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M.R. Josse: Truce Termination - Chewing The Cud

Truce Termination - Chewing The Cud


By M.R. Josse

Not surprisingly, the termination on 2 January 2006 of the 4-month unilateral Maoist truce has spawned multiple or divergent reactions both at home and abroad. The Maoists themselves and their apologists have attempted to point to the government – and even more so, the Royal Nepalese Army – as the raison d'être for ending a cease-fire that had not, in the first place, been addressed to the State.

MAOISTS' OWN DECISION

Like their unilaterally declared jana yuddha or people's war launched on 13 February 1996, their 2 January decision was clearly based on Maoist politico-strategic considerations, just as their cease-fire decision of 3 September 2005 no doubt was. Not being a bilaterally agreed upon step, as earlier truces in 2002 and 2003 were, they cannot, in all logic, blame others for what was essentially a tactical pause in their "people's war" for reasons best known to themselves.

Besides, as all who closely follow public events well know by now, such cease-fire periods in the past have served the Maoists disproportionately, not least of all as far as removal of their "terrorist" tag and the mass release of their cadres from detention are concerned. In the end, they proved to be very costly for the State.

Without pretending to be an expert on Maoist insurgencies, this commentator can point out that 'The Little Red Book' containing Chairman Mao Zedong's quotations (Beijing, 1972) has this to say about such 'interval between campaigns.'

The relevant quote from the chapter devoted to People's War goes like this: "Make good use of the intervals between campaigns to rest, train, and consolidate our troops. Periods of rest, training and consolidation should not in general be very long, and the enemy should so far as possible be permitted no breathing space."

Ideological considerations apart, the cease-fire announcement was timed just days after the Maoist leadership formally signed a joint action plan with their Indian counterparts in New Delhi. What also cannot be overlooked is that the cease-fire period covered a time span that has witnessed the forging of a pact between the Maoists and the agitating seven-party alliance for the overthrow of Monarchy – this, too, in the Indian capital.

In such circumstances, it can only be the totally naïve or abjectly blind followers of the seven-party combine who can attempt to pass the buck for the past 10-years of killings and destruction on to the State. While no one can undervalue the cause of peace, those with even a nodding acquaintance of history, our own and that of the world, know that a peace that rests on the foundation of quicksand and abject surrender cannot be expected to hold.

Chamberlain's infamous "peace with honour" deal with Hitler at Munich in 1938, for example, only led to death and ruination for millions of people in Central Europe – before Churchill reversed his predecessor's craven policy of appeasement and, eventually, delivered a death-blow to Hitler and his plans for world conquest. The period of "peace" that Chamberlain bought, in the end, only provided those committed to violence and conquest the time and space needed to proceed ahead unhindered.

INDO-US REACTIONS

Combing back, however, to our own country and time it is surely interesting, and not a little intriguing, that the India and US governments seem to have mellowed somewhat in their approach to the Maoists, for one, and, on the other, in their policy towards the Establishment, including the Palace.

This, I believe, is nowhere better illustrated than in New Delhi's and Washington's reactions to the termination of the Maoist truce. South Block was exceptionally prompt in coming forth with a substantive written statement issued by its spokesman merely hours after it was announced.

Calling it an "unfortunate" decision, it went on to recall that "we have consistently called upon the Maoists to abandon violence and accept the discipline of multi-party democracy" - a statement that covered up the Indian nexus to the Maoist, both at the official and non-official levels. It also added that India had consistently called upon them to "work for a political settlement that contributes to the political stability and economic prosperity of Nepal."

Conspicuous by its absence was any reference to the 12-point pact forged in New Delhi, a little more than a month ago. Similarly, there was no finger pointing to the Establishment, as indulged by the Maoists and the seven-party alliance leadership. In fact, the thrust would seem to mirror very greatly that made by Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran when he visited Kathmandu in December and, among other things, had an extended audience with King Gyanendra.

Likewise, the following day (January 2 was a holiday in America) the State Department's spokesman who expressed its deep concern over the ending of the Maoist truce and strongly condemned the almost immediate outbreak of Maoist violence in several townships in Nepal issued a similar statement. The statement however was more forceful in its condemnation of the Maoists stating, inter alia, that "there can be no excuse for the resumption of violence" – a stance that went even further than the Indian but which, like the Indian, one refrained from blaming the government for the end of the Maoist truce.

While both the statements have urged, in different language, a coming together between the parties and the palace, overall, by slamming the Maoists and not holding the King or the RNA responsible for the truce's termination, they have – for once, in a long time – tilted toward the Establishment.

Does this represent a real shift in position or merely a tactical ploy for the moment? Only time will tell.

ENDS

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