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Response To NZ Herald – Re: Gwynne Dyer On Nepal

Response to Gwynne Dyer:
"Royal Tyranny Creates Threat Beyond Nepal"(The New Zealand Herald 8/2/05)


By Dipta Shah

This is a response to Gwen Dyer's opinion piece entitled " Royal Tyranny creates threat beyond Nepal." Mr. Dyer's piece shows substantial insight into the prevailing geo-political significance of Nepal as a buffer zone between India and China. His writing demonstrates astute command of contemporary Nepali politics and his denigration of Nepal's King Gyanendra, is craftily exacted using rhetoric aimed at captivating the imaginations of those who appreciate the gift of democracy, but have little comprehension of the responsibilities that accompany democratic freedoms.

As a Nepali citizen educated in a democratic society, I too cherish the values and norms that a functional democratic system provides for its people. I also understand that democracy is a selfcorrecting mechanism that over time, will prevail over alternative systems of governance.

However, the question at this juncture is not whether democracy is the right system for Nepal – rather, the question is whether Nepal's past trajectory bas been the optimal one given the wanton destruction, continuous rights abuses and squandered lives that has plagued 97% of the rural poor, during 14 years of mal-governance.

Justifying the Nepali monarch's decision in the 21st century is a losing proposition and this is not an attempt at doing so. However, after having outlined the number of times the Nepali King has dismissed successive governments, it would also behoove Mr. Dyer to outline the reasons behind why these governments were dismissed.

Perhaps Mr. Dyer did not feel the need to justify the King's past decisions on the assumption that having already outlined King Gyanendra's past, this paper's readership would automatically wrest blame on the King. I would argue that professionalism dictates that such "minor" details be included – especially when advocating the destruction of a personality who the readership may not otherwise be familiar with.

Mr. Dyer depicts the Maoists as a regional threat and insinuates that King Gyanendra's dismissal of the dysfunctional democratic government will somehow bolster the Maoists. I would encourage Mr. Dyer to carefully re-examine his statement in the context of heightened public rhetoric, espoused by the Maoists, after the King's take-over. There was no hint of joy.

In fact, the Maoists had overtly stated that the only condition under which they would enter negotiations would be if they were allowed to negotiate directly with the King. Never mind that after the fact, the Maoists cried "foul play" at having their propaganda exposed.

The fact of the matter is this : in the temporary absence of the political middle ground, the Maoists have lost one of their largest bargaining chips in their war of attrition. The manner in which the Maoists' have sided with different mainstream political parties at different points in time (to the detriment of the ruling government), is evidence of this claim.

To the contrary of Mr. Dyer's proposition, there are those who would argue that by taking the reigns of power, King Gyanendra has eliminated massive inefficiencies in Nepal's state machinery and has thus, significantly heightened the cost to the Maoists of their "best alternative to a negotiated solution."

I agree with Mr. Dyer's suggestion that India, the US and UK should act now. However, without stooping to the level of name-calling or profanities that Mr. Dyer does, I would urge these nations to engage King Gyanendra is a constructive manner so that Nepal's Maoist insurgency may be resolved, a major regional crisis averted and the dream for a democratic Nepal (with a fresh breed of leadership), kept alive. If this fails to happen, Mr. Dyer's prediction regarding regional instability is a guaranteed outcome.

Last but not least, it is not for Mr. Dyer to determine who has the legitimacy to solve the Maoist problem. Of course, if one considers that the solution to a problem must come from the source of problem itself, then Mr. Dyer's logic (that legitimacy resides only in Nepal's political parties) holds.

Under normal, democratic conditions, legitimacy can only be endowed by the Nepalese population in its entirety (not just the educated, elite 2% or Mr. Dyer's column). Unfortunately for Nepal (and Mr. Dyer's analysis), the current situation does not lend itself particularly well to elections or to stumbling around, hoping a group of capable politicians will emerge out of the blue.

ENDS

- Via Peace Media http://peacejournalism.com/

*************

Dipta Shah is a Nepali citizen and a recent graduate from Columbia University's School of International Affairs (SIPA).

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