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Politicized Media Hindrance Towards Peace

Politicized Media Hindrance Towards Peace

By Kamala Sarup

Sociologist and Freelance Consultant working with various NGOs Dr. Raman Raj Misras said:

"In Nepal scope for investment in the media has been provided with the guarantee that they will not be forcefully closed for political or any other reasons by the government since 1990. Hence, the number of newspapers, magazines, TV stations and FM radios stations has increased, both with foreign and domestic investments. Apart from commercial media there are also political media. That is those financed and run by various political parties and individual politicians. And of course, the Government media, as before, also exist. Each of these types of media, are used to propagate news and views of benefit to the respective controller's or investor's respective interests.

Their role has had the benefit of providing different and at times opposing messages, enabling the consumers to make choices. To some extent, skepticism among the media-consumers of the news and views provided has also been discerned, especially due to partisan presentations.

Due to costly and lengthy litigation process in the country, acts of willful defamation and character assassinations of individuals by some media sources have also tended not be checked. Though, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) have come up with Code of Conduct, its breach have not as yet received due attention.

Media maybe able to play that role, if and when peace is achieved. But currently not the commercial and independent media, but politicized media seems to be more of a hindrance in achieving national consensus leading towards peace.

Dr. Misras further said " Geo-politics, as I understand them, provide scope as well as limitations to the nature of relations between nations. Enhanced capacity of any nation is necessary to initiate or seek changes in the existing Geo-political relations. A nation divided, dependent, and with dubious politicians is not in any position to recommend any such changes. Except, of course, it's concerned citizens (not the government, which is vulnerable to geopolitical reprisals, like economic blockades, regime change etc) can try to use the "weapons of the weak", by appeals for justice, fairness, and redress from the adverse effects of Geo-politics to create favorable world opinion. And for the long run, collective efforts to reduce vulnerability and dependency must be attempted, as well as remove other forms of national deficiencies.

Misras said " In a protracted war or a war of attrition of this kind, all means are used by both sides. The means are by not limited to arms, but also include propaganda, and infiltrations into other civil organizations, and the media to create favorable public and international opinion. Infiltrations and use of existing members (by monetary incentives, blackmail or threats) to create dissension and discord among the perceived "enemy camp" or among those who may form alliance to take a stand against one's side is also the part of the game.

Negotiations and dialogues can also be used tactically in one's favor to buy time to strengthen ones logistics and financial capabilities, as well as elevating one's status or legitimacy to win the "propaganda war".

Currently, the Europeans, more so the Scandinavians, albeit with good intentions, seems not to take into considerations such intricacies involved in such war of attrition or protracted war. They seem to accept "words" as they are presented. As it is said: " road to hell is paved with good intentions". So the Europeans, or even the international community may recommend or advice, but it is we, who may have to suffer the consequences of such advices, not them. This can also apply to UN also. In any case externally imposed or delivered "artificial peace", may not be genuine and may not be lasting or sustainable.

Time factor is very important. Time for honest, negotiation can only arrive when the warring factions realize, the futility of such wars. And many people have already said this much number of times. No warring side stops to think, until it confronts formidable opposition and resistance forcing them to look for alternatives. The Maoists started the war in 1996, because they perceived such war was the best means to obtain their objectives. And to them, their actions are just, necessary, and effective. Unless such a perception of the Maoist are not proved wrong, their activities will not stop. They will continue to use every means and tactics, including that of dialogue and negotiations to achieve their objectives.

The rapid expansion of the area of operation of the Maoists, have been attributed to the fact that they had not met any serious resistance, ideologically or otherwise. Hence, they have no reason to doubt their dogmas, activities, strategies, and tactics. In about nine years of insurgency, only the ill prepared and ill-equipped army has come to challenge them and that also only in the last three years, and that also reluctantly, and with the call to the political parties to facilitate their efforts. However, the major political parties have not as yet tried to resist the Maoists, ideologically or by mobilizing the people or assisting the communities that have begun to resist the Maoists or by assisting the army or the government or even by engaging the Maoists politically, all by themselves.

Also the fact that the Nepali Maoists are members of the International Revolutionary Movement (RIM) may necessitate having a dialogue with RIM rather then their surrogates, the Maoists of Nepal, because Nepali Maoists have commitment to abide by the wishes of their international mentors. The fact that the Nepali Maoists have become a part of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), formed in 2001, regional level approach also seem necessary. Nepal Maoists cannot therefore be addressed in isolation from RIM and CCOMPOSA. The Nepali Maoists do not have the unilateral power or freedom to make all the decisions by way of response to agencies trying to address them in isolation. But the attention of the UN or that of the Europeans, in spite of their pious declarations have not been seen to be realistic in this aspect. They seem not to realize that Nepali Maoists are only a section of CCOMPOSA and RIM.

So at present, favorable time or condition and even the realistic approach of the UN for genuine dialogue and negotiations does not exist. Such opportune time and condition can only exist, when formidable resistance from all sides is met by the Maoists and their mentors are made to realize the futility of their insurgency. The productive role of the International Community or the UN could be in facilitating, at all levels ( geopolitical, ideological, political, and material) the emergence of such opportune time and condition. Then and only then, perhaps their mediating role will be productive and meaningful, if at all necessary then".

He further argued "Currently the possible danger of Nepal being destabilized and also the possibility of the spillover effect across the southern Nepali boarder seems to have made India very liberal in providing direct military assistance to Nepal. For this Nepal should be grateful to India for much needed assistance in times of need.

Purchasing arms by Nepal and modernizing the army had been one of the geopolitical concerns of India. She had always sought to confine such efforts by Nepal under strict supervision within the ambit of bilateral relations, with no third country involvement. But the necessity of enabling the army to be able to meet the Maoist challenge, and the international focus on Nepal, seems to have softened the earlier policy of India in this respect to a great extent. At face value, the future implications maybe that instead of trying to maintain the monopoly control over Nepal in this sphere, India would from now on opt for competition with other countries. This would certainly permit much wider scope for Nepal in this respect in the future.

As unfortunate of course, but also as leading towards as yet nebulous transformation of the country. Dr. Raman Raj Misras said.


(Kamala Sarup is editor to )

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