Saturday, March 31, 2007
The Youth Communist League (YCL) has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons. First, it was ill treatment of the royalists in Birtamod, Jhapa; this was followed by an attempt to disrupt the Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) protest in Birgunj; physical harassment of hotelier Hari Shrestha; and then came a failed attempt to foil the MPRF's mass meeting in Gaur.
Finally, the one that caused everyone to raise their eyebrows was the carnage in Gaur where the instigation of MPRF's men by the YCL cadres took an ugly turn. Twenty-nine YCL cadres were mercilessly slaughtered in cold blood and many more were injured by MPRF's cadres.
The Maoist arrogance, MPRF's political shortsightedness and inability to keep protests peaceful, and the government's inability to effectively deal with the Maoists and address the grievances of ethnic groups has been slowly pushing the country into the vortex of a full-blown civil war. The April revolution had provided a perfect platform for the re-establishment of peace and democracy. But inability on the part of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) to effectively handle the situation and manage people's aspirations and the Maoist insincerity towards peace and democracy has left a million dreams lie shattered.
It is time to analyze what went wrong, who are the culprits, and what can and needs to be done to bring the country back onto the track. It is time to ask an indelible question: Why have the so-called leaders failed, over and again? Are we better off now than when the Maoists were in the jungles? Has the government's endless concessions to the Maoists contributed to anything other than increased insecurity, chaos, and blurred future prospects?
The glib idea held by SPA that providing political power will automatically lead to “moderation” of the Maoists is the main culprit behind the present mess. What the political leaders at the helm of the affairs have failed to realize is that political power only begets the desires of the radicals to perpetuate and aggrandize power and does not contribute towards “moderation.” Bringing the radicals to the helms of power has never resulted in moderation. It simply does not work. On the contrary, after coming to power, they get even more “strong headed” and rhetorical.
After coming to power, Hitler did not budge an inch from what he had set down in Mein Kampf , nor did Mussolini disband the Fascists and stop killing his political opponents.
Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini's list of opponents that were to be silenced kept getting larger and bigger after he came to power in 1979. Even after being in power for four decades, the moderation of Fidel Castro never happened; he never toned down. The moderation of Kim Jong Il of North Korea and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela doesn't appear realistic either.
There is a colossal failure of intellect, effort, and imagination on the part of SPA. In order to understand the Maoist totalitarian aspirations, it takes an effort of imagination. It is necessary to put one's self inside the Maoist minds, to see things as they see them, to understand their beliefs, strategy, and actions.
However, it is not an easy task to analyze another's mind when it is so fundamentally different from one's own. It takes effort and the bitter truth is that the SPA leaders never made an effort to understand the Maoist beliefs, strategy, and actions. Had they made an effort to understand the Maoist traits, they would have understood what the Maoists are up to and learnt how to deal with them effectively. They would not have endlessly seceded to the Maoist demands and turned a blind eye to their atrocities.
Out of many mistakes, one of the major mistakes that the SPA government has been making is that it sees the ongoing ethnic movement through the lens of CPN (Maoist). Prime Minister Koirala, whose popularity skyrocketed during and after the April revolution, runs a risk of losing his newfound popularity if he does not desist from watching the ethnic movement through the Maoist prism. The delay in solving the ethnic movement will have far reaching repercussions.
The Gaur carnage should serve as an eye-opener, both to the government and the Maoists.
Prachanda and his fellow ideologues might have never imagined that the people, whom they thought to be oppressed, could rise so quickly and counter the Maoist fiefdom by gunning down their fellowmen. It is absolutely understandable; however, the right to pick up guns is not Prachanda's or for that matter, the Maoist rebels' private domain. Nobody should be condoning the violence, but now, it appears that the only way to challenge the Maoist fiefdom is through the use of force, as the government has failed miserably to enforce law and order and provide ample security to its citizens.
The government has failed to take actions against the Maoists that have flouted the law and provide security to its citizens. The perpetrators of Lahan's killing, Nepalganj's riot, and Birtamod's inhuman acts are still at large. The government and the so-called human rights activists prefer to remain silent when the rights of ordinary citizens are infringed by the Maoist rebels. Why are the human rights of the YCL members killed in Rautahat more precious than the innocent Madhesi killed in Lahan, scores of Madhesis intimidated and harassed in Nepalganj, and the royalists subjected to the inhuman treatment at the hands of YCL cadre in Birtamod?
Unlike most human rights activists in Nepal, who are leftist ideologues and value human rights of leftists to be more precious than those in the center and the right, the government should get over the biases and strive towards protecting the rights to the life and liberty of all citizens, irrespective of their political ideology and affiliations.
As far as Gaur's carnage is concerned, before jumping to hasty conclusions, it is necessary to put things in context. What options did the MPRF cadres have at that point in time, when the YCL members showed up to foil their mass meeting? They basically had two options: (a) be humiliated and leave the ground for the YCL members (b) retaliate and teach the YCL members a lesson, so that from next time onwards they would learn to respect others' rights to protest. The royalists' fate in Birtamod, Jhapa has already taught the MPRF and other groups a good lesson on what happens if you appear weak. The only mistake the MPRF members committed in this case was that they went much farther than just teaching the YCL cadres a good lesson. The inhumane killings of the rowdy YCL cadres that occurred in Gaur were certainly a deplorable act and a colossal failure on part of MPRF to keep the protests peaceful.
If the sister organizations of the Maoists such as YCL that are working towards the establishment of a totalitarian regime are not sufficiently opposed, from within and outside the country, they will proceed to do exactly what they believe in. The followers of totalitarian regimes are brainwashed ideologues that see things only in black and white. For them, the grey area does not exist.
According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, “You cannot teach people to hate and ask them to practice peace.” These ideologues have been taught to hate people that do not share their ideology and it is impossible to discipline them without using some kind of force or through the strict rule of law. As the latter is virtually non-existent in present-day Nepal, other groups might soon run out of options to protect themselves and their rights and be forced to follow the retaliatory path adopted by MPRF, unless the government acts strongly and dares to punish the Maoists for their atrocities. If the law and order situation is not improved and the YCL cadres engaged in infringing on the rights of others are not punished, the Gaur-type carnage may occur frequently.
The perpetrators of not only the Gaur carnage, but also of the Lahan and Birtamod incidents and riots of Nepalganj, should be brought to justice. The SPA government that has a tendency of falling into the Maoist spell should not get charmed this time around and commit the mistake of outlawing MPRF. If MPRF is outlawed, as suggested by Prachanda, it will open the door for a full-fledged civil war and turn Nepal into a killing field. Are we ready for a civil war?
Friday, March 23, 2007
(Courtesy: Comrade Libre)
There's a joke making the SMS rounds in Nepal. It goes as follows:
Mrs. Prachanda: "I'm pregnant."
Prachanda: "How is this possible? I've been living underground for the last decade???"
Mrs. Prachanda: "I'm still pregnant."
Prachanda: "Damn those Royalists! Those 'regressive' forces have struck again!!"
Although there's no connection between Mrs. Dahal's pregnancy and American Ambassador James F. Moriarty, there's definitely a strong correlation between increasing public awareness and what Moriarty, and like-minded individuals, have been alluding to all along - that the Maoists are ideologically incapable of adapting to a political environment, devoid of violence.
The Maoists' branding political developments (outside of their narrow world-view) as "Royalist"-initiated or "regressive," has reached an all-time high on the scale of stupidity. American Ambassador Moriarty was branded a Royalist sympathizer for the exact same reasons the Maoists call the Madhesi Janadhickar Forum (MJF), selective members of the Nepal's business community and any other group that opposes Maoist intimidation, violence and coercion, "Royalists."
The Maoists' arcane "red book" is an inadequate tool with which to interpret 21st century political phenomena. Their brain-washed cadre know nothing about original thought and remain content regurgitating "scripture" from their little "red books." The "broken record" approach is the only approach Maoists have been taught and it is the only approach they have the mental capacity to employ - whether in politics or life.
For the Maoists, the idea of democratic opposition is a complete anomaly. Hence, the application of the term "Royalist" as a panacea to any phenomenon that outdated Maoist ideology is incapable of explaining. The Maoists have proved, time and again, their inability to rationalize political opposition. They need to urgently learn that as along as opposition is not of the armed variety, it is completely legitimate in democratic politics.
Unfortunately for Nepal, the Maoists continue to live by their mantra that "power comes from the barrel of a gun." This has always been, and continues to be the Maoists' guiding principle. Despite the plethora of apologists who actively advocated the signing of the 12 Point Agreement (on the basis of changed Maoist ideology), there is absolutely no evidence to even marginally substantiate that the Maoists' strategic end-goals have changed.
As repeatedly pronounced by various members of the Maoist leadership, the Peace Process currently underway is merely a tactical adaptation, necessary to achieve higher, strategic objectives. As a matter of public record, the Maoists' strategic objectives include the following: the establishment of a one-party communist republic, a dedicated thrust in support a Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ), and by default, the systematic eradication all non-Maoist political ideology from Nepal.
While over-zealous civil society and human rights activists feed off the UN's $88 million "peace dividend" to Nepal, the Maoists continue, unrelentingly down a path of radical politics. Hundreds of cases of intimidation, of reporters being threatened for publishing news harmful to the Maoist "image," of ordinary citizens being taxed twice and thrice, of extortion drives, of armed politics, have all gone undocumented.
With standing orders from the Home Ministry to not confront the Maoists, the public remains completely exposed to Maoist atrocities. Never mind a handful of Maoists who were arrested as a public stunt. Rather, consider that the cop (who restrained the armed Maoist body guard from entering parliament), was first reprimanded by the valley Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and then re-assigned outside of Kathmandu, the following day. Why? Because the poor chap did his job.
Then there came back-to-back allegations from the Maoists that first, they had collected information of a plot by the Royal Palace to assassinate SPA politicians and second, that the Royalists had engineered another plot to kill American dignitaries.
Even though the "evidence" was presented in the House, not a single politician demonstrated the courage to point out the very serious nature of what the Maoists had alleged or to evaluate the "evidence," which of course, turned out to be completely bogus. Nepali politicians seem to show no hesitation when begging for American aid, but when it comes to protecting American citizens in Nepal, not a single snivelling politician, said a word. There is only one term to describe this - "shameful."
The Maoists continue to blatantly disrespect diversity in political ideology. Last week, the nation was shocked by images of RPP party members wearing "shoe garlands," with soot rubbed on their faces. In a few months' time, UML cadre will face similar humiliation and at the end of the line, the Nepali Congress (the bahun-baad faction which is most the feudal of all political institutions in Nepal), will face the brunt of the leftist backlash, alone.
Then came the icing on the cake of intolerance - a fire fight in the midst of the much hyped peace process, that resulted in 28 deaths. Is this not a violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement? Or does armed Maoist militia exchanging fire with MJF personnel, somehow differ from Maoists "hi-jacking" 13 Army trucks or beating businessmen for not paying extortion fees? Can't wait to hear about the conspiracy theories on this tragedy!
So where are Moriarty's critics today? Where are the Civil Society and Human Rights activists who were falling over each other, kissing Prachanda's ass in public? Where are the self-proclaimed "protectors" of Nepal's democracy when what little we have, is being systematically dismantled. Do these idiots finally understand where Moriarty and like-minded people were coming from when they warned of the nation being held "hostage" to the peace process (under the pretext of "regressive" activism)?
What Nepal is witnessing dangerously borders on all-out anarchy. The accounts listed above aren't sporadic, these are systematically orchestrated events, with Maoist sponsors on one end and anti-Maoist elements (and possibly Royalists) on the other end. While Maoist sympathizers and their Maoist handlers maintain that Royalist and anti-Maoist elements are synonymous, the Madhesi movement has invalidated this myth, completely. What next?
Regardless of what the Maoist leadership says, with every passing day, they are losing their grip on their own organization. With every passing day, the Maoists are getting more and more desperate and it is no secret that desperate people tend to commit desperate acts.
Welcome to the New Revolution… with no idiot king as a focal punching bag, this revolution definitely won't be "televised." Even with all the atrocities that persist, Nepal will be lucky to get an occasional column in a right-wing rag like the Washington Times - that too, written by elements that grovel to known, left-wing extremists like Prachanda and his clowns. Yet another irony on a never-ending list of ironies that collectively, describe the tragedy that Nepal is.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
"The mere absence of war is not peace", said J. F. Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. This statement is relevant to Nepal's context today. Despite repeated assurances from the Maoists that they have retracted from violent politics, the reality is vastly different. Clearly, the Maoist have made a travesty out of the peace process and arms management. It has become obvious that the elections to the Constituent Assembly cannot be held in the stipulated time frame for mid June. This unfortunate circumstance is mainly due to the failure of the government to confine Maoist to peacetime politics. This failure consequently led to the rapid deterioration of law and order. The ramification of the postponement of the elections is immense – a fluid political vacuum.
The government still has not learnt from the Maoist war. It is this war, which forced the nation into a grinding halt. It is also the Maoists who have distanced the country from peacetime democratic politics. Deeper understanding is needed to comprehend the issues plaguing the country's transition into a peaceful nation with a sustainable democracy.
Our portly political pundits need to understand that the discontented ethnic groups that have been staging agitations across the country are just now in the initial phase of their revolution. The issues of seclusion and minority rights have the necessary ingredients for the brewing of a greater revolution. Therefore, the continued dillydallying and delay in addressing ethnic issues, has the potential to push country into further quagmire – with the rise of a series of mini and counter revolutions, which could lead to the disintegration of the nation state. The ethnicity dilemma could and should have been solved at the beginning of its insurrection but unfortunately, the demands set forth by the various agitating groups have soared due to continued negligence from the government. On the other hand the Maoist insurgency has served an ideal benchmarking model for agitating groups to attain political limelight and power through the use of arms and violent politics.
The recent turmoil and continued political unrest in the Terai has exposed that in the absence of elections, the major political parties are rapidly losing their base; proving that it is only the Maoists, by using force, and indigenous groups that retain some control over rural Nepal. In more recent times the blatant violation of the peace process by the Maoists and the continued intimidation conducted by its cadres has been reciprocated with brute force by agitating groups. The Maoist influence in the Terai has been questioned for the very first time. It is interesting to note that the Maoist high command has toured the southern belt as a precautionary damage control measure.
Prime Minister Koirala's effort to induct the Maoist into government was based on the thesis that once the rebels are inducted in govern- ment, the vantage of being in opposition would no longer be a luxury enjoyed by the Maoist and they would be forced to change and act within the norms of multi party politics.Unfortunately the violence and brutality perpetuated by the Maoists has not subsided. Maoists are unquestionably the primary political party in the alliance. The revolt by the indigenous groups for equality indicates that confrontation is inevitable. The demands put forward by the indigenous group contravene Maoist school of thought – radical communism. The ramifications of these developments are critical.
Since Maoists are now a part of the interim government, any attack against the Maoist will be termed as an attack against the govern- ment. Prachanda recently declared that the Maoist have been eyeing Home and Defense ministries as a precondition to join govern- ment. This means that once the Maoist join the government, the state security organs might be used to crush any voice or ethnic movement that calls for change and opposes Maoist rhetoric. If these minis- tries are allocated to the Maoists, it will ignite violent unrest and mar Nepal's transition towards permanent peace and democracy.
It is foreboding that even while in government the Maoists have failed to abide by the peace agreement and renounce violence. As the election date nears, Maoist violence might reach its peak and the Prime Minister be forced to postpone the vote fearing fraudulent and violent elections. Till the time of the elections the Maoist might have incapaci- tated state organs, political opponents and built a case of public discontent against the government creating an environment for protests engaging in a dual role – govern- ment and opposition.
The state organs lack the required leadership to thwart Maoist designs. The Prime Minister has also failed to boost government confidence. Going by the government's lack of policy, the indications are that in any event, the Maoist will capture state power- either through forcing fraudulent elections or by brewing public discontent against the government.
Monday, March 19, 2007
(Courtesy: Khagendra Thapa)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." It seems that Nepal has no leader who can speak out the truth and not just repeat like a parrot what the Maoists comrades have been saying ever since the SPA came to power with the blessings from the Comrades as well as our friendly neighbor to the south.
With the untimely death of the 1990 constitution, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and their comrades the Maoists together code named as SPAM have claimed to represent all the people of Nepal and the interest of the Nepalese people whether the people like it or not. SPAs claim to represent the people because they were elected more than seven years ago. The Maoists comrades claim to represent the people because they have been able to coerce the people to support them by intimidation, extortion, armed kidnapping, and cheap slogans. Together the SPAs and the Maoists, the so called SPAM have become the most powerful political force or so they claim. With the mighty Prime Minister Mr. Girija Koirala in the driving seat and his Comrade Prachanda in the front seat together with all the heroes of Janandolan II and eleven years old insurgency veterans, the bus carrying the Interim Constitution was in motion. Unfortunately, the arrogance of SPAM was challenged by both the Terai residents (Madhesi Group) and the Janajatis. The Interim constitution also made provision to form an interim parliament with the addition of 83 Maoists and 48 other members who are part of SPAM. After all, the scrapping of the old constitution may not have been an excellent idea.
Lack of Patriotic and Visionary Leadership
It is indeed very sad for the people of Nepal that there is not a single national level patriotic and visionary leader with clean image. Right now, Mr. Girija Koirala is the leader of SPAM. However, Mr. Koirala is not accepted by all the people. First of all, he is the leader of the half Congress party. The other half of the Congress party is led by Mr. Deuba. Mr. Koirala’s behavior during the Tanakpur Treaty with India and his lack of interest to safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country puts a question mark on his patriotism. In addition, Mr. Koirala as a Head of State and Head of Government failed to express his opposition to the encroachment of Nepalese territory in various border areas by India including in Kalapani, Susta, Illam, Jhapa. Saptari, Banke and Bardia. In fact, even the Ranas who ruled the country for 104 years were more patriotic than any of the SPAM leadership. For example, during the British Rule of India, Nepal maintained all even numbered borders and the Brirish maintained all the odd numbered pillars every year. That kind of border maintenance was abandoned both by multiparty rulers and Panchayati rulers.
Secondly, Mr. Koirala does not have a clean image. His involvement in various scandals during the time he was prime minister for the major part of multiparty government from 1990 to 2001. In fact, Mr. Koirala refused to present himself to the court when he was summoned by the court on corruption charges.
Thirdly, Mr. Koirala does not have any vision or any other plan to develop and help the country and the people. He is a happy camper as long as he is in power.
Fourthly, majority of the leaders of all political parties do not have clean image. Many of them have been involved with corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and influence peddling. Some of them even have criminal records including murder.
How about the Maoists Comrades? What kind of credibility do they have? Well, as we all know 13,000 Nepalese people lost their lives as a direct result of the so called people’s war started by the Maoists insurgents. Another 26,000 committed suicide because they could not bear the pain and suffering caused by the war. Over a million people were internally displaced. Many more people left the country in total despair without any hope for themselves and for their children. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Nepalese people working as laborers (often doing the most dangerous and life threatening jobs which nobody else would do) in many Gulf countries as well as in Malaysia and South Korea.
Several millions if not billions of dollars of worth infrastructure including government offices, schools, transmission towers, bridges, roads, etc have been destroyed. All this happened because of the people’s war. The comrades must take the responsibility for the injustices done to the people. So these Maoists leaders whose hands are stained with the blood of the people are also intoxicated with the blood of the 13,000 Nepalese people. Therefore, it would be an exercise in futility to expect any thing good from these self proclaimed leaders who got where they are today with the use of guns and bombs and also with a little bit of help from the extremely friendly neighbor in the south.
According to Sobhakar Parajuli (Kathmandu Post, Feb,. 28, 2007) “The Maoists spread a reign of terrorism in villages and urban areas. They have yet to return the property of innocent people seized during their so-called people's war. They continue to extort money and threaten the villagers. Madi ambush is still fresh among the relatives of those killed. Now Prachanda regrets that it was their mistake when he was aware of the fact that traveling in the bus were innocent passengers. Such regretting words do not convince the people. Rather, Prachanda appears cruel and inhumane in the eyes of the common people.”
Well then, are there any other leaders in the SPAM or any other political parties who have long term plan to lift the nation out of poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and outdated caste system? Do any of them have a way to stop the exploitation of the poor and destitute people from the clutches of feudal landlords and crooked business man? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
All these leaders are chanting the same Mantra as the Maoists Comrades. For example, the comrades have been chanting the mantra of Federalism and Constituency Assembly (CA) elections and every one of the leaders both inside and outside SPAM chant the same mantra without even understanding what does constituency assembly or Federalism mean? What are the long term implications of these activities? Does Federalism lead us to a better future? Or it would lead to the fragmentation of the nation thereby multiplying the interethnic conflicts. Would it help us to provide better education to our children? Would it help us to provide better health care to our people? Would it help us to improve the well being of our people? Would it improve the standard of living our people? Would it help us to maintain the peaceful relationship among our multiethnic and multi linguistic people? If so please tell us exactly how it would happen. Is it magical in nature? Does it mean that as soon as the King is exiled or executed and CA elections held and Federalism established, Nepal will turn into another heaven?
People want to know what your plan for economic development is. What are the SPAM plans for education, healthcare, environmental issues, and exploitation of the poor people? Every dissident group is in a destructive mood right now. The infrastructure that was built by donations or borrowed money has been destroyed by our comrades as well as others who think they deserve a bigger piece of existing pie. No one wants to work to increase the size of the pie so that every one will have enough.
What kind of Leader Do Nepalese People Want?
Unfortunately, Nepal never had a visionary leader who puts personal interests above political party interests and national interests above political party interests. None have shown any vision for the future of the nation. No leader has been acceptable to all ethnic groups and people of different political affiliations. If we are to build our nation strong and prosperous we need to have political leader who has the following characteristics:
1. Since Nepal is a multi-ethnic nation where no group is in majority, we need a leader who is completely unbiased and can get along with people of all regions and ethnic backgrounds irrespective of their culture, language, political affiliations and caste. In other words, the leader must be able to live and work with Kamis, or Sarkis, or Sherpas, or Tharus, or Danuwar, or Satars, or Limbus, etc. This can only happen if the leader has the interests of the people and the nation above his/her personal interests.
2. People need a leader who has high moral and ethical standards and as such s/he has the ability to tell others to follow high ethical and moral values.
3. The leader must also be motivating and charismatic so that s/he can influence the people and motivate them to work hard to improve their own livelihood and neighborhood.
The leader must also possess a clear sense of purpose (or mission) - clear goals - focus – commitment.
4. The leader must also be able to work with others and be highly optimistic and results oriented
Ability to encourage and nurture others so that s/he can make a difference in the lives of the people.
5. Ability to understand what others say, rather than listening to how they say things. One could partly sum this quality up as "ability to walk in someone else's shoes" Or know where the shoe pinches.
6. The leader must be able to display a passion for, and have a strong conviction of, what they regard as the moral correctness of their vision. They engage in outstanding or extraordinary behavior and make extraordinary self-sacrifices in the interest of their vision and mission.
7. The leader must be inspirational and communicate with people in an understandable way and live by example. S/he must have high self confidence, determination and persistence.
The leader must have ability to delegate authority to reliable and competent people.
The question is do we have any leaders who display even five of the above qualities? You be the judge.
Culture of Death, Destruction, and Violence
It is no secret that Maoists got where they are today using ruthless violence, destruction, murder, looting, kidnapping, intimidation, and extortion. They also used cheap and unrealistic slogans to attract people to their line of thinking. For example, Comrade Prachanda when he first showed up in public promised to turn Nepal into another Switzerland. It seems he was repeating the rhetoric of another great leader Mr. Krishna Prasad Bhattarai who proclaimed that he was going to make Nepal as developed as Singapore within five years when he was the prime minister.
Comrade Prachanda even went to the extent of claiming that he can make greater Nepal by declaring the Sugauli Treaty signed with the British in 1816 null and void. This comes from the same leader who wants to give the right to self determination to all those ethnic groups who are demanding for it. Comrade Prachanda! Tell us the truth do you want to break the country into smaller countries or build a greater Nepal? Your statements are conflicting and confusing.
Now the Maoists comrades are in power with the successful use of force, destruction of public and private property, extortion, and intimidation. The success of Maoists is now being copied by other groups. They have learned that it pays to be violent and act of violent crimes can get results. With the lessons learned from the Comrades, other groups whether they are Terai residents, Khambuwans, Tamurats, Magarats and many others are using the time tested Maoists tactics to get what they want. There is a culture of violence, death and destruction in Nepal now. Every one wants to stop the movement of vehicles and burn tires causing great amount of financial loss to the working class.
One of the dangerous promises that the comrades used was to turn Nepal into a Federal Republic where each indigenous group of people will have an autonomous republic. For example, they promised different autonomous regions for such ethnic groups as Gurungs, Magars, Newars, Tamangs, Tharus, and many others.
How Can an Autonomous Regions be Achieved?
According the 2001 Census of Nepal, the population of Nepal consists of the following categories in terms of percentage:
(clicke HERE for table)
There are 72 other categories of people in Nepal which are not listed in the above table. The criteria used to cut off was any groups which are less than 0.5% of the total population are not quoted as these would not be needed to make the point clear.
Let us say, for example, as promised by Maoists Comrades that we all agree that Limbuwan and Khambuwan are given an autonomous region in the eastern Nepal. From the above table one can see that they constitute a population of 4.37% when both groups are combined. Now, the problem is the region where they want their autonomous region also have many other ethnic groups including Magars, Gurungs, Bahuns, Chhetries, Kamis, Damais, Sarkis, Newars, Tamangs, and the list goes on and on. If they are given autonomy in the area then what are the other people who have been living there for hundreds of years going to do? Do they have to move to somewhere else? If so where would they go? Let us forget about the Bahuns and Chettris who are supposedly the exploiters and let them go to hell. However, what is a poor Kami or a poor Damai is going to do. Where would they go? Kamis and Damais like Newars, Bahuns, Sarkis, and Chettris are spread all over Nepal.
Representation of Ethnic Groups
The recent revolts by the Terai residents and the various ethnic groups from the mountains have been claiming the fair representation in administration, army, police, etc. There is no question that their demands are appropriate and justified. However, these demands cannot be addressed by CA election or the introduction of Federalism.
Empowerment of Local Governments and not Federalism is the Answer
According to the 2001 census of Nepal, there are 103 different ethnic groups in Nepal. They speak at least 90 different languages. Some of the ethnic groups are as small as 164 people. For example, according to the 2001 census of Nepal there are only 164 Kusundas in Nepal and these people are no where else in the world. Different groups of people especially the ones demanding the autonomy are spread out through out the nation. Therefore, introduction of Federalism or declaration of self governing regions based on ethnic groups will spell disaster for the whole country. It would not even benefit the group that is claiming autonomy. The ethnic groups such as Magars, Tharus, Tamangs, Newars, only constitute 7.14%, 6.75%, 5.64%, and 5.48% respectively. Moreover, these groups are not living in a particular locality. They are pretty much spread out through out the country except the Tharus who mainly reside in the Terai belt.
Therefore, the best way to kill the snake without breaking the stick would be to empower the local governments. It will be a true democratic way of resolving the demands of terai residents as well as the various ethnic groups of the hill areas.
What Kind of Power would the Local Government Have?
The ultimate objective should be to give the power to raise tax, be responsible for taking care of school education, primary health care, local self governance including public safety (hiring local police), passing the rules and regulations on the local governance, and judiciary. Well, that gives the local elected bodies complete authority. It will all be democratic because the people will elect not only the local government officials but also the judges and the chief of the police. People must be alert and ask for transparency, accountability, and rule of law. This will be the ultimate democracy which will satisfy the demands of all ethnic groups no matter how small or how large they are.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Bahunism Extended to Other Cultures and People - Analysis of Character and Physical Features as Templates
(Courtesy: Professor B. B.)
Ok, so the Bahunist code has now been articulated by Sano Baje (http://nepaliperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/03/bahunists-and-bahunism-mini.html). Here's his rap sheet on Bahunism: historical resentment bred from working as priests in palaces; a Svengaliness; gaining status through birth-right and perpetuating this system while talking righteously about equality and democracy; overall connivance - and all the while pretending to smell like a rose. But what does a Bahunist look like and can this look be used as a template to extend across other races and cultures?
The features of a Bahunist: a longish face, large fleshy ears, a large nose that can be sharp or bulbous, eye color ranging from hazel to almost blue, plenty of hair (back hair is a dead give-away), bushy eyebrows, and fair of skin - almost European in looks at times. Although this isn't universal, Baburam Bhattarai, for example, looks like a constipated ferret.
Having established the basic Bahunist look, remember that Sano Baje notes that not all Brahmins are Bahunists. Indeed, a janajati friend of mine, told me he called his Gurung friend a Bahun. But my interest is not in Nepali Bahunists using Sano Baje's template but to explore whether character and physical attributes can be applied to others using a totally scientific method - the kind of scientific method proposed by Marx and Engels and adopted by the great modern Nepali Scientific duo - Professors Prachanda and Baburam.
Being a Ph.D like Baburam and extremely intelligent like him, I've come up with an empirical scale that ranges from 0 to 10 with 10 representing the highest level of Bahunism while 0 represents a total lack of Bahunism. In this scientific scale, "looking like a Bahunist" carries somewhat more weight than "acting" like one.
Let's begin children.
Ian Martin, Head of UNMIN: Off the charts 10. Put a janai on him, yellow and red tika, and a white dhoti can you couldn't tell the difference. He'd be hired on-the-spot to do my son's Bartaman.
Daniel Lak, Columnist, Nepali Times: 9. He doesn't get a 10 because he sounds like he's babbling in his columns - Bahunists are more articulate. Seems also that he could eat a whole tin of ghee and several dozen puris in on sitting.
African Americans: 0. Yes ZERO. Brothers are the anti-thesis of Bahunism. Brothercool and Bahunism are like oil and water - they don't mix. Brothers are tooooo fly, no lie. But remember, Kofi Annan or any brother working for the UN doesn't count.
Chinese: 5. This is a tough one. Being hairless definitely moves them massively down the scale. But recent incidents in New York, where the owners of a Chinese restaurant was busted for handing out one menu for Chinese patrons and another for foreigners (with higher prices) is Bahunism gone wild. So the yin and the yang balance to give them a 5.
George Bush, President, United States: 0. Too stupid.
Patrick Leahy, US Senator, Vermont: 7. Yakked like crazy during King Gyanendra's moves and helped topple the buffoon King but now silent as a mouse when it comes to Maoist atrocities. Definitely, bartaman material.
Ambassador Moriarty, US Ambassador to Nepal: 0. Cowboys follow the brothercool effect - unless in movies like Brokeback Mountain.
Hillary Clinton, Candidate for US President: 6. She would be close to a 10 except for her husband who lowers her Bahunist score because of his propensity for dropping his pants on demand, offset only by the classic Bahunist "I did not have sex with that woman" claim.
Indian Ambassadors (all of them): 10. Need I say more here.
Ban Ki Moon, GS, United Nations: 0. If you eat dogs, you're bitulo, unholy and don't even rate.
Robert De Niro, actor, director, writer, producer: 0. C'mon, you talkin' to me.
Jack Nicholson, actor: 0. Not when you play a ruthless Irish King-like Don Frank Costello in the "The Departed" that wins Scorcese his long-awaited Oscar.
George Clooney, actor: 6. No one said Bahunists are ugly and lack charm, talent, and wit. He is a 6 only because of his looks - not because of his Svengaliness.
Howard K. Stern, self-alleged father of Anna N. Smith's daughter: 10 to 10th power (this, children, is what is known as an outlier in statistics). This guy is scum.
King/potentially ex-King Gyanendra: Null score. There's another scale for Royalists which will be posted shortly. In that scale, propensity for repeated self-inflicted wounds stemming from stupidity, hiring bad advisors, and the heavi-ness of one's jowls and overall looks will be key scoring factors.
Friday, March 02, 2007
For those of us who have lived with this phenomenon all our lives, what is described below is no big revelation. However, for the benefit of those who think Nepali politics boils down to a struggle between Royalists and Maoists, or democrats and autocrats, or centrists and extremists, they are only partially correct. There is one other critical grouping that serves as chief sponsor of the political turmoil in Nepal - the Bahunists.
Who are the Bahunists?
So who (what) exactly are the Bahunists? Well, those who believe in Maoism are Maoists; those who believe in the Royal tradition are Royalists. Similarly, those who believe in the "Bahun-baad" tradition, are the Bahunists.
What is the "Bahun-baad" tradition and who precisely are the Bahunists? Ask any Janajati, Dalit, Newar, Madhesi (or non-Brahmin individual) - he or she will provide you a dissertation on what "Bahun-baad" is and exactly how much damage the Bahunists have done to the idea of liberal democracy in Nepal.
Ask the Chhetris, the Thakuris, the Ranas, the Thapas, the Mallas, the Shresthas, the Tamrakars, the Kayasthas (etc.) the same question, and it is likely they will give you a different answer. Members of these groups are sure to know who the Bahunists are, but they probably don't understand the phenomenon that well.
Why? Because for centuries, Bahunists have successfully performed as the mechanism that enables (and amplifies) Nepal's feudal traditions; at the same time, the Bahunists have been successful in portraying the non-Bahunists as either the face, or the victims of feudalism.
Why are the Bahunists so Angry and Dangerous?
It is important to note that not all Brahmins are Bahunists. Just like not all Chhetris are Royalists and not all Janajatis are Maoists. This being said, all Bahunists (like other minority extremists), are bad news. Just like the hard-core Royalists give the Chhetris a bad name, the hard-core Bahunists give the Brahmins a bad name.
At least when Royalists have disagreements with other Royalists, all they do is publish trashy articles about each other in the media. When Maoists argue with other Maoists, the one with the bigger balls puts the other one in detention and then India steps in and sorts things out.
When Bahunists have arguments with other Bahunists, all hell breaks loose - look at what happened when the Bahunists in the Nepali Congress and the Bahunists in the Maoists disagreed - the whole country suffered for 12 years!! This is one of many reasons why Bahunists are bad for Nepal, just like their extremist friends from other camps.
To put it plainly, the Bahunists have functioned for ages as priests and "purohits" (mostly in the houses of high-caste Chhetris, Hindu temples, etc.) during times of unrest and war. During times of peace, they have operated in the shadows, for example, by completely Sanskritizing the exam to enter the Nepali Foreign Service, by excluding members of other ethnic groups and castes from politics, by monopolizing the state's political beaurecracy, by inserting key Bahunists in the Nepali Police, etc.
The Bahunists' fathers and forefathers accomplished the process of monopolizing state power (from within government), but some Bahunist off-spring are still angry. Why are Bahunist off-spring so violently against the idea of Monarchy? Because they are now accomplished in their own fields and find shame in the fact that their ancestors were preists in the Palace.
It's all very simple. Bahunist off-spring feel entitled to respect because of their accomplishments, but are unable to let go of their ancestral pasts and earn the respect just like everyone else. Shame is a powerful driver of hatred, as anti-Americanism flourishing the Arab world has shown. But Bahunists are embarrassed and angry for the all the wrong reasons.
If Bahunists (who have enjoyed privileged existences their whole lives) are angry, how should the Janajati and Madhesi and other minority groups feel at being repressed by the Bahunists all their lives? Remember, it may be a stupid individual like Gyanendra who sits at the wheel of the "ship," but read history - it has always been Bahunists that have guided and assisted idiots like Gyanendra, navigate the "ship."
What do Bahunists, Illiberal Democrats and the Ku Klux Klan, have in common?
In Nepal, Nepotism, sycophancy and exclusion all have one thing in common - the Bahunists. With the exception of a few "token" members from other caste groups, Nepal's politics, Nepal's education system, Nepal's public sector, Nepali media, are all completely dominated by Bahunists and their circle of semi-slaves.
When examined according to the dimensions of elite-ness and exclusivity, the Bahunists in Nepal behave much like the Ku Klux Klan (at their height), in the United States of America. The Bahunists look down on other castes, they feel superior to other classes and they advocate Bahunist supremacy, non-stop.
The "beauty" of how the Bahunists operate is that they do so under the idea of democracy, inclusion, equality and social harmony. They project the image that they are for the rights of minorities, that they are for the weak and downtrodden, that they are the most democratic of all groups.
But truly, nothing could be further from the truth. Bahunists act in favour of other Bahunists. They elevate the status of only Bahunists. They represent the very core of what is rotten in Nepal's democracy. The "Bahun-baad" phenomenon (as propagated by the Bahunists) is the single biggest threat to social harmony, to liberal democracy, to equality, and peace in Nepal.
What do you think Dor Bahadur Bista was talking about when he wrote "Fatalism and Development in Nepal?" Who do you think the International Crisis Group is referring to when they issue statements like: "Control over the peace process has not increased confidence; that all decisions were made behind closed doors by a handful of Brahman men leaves sceptics wondering if ten years of conflict has done anything to change underlying structures."
Here's another (more recent) quote from ICG: "So far the (peace) process has concentrated on building elite consensus at the expense of intense political debate or extensive public consultations."
If you guessed the Bahunists (in response to all three references above), you're absolutely right.
Who are some of the more prominent anti-Bahunists and why is their struggle not providing results?
What makes the Bahunists particularly destructive is that they are found at the top layers of every political entity in Nepal. They are at the top of the UML, they are at the top of the the Maoists, they are entrenched in the judiciary. In fact, the very core leadership of the Nepali Congress right now, are all Bahunists.
If you ever wondered about why people like Gagan Thapa, or Rabindra Shrestha (or even the JTMM) are so very annoyed with their mother organizations, it's because they resent being subdued by the Bahunists.
If you're still wondering why the Madhesi community's spontaneous uprising has been so full of passion, it's simple. It's because the Madhesis resent all decisions of political importance being made by a congregation of Bahunists. It's because they are sick and tired of Bahunists playing games with the future of Madhesis.
Like the Janajatis, the Madhesis know from experience who runs the mechanics of Nepal's feudal structure. There might be an idiot at the top of the pyramid of feudalism, but the entire base of this pyramid is full of Bahunists and their sympathizers. Thank goodness Jana Aandolan-II has clarified this beyond any credible doubt.
How do Bahunists react when they face a common threat?
When Bahunists face a threat to their powerbase, they come up with conspiracies. And not just small conspiracies, but elaborate theories that span many years and multiple dimensions. To the Bahunists, any threat to their undemocratic, exclusive, power-base is explained by a sophisticated conspiracy.
Fortunately, over the past few months, Bahunist conspiracies have gotten them into more trouble than they would care to admit.
For example, when the Bahunists came up with conspiracy theories about the Madhesi uprising being part of an elaborate Royalist design, this added anger and fuel to the Madhesi uprising.
When the Maoist Bahunists (yes, the Bahunists are at the top of the pecking order within the Maoists as well) and the Bahunists in the Nepali Congress schemed to discredit the Madhesi movement, the Madhesi movement gathered even more momentum.
When the Bahunists refused to ask one of their own to resign (in order to start negotiations with the Madhesis), naturally, the Madhesis understood exactly how much "respect" the Bahunists have for the Madhesi population.
It is hilarious when Bahunists make statement about how much they have given to the Madhesi community by "allowing" them citizenship rights. This is the Bahunists' attempt at gaining sympathy from the Madhesi community. Even more hilarious is when the Bahunists claim stake to being members of the Madhesi community (for electoral reasons).
Everyone knows that the biggest threat to continued Bahunist domination comes from movements that demand ethnic assertion, equality and proportional representation - you know, movements like the Madhesi movement and the Janajati movement.
There are thousands of examples of Royalist conspiracies that are outlined by the Bahunists (from within the Maoists and other political groups). In fact, anything that even remotely threatens the Bahunists' hold on power, is framed as a conspiracy against democracy.
Here are some excellent examples of Bahunists in action: "Janajati Nepal Banda: Royalists in Charge (and Other Headlines)" (http://www.blog.com.np/united-we-blog/2007/02/28/janajati-nepal-banda-royalists-in-charge-and-other-headlines/) and "Surya Bahadur Thapa Interview: Hidden Messages?" (http://www.blog.com.np/united-we-blog/2007/02/26/surya-bahadur-thapa-interview-hidden-messages/).
How do Bahunists react when they are under public scrutiny?
In the old days, if attacked, Bahunists would run back to their priestly duties and seek protection from Hinduism - "respect your priest, do not harm your guru, feed him well, clothe him well, bull shit, bull shit, bull shit."
In recent times, Bahunists tend to throw money at whatever problems they are having. But when half the country's population is rising against the Bahunists, they are finding that spending money alone, isn't getting them relief. This is making the Bahunists extremely nervous.
Another technique Bahunists use is that they immediately mobilize their global Bahunist network, Bahunists in the media, and Bahunists across the political spectrum, to spread misinformation, to sensitize issues and to manipulate (detract) the Nepali public's mood. As technology has grown and access to information along with it, the Bahunists have mastered the means to amplify their Bahunist cause.
What Royalists failed to understand is the distinction between love for the institution and hatred for the individual; What the Maoists understand (but intentionally ignore) is that one does not have to be a Royalist to oppose Maoist tyranny; What the Bahunists fail to understand is that whether the Maoists come to power or not, whether Nepal becomes a republic or not, the Bahunists are exposed once and for all!!
Forecasting the Future of "Bahun-baad" and the Bahunists
Of course, all "good" things come to an end. With people across Nepal awakening from the Maoist nightmare, ethnic assertion and demands for equality are at the very top of every agenda. People are demanding their rights in the most democratic way possible and such demands have caught the Bahunists off balance.
Being caught by surprise is what is bringing the Bahunists in the Nepali Congress and the Bahunists in the CPN-M together. The merger of the Bahunists from different political leanings is what is fuelling the ethnic movements across the country.
Slowly but surely, the games, the politics, the conspiracies and the machinations that underpin the "Bahun-baad" philosophy and elevate the Bahunists in Nepal, will come to an abrupt end. The days of the Bahunist democracy and Bahunist candidates representing regions that are home to other ethnic groups, are numbered. Just wait till the Constituent Assembly elections roll around.
How will the Bahunists react to this writing?
When the Bahunists read this posting (and they will most certainly read it), I am sure they will come up with one conspiracy theory after another to discredit the ideas embodied in the writing. In reading Bahunist responses, look out in particular for the following themes:
- This is a Royalist conspiracy to bring about ethnic disharmony in Nepal - Right, everything that challenges Bahunist domination is a conspiracy of some sort.
- The writing is completely flawed - it is the Chhetris, the Ranas and the Shahs who are the root of feudalism in Nepal - "238 years of the Shah dynasty, etc. Sure, that is, minus 238 years of Priests and Gurus forecasting the future of the Shah dynasty.
- The ideas captured in this article are designed specifically to derail the Constituent Assembly elections - Why in the world would we want to do that? The CA elections are guaranteed to destroy Bahunism once and for all. If anyone, it is the Bahunists who are eager to sabotage CA elections. Loss of power for the Bahunists, is a certainty.
Watch out particularly for the non-Bahun authors who comment on the ideas articulated in the writing above. Those will be the most Bahunist responses of all.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
If UNMIN (United Nations Mission in Nepal) doesn’t clean up its act immediately, Nepal is going to become another strike on the UN’s abysmal record of anything remotely associated with the term, “peace.” Considering that the only thing Nepalis have asked the UN to do is facilitate a process that was already in motion, Nepal has immense potential to become the UN’s most humiliating performance, ever.
With the international community’s blessings, UNMIN’s capacity for positive impact (especially in a country like Nepal), has no upward bounds. The hopes and aspirations that the Nepali people have vested in Ian Martin and his team also have no ceiling. Combined, these elements exponentially heighten the UN’s reputational risk – a risk that Ian Martin has done (at best), a mediocre job of managing.
Below is how Ian’s overly diplomatic maneuvering (symptomatic of the UN’s modus operandi) is compromising Nepal’s fragile peace:
UNMIN is Operating like a High-Priced Consultant Instead of a Responsible Stake-Holder
If it’s one thing that consultants excel in, it’s in covering their own asses. In the event that things go as planned, consultants are the first to take credit and cite the experience as a qualification to get work with other clients.
However, when things go wrong, consultants are also the first to wash their hands clean and walk away. They do this by invoking cleverly drafted clauses in their official “Scope of Work”, through fine (contractual) print, and by producing a laundry list of documented interactions (e-mails, press conference briefs, official documents, etc.), through which they will claim impunity.
Ian Martin needs to shift his focus from performing like a high-priced consultant to being a responsible manager of the peace process in Nepal. Ian’s public disclosures are starting to dangerously resemble excuses that may be leveraged at a later date – excuses that will be used to exempt the UN from being held “liable” should the peace process break down.
Ian Martin is the authority where the international community’s stake in Nepal’s peace process is concerned. He needs to start behaving like a stake-holder instead of a spectator or a high-priced consultant that is adding absolutely no value to the overall process.
Perception is that UNMIN’s Mandate in Nepal is Being Executed by ICG
With a former Nepal “expert” from the International Crisis Group (ICG) serving as one of UNMIN’s principal advisors, it is natural for cross-organizational relationships to be leveraged and for the UN to receive moral and technical assistance from the ICG. Areas where synergies exist between the two organizations should be welcomed and encouraged.
However, when Ian Martin is reduced to making weak allusions to deficiencies in Nepal’s peace process while ICG representatives sit next to Martin and bluntly orate risks, the ICG ends up looking like the authority (without a formal mandate) and Ian Martin ends up looking foolish.
Some of the truths that ICG reports and commentators on Nepal have documented are as follows: The CA assembly timeline is way too aggressive, the Maoists are not behaving like responsible actors, Nepal’s PM being on his death bed is hindering the pace of the peace process, etc.
These are all risks that Ian Martin knows just as well as his ICG counterparts. That Mr. Martin has demonstrated neither the courage nor the conviction to speak the full truth, in plain, simple English calls into question UNMIN’s ability to execute even its limited mandate in Nepal.
UNMIN’s Disclosure of Information is Incomplete, Non-Transparent and Meaningless
Ian Martin’s press conference when he disclosed UNMIN’s finding on the first phase of the arms management process was a complete farce.
The Nepali Government had provided UNMIN with a complete and detailed inventory of the types and numbers of weapons that were stolen by the Maoists. Aside from a TOTAL number of stolen weapons, Ian Martin failed to disclose critical information that he had on hand, for the Nepali public’s benefit.
Even though the arms inventoried on the Maoists’ side were disclosed with slightly more detail, UNMIN did not disclose the specific types and numbers of weapons it had documented. Had UNMIN published both the detailed list provided by the government along with the information UNMIN collected from the Maoists, the debate on the 9:1 ratio (between combatants and weapons) would have been a moot point. Such useless debates would have been easily overshadowed by the real debate that hasn’t even taken place yet – a discussion on why the Maoist list is missing the most modern arms stolen from the Army.
Discourse of the RDX (and other explosives) stockpile the Maoists’ possess hasn’t even begun. And with the highly selective (and non-transparent) information that Ian Martin and his team have disclosed to the Nepali public, there is barely enough detail to conduct any meaningfully comparative analysis.
Perhaps Ian Martin’s decision to withhold information from the Nepali public was directed at averting an overwhelming public outcry on the sham of a process arms management has been. Perhaps Ian Martin felt that disclosing full information might somehow compromise the peace process.
Whatever the case, these are not decisions that Ian Martin has the authority to make. It is insulting when Martin on the one hand, takes every opportunity to congratulate the Nepali people for their resolve and conviction, and on the other, insults Nepali peoples’ intelligence by intentionally withholding critical information the public needs to evaluate the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the arms management process.
If the Nepali Government or the Maoists forced Ian Martin to withhold information from the public, he and he alone has the moral imperative to either ask to be replaced or to push back on the Government and champion the peoples’ right to information.
Where this particular stunt is concerned, no amount of “fine print” can negate Martin’s personal (or UNMIN’s) liability. It is appalling that a man representing an institution that champions full transparency, fails to practice what the insitution preaches.
Given the position Ian Martin is in, he is as accountable to the Nepali people as he is to the UN. Martin’s performance needs to change to more accurately reflect complete accountability. Immediately.
UNMIN is Grossly Mis-Managing Public Expectations
Ian Martin’s team has done a horrible job of managing the Nepali peoples’ expectations. At a minimum, the UN’s presence in Nepal was expected to help stake holders in the peace process (the SPA, the Maoists, the people) attain a moderated appreciation of the possible versus the probable.
Unfortunately, all Ian Martin has succeeded in doing is heightening unrealistic expectations. Instead of lending clarity, Ian Martin’s public statements have added confusion; instead guiding the peace process in a logical direction, Mr. Martin has succeeded in injecting ambiguities that are certain to heighten existing tensions.
When Mr. Martin states in public that his team is unable to verify whether the Maoists have purchased arms, and in the same sentence indicates that AK-47 assault rifles were inventoried (weapons not in the government forces’ arsenal), no one is fooled.
When Mr. Martin says that the arms management process has to go through a second phase of verification (before it is complete), and then states that “The consequences if elections are postponed are unpredictable,” it's just silly. Unpredictability is precisely what the UN’s job is supposed to reduce, not augment!!
When Mr. Martin alludes to the Dayton Accords to highlight that Nepal’s peace process is organic (not even close to reality), he misses the point. His mention of Ohio (and the Dayton Accords) elicits a single memory – how UN peace keepers where captured and held hostage by the Serbs, and how NATO (led by the US) had to bomb the Serbs to end ethnic cleansing in the region and bring the Serbs back to negotiations. Nepal would be been lucky to be of any strategic importance to any nation other than India. If it were, the 12 year Maoist insurgency would have ended 6 months after Prachanda opened his mouth.
Although cliché, it is completely appropriate to say that Mr. Martin is leading the Nepali people to believe that they can have their cake and eat it too. They cannot. And neither can Ian Martin.
UNMIN’s front man needs to urgently clarify the UN’s position on two issues: One, are elections possible in June 2007 or not? Second, in the UN’s expert opinion, when will the arms management process (in its entirety) be complete? Before or after June, 2007?
These are questions with “yes,” “no” answers. If Ian Martin as the UN’s subject matter expert on peace process management is unable to provide a straight answer to the Nepali public, then Mr. Martin needs to immediately pave the way for another UNIMIN mission head who can.
It is easy (and justifiable) to shift part of the blame on the underperforming peace process in Nepal, on the Nepali government. Working with a bed-ridden Prime Minister cannot be easy for Ian Martin or his team. The pressures that accompany Ian Martin’s job cannot be understated either.
However, given the substance and pace of UNMIN’s accomplishments in Nepal, it suffices to say that Ian Martin hasn’t done a particularly good job of making his own life any easier. It is completely unprofessional and inappropriate of Ian Martin (3 full months after the UN committed to assisting Nepal), to claim that “in many ways (high expectations) are based on assumptions that (the) UN’s role is greater and more comprehensive than it is.”
As a professional who has served in various capacities in the past, isn’t this a question Ian Martin should have asked himself 3 months ago – back when he and the UN had all the leverage needed to get the precise mandate Martin claims his team lacks (in order to perform to the Nepali peoples’ expectations), today?
If working with a bed-ridden Prime Minister is a problem, Ian Martin should let it be known. If the arms management process is incomplete, Ian Martin should have the courage to tell the Nepali people. Ian Martin, hiding behind a diplomatic screen of ambiguity is doing a great disservice to the overall peace process and to the Nepali people.
It is certainly not the UN’s mandate to set policy in Nepal, but it is most definitely within the UN’s current mandate to provide expert, non-contradictory opinions that in turn, may be used by various stakeholders to guide policy and make informed decisions. By failing to perform this very basic function, Ian Martin’s extreme diplomatic instinct (to remain non-committal and independent), is impeding on UNMIN’s ability to execute even the limited mandate it currently serves.
Ian Martin’s sheer inability to manage various stake-holders in Nepal’s peace process is dangerously bordering on incompetence. If Ian Martin feels pressured now, he may physically collapse when Nepal’s politicians start shifting blame for mismanaged expectations on UNIMIN.
It appears Mr. Martin may be in over his head in Nepal – he appears to have “diplomatically” maneuvered into a spot where Nepal’s politicians are well-positioned to hang the UN out to dry. Ian Martin and UNMIN need to urgently and systematically address the deficiencies outlined in this writing – that is, if Ian Martin expects to have any credibility left with the Nepali people, 3 months down the road.
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