Once peace restored, Democracy can flourish
Once peace restored, Democracy can flourish
By Kamala Sarup
Nepalese Ambassador to the United States of America Mr. Kedar Bhakta Shrestha stated that
"The present political development in Nepal needs to be seen in a proper context. Some people are simply crying wolf, as if the Royal move of 1 February was targeted against a functioning parliament and an elected government. We should not be oblivious of the fact that the parliament was dissolved in May 2002 at the recommendation of the then existing elected government. And as required by the constitution, a new date for parliamentary elections was also announced.
The government was however unable to hold elections as scheduled because of deteriorating security situation owing to the Maoist insurgency, and recommended for a postponement of elections for more than a year. Elections being the first and foremost foundational basis of democracy, His Majesty wanted the parliamentary elections to be held as early as possible. In the given situation of the incumbent government showing its inability to hold general elections, His Majesty had to bring in a new government with the specific mandates to restore peace and to hold general elections.
Unfortunately, that government and its successor governments also failed to carry out their mandates one after another.
While political infighting and corruption reached an unacceptable height, the Maoist insurgents continued to endanger the lives of the common people and threaten the political independence and sovereignty of the country. It was at such a critical juncture in the history of Nepal that His Majesty took a very bold and decisive step on 1 February 2005.
His Majesty has expressed full commitment to multiparty democracy, good governance, upholding of human rights and restoring a fully-functional democracy in three years. This is a challenge no political leaders could take in the history of our nation".
He was born in Kathmandu on 18th January 1938. He is married to Shanta Shrestha and has a son and two daughters. He holds M.A. in Political Science and International Affairs from the University of Bombay 1959.
Mr. Kedar Bhakta Shrestha further argued
"It is a sad fact that political leaders could not rise to the occasion to lead the country out of the quagmire of political instability aided and abetted by the nine-year old Maoist insurgency. The sufferings of the common Nepali people were left unattended. Under the circumstances, as I said before, His Majesty has taken a very big and bold step. This historic step is meant for strengthening multiparty democracy, not to weaken it. And His Majesty has acted in accordance with the constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal in the best interests and welfare of the Nepali people. So we all have to understand this and extend full support to the Royal initiative to make it a success".
Ambassador to the United States of America Mr. Kedar Bhakta Shrestha further said
Corruption is not a new and sudden development. What is new is the degree and prevalence of corruption. The way it grew in recent years is very disturbing and unacceptable. It is true that the State had made various efforts in the past also to fight corruption. However, those efforts have not been very effective. Even today a constitutional body - the Commission for the Investigation and Abuse of Authority – is engaged in investigating and prosecuting corrupt public officials. However, in view of the widespread nature and seriousness of the problem, a timely additional step was called for. The Royal Commission recently formed to control corruption is therefore a major step taken by His Majesty in the right direction.
The problem created by the armed communist insurgents in Nepal is an internal problem and Nepal believes that it can be dealt with effectively by the government of Nepal.
The basic tenet of Nepal's foreign policy has been very aptly expressed more than two centuries ago by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Great. As you know, he is the founder of modern-day unified Nepal. According to him, "Nepal is a yam between two boulders". I think his observation captures so well and conveys so eloquently the essence of our geopolitical reality".
He further said "News reports about the institutional links they have been able to establish with like-minded groups and organizations across South Asia suggest that they are trying to strengthen themselves as much as they can. But they don't have much popular support. People are more attuned to democracy rather than to the universally discredited system of communist dictatorship.
In his February 1 Proclamation, His Majesty has called upon "all those who have gone astray, taking up arms against the nation and people, and those who are engaged in criminal activities against peace and democracy to return to the mainstream of national politics peacefully". This is a good opportunity for the insurgents to renounce violence and return to the mainstream of national politics. Democracy has no substance in the absence of peace and security. That is exactly why peace has to be restored in the country first. Once peace and normalcy is restored, democracy can flourish in a smooth and stable political environment".
He also said "Media have a very important role to play in the restoration of peace and normalcy in the country. They have to be constructive and responsible. They should not in any way encourage the insurgents, nor appear to strengthen the hands of terrorism. In other words, the media should support the State in its determined fight against terrorism". He said.
23.5 million Nepali people want peace in the country. The Maoists advocate like true and classical communists a republic form of headship for Nepal. They do not like to follow the Constitution of Nepal (1990) as they say it was a compromise document.
It is true In the name of all those parents who lost their children, orphans who lost their parents 90% of the people who live in villages 70% of the people who are illiterate, relatives of the 11,000 of the people who have lost their lives, relatives of 22,000 of the people who committed suicide, over a million people who have been displaced. We Nepali believe, democracy in Nepal can only prevail if their is peace and law and order.
Nepal has been facing Maoists insurgency for the last nine years. As a result of the insurgency, more than 11,000 Nepalese people have lost their lives and another 22,000 have committed suicide. Thousands have gone to India to look for manual labor jobs. Another 400,000 Nepalese people have gone to other countries (primarily in Arab countries, South Korea and Malaysia) in search of unskilled labor jobs. Many of them have died as result of working in hazardous jobs.
It is indeed a most tragic situation if arms are indiscriminately used to resolve issues. Whoever may be the user of arms, it is always harmful to the smooth functioning of the society and the nation.
Now in Nepal teachers, students, young activists together with lorank policemen and armymen got brutally killed. It was a loss of Nepalese blood on our Motherland's sacred soil for nothing.
Armed struggle or the use of arms can't succeed not only in Nepal, but anywhere in the world, if it is launched under an able commander. History has an ample proof of it. But it is not a question of overthrowing a regime or conquering a country. The main issue is the achievement of peace, security, progress and prosperity for our nation. Our main objective is and should be a free and fearless life for us all.
We Nepalese are peace loving and country unmatched in its natural beauty and hospitable blissfully living people completely devoid of violent strife's, religious animosity and recriminates bickering of any kind. Today, when we are all traumatized with the experiences of recent widespread violence, people abroad laugh at our exhortations of peace. We have to remember enduring peace can be achieved only if people are empowered socially, economically and politically. Education and empowerment' are the ultimate instruments for transforming the whole society.
We must be together to bring peace in Nepal.
(Kamala Sarup is
editor of http://peacejournalism.com/)