Bush Doctrine Faces Crucial Test In Nepal
Bush Doctrine Faces Crucial Test In Nepal
By Krishna Singh Bam
For those belittling the seriousness of Nepal’s crisis to bolster their accusation that King Gyanendra is bent on throttling democracy, three separate reports published this week should make for sobering analysis.
Nepal stood third in terms of the number of terrorist attacks across the world in 2004, according to a report made public by the U.S. National Counter Terrorism Center. There were nearly 3,200 terrorist attacks worldwide last year, of which 318 took place in Nepal.
The center has compiled those figures using a broader definition that includes politically motivated violence carried out by extremist groups within a country, often aimed at changing their own government's policies. The previous definition focused on international terrorism and required that the terrorists victimize at least one citizen of another country. Moreover, under the earlier standard, only attacks resulting in more than $10,000 damage or serious injuries were counted.
The new definition includes all injuries and puts no limit on damages, which has resulted in a five-fold increase in the number of attacks the agency had been counting. While Iraq stood at the top with terrorists launching 866 attacks, India ranked second with 358 attacks in the same year. The center’s revision of the definition, among other things, reflects the changing face of international terrorism.
The U.S. findings come amid reports that Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers rebels are providing military training to the Nepalese Maoist rebels in the bordering Indian state of Bihar. Some French trainers have also been hired, the South Asia Tribune reported quoting a senior Maoist rebel leader. The correspondent, who interviewed the rebel leader in New Delhi, did not say whether he belonged to the Nepalese Maoists.
However, he identified the person as having the responsibility to maintain contacts with sympathizers, cadres and different operating groups of the Maoist forces. Significantly, this is the precise task Nepalese Maoist supremo Prachanda entrusted his estranged colleague, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, with. Known as the chief ideologue of the Nepalese Maoists, Dr. Bhattarai was recently in New Delhi to hold extensive consultations with Nepalese and Indian politicians.
According the Tribune, the source said the Tamil Tigers were helping in formation of human bomb squads for suicidal missions. Women and teenage boys and girls were being recruited for these squads. They also carry cyanide capsules with them, a known Tamil Tiger practice.
The source said the decision to assist the Nepalese rebels was taken at a secret meeting of Maoist activists from eight countries held in the Indian city of Kolkata. They also discussed the status of the rebellion in India, where Maoists have made significant inroads in recent years.
“The Maoists of Peru, Netherlands, Norway, France, Germany, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India participated in the meeting. The Tamil Tigers and rebels of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) were present as special invitees,” he added.
The Maoist leader said the meeting, held under the auspices of the Coordination Committee of Maoists Parties and Organizations of South Asia decided that the LTTE would provide full support to the Indian and Nepalese Maoists and Indian Maoists would provide shelter and training camps to the Maoist rebels of Nepal. “The task of training the rebels was entrusted to the LTTE and French Maoists.”
Significantly, the rebel leader confirmed reports that Maoists from India and Nepal had mounted a joint attack in the Indian township of Madhuban on the Bihar-Nepal border. According to witnesses, some of the fighters, who attacked two banks, a post office, a petrol pump and the house of a legislator, had Mongoloid features and were heard talking in Nepali.
Indian security agencies came out with conflicting statements on the participation of Nepali Maoists. However, the rebel leader said: “This was the first time in India that the rebels of India and Nepal have operated together in unison.”
Explaining the Maoists’ next collaborative venture, the rebel leader said: “We have to make the whole region, right from Nepal to the deep South, including some parts of Sri Lanka as an Independent Red Zone where the rule of the masses would be established.”
At a broader level, an analysis by the Washington, DC-based Jamestown Foundation has called for a strategic re-evaluation of international policy on Nepal. The report, titled “China's Geopolitical Maneuvering in the Himalayas,” describes Beijing’s response to the Feb. 1 royal takeover as part of the Chinese strategy of building relations with African and Latin American regimes that are out of favor with the West.
“In those regions, China's objectives are largely economic and resource driven,” the analysis said. “In Nepal's case, there is no real economic dimension given the country's desperate poverty and lack of resources. Instead, the motive is mainly geopolitical. China's growing influence in Nepal could come at the expense of India and key Western players, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.”
“Although Nepal has historically sought balanced relations with its two giant neighbors,” the report continues, “in the current climate China has quietly stepped in, not commenting publicly on the country's internal political affairs. It is a posture that is sure to pay both short- and long-term dividends.”
It added: “In light of recent developments, Nepal has the potential to become a pawn in a struggle between regional powers. In addition, although it poses a threat to no one today, this could change in the future were Nepal to become a failed state or future haven for international terrorists, should the insurgency gather momentum.”
The report concluded: “An urgent requirement therefore exists to see that the Maoists are contained and ultimately defeated, so as to allow the country a chance to resume its much-needed national development within the framework of a multi-party democracy. This is an area where the outside powers -- India, the U.S., U.K., and others -- share a commonality of interests and should be working together to support the Nepalese people.”
During his visit to the kingdom earlier this month, U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Donald Camp, among other things, expressed Washington’s concern at reports that Nepalese Maoist leaders were meeting mainstream politicians from Nepal and India on Indian soil. Indian press reports at the time pointed out the meetings were being facilitated by Indian intelligence agencies, despite the fact that New Delhi had declared the Nepalese Maoists terrorists even before Kathmandu and Washington did.
Nepal’s fight against terrorism must be seen as part of the global war on terrorism. The Bush doctrine, which makes no distinction between terrorists and states/organizations that harbor them, faces a crucial test in Nepal.