even in the hey day of the insurgency, Nepalese Generals who were well versed on Maoist tacits, operations and support, commented that the Maoist insurgency could be ended overnight, were Indian involvement to become overt. Unfortunately, it took a solid 11 years before Indian involvement surfaced but on the bright side, it is fortuitious that it did, for Indian policy makers aptly demonstrated how a decade of violence could be turned into peace in a little over 7 months. It is painful wondering why 13,000 people had to lose their lives when a 7 month process and 2 signatures could just as easily have snipped the misery, right in its bud.
As has been discussed throughout, the Maoists see themselves as accepting the surrender of the old-order, not as having reached a compromise agreement. There will be no "demobilization" upon their part. There will be an effort to neutralize the remaining power of the old-order from within, in particular to destroy the army.
The Maoists attempt to cashier the entire Nepalese military officer corps and to replace the individuals with their own people. They are not sure what to do with all the NA enlisted ranks, but they do know they must integrate their own manpower into the existing forces in such manner as to be able to checkmate anything the government does.
What is absolutely necessary for the government is that there be a framework into which actions feed. Unfortunately, since the politicos are incapable of coming up with such, the security forces (especially the army itself) must have a framework -- and then simply must refuse to do that which is destructive.
"Civilian supremacy" is accepted by the security forces, but the way it is playing itself out is very dangerous. For the government is not even talking at all to the security forces while it is making concession after concession -- concessions which, in the final analysis, ask the security forces to go as lambs to the slaughter.
What Nepal has stumbled into, of course, is precisely the situation driven by cultural particulars long noted by any tourist -- an unwillingness of Nepalis to grapple with specifics. Always, they desire that generalities be accepted, with specifics left until later. This is precisely the opposite of how the Western notion of contracts works.
The Maoist position is the perfect illustration: "you fools of the old-order have demonstrated an inability to develop the country -- now it is our turn. Give us the power, and we will see what comes out of it." That's a pretty lousy basis for anything lasting, but it's very "Nepali."
The Indians are beside themselves at having stumbled, at last, into absorption of Nepal. They don't want formal absorption, with all its problems, but they want a Bhutanese-like lapdog with no irritating displays of independence, a "union territory" in all but name.
Neither can anything be expected from the international "mediators," any number of whom (in their role as "the foreigners who would be gods") are longtime haters of the "old regime" and the NA, in particular. "Process" is the name of the game with them. "Process" is simply another way of using "hope as method."
There are no “t's” being crossed, or “i's” being dotted. That is very bad -- unless one wants to be a Maoist and relive the dreary and nasty fantasies of the Cold War.
(Courtesy: Comrade Libre)
The long awaited peace in Nepal has finally been achieved!! The signing of the comprehensive peace accord is a truly remarkable victory for the entire Nepali nation.
From an analytical perspective, equally remarkable are the tactical pillars upon which the Maoist strategy of pursuing power through “other means” has been employed. Hats off to the sheer brilliance displayed by Nepal’s Maoists as they successfully waltz into the halls of Singha Durbar!
Pillar #1 - Anti Monarchy: The Maoists firmly control the anti-monarchy agenda so any logical criticism against them is written off as "reactionary" or monarchist. As a recent example, take the episode in Kupondole where known SPA affiliates and supporters were dismissed as having been instigated by “reactionary forces” when the local Maoist “magistrate” was confronted by citizens. This type of branding (symptomatic of defeatist rationale) will likely persist into the future, leveraging fears of a resurgent monarch to diminish political opposition.
The signing of the peace accord (and presence of “independent” observers) may make the branding game harder for the Maoists than before, but being represented in the legislature should more than compensate for any anti-monarchy fear mongering that can continue to be leveraged throughout the run up to constituent assembly elections.
Pillar #2 - The Republican Agenda: The Maoists OWN the republican agenda so any party that is dumb enough to base its political campaign on a republican platform is due for a nice shock at the polls. This agenda is irrefutably a Maoist platform. The thought that should come to voters’ minds is “why cast a vote for a similar leftist party when the die hard commies are running for office on the same platform? Why vote for a UML candidate running on a republican ticket when the original Maoist militia-man turned commissar, turned local administrator, turned electoral candidate is running on the same platform?"
Even worse, why vote for a runaway faction of the Nepali Congress that during the entire 11 year insurgency, continued to execute India’s two-pillar policy within Nepal?” A rude awakening may await potential candidates who must urgently recognize the need for a differentiated political platform. Grass roots activism must commence immediately and relentlessly over the coming 5 months or else the constituent assembly elections will deliver the country on a silver platter to Nepal’s comrades.
Pillar #3 - The Peace Agenda: Thanks to those in the current interim government (and various supporting elements), the Maoists now control the peace agenda as well - and no one has sufficient political capital to spend on anything that may even remotely be construed as war mongering.
Yes, the Nepali people desired peace all throughout the 11 year war. No doubt, Nepal’s civil society wanted to mediate a peace deal between successive governments and the rebels. Most certainly, King Birendra wanted to avoid the conflict turning into the all out war it did, by confining the clash to its political dimensions.
But the bottom line is this – it was the Maoists who dictated the time and place of the insurgency’s birth, it was the Maoists who dictated the terms of how the 11 year old war was fought and having led the April movement, it was the Maoists who dictated the terms of a cease fire. Finally, on November 21, 2006, it was the Maoists who ultimately dictated the timing of a comprehensive peace treaty to serve as the basis for all future political engagements in Nepal.
Dear old Girija Koirala deserves some mention (for his conscience finally kicking in) on his way to the Arya Ghat. But the majority of the thanks goes to India, who all along, has held an unshakable grip over Nepal’s Maoists. The agenda of peace belongs to one and all but the Nobel prize for making peace, goes out to Mr. Pushpa Dahal and his Indian mentors.
Any mention of what the Maoists have done to the mental state of Nepal and Nepalis over the duration of their brutal insurgency is now, “against the peace agenda.” News of Maost-UML cadre clashing all over the country (in the post-April 2006 period) remains intentionally subdued by by Nepali media, for fear of ruining the peace process. Maoist competitors, try campaigning on that!
Peace will prevail in Nepal indefinitely for as long as the Maoist writ is met. Put another way, in the very unlikely event that a simple majority votes some space for the Monarchy, the peace agenda will be lost. So, all would-be sympathizers of a non-political role for the royal institution, beware! For keeping the monarchy alive in any form is the same as forcing the Maoists to go back to war! What an impeccable agenda to hold the polity hostage to!
Pillar #4 - The Democratic Agenda: Not surprisingly, the Maoists have gained firm control the democratic agenda also. The Maoists’ past is near legitimized by the overwhelming sense of security Nepalese feel indebted to the Maoists for engendering.
Plus, the Nepalese population (particularly the new generation) retains very vivid memories of former political escapades committed by many of the same SPA leaders who today, claim fame for guiding the country to peace. What these leaders really mean is that they’re extremely adept at executing the will of the people when civil society is holding their feet to the fire and Indian policy dictates that the Maoists be mainstreamed to “enhance” the political landscape.
Whether one likes it or not, the Maoists are the only ones who remain un-tested and etched into a political vacuum of leftist radicalism in Nepal’s grass roots. For the likely majority of Nepalis, the call for two square meals a day easily outweighs any idea of liberal/competitive democracy.
When the time for polling comes, the numbers will speak for themselves, but in the minds of the new generation and most of Nepal’s rural majority, who could be more democratic than a party that has promised the unimaginable and has successfully delivered all but 9 of their original 40 promises?
Yet another historic precedent is likely to be set in Nepal where a free and fair democratic process may end up de-legitimizing the self-proclaimed “democrats” in favor of the avowed “socialist communists.” Anyone with a two-bit brain can guesstimate the amount of resources that are required to challenge Maoist supremacy over the democratic agenda in less than 5 months’ time – these would be the type of resources (time and materials) that approach the definition of a "miracle."
Given the parameters as they currently stand, next on the Maoists’ chopping block is the UML and shortly thereafter, it's the NC. There simply won’t be anyone left to peacefully (or otherwise) challenge a leftist front, that is overwhelmingly dominated by Maoist supremacy. At this time, not only will the Maoist capitulation to power be justified by the pillars listed above, it will be rationalized by democratic process. A flawless political check-mate, if ever one had been had!
Peace will be had in Nepal at the price of a overwhelmingly leftist dominated polity. For now, the Nepali nation’s thirst for peace has been so brutally denied by one group or another, even common sense questions on the process by which peace has been generated, will draw heckling.
But the time will inevitably come when the price that has been paid will have to be justified by the benefits that the nation receives. At this point, it would be the hope of one and all that the pillars upon which the Maoists have catapulted into power each become meaningless the point where peace will not only be viewed as a political convenience, but a non-negotiable, national necessity.
The democratic process is about to take off in Nepal (once more) and there simply cannot be any strings that are left attached. Take the king out of Nepal’s equation and Maoist agendas 1 and 2 disappear. Hold the Maoists unconditionally to the language of the comprehensive peace agenda and platforms 3 and 4 are gone. Fail in either of these initiatives and the entire country’s democratic and prosperous future may forever be gone.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Maoist chairman Prachanda’s view of ‘electoral democracy’ as a ‘farce’ in his recent address to the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit held in India sends ominous signals as to where his group wants to take Nepal in the future. If Prachanda cannot digest parliamentary electoral democracy, may we ask what he has in mind?
Statements like these only raise questions regarding Maoist intentions, even after the signing of the peace accord with the seven parties. As hardline communists, Maoists have championed the cause of a communist republic from day one. While political debate has focused on whether to keep the monarchy or not, none of our pundits seem to be concerned about the political system the country is going to follow. Is the new political system really going to espouse values like individual freedoms, right to liberty and happiness, and freedom from fear and intimidation? Or is it going to be some ‘guided democracy’ or ‘benevolent dictatorship of the ruling proletariat?
The massive recruitment drive that was witnessed throughout the country last week, adds further suspicion toward the Maoists. Should the Nepali people take this move as a ploy to fill up designated cantonments with novices while ‘veterans’ are deployed in the countryside to ‘persuade’ people during constituent assembly elections? Or maybe the current recruiting spree is an effort to keep face in the public domain after the Maoists declared 30,000 fighters they do not have? Those familiar with the tactics the rebels used understand the concept of space and time that the element of surprise endowed the Maoists.
Whatever it may be, it is regrettable that the current recruitment effort has not been branded by any monitoring body as what it truly is - a violation of the code of conduct governing the cease-fire between the two sides. With the signing of the peace accords on November 21, it is every Nepali’s hope that this time, the letter of the treaty (having been signed in the presence of one and all) will not only be upheld by all concerned, but also enforced when necessary.
In the recent past, Maoists ‘urged’ citizens of Kathmandu and Lalitpur to accommodate their supporters and cadre inside private homes in preparation for a massive Maoist victory parade in Kathmandu. This was a true test of peoples’ tolerance. Citizens of Lalitpur rebelled and protested in front of the Maoist office in Kupondole. This was a tacit demonstration of the fact that when put to test, people can say no.
Pictures of Maoist workers tearing down protest placards and throwing bricks at peaceful protesters were hosted on various internet sites only to be quickly removed – no one wanted to jeopardize on-going peace parleys. With yesterday’s exchange of signatures, such inhibitions are no longer in place. The Maoists have committed to live by the same rules as everyone else and when it comes to politics, this means bowing to the peoples’ demands, not having the party writ dictated on the people. This is a lesson our Maoists will quickly learn, now that they have publicly committed to mainstream politics.
The whole Maoist mass meeting, which was the reason behind summoning thousands of people to the valley, was cancelled by the rebels themselves due to firm public opposition. After all, the idea of hosting total strangers with possible criminal backgrounds in private homes was totally unpalatable to the residents of Lalitpur. The Maoist calculation that people of the capital would adhere to their ‘wonderful’ plan to lodge their cadres and supporters like the people of the countryside, backfired miserably. The Maoists, however, were quick to point to the protest as being organized by ‘royalists’.
Anyone who saw the pictures and read public statements knows who led the protests against the Maoist office in Kupondole. If UML and NC activists are who they are when they’re supporting the Maoist agenda and the same people are “reactionaries” and “royalists” when they don’t play along with the Maoists, then our Maoists will quickly learn that fooling the informed population is not as easy as taking advantage of relative illiteracy. With the signing of the peace accord, our Maoists will also quickly learn the meaning and definition of property rights and the difference between public and private property.
The Maoists’ entry into the interim parliament is right around the corner. With 73 seats of the interim legislature to account for, the Maoists can be assumed to be bargaining for key portfolios in the interim cabinet. As the interim government is only a caretaker government, not much can be expected out of it except the planning for ‘free and fair’ elections of to a constituent assembly. This in itself, is a magnanimous task and deserves the full and devoted attention of all players concerned. This point also marks the transition between “alliance” led politics to pure competitive politics. All should be weary of plans to promulgate interim laws that govern anything other than processes and procedures that pertain to constituent assembly elections. It is for the elected assembly to chart Nepal’s future, not the interim parliament.
Maoists in the government will definitely be a force to be reckoned with as the ‘revolutionary ministers will certainly provide much to the Maoist cadre in their effort to ‘convince’ the electorate to vote for their cause. However, intimidation tactics of the past can no longer be permitted to exacerbate the climate of fear already in existence. The comprehensive peace treaty of November 21 explicitly states that such practices will no longer be used and this upkeep of this article of agreement, is quintessential to free and fair elections. Our Maoists need to understand that internal investigations and public apologies today, only to repeat violent acts tomorrow, are no longer acceptable.
International monitors of the constituent assembly elections can only monitor the electoral mechanism. These people will not be able to gauge the fear and intimidation experienced by the public at large. Given the Maoist control of the rural areas, such suspicion of such negative practices are bound to persist. Keeping the armaments locked up while the Maoist militia runs amok does nothing for a psychologically impaired rural population. This is precisely why political activism by all parties must commence immediately at the grass roots. The practice of “permission” from local Maoists for political parties to campaign in the hinterland must be retracted immediately.
Instead of following the international practice of demobilization, disarmament and re-integration (DDR), Nepal’s Maoists have been permitted to retain the keys of their weapons in storage. Also much of the rebel chain of command and organizational structure remains intact since the rebels have now conveniently transformed themselves into a “political party.” This leads to an uncomfortable yet non-negotiable reality: Maoist fighters (used to ambushing government patrols and cutting off heads) and militia (accustomed to carrying out the verdicts of kangaroo Maoist courts) of the past, are now political cadre of the present.
The burden of educating both the fighters and militia on the definition of competitive, non-violent politics is on the Maoist leadership. All these elements are clearly outlined in the comprehensive peace treaty and there’s no turning back.
In theory, the integration of the rebel rank and file into the Nepali Army shouldn’t be problematic. But the question of integrating the Maoist command and control structure into the army is a whole different story. And this is where the line needs to be drawn. It will be a challenge for both Maoist fighters and army officials to have to bow down to those they have fought for over 10 years. As illogical as this may sound, Maoist rebels in the future national army cannot owe their allegiance to their party as in the past. They must follow orders of their officers who in turn will follow the elected government’s decisions. A dead heat competition whereby the Nepali Congress has already begun placing its “allies” in the Nepali military in key positions should stop immediately in order to avoid a similar trend from the Maoist side.
Whatever the future military will be, it must remain an apolitical tool. What happened to the Nepal Police in the post 1990 scenario cannot be permitted to happen with the national military. The conversion of the new military into a politicized vehicle is simply a call for disaster in the not too distant future. Both the Maoists and the Nepali Congress need to forgo their partisan interests and act in the true spirit of the peace accords by looking out for the national interest.
The most damaging aspect of the Maoist intervention in private industries have been the exploitation of the cause of the laborers. It is true that in Nepal wages are low and working conditions are poor. But instead of allowing normal trade union activity to rectify anomalies in the labor and management relations, Maoist affiliated trade unions have put unreasonably high demands on industries.
Besides levying such unrealistic demands, laborers have been motivated to take law into their own hands and to engage in borderline criminal activities (like taking management staff hostage). Instead of resorting to force, Maoist affiliated trade unions need to instruct their workers to negotiate, not dictate terms.
Maoists, by giving unrealistic assurance of unreasonably high wages to workers, have exploited very real and legitimate grievances of Nepal’s working class. The goal has been to expand the Maoists’ political base by increasing its membership. With the comprehensive peace agreement now in place, the Maoists need to reconcile with the fact that it is private sector led development that is the norm, not cheap plays at public manipulation that have no economic basis for sustenance.
The signing of the comprehensive peace treaty is the beginning of a new era for Nepal. Regardless of political affiliation, class, caste, ethnic or religious background, this is an initial victory for the whole country.
The biggest victory of all is that the onus of implementing the agreements now rests squarely is the hands of our social democratic Maoist leaders. The king is spent, the Maoist 40 point demands (minus those they have removed owing to India’s significant contributions to the Maoists’ rise to power) have been largely filled. Now it’s the Maoists’ turn to demonstrate their hold on their cadre and to show the world how trust worthy they truly are.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Amid calls for the creation of a truth and reconciliation committee to complete the peace process, Maoist leader Dev Gurung has come out with his own flash of candor. He wants a separate ministry to oversee the reconstruction of infrastructure lost in the decade-long “people’s war”.
It would have been comforting to accept Gurung’s assertion as the ultimate acknowledgment of responsibility. If those intent on blowing up Nepal into Year Zero in their quest for a utopia could genuinely undergo such a radical change of heart, well, more Nepalis should be encouraged to bare their souls.
But genuineness is not something that can be easily equated with Gurung’s organization. And not entirely because of the scale of the death, destruction and debris the Maoists have unleashed. A fully and credibly disarmed Maoists – if that could ever be achieved – would still retain their lethal verbal weapons of obfuscation and prevarication.
It has become fashionable to cite post-apartheid South Africa as an example of truth being an effective tool for reconciliation. Not every nation is blessed with the likes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Where Nepal is at a real disadvantage is that truth, here, is more likely to be relative. It would be unfair to single out the Maoists on this count.
Let’s begin with the creation of the modern Nepali state. Decades of profuse state-inspired tributes bestowed upon King Prithvi Narayan Shah almost superhuman abilities. If Lord Ram needed his Hanumans and Bibhishans, could the king of Gorkha have achieved much without confidants and commanders?
In the inevitable backlash, democratic Nepal has veered the other way. National unification stands on clusters of eyeballs, nasal cartilage and ear lobes, not to mention corpses. The Capuchin missionaries – the most prominent chroniclers of the fall of Kirtipur – may have been faithful to what they had witnessed. It hardly seems to matter today that they were allies of the Mallas who had persuaded the British to send Captain Kinloch’s ill-fated expeditionary force against the Gorkha army.
The elasticity of our authenticity endures in other ways. Those condemning the conquerors for having imposed conformity through Khas-Nepali words and practices on diverse indigenous peoples rise up in anger each time a foreigner is perceived to be denigrating Nepal.
Political truths are all the more ambiguous. Was King Tribhuvan’s flight to New Delhi part of a carefully devised plan to turn Nepal into a beacon of democracy? Or was the monarch, already under increasing threat from the Rana rulers, pursuing a strategy for survival?
Was the Nepali Congress really the driver of the 1951 changes as it claims? Or did the organization merely provide the street power for an initiative our southern neighbors had devised to counter the radicalization of our northern ones? Democracy resulting as a byproduct is certainly not the same as one genuinely created.
The palace’s consolidation of political power after the dawn of democracy is attributed to ambitious monarchs. Perhaps. But could such a quest have succeeded without the compulsions that seemed to rally most stakeholders around the palace for stability?
King Mahendra’s distress at the emergence of a competing national institution is solely blamed for the overthrow of Nepal’s first elected government. Doubtless, the monarch could barely conceal his antipathy for party politicians in his pronouncements as crown prince. But does that sufficiently explain how up to three-quarters of the 74 Nepali Congress legislators in the lower house could end up supporting the palace? Or is the palace to be blamed for this en masse surrender?
The freedom fighter in Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru could have done nothing less than denounce the royal takeover as a setback to democracy. How do we explain the massive economic assistance New Delhi went on to infuse into the partyless system? Certainly not just because of the torrent of Chinese, Soviet, American and British aid and expertise?
B.P. Koirala based his acceptance of the referendum verdict in favor of the Panchayat system in 1980 on the duties of a democrat. Or was it the anti-communist in him speaking? But, then, who knows how national reconciliation really came to be the euphemism B.P. used to trade house arrest in Emergency-era India for a second stint at Sundarijal? These issues are relevant to understanding why sections of the Nepali Congress – a party that attempted regicide twice in the 1960s and 70s – should still feel compelled to advocate a ceremonial monarchy.
The pragmatism that had taken over Nehru’s Delhi after the 1962 Sino-Indian war could not have melted merely under his grandson’s purported personality clashes with King Birendra. Could Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s landmark visit to China in 1988 have encouraged New Delhi to twist the palace’s arms and slip that 80-page draft memo on the entire gamut of ties to find out which one would work first?
The People’s Movement of 1990 cast a more ominous shadow. Did King Birendra restore multiparty democracy at that late-night meeting or did he simply lift the ban on parties? The distinction is important considering how Nepalis had to spend the subsequent 11 years in a twilight zone. Of course, it took King Gyanendra’s dismissal of Sher Bahadur Deuba’s elected government for our politicians to tell us that the slain monarch was not, after all, the model constitutional monarch they had made him out to be.
The Maoists seem to have been the biggest winners of the April Uprising. Let’s take a closer look. Until last week, the rebels seemed to have won half of their original demands. After the Baluwatar agreement, they have settled for 25 percent, by acknowledging that the House proclamation had already suspended the monarchy.
Yet the real record lies in their virtual silence on the first nine of their 40-point demand. True, Prachanda and his comrades are still calling for a more equitable relationship between Nepal and India. The tone has lost all of its roar now that words like “Bhutanization” and “Sikkimization” have quietly left the comrades’ lexicon. Prachanda must have drawn this important lesson from Madan Bhandari’s tragic end: It makes more sense to attend a global leadership summit down south than to aspire to embody the Great Helmsman up north.
Dr. Baburam Bhattarai certainly recognized the opportunity of the moment and claimed an undeclared working unity with King Birendra. His eloquence impelled him to conclude that Nepalis would rate highly every predecessor of the slain monarch. No one considered it relevant to ask the comrade what he considered to be the most salient features of the reigns of, say, Kings Pratap Singh, Girvan Yuddha, Surendra and Prithvi Bir.
King Gyanendra is expected to take responsibility for 238 years of the Shah dynasty. The 104 years of Rana rule, 30 years of Bhimsen Thapa and the periods an assortment of courtiers manipulated infant kings are all clubbed into one epoch of history. Worse, many descendants of those same Thapas, Pandeys, Basnets, Kunwars and bevy of Bahuns and Newars pretend they can absolve their clans of complicity.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala must certainly feel vindicated today when the Maoists insist he must continue as premier. After the Narayanhity carnage, Prachanda and Dr. Bhattarai had clubbed Koirala together with the current king and crown prince in a single “coterie”.
The Nepali Congress dissidents and the CPN-UML would not have succeeded in dislodging an elected prime minister who was also the head of the majority party in parliament without the help of the Maoists. Who knows what kind of flexibility power might encourage our rebels turned rulers to exhibit in the run-up to the constituent assembly elections?
Each Nepali has a copious collection of personal truths capable of overwhelming even the strongest willed reconciliation commissioner. The strident mixture of ancient grudges and modern slights – real and perceived – would require an open-ended commission. The truth, they say, shall set us free. But can we ever reconcile our relative truths?
I remember a childhood quiz:
There was a farmer who had to cross a bridge with three conflicting issues from his farm- a bundle of grass, a goat and a tiger. The bridge could only hold the weight of one and himself. In the challenge of delivering all three safely across the bridge, he would have to assure that one did not fail bait to the other. The issue for his survival as well as each of them depended not only in his insight but also his wide-angled intelligence. He had to deliver them across by taking them one by one. But if he did this, he would have to sacrifice one, as each served as the fodder for the other. If he carried the grass across and came back to get the goat he would find the goat missing. If he asked the tiger to follow first, on his return, he would find the jaws of the goat cuding away the grass. The only puzzle in the scenario was that the tiger had no taste for grass and the grass had no brains for either of them. In this, lay the answer for the farmer.
Nepali people will have to cross the bridge of democracy and deliver safely all Nepalese of caste/ ethnicities and women. The victory of the Maoists, to me, is like cow dung in Cheese Shuffle.Their 2-3 days of cleaning campaign in Thamel is no different than their whim to wipe out clean, a community building or school in Myagdi. Should I or other, thinking and feeling Nepalese, consider the smile of a Hyena, signing a peace contract, an auspicious sign? A Hyena just does not know how to wipe out that clean smile off his face, even while preying and praying. Nepali denizens are constantly lured by cutting of ribbons, vermilion blessed foreheads, lighting diyas, handshakes, namastes, sweeping propaganda. and promises of reservations and so forth. All promises that bring us back to the colloquial "Mangal Man".
Every decade since 1940s, Nepal has garnered mass movements, only to fall prey to consequential governments which take you no further than the delusions of a caste based representation of the very nature of what it is fighting against. It's like rolling the dice and getting the same number four times. The hierarchy of caste/class conflict continues with even more gusto and vengeance in the present context as there is the economic, global factor to reckon with, reinforcing power like fueling a tank.
King Pritivi Narayan's "char varna 36 jaat ko phulbari" ( Garden of Dreams) could not see King Gyanandra through the April andolan. The symbol of his forefather's " up you", finger of oneness, has converted his statue into a red, look-alike, veiled and devout Muslim ( the color red is to honor the Maoist flavor of the day.) in front of Singa Durbar.
The 7 parties professing democracy for Nepal can barely pronounce the fundamental rights and directive principles in their own back yard, Their fundamental concerns are- me, my and mine badis. They speak for the people but who are the people to them ?
After the andolan, when they blatantly elect three representatives in the election commission; all brahmins- Bhoj Raj Ghimiri, Usha Nepal( a brahmin woman) and Nil Khanta Upreti; is this their genuine understanding of one representing all, for proportional representation and democracy? This is only one example, the rest is an unchanged pattern of business as usual.
What about the Arms Management agreement? Is it peaceful to be stupid? Lock them up in high tech cantonements and hand over the keys to the Maoists while the UN gets to play the Pundit. This is the ceremony of confusion. It is like asking a man-eating tiger to shut his mouth with a lock and let him keep the keys, when a plump breakfast is being served. The UN is adorned a "Group Four" authority with chaukidar status, policing the cheese while the cats have free access to milk. Why not have a lock that does not need a key? Why does the Pundit not have the power to configure a code number that is it's own mantra?
When the likes of me hear Mr. Dahal, alias Prachanda, say that he is going to turn Nepal into Europe in another decade, I am just wondering what andolan will gear up in the next ten years.
The Nepalese are facing the challenges of damning the devil you know and the devil you don't know, syndrome. As long as the government and the donors are not able to respond to Nepal's diverse citizenry through broad based inclusion, Nepal will remain a failed state while I remain a sardonic rat scurring the traffic in Kathmandu.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Even the most avid supporters of liberal democracy in Nepal express a grudging sense of adulation toward the Maoists. Despite having employed violence as their primary vehicle of power projection, the Maoists today, are victorious in Nepal. Their conniving political maneuvers backed by a ruthless campaign of attrition (and low intensity conflict) has elevated the Maoists to the top of Nepal’s political pecking order.
In no small measure has the Maoist ascendancy to power been facilitated by Nepal’s intellectual and pseudo-intellectual class. Knowingly or unknowingly, intellectuals in Nepal (at one point or another) have all fallen prey to some component of Maoist strategy.
In self-denial, many of Nepal’s pseudo-intellectuals are congratulating themselves and celebrating along with the Maoists. In doing so, they are attempting desperately to rationalize the Maoist triumph in every term other than what it truly is – a masterful, Maoist victory (or in George W. Bush’s words, a “thumping” for Nepal’s democratic forces).
Judging by the negotiated number of seats that the Maoists are to occupy in Nepal’s interim parliament (which surpasses the UML’s allocation and is second to none but the Nepali Congress), the Maoists’ successful ascendancy to power through a sustained campaign of violence has yielded dividends.
Maoist celebrations across Nepal in the aftermath of the recent agreement holds testament to the Maoists’ notion of victory. In the words of the Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the political changes in Nepal account for 40% of the Maoists’ ultimate goals; the remaining 60% will be pursued in the days to come.
Dahal’s admission of Maoist victory contrasts sharply with Girja Prasad Koirala’s assertion that the recent agreement was a victory for no single party but a victory for all Nepalese. Although anecdotal, the political composition of the celebratory parades (held in different parts of the country) appears to challenge Girija’s logic – the composition of such parades have been 100% Maoist. No other political party (including Girija’s own), has shown much in the way of celebration.
This is just one (of many) indications of how far out of touch political party leaders in Nepal are, with grass roots workers. Those who operate at the district levels and below, understand fully well that the November 8 agreement has pitted them against a ruthless political rival that has demonstrated time and again, a cohesive willingness to do anything necessary to attain power. Hardly cause for celebration, especially for UML cadre who have been consistently engaged in low level (but violent) skirmishes with Maoist cadre over the past 3-4 months.
Taking this logic (presented above) a step further, if indeed the SPA-M deal is a victory for Nepalese of all political denominations (and that members of the SPA purportedly represent the people), then something is terribly amiss in Girija’s political calculation. If the majority of Nepali people are happy, the political parties must be completely out of touch with their constituents to not be celebrating along side the population and the Maoists. However, no evidence of such euphoria has surfaced-to-date.
Self-admittedly, Maoist leaders on various occasions have publicly discussed their desire to limit armed insurrection as their flagship political tool in favor of “alternative means.” In other words, having bled the Nepali nation for 10 years, the Maoists feel they have earned sufficient political capital by terrorizing the populous – capital that they can rely on, moving into constituent assembly elections. The Maoists have learned from history, have educated themselves in the art of global activism and now perceive themselves as well-positioned to rely on continued psychological intimidation as a guarantor of success during future political parleys.
Such shrewd, power-based calculations in turn, have been erroneously translated by various groups within and outside of Nepal as evidence of a Maoist change of heart. Despite repeated admissions by the Maoist leadership that they had no choice but to pursue their stipulated ideological goals through alternative means (most of which are convenient by-products of armed Maoist politics), Nepal’s intellectual class remains convinced that the Maoists’ decision to enter mainstream politics was guided by some element other than sheer necessity.
In other words, Nepal’s intellectual class had remained so emasculated by a fixation on delegitimizing royal politics, they ended up legitimizing Maoist politics. It is only over the past week that intellectuals have begun challenging the Maoist leadership’s hold over their militia. It is also during the very recent past that questions on whether the Maoists are being folded into the mainstream or whether the Maoists are actually defining the mainstream have crept into intellectual discourse. All points that were previously raised, but discarded as being out of synch with reality.
Ironically, the very predictions predicated upon which many anti-Maoist (but vehemently democratic forces) were attracted to the king’s roadmap, are materializing one after another. While these predictions were allegedly falsehoods upon which fear-based politics was being exercised (in the February-1 world), they certainly do not appear unfounded or misguided judging by the degree to which Maoist violence has been legitimized today.
Further, it is only natural that major media houses in Nepal would refuse (in private) or refrain (in public) from publishing “controversial” literature on the Maoists at this point in time.
First, these media businesses remain captive to the idea of dispensing self-styled retribution against a king they detest (particularly Kantipur publications for reasons that are all too transparent). Second, they (as active participants in Nepal’s civil and political discourse) do not wish to add any semblance of negativity to the peace process. Third, as politically savvy businesses elsewhere, these media houses would probably not want to upset the Maoists – not when they are at the very top of their game. Fourth and last, Maoist actions of the past against journalists who opposed the Maoist writ, probably does not lend to ease of mind when publishing material that according to journalistic norms should probably receive “air time,” but according to standards of personal safety and security, do not qualify for publication!
Yet another theme of gradual dissention that is likely to emerge from conviction-driven quarters of Nepal’s intelligentsia, is the idea that the Maoist tact of pursuing political goals by holding the nation hostage to (what has gradually become) a Maoist dominated agenda of peace, cannot be permitted to stand. Once more, a realization that is had rather late, but had later rather than never.
The prospects for peace in Nepal are real but with any fluid situation, the prospects of derailment are equally real. A concerted focus on the risks of failure go part in parcel with a strategy for sustainable peace.
The Maoists have contingencies on all fronts: Should the CA not obtain a simple majority (highly unlikely, but possible) when deciding the fate of the Monarchy, the Maoists have retained the option to wage war once again. If the CA elections show signs of not justifying the Maoist war against the state, the Maoist militia will be mobilized double time to pummel any credible opposition. Should the Maoists face political resistance from within Nepal, they will immediately fall back on their “royalist” or “regressive forces” mantra (were the citizens of Kupondole “reactionary elements” inspired by the “old regime” or Nepali citizens fed up with Maoist intimidation?).
Aside from a partisan strategy that is designed to pit the NC’s ideological adversaries against one another (before CA elections), what other contingency do any of Nepal’s political parties have? Nepal’s intellectuals were extremely effective against a king who deviated from his constitutional role. But what contingencies (other than normative enforcement) do our intellectuals have when it comes to battling extremism of another variety in Nepal?
If at the end of this exposition, doubt still remains over who the victors and the to-be vanquished currently are in Nepal, the country has problems on a scale that simply cannot be addressed.
It is absolutely crucial that all political elements remain vigilant and prepared to fight the greatest ideological battle of our time, for the outcome of this feud will establish for the next generation the shape of Nepal’s polity.
Whether Nepal sets the standard in the 21st century for mass murder as a credible platform to power or whether the democratic process punishes those who for so long have punished ordinary people, remains to be seen.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Should you desire to remain ANONYMOUS in expressing your opinion, let us know and we will post your reaction in our compilation, accordingly.
Alternatively, we encourage you to post your comments direclty at: http://nepaliperspectives.blogspot.com/
Looking forward to a wide range of reactions.
Below are the types of opinions that don't play in the mainstream media, out of fear, intimidation or the perception that raising concerns may "jeapordize" the peace agreement.
If the agreement is historic, nothing can jeapordize it. If it is doomed to be "history," then it's better to hear not just the arguments "for" but also those that raise valid concerns on the direction Nepal is heading.
To start with.. here's a simple question: "If this is a victory for no one and a victory for everyone, then how come the only Party celebrating all over Nepal is the Maoist party? Has anyone seen the NC celebrating on the streets or the UML cheering on the number of Maoist seats in the interim parliament?"
I am not surprised with the outcome but will be if everything will go on as planned. It seems everything was already put into place by hard working RAW agents and Indian Foreign Service officials some time back and the SPA and M leaders only had to nod their heads. A new constitution in less than two weeks? Entire Arms management in such a short time? Does the UN or anyone know how much arms do the Maoists have so that they can be satisfied when Maoists lock x number of arms?
And for the wonderful people of Kathmandu and Lalitpur who have been suddenly alarmed by the call by the Maoist "to support them by giving food and shelter to their cadres" I'd like to say "Khuchhing" . Did these people all along think that the Maoists would spare them just because they lived in the Valley? What were they thinking when people in the "mofasal" were crying hoarse talking about the atrocities of the Maoists? I am sure Dr Sundar Mani Dixit and the likes are happy to accomodate these Maoists cadres in their home and split their huge house and compound in Patan Dhoka with some landless Maoists cadres from Bajura and Bajhang once the new Constituent Assembly puts a ceiling on property and land one can hold.
For those who want a republic congratulations, now only the formalities remain. With no formidable institution or better organized force than the Maoists exists in the country I hope all of you are happy with Prachanda's version of "ganatantra".
Madhav Nepal and his gang Congratulations the most. You let opportunities to rule the country single handedly slip by more than a dozen of times. You never did have a spine and never were stable on any single policy. Now fight it out with the Maoists in the streets and in every location...as they say opportunity does not knock twice for you it did several times and still you lost it.
For those who were stoned and chased by the Maoists Wednesday morning in Kopundole. Ha ha ha ha so you thought Communists meant democratic...."khuching".
When historians finally get a chance to write about events as history, the result of one individuals successes and the result of his failures are equally scrutinized so the society and the people-at-large get a factual picture and hopefully learn a proactive lesson.
What is so paradoxical and ironical of the current agreement is that King Gyanedra's political failure resulted in Nepalis getting a chance for peace with Maoists finally coming to the talks, BUT - the PM Girija's colossus failure in leading the peace talks has sacrificed and De-facto ended the Multi-Party democracy. PM Girija has lead the democratic Nepal to a Red-Communist Nepal and inhumanely led 30 million innocent lives to the stable of communist slaughterhouse !!!
Why would the west allow it to happen in 21st century?
Perhaps the Benevolent Able Minds of the WEST are long dead and perhaps the Lord Pashupati Nath of the EAST has died as well !!!
Dr. S. B. Shrestha
'From Frying-pan to the Fire' is what comes to many sensible Nepalese minds these days. In Nepal its been a historic victory for a group of Terrorist who actually belongs in Hague for terrorizing the nation for more than a decade, are responsible for murder of tens of thousands displacement of millions innocent citizens, who are no better than Talebans or Alquidas in any sense.
It was possible here because (a) There was a king who grabbed power some twenty months back very timely for a noble cause but screwed-up every thing due to his arrogance & incompetence. (b) There are political parties to whom democracy has been nothing more than a begging bowl ;
have yet to realize the Polpot type trap they are falling into in the hands of "Prachandaji" (as they address the person now, who they always called a "Terrorists" till their so called 12 point agreement). Current hero (Prachandaji) likes to be staged alongside Marks, Lenin & Mao (read the writing on the walls & posters all over with a big self portrait "Marksbad, Leninbad, Maobad, Prachandapath Jindabad).
Surprisingly in Nepal there still are a majority including reps of so called civil society, intellectuals, business community, artists community, disabled community etc., dreaming of a new Nepal, a more democratic Nepal safer Nepal, prosperous Nepal under Prachandapath. But lets not forget that Khmer Rouge in Cambodia or Taleban in Afghanistan had never failed to assure the people of their respective countries through their propaganda machineries that someday they would be the most prosperous nation in Asia as Prachanda is claiming to turn Nepal to be the richest nation in South Asia just within three years under his economic doctrine. We are used to in this, remember we had a senior democratic leader who had promised to make Nepal into Singapore in just five years? if an educated leader who had spent most of his life in the Scholarly city of Baranashi can sell us dreams like that for a gain of few Birgunj votes what's wrong when the same thing is done by some other who have spent their life in Jungle? God save Nepal !!!
Regarding present development of Nepal, personally, I am not very optimistic. Now at this stage only I can say that " we have to wait and see till the time decommissioning process is complete." This much to say now.
Note, there has been no spontaneous jubilant demonstrations by the people, upon the achievement of the Peace Accord of 7 Nov. 06.
Such demonstrations have to be organized artificially by the 8 parties. Which we may witness in a few days time.
Arms deal does not include, those arms, "... needed for security". Each and every Maoist need to keep arms for "security" to protect themselves for reprisals from the victims of Maoist atrocities in the past eleven years.
Justice and Human Rights have bypassed the victims of Maoist atrocities.
The amount of Maoist arms to be kept in safe custody has to be what the Maoists say it is. !!
The separate Maoists, namely, the Terai Mukti Morcha has not been included in the peace accord.
Citizenship issues, making of voters' list, determining the areas of constituencies to make it inclusive, budgetary allocations and manpower planning to conduct elections to the Constituent Assembly would require more time than naively declared.
Caution is called for.
Now the fight will be for the votes in the CA elections. The Maoists will have to gain a respectable amount of votes. Otherwise, the question. - "what was all this for" - will surface and potentially undermine their attempts to rationalize the war they waged.
So, one can expect a lot of intimidation and strong arm tactics during the run up to elections in the regions the Maoists control – which for now, is pretty much all of Nepal’s hinterland.
The UML and the Maoists will not work together. The UML's student wing has already clashed with the Maoists student wing. Jhala nath Khanal and Pradeep Nepal have already said there will be no joint front. Pradeep Nepal even taunted the Maoists by saying, "la lekhera rakhnoos maobadi le 9 wota seat bhanda badi jitdaina.(I’ll give it to you in writing, the Maoists won’t get more than 9 seats during elections)."
Even Amik Sherchan the DPM from Janamorcha said there was no need for a united left front.
One can expect the leftists to fight amongst themselves for control. They have always been a fractious lot (check out the history of the communist party in Nepal, the rule of thumb has been...two leaders three parties) ...and they will continue to be this way.
The Nepali Congress, if they can come together - Shere and Girija - they would garner most of the votes. Add the votes of the RPP and Sadbhawana to that and one arrives at more non-commi votes than commie votes. The Nepali Congress most likely will be in control again. If they get a
Majority, they will likely retain the King as a ceremonial monarch.
The major story, however, is how the Maoists will behave in the days leading to the elections and their reactions if they were to perform badly in the elections.
In the very first general elections in 1990 the Maoist front won about 12 seats . Over the years they have grown stronger. Plus they now have the luxury of already being in government without ever having contested elections as the organization they currently are. So, one can expect them to win between 20-30 seats in the CA elections. But the real question is, what is the value (in seats) that would be considered “sufficient” for the Maoists to save face and rationalize the need to waged war on the state?
It will be the same story all over again (i.e. a repeat of 1990). Such was the euphoria on the streets and the rhetoric then that you would almost think Nepal was ready to launch into space. It just took 45 days after Girija took over as PM for the UML to come out on the streets asking for his resignation by destroying public property (specifically sideway railings and telephone exchange boxes).
Over the years everyone has become accustomed to the game and "Money" has become the single pursuit of all party members. Corruption has become a virtue and these institutionalized trends will continue once more. Once Maoist leaders get a whiff of legitimate power, they will be constrained by the same compulsions that affect the other parties. The same old Nepali culture and societal theory will kick in. Placating their cadres, sold on this huge dream of a better Nepal,
will be a huge challenge for the Maoists.
I expect lasting change. The political cards may get re-distributed but ultimately, it will be business as usual. “Make hey while the sun shines!”
The King is the biggest loser in this shake-up. He can expect all the failures of the parties to be heaped on him. He will continue to be the parties' punching bag. In the best of worlds his future role will be relegated to cutting ribbons and taking his anger out on former advisors who nodded their heads saying “yes” to launching into February 1.
Otherwise, he may loose it all.
Civil war? - The Maoists will really have to do something stupid for conflict to erupt again. Until the elections to the CA, relative peace will prevail. Sure, there will be low level conflicts. Intimidation, extortion, breaking legs etc. will continue but these incidents will not result in the resumption of armed hostilities.
The danger really is after the election results.
1. If they win massively, the Maoists will control the CA and will want to oust the King and the parties.....and the King and the democratic parties will be forced to align to block the Maoist moves. And then, the army gets dragged in once more.
2. If the Maoists lose (say little or no seats), then they will have no choice but to renege on their promises and go back to battle. To even wonder how the leaders might handle such a situation is unfathomable.
So, for a LASTING peaceful outcome, the democratic parties will have to be in control, they will have to give some space to the king and the Maoists will have to win a respectable number of seats to placate their cadres and play the Parliamentary game. In other words, there has to be accommodation and for all forces or we are just postponing the resumption of violence till a few months down the road.
Today very large crowd is marching and shouting slogans around KV (Kathmandu Valley). In the road coming from Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, to KTM, the crowd, with Newari Baza and all, marched by.
It took them at least two hours to cross the bridge leading to KTM. More crowds are still being brought in by impounded buses. Very little vehicles on the road. Maoist call this rally their "victory celebration".
Today Prakash Chandra Lohani has a very nice article in the Kantipur Daily (11 Nov 06). In a nice way ( not direct ) he has said it all.
Anyone who thinks actual democracy is possible in Nepal with an assortment of 13 or so Communist parties (with just one or two communist parties each, more capable than all the non-communist parties put together ), plus the radicalized peasantry, proletariats, and ethnic groups must be an exceptional wonder in the entire creation of God!
Note, while Maoists have sway over all the territories of Nepal (including urban areas that used to be safe before this April), the other parties have not as yet been allowed to enter the rural areas to conduct their respective programs ( SPAM commitment to competitive political system notwithstanding!!!). Implications for the so called CA elections?
Maoist had boasted of having about 80,000 fighters before. Now they say they have only about 35,000 fighters.
And of course, all have to accept the amount of Maoist arms to be what they say it is.
The Maoist militia with their arms are not included in the "Historic Understanding." Etc.
What the Maoists say and what they are doing at the grassroots is different. This difference between saying and doing has to be highlighted. In particular, the naive westerners need to be informed, for the sake of enlightening the self-proclaimed, "International Community."
Two people from Lalitpur have been taken by the Maoists, for action for opposing their fiat to have forced gusts in the homes of the people. Do not yet know what has happened to them.
Though the Maoist could not take actions against all in Lalitpur, they have made examples out of the two that have been abducted. Probably to discourage such opposition to their totalitarian
acts in the future.
This abduction of the two residents after the mass demonstration against the Maoist has not been highlighted to call attention of the world at large. One or two papers gave a one line news about it. In this sense, the two abducted persons do not even have vocal support. It will certainly encourage the Maoists to continue doing such acts in the future.
Need is to be informed of the "progressive" news of Loktantric Nepal, as they are practiced not as they are preached.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
(Oringinally posted in May, 2006)
At the highest level of abstraction, this is a succinct summary of post-April 2006 transformations in Nepal. It’s a pretty hefty list of accomplishments considering where Nepal was before February-1 so jubilation from all quarters (political and non-political) should be the norm.
Contrary to this expectation, the only groups that are unconditionally rejoicing are the Maoists and their affiliates. The reason being, no matter how Nepali intellectuals want to rationalize it, what has unfolded in Nepal is an unquestionable Maoist victory.
Arrogance, Greed, Obstinacy and Shortsighted Retribution
The position adopted by those who advocated a “peace at any cost” approach, has been simple. Their risk perception remained skewed by an understandable but oversimplified worldview. It was a vision that sold easily and continues to yield political capital.
This position proposed the monarchy as the root of all evil – a feudal institution that had refused to modernize, an anachronistic mode of governance that continued to inhibit democratic instinct and a 240 year old institution that had continued to suppress the Nepali people through traditions rooted in religion and a military that exhibited unquestioned loyalty to the crown.
Although to large extents, the accusations against the monarchy were valid, the majority who rallied against the institution did so with short-sighted emotion, malicious intent and a sense of personal humiliation, yearning for swift revenge. These were the very assets that proved to be potent allies for the Maoists, whose designation transformed overnight from “terrorists” to “political allies” of the mainstream parties in Nepal.
To the benefit of King Gyanendra’s critics, he obliged their criticisms by embarking on a path with no plan in sight, by serving as the vanguard of a 240 year institution that by allegation, was meant to disrupt civil liberties and suppress democratic institutions.
Instead of acting as the ultimate protectorate of the constitution and a source of national identity and cohesion, the King stumbled down a unprescribed path of blunders by failing to foster political unity. To the contrary, the politics that emerged from the palace proceeded to plunder the little unity that remained, at an unprecedented rate.
Disillusioned Intellectuals and Silenced Convictions
But this isn’t where the story ends. In fact, this is just the beginning of a different chapter in Nepal’s contemporary history of political upheaval, tensions and general chaos. The potential end of the monarchy marks the end of the Maoists’ struggle. This “revolution” will undoubtedly be used by the Maoists (and their intellectuals abroad), to rationalize the unrelenting application of violence (in the pursuit of political gain). The end of the monarchy also marks the end of a natural hedge against left-wing extremism in Nepal (and South Asia-at-large).
It is also not inconsequential that the end of this institution marks the end of activism by those who found it convenient to oppose an extreme that was guaranteed to attract them adulation. But now, this same self-righteous, holier-than-thou lot refuses to rally in opposition against the other extreme – an endeavor in which failure (at least for now) is virtually guaranteed.
Despite lofty claims of convictions and democratic allegiance, none of the grand opposition needed to ensure the establishment of liberal democracy in Nepal, is currently at play. Most regrettably, the political forces one would expect to rally against leftist extremism are in a state of ideological disarray; the non-political forces that once vowed to oppose tyranny (independent of its origins), are busy coddling and condoning Maoist aggression, fooling themselves that the indoctrination of Maoists into the mainstream will disproportionately make the Maoists more democratic (as opposed to the making the mainstream more leftist).
The Illusion of Centrist Politics
Aside from its declaration on paper as representing Nepal’s “centrist” focal point, the Nepali Congress remains divided and marred by internal feuding on the succession of its party leadership. As before February-1, the NC’s leadership is fractious and inefficient. Power within the party is undemocratically centered on one man – Girija Prasad Koirala – who by any measure of rational thinking is one of the most controversial figures in Nepali politics. (A hero today, Mr. Koirala was known to have hijacked a plane in his day, which gives us all hope that tomorrow, Mr. Dahal may also “save” the country during another era of need).
To top off this list of unending concerns, Girija Koirala is nearing the end of his biological tenure - a risk of catastrophic proportions (to both the peace process and national stabilization) were the inevitable to occur. Internal feuding appears to be the only contingency for this eventual outcome – yet another source of joy for elements that wish to see radical left wing politics, gain ground in Nepal.
For a man running the last stretch of human tenure, the prospect of a Nobel Peace Prize may outweigh the risk of losing national sovereignty – for as long as he dies in the knowledge that he was instrumental is bringing peace, what would Girija care if after his death, Nepal burnt itself to the ground? Mr. Koiriala is notorious for his shortsightedness – chalk up another point on the scoreboard for the leftists!
What was previously the Rastriya Prajatantra Party remain fragmented in three separate groups – a consequence of February-1 politics. Although murmurs of a democratic alliance have emerged from within the ranks of these smaller political entities, the larger and more natural balance to leftist politics (the Nepali Congress) has expressed little interest in serving to foster such a front. Once again, great news for left-leaning groups in Nepal.
While the realization that a “centrist” counterweight (to openly radical leftist politics) is insufficient may have crept into the NC leadership’s thought process, the alternative of advocating more conservative politics does not present itself as a credible option either.
The revival of palace politics at this point is a complete show stopper – an approach that Girja has suggested on several occasions and one that has been vehemently opposed by his own party’s leadership. These leaders correctly understand the usefulness of a republican slogan but do not understand that the slogan “belongs” to their newly crowned political competitors – the Maoists.
Enter the Maoists....
As the Maoists prepare for their victory parade on the 10th of November, in Kathmandu, in the heart of the NC’s support base, the NC struggles to convince its mid-level workers that it is safe to reignite political activities at the village and district levels – those who have faced the brunt of Maoist atrocities know better.
Putting aside grass-roots politics for a moment, a certain NC Member of Parliament can probably speak to the phenomenon of Maoist intimidation best. When this individual rallied within the Parliament, in opposition to Home Minister Krishna Sitoula’s dirty politics, the MP’s brother was kidnapped, held for ransom and was released (after a hefty extortion fee) on the condition that no further lobbying would be conducted, in opposition to the Maoists.
This is what Maoist politics is all about. One can hope and fool and dream and wish that the Maoist entry into mainstream politics will be event free; that the Maoists will embrace the democratic mainstream and that they will compete and participate in the democratic process with full commitment to the rule of law, respect for other political competitors and that their influence in politics will not kill the already ailing Nepalese economy.
The reality of the situation is that aside from total disregard for the notion of private property, demonstrated affinity for intimidation and violence (as levers to garner political support) and despite Prachanda’s confusing statement that Nepal’s Maoists have rejected Maoism and embraced capitalism (then why in the world was the 11 year insurgency fought?), there is neither practical (historical) evidence to cheer on the Maoist victory, nor is there any basis to laud seemingly positive commitments that the Maoists have made in theory.
Whatever the case may be, Nepal as of this day is as good as being a communist state. The NC initially bled the Maoists using state forces, the Maoists bled the nation in return and now the Maoists are back with a vengeance. And there is nothing (no army, no political force, no international assistance) to stop this nihilistic force from uprooting remnants of what they consider Nepal’s “feudal” structure – the heart of which is the Nepali Congress.
In celebration of their victory, the Maoists will bleed the Nepali Congress. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be in 6 months, but before Nepal goes into constituent assembly elections, the Nepali Congress will pay dearly for its short-sighted miscalculations and its overzealous pursuit of a false peace.
According to some, civil war on a scale previously not witnessed in Nepal, may now be inevitable.
To rational observers of Nepal’s politics, this is precisely why Nepali Democrats are from Venus and the Nepali Maoists are from Mars.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Immediately following Nepal's loss at UN Security Council polls, the Foreign Minister (FM) reacted with tirades against the Maoists and the Media. He blamed the Maoists and the nocuous foreign media coverage for the loss. He even claimed that Nepal would have won the elections had it not been for these two adverse elements. There is some validity in the FM's assertion. But such rationalization only dispenses partiality. Rather these two elements are quite minute when compared to the larger picture of diplomatic bankruptcy that Nepal is currently suffering. In essence, Nepal's diplomacy is plagued by a triple whammy.
First, Nepal does not have a coherent foreign policy. Second, Nepal does not have competent diplomats. Third, Nepal does not have the luxury of allocating adequate financial resources for diplomatic ventures.
Although Nepal vaunted of a possible victory at the UNSC polls, it was a no match and a no win situation to begin with. First, Nepal's clout in the global political arena is dwarfed when compared to its competitor Indonesia. Having the largest Muslim population in the world, and with a much stronger economy, Indonesia irrefutably wields more influence than Nepal. Second, the amount of effort expended by Nepal was abysmally minimal. Also, Nepal's lobbying efforts were severely hampered by the absence of ambassadors in twelve crucial missions. Third, the diplomatic manpower allocated for this endeavour was inadequate and unsuitable. Only five officers were commissioned at Nepal's Mission to the UN. And of the five commissioned officers, only one had the proper experience and knack for such an undertaking. Fourth, this venture was poorly funded. While Nepal's competitor had copious resources allocated for their endeavour, Nepal lagged far behind its competitor.
The international community's refusal to coronate Nepal with a temporary seat at the Security Council speaks volumes. For whatever reasons, it deemed Nepal ineligible for the position and voted overwhelmingly in favour of Indonesia. Despite Nepal's contribution to numerous UN led peace operations, the rejection of Nepal's candidacy by an overwhelming majority at the General Assembly clearly suggests that the international community deems Nepal as less capable of serving global security interests. However, the analysis cannot be limited to the international community's lack of faith in Nepal's capability vis à vis Indonesia. Rather the loss should be imputed to the utter ineptness of Nepali Diplomacy on various fronts.
The crux of the problem primarily lies in the inherent absence of a coherent foreign policy. Before even delving into the notion of foreign policy, configuration of our national objectives and interests becomes imperative. Only when national objectives and interests are clearly defined, can a foreign policy be formulated in accordance. However, Nepal's national goals and interests have been lost amidst fiery political speeches, grandiose agendas and petty squabbles. Till date, Nepal has yet to outline the objectives and interests of the State. Hence, rather than abiding to a cogent policy, Nepal has been compelled to operate on whimsical ad-ho-cism since time immemorial.
Apologists most likely would be quick to point to the "Panchasheel," "Dibya Upadesh" and Nepal's adherence to the UN charter to validate the existence of Nepal's foreign policy. An aggregate of Panchasheel, Dibya Upadesh and Nepal's adherence to the UN charter has for long been perceived by many as Nepal's foreign Policy. Although sound as a basis from which a foreign policy can be derived, these separate principles cannot be interpreted as a comprehensive foreign policy. These principles are simply guidelines. And it fails to encapsulate the current needs and aspirations of the Nepali polity in a globalized era.
Another closely related problem Nepal faces is a deficiency of capable diplomats. A majority of the Nepali diplomats today are ill-equipped to represent Nepal at the global stage. Among an array of examples that manifest this stark reality, Nepal's dismal performance at the UNSC polls sufficiently reflects diplomatic ineptitude. Certainly the lack of a coherent policy, the Maoist excesses and the negative media coverage must have abetted Nepal's loss at the UN. However, to simply inculpate these elements would not suffice. Rather, the loss should also be attributed to the inability of the diplomats representing Nepal at the UN. The bottom line is that these individuals who were entrusted with the task of conveying Nepal's position and convincing their interlocutors failed miserably. Not only has this abysmal loss belittled Nepal's stature in the international arena, but it has also substantiated diplomatic inadequacy in wooing the international community.
Diplomacy is an enterprise which necessitates an untiring supply of talented individuals to convey and convince foreign counterparts. Nepal's Foreign Ministry seems to have no dearth in quantity, but is in dire need of qualified individuals in its labour pool.
The deficiency of qualified diplomats stems from the recruitment process. Two available ingresses into the diplomatic corps are through Lok-Sewa examination and the political patronage. Lok-Sewa examination has long been the gauge to select officers for Foreign-Service. Although it has been realized that this examination is quite inadequate to gauge the required proficiency, it is the only mode of official selection. Given the inherently flawed recruitment practices, one can only imagine the quality of new recruits.
Political patronage is another innate recruitment feature for the diplomatic corps. The Foreign Ministry has always been perceived as the one of the most lucrative amongst the ministries. With opportunities to travel frequently, earn dollars while living abroad and other perks, most people in the bureaucratic apparatus covet a position in this ministry. Due to comparatively handsome dividends available for the staff, the bureau consistently heeds to political patrons to absorb unqualified individuals from other ministries. Also, a majority of the ambassadorial appointments are a result of patronage rather than proper credentials. Hence, transfers and appointments of unqualified individuals as a result of patronage has further adulterated the process and made the diplomatic corps more effete.
To make the diplomatic corps more robust, other countries send their candidates to attain proper education at the best academic institutions. They are also busy luring other talented graduates with lucrative offers. Unfortunately in Nepal's case, each successive government have remained ignorant in this front. Instead of attracting properly groomed recruits, there is a systemic tendency to frustrate aspiring candidates. Bhutan on the other hand, serves as a quintessential example of a country which has been grooming its candidates at the best universities in order to enhance its diplomatic performance. While the Bhutanese diplomatic corps is more robust than ever, Nepal keeps on falling behind the astute Bhutanese diplomacy. Even after years of diplomatic endeavours, Nepal has yet to outsmart the Bhutanese delegation and elicit a favourable outcome in the refugee dilemma.
So does Nepali diplomacy suffer simply because of incoherent foreign policy and diplomatic personnel ineptitudes? There is no simple answer to this question. Although personal idiosyncrasies certainly contributed to Nepal's loss at UNSC polls, it does not depict the whole picture. The lack of a clarity and purpose resulting from a nebulous foreign policy certainly could have disoriented Nepali diplomats. But, yet another factor that contributed to the failure of the Nepali diplomatic endeavour is destitute. The shabby and uninviting conditions of the diplomatic residences and offices along with the scanty budgets allocated for each diplomatic mission succinctly reflect the destituteness. While Indonesians splurged thousands of dollars for their campaign, Nepal had barely any comparable resources allocated for this national purpose.
Also, with a salary scale, barely adequate for subsistence in the local ambiance, it is understandable why the zeal to entertain diplomatic counterparts for a national purpose hardly crosses a Nepali Diplomat's mind. While these diplomats stretch to make ends meet, the pursuit of national agenda becomes a secondary undertaking. For diplomats, invitations to receptions, banquets, dinners, lunches and other congregations are innately intertwined with the diplomatic enterprise. However, the incapability to reciprocate due to impecuniousness has frustrated the attendance of the Nepali delegation at these congregations. Instead of attending these congregations and capitalizing on such opportunities, these diplomats are morally compelled to be diffident. Given such diffidence, it would be impractical to expect of efficacious results from the diplomatic corps.
Diplomacy is one instrument among many that a State may utilize to realize its national interests and accomplish national goals. Today, the significance of diplomacy has crested as more and more states prefer to employ it as "the" instrument in inter-state relations. Even the United States, with numerous instruments at its disposal, has opted for diplomatic strides to resolve issues with adversaries like North Korea and Iran. Developed countries have numerous instruments at their disposal to serve their national interests. But, for a land-locked impoverished country like Nepal whose livelihood depends on foreign aid, the usage of other instruments (military might or economic strength) to further national interest is extraneous. Diplomacy is the only instrument available for Nepal. Diplomacy serves a triple purpose for Nepal. It is a not only a magic wand and a begging bowl, but is also Nepal's line of defence. Unfortunately even the sole instrument in Nepal's arsenal borders on being impotent.
While Nepal remains mired in the ongoing peace venture, a diplomatic fiasco of such immeasurable magnitude elapsed fairly unnoticed. As a dozen or so ambassadorial positions are yet to be filled even six months after the royally appointed ambassadors were recalled, the only retained royal appointment delivered the most disastrous result in Nepal's diplomatic history.
It is understandable why the peace process has superseded all other priorities but the continuation of indifference regarding unkempt diplomacy is critically inimical to the viability of the polity. Today, there is an exigent need to transcend beyond petty blame shifting tendencies and acknowledge that Nepali diplomacy is in tatters and then put considerable efforts into mitigating this adversity. Certainly, reforming Nepal's diplomatic enterprise by itself is a formidable task. Although the need to identify the interests and goals of the polity is paramount, there is hope that the formation of a newly elected government will address that need. However, a more daunting challenge would be to cultivate a new generation of diplomats who are skilled, and committed to promoting the national agenda in the international marketplace. But recruitment of talent would not suffice. Adequate resources must be allocated for diplomatic ventures. Unless Nepal manages to produce such diplomats and provide them with the necessary tools, Nepal will continue to incur diplomatic fiascos and promises of a more prosperous future will remain unfulfilled
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Since the word on the street is that arms management is only a few days ahead, the time to outline the elements of efficient modalities is upon us.
1. What is a “weapon?”
A clear cut and unambiguous definition of what constitutes a “weapon” must be outlined. The obvious candidates are automatic and semi-automatic, offensive weapons such as:
Handguns: .45 Smith & Wesson revolvers, 9mm Browning, 7.62mm Chinese pistols, .38 Colt revolvers,
Rifles: .303 Lee Enfield rifles, AK-56 Type-II Chinese Assault rifles, 7.62mm SLRs (of British and Indian origin), 7.62mm Bren Guns, 9mm Sterling sub-machine carbines, 7.62mm Chinese sniper rifles, 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG – of Belgian origin), 7.62mm MAG (Indian origin), 7.62mm Galil rifles (Israeli make), 5.56mm M-16 (American origin), 5.56mm Mini-mi squad machines guns (Belgian origin) and 5.56mm G-36 Heckler & Koch rifles (German make).
Infantry Support Weapons: 40mm Chinese rocket launchers, 2-inch mortars (with high explosive, smoke and illumination munitions), 81mm medium mortars (with smoke and high explosive bombs), grenades.
In addition to the obvious candidates listed above, the definition of weapons should also be extended to include muzzle loaders, hunting rifles and other home-made weapons, previously commandeered by the Maoists to preemptively stifle armed opposition against them.
Also included under the definition of weapons should be all varieties of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) such as socket bombs, pressure cooker bombs and raw materials used in the production of IEDs.
2. How does one account for the proportion of declared vs. undeclared weapons?
One can never be too careful these days, especially when it comes to playing the numbers game.
Offensive (and defensive) weapons listed under the classifications above are catalogued, inventoried and accounted for at every level of command within the state’s security forces. Such lists should be provided to those in charge of managing arms.
Lists of stolen weapons should be collected from CDO offices, the NID and the Department of Forestry and added to the catalog of stolen weapons, provided by the army, the APF and the CPF.
Official inventories of weapons should also be collected from the Maoists. Not to suggest that there was ever a trust issue where the Maoists are concerned, but a good starting point for arms monitors to account for Maoist arms would be to start with the list of weapons that have been stolen from the state.
In addition to the list of stolen weapons provided by the state, and good faith estimate of weapons (purchased by the Maoists) from the Indian and Chinese underground markets should also be developed.
It is against this combined list of weapons that the list declared by the Maoists should be reconciled. Significant variances (+/- 10%) of the know number of stolen weapons should be highlighted and such exceptions distributed openly for public consumption.
Provisions should also be made up front to account for weapons along several dimensions, the most important of which should be, functional vs. dysfunctional weapons.
3. How should weapons be stored?
The weapons that are declared should be disassembled and stored in a manner such that the constituent parts of any given weapon are not all stored in the same location. This provision requires the creation of multiple storage sites, separated by closely regulated distances and mechanisms to monitor traffic to and from each of these sites.
The suggestion of cameras to monitor such storage sites is a required but insufficient condition for effective arms management. Instruments must be put in place to ensure that a breach of contract does not happen.
Such instruments may include UN-hired Private Military Firms (PMFs) with defined mandates and rules of engagement. They may also include specially fortified, mobile storage locations, created by UN-employed contractors.
4. What are the “carrots” and “sticks”, the “rewards” and “consequences” associated with effective arms management?
For a combined fighter/militia group (including two generations that have grown up with only skills that lend to killing, extorting and blind-faith conviction to an ideology that has repeatedly failed everywhere it has been tired), the rewards as well as the consequences for deception (on arms declarations) have to be crystal clear.
As for the rewards, the Maoist leadership and their political class will have the opportunity to attain some legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. However, for the fighting class, the rewards may be difficult to envision (and ever harder to realize) once the militia (and Maoist fighters) discover the “joys” of having to labor for a day’s wages.
As for the consequences, punishments for those who intentionally deal with bad faith should be made clear according to the following scenarios:
- The mode of punishment for those who are discovered with weapons, after arms management has gone into effect;
- The mode of punishment for those who use weapons after the arms management has gone into effect;
- The mode of punishment for those who break the arms management treaty by attempting to steal arms under UN management;
- The mode of punishment for those who procure or smuggle weapons after the arms management treaty has gone into effect.
The specific details behind the consequences that individuals and their leaders will face (and the mechanism to be used to dole out punishments) must be defined in detail, up front.
This could mean additional jobs for certain international organizations on undisclosed, international payrolls. It could also mean opportunities for the same individuals to float from one “impartial” international organization to another, all the while advocating peace in Nepal.
Should matters sour beyond the realm of control for free-of-cost-to-Nepal services related to the peace process, the prospect of Nepalis from the South “heeding the call of their countrymen” is equally likely.
Whatever the case may be, discrete rules, regulations and the consequences of non-compliance (along with truly independent monitoring and enforcement mechanisms) are non-negotiable pre-requisites to any process even remotely characterized by effective “arms management.”
5. What about the enforcement of law and order?
Should the near complete detachment of weapons from Maoist milita and fighters occur (and the army and APF remain confined to their barracks with their weapons locked in their armories, with keys provided to the “arms managers”), what mechanism will uphold the provision of law and order?
The CPF seem like the most likely candidates. However, their effectiveness when forced to rely on bamboo batons and sticks comes under question. Additionally, the idea of a joint CPF-Maoist milita team to monitor peace is even more absurd when the distinction between Maoist milita and their hardened fighters (their equivalent of army special forces) is undefined.
Moreover, any idea (prior to CA elections) that leans toward giving Maoist forces parity with the state security forces (whether they be CPF, APF or the Military), would invalidate the necessity of polls to legitimize political actors in the first place.
6. What special provisions need be made to deal with splinter groups and the open border?
Where this point is concerns, very little need be explained. Without the assistance, commitment and guarantee of Indian security forces and the acquiescence of splinter Maoist groups, arms management will forever remain incomplete and inadequate. Even more vigilant border management by the Chinese should be sought through negotiations with the UN.
Very few people seemed to be under the illusion that making peace would be easy – with or without UN involvement (and as history has shown, in the absence of regional power intervention).
More astute observers tend to get straight to the heart of the “difficulty” by pointing out the core impediment to making effective peace – the lack of available funding to make things happen. For a country like Nepal (neither rich in strategic resources nor a magnet for foreign direct investment), the equilibrium price of peace will be determined at the intersection of a perfectly inelastic demand (for peace) and a relatively elastic supply of funds.
It is here that all the lip service in support of peace must quickly transform into practice; it is here that the forces that converged to subdue one extreme must once again re-align to ensure the subjugation of another.
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