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Post 1 Feb. Nepal: Exposing the Concealed Issues

Post 1 February Nepal: Exposing the Concealed Issues


By B. Raj Giri

Nepal's democracy, if it ever existed beyond urban centres, was dead not on 1 February 2005, as most insensitively point out, but already in 1996 when self-proclaimed 'People's War' faction started armed rebellion from the remote villages, and the then Prime Minister Girija Koirala ordered brutal police force to pursue anyone opposing his authority with so-called Operation Romeo, and Kilo Sierra II. However, international belittling has spiralled ever since King Gyanendra dismissed a hang-government, and assumed all executive political powers in Nepal on 1 February, 2005. It has appeared as if Nepal never had any problems before, and now it needed immediate rescue from its deep crisis for the first time. What is the relevance of today's international chorus of disapproval? If democracy means tyranny of self-serving elite minority, does it really matter who rules Nepal?

Since the 1990s, Nepal experienced institutionalised corruption in which 'democratic' leaders amassed national resources at the expense of starving people in the villages. Educational institutions became political weapons disturbing the future of millions of Nepalese children. Nepal adopted the new culture of vandalism in which anyone unsatisfied with their own tastes could rampage public property at any time. The corrupt leaders of Nepal gave birth to the insurgency that has become the 'Shining Path' of Peru. These insurgents, as one author put it, have turned Nepal 20 years backward by destroying national infrastructures, championing carnages and extortions against anyone not agreeing with their totalitarianism, and smuggling weapons from India and receiving trainings from India's Naxalite insurgents – an atrocious attempt to turn Nepal into Pol Pot's Cambodia.

All these things were going on in Nepal soon after the multiparty democracy was introduced in 1990, but where were the well-wishers of Nepal, human rights groups, international donors, and Nepalese intelligentsias living in and out of Nepal? If they were really concerned with the sufferings of majority of Nepalese, why they could not take any action to stop rampant corruption in Nepal, block the 'People's War' terror, or declare educational institutions 'zone of peace', and so on? As if they approve Nepal becoming Asia's Somalia, human rights organisations, Nepal's few well-offs, and communist ideologues are calling 'the United States, Britain and India to suspend military aid to Nepal after King Gyanendra's seizure of power and declaration of emergency rule.' Will anyone ever be free in Nepal if 'People's War' terrorists take control of the Nepalese state?

In any country, state of emergency directly affects communication, media, and sometimes even people's daily lives. When Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made similar move in the 1970s, basic rights such as freedom of the press, expression, opinion, movement, etc. were obviously affected. How ironic is that no one seemed so vocal when coalition government of Sher Bahadur Deuba declared state of emergency in 2001? Now, having realised that Nepal's politicians were able to do nothing other than divide and rule the Nepalese people like tyrants, King Gyanendra assumed executive powers, and many, including academics are advocating incredibly derisive news.

Nepal has a depressing political history that anyone (from Bahadur Shah to Ganesh Man Singh) attempting to do better for the country and people will be damned. Today, too, there is little approval for King Gyanendra's drive to fight corruption, which has eaten Nepal's economy like parasite and kept 'dependent state' status, to proscribe fake professionals, especially counterfeit certificate holding teachers who have been looting Nepalese children's future, and to curtail the totalitarian terrorists ignited by multiparty leaders. Instead there is a gross misconception among many, who uncompromisingly argue that all King Gyanendra wants is power.

In the post 1990 political climate, if Nepal's Kings wanted only power, they could have dismissed Girija Koirala led failed government in 1994, or when insurgents started their war of atrocities from the remote villages in 1996, or most of all, after the unforeseen massacre in the Royal palace in 2001. No one supports King Gyanendra for the sake of political power he holds today, but many Nepalese hope that a concerted effort will bring the decade long sufferings and violence to an end soon. If any political debates are to be useful for Nepal, everyone must bring up issues from all sides. Only attacking King Gyanendra helps no one other than corrupt leaders of Nepal, and People's War radicals.

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

B. R. Giri, has an MA in International Relations and Developmental Studies from the University of Amsterdam. He is working on his Ph.D. in the UK.

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