Govinda Bhattarai: Dangerous Alliance
By Govinda Bhattarai
AS usual, we in Nepal again needed someone from far across the Atlantic to point out that the alliance between the seven agitating political parties and the Maoists was "dangerous." Long ago, our compatriots had said that. But no one seemed to have listened to them.
US Ambassador James F. Moriarty's recent remarks have triggered a wave of debate for and against the 12-point agreement between the mainstream political forces who are for a peaceful resolution and the dissidents of reverse disposition. He said that for the democratic process to re-function smoothly, two constitutional forces ? the King and the major political players ? must narrow down their distance. Moriarty sees a solution in the alliance between the King and the parties to isolate the "terrorists."
America that claims itself to be the world's watchdog and patron of democracy all over may have its own reasons to dislike the "unnatural" pact and denounce the insurgency. America, in practice if not in principle, has not taken a step back from McCarthyism. Communists have only slipped to becoming the enemy number two, second only to the Islamic terrorists. And sometimes the two identities overlap. Nepal 's Maoists bear both the tags. First, they say they are fighting to establish communist rule, something that stirs the American Senate and Congress, the White House, the State Department and sometimes even the Pentagon. Secondly, the rebels have guns over their shoulders and are resorting to killing, kidnapping and extortion to achieve their "political" goal. Both images place the Maoists across the fence of US President George W. Bush's policy of "either you are with us or with the terrorists."
Nepalis are as anxious of their freedom as the Americans are confident about their own. The people of one of the world's poorest countries are more concerned about stabilising their derailed democracy as the Americans are for preserving Arab oil. They strongly believe that there is no survival without peace. But the Maoists have been putting stumbling blocks on the way to achieving this goal. Would the rebels take a U-turn to peace and negotiations as they have promised?
Yes, one can almost see the green signal emerging on the horizon. The Maoists seem to be changing their position. Whatever the reason, be it international pressure or their self realisation that violence is not the solution, the Maoists have implicitly hinted that they are desirous and ready to give this stalemate a safe landing. A question may now arise as to whether they would conform to the people's wishes as promised. Are they really serious about what they have said, that is, do they want a peaceful solution to the problem? The Maoists' motive for holding the hotly debated constituent assembly election stems from their conviction that people would vote for their cause. They have coerced people into submitting to their command. And they falsely believe that their coercion holds good in a democratic exercise like an election. At gunpoint, despite reluctance or even hatred, one promptly does what s/he is asked to. But when it comes to putting a mark on the ballot paper in a secluded room, voters overcome their fears and go for what is best for them. Despite the disapproval shown for the way the parties ruled, the Maoists do not have enough mandate to have their agenda passed. Now the same question emerges again. Will they remain committed to what they have vowed? Will they embrace multiparty parliamentary democracy in which the people elect their representatives through suffrage? If yes, the problem is over.
But the problem persists and cannot be resolved instantly as if by a magical wand. Nowhere in the world have the red revolutionaries given up peacefully. Whether in Russia or China or any other country across the globe, they have always waded through the blood of their fellow fighters to power. Aren't the Nepali Maoists of the same species? Their track record has already proved this.
First, they intimidated the people by murdering, maiming, abduction and extortion despite their promise not to do so, even during the ceasefire they unilaterally announced. Secondly, they already walked out of the peace talks twice, in a way declaring that they are not for peace though peaceful means. No one can guarantee they will not leave the negotiating table for a third time. Thirdly, they have not stopped their violence. They say that whatever they are doing (killing their own brethren and destroying public and private property), they are doing it for the 'people.' And ironically, it is these poor people who have become victims of their 'liberation movement.' Are 'people' abstract things?