Nepal: Twelve Point Letter of Understanding!
Nepal: Twelve Point Letter of Understanding!
By Bhupal Lamichhaney
The 12-Point Letter of Understanding between the Seven Party Alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) may be shock and awe to many but for those closely watching Nepal's political development in the context of the Maoist insurgency, it is not surprising.
Nepal's relationship with India has been present from time immemorial, sometimes obvious and other times not, yet always there. Any kind of political change in Nepal is ever influenced by Indian policy. For students of her modern political history, the important years according to the Nepalese calendar are 2007 (1951), 2017 (1961), 2036(1981), 2046 (1990), and 2062 (2005).
During those years, significant political changes occurred. Some years are considered as positive for Nepali people and some are not. However, in all these years, New Delhi played either a vibrant or a subtle role. The 12-Point Letter of Understanding unveiled on November 22, 2005 is no exception.
In keeping with past tradition, New Delhi at this time has come out openly in wider consultation to overcome the present crisis in the Himalayan Kingdom. It has included all stakeholders in Nepal's conflict, except the King and the Chinese envoy to Kathmandu.
The national stakeholders in Nepal's conflict are the Monarch himself, the parliamentary political parties, and the Maoists. These three are the prime stakeholders as well as the vital actors in the conflict. However, there is one vibrant stakeholder that gained substantial strength after the 2046(1990) mass movement which brought democracy to the country, the civil society of Nepal. Truly, the more civil society is active in defending their liberties the more democracy flourishes.
There are international stakeholders in Nepal as well, especially two giant neighboring countries, rapidly expanding their economic powers, India and China. Both these diverse countries play a significant role in the political development within the Kingdom. The others are the US, the UK and the EU.
Nepal is situated in such a geographical location, she is essential to maintain a balance in the geopolitical scenario of present day South Asia. India and China both know the importance of Nepal in maintaining their own national interests. The stake of both countries is high regarding Nepal because of volatile political issues like Tibet, Kashmir, and the growth of Terrorism in the Himalayas.
After 9/11, traditional political relations in South Asia changed dramatically as the presence of the United States and its allies became a reality in Afghanistan. US presence has created differing opinions in neighboring Asian countries regarding their own national security. The active role of President Bush in promoting democracy worldwide has made the region's non-democratic governments nervous and suspicious, including Nepal’s. The result is substantial polarization between the South Asian governments.
In addition, the dynamics of the Nepal’s conflict has made her key political actors think twice about finding a peaceful solution. The growing concern regarding international polarization on Nepal's political issues along with US lead coalition in the region has made the Maoist insurgents and the political parties come closer to resolve their differences, and the regional power India to act positively in finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Perhaps, China is also being consulted in the process. Whatever the international factors, the important actors are the leaders of Nepal for peaceful resolution of the conflict.
On 8/17/2005, Peace Journalism (www.peacejournalism.com) published my article entitled ‘Conflict, Peace and Political Conversion in Nepal'. That article indicated the coming change because of many reasons. I wrote, “However, the main factor for the political conversion is the realization of the mistakes that are leading the country into chaos and the need of correction for the greater interest of the nation rather than hold to petty party interest. In the history of many nations, the political leaders have chosen the difficult path of national interest for the sake of the people and the country. The situation of Nepal is now so critical that one mistake from a key prejudicial political player could lead the people to a nation less status. The bitter experience of statelessness of the Palestine people is surely known to the youthful learned leaders of the Maoist party. Once the country is lost, where will they establish their ideological Shangri-La?"
Now the 12-Point Letter of Understanding categorically states in articles 6 and 7, “Undertaking self criticism and self evaluation of past mistakes, the CPN (Maoist) has expressed commitment not to repeat such mistakes in future. The seven political parties, undertaking self evaluation, have expressed commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past which were committed while in parliament and in government."
When we study Nepal's political development in this regard, we clearly find the realization process began after the seven parties came to consensus. This led to the 12-Point Letter of Understanding. The remaining force to come to consensus seems to be the King. Once the King realizes that his interests and the interests of the nation at large are at stake, he must accept conversion from his 21st century active monarchy to a true constitutional one as the Maoists have done in accepting multiparty democracy.
The 12-Point Letter of Understanding will be an easy way for the Monarch to come to an agreement with all political parties including the Maoists by reestablishing the dissolved Parliament so that a new all party government can be formed. This will disarm the Maoists and lead the country in transition to peace and democracy without further senseless blood shed.