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NepaliPerspectives: The Root of Nepal's Insecurity


The Root of Nepal's Insecurity – Home Minister Krishna Prasad Shitoula

(This piece is compiled from separate reports submitted by individuals situated in Nepal. These individuals have expressed their desire to remain anonymous for reasons of personal security.)

When Krishna Shitoula took the unprecedented step of personally escorting both Maoist strongmen to the Prime Minister's residence, Nepalis expressed mixed emotions. Some articulated hope, others incredulity, but none expected Mr. Shitoula's maneuverings to produce a substantive peace.

Five months after Shitoula's first stunt, those who work under him find his dogmatic style of leadership undemocratic. Civil society leaders (who are in the know) attribute the Rayamajhi commission's failures to Shitoula. Those outside the Koirala circle (in the Nepali Congress), blame the Prime Minister's indecisions on Shitoula. Finally, the Nepalese people have ample evidence to impeach Shitoula on charges of incompetence – criminality has found new political dimensions under Shitoula's watch.

Before exposing Shitoula's personal antics, it is necessary to consider the inherent discord in this man's official responsibilities. Shitoula is a member of Parliament, the Home Minister, and the government's Chief Negotiator, all in one. He has voting rights in any legal standards the current House wishes to pass. He is responsible for the maintenance of law and order. And his mandate includes negotiating with elements whose profession is, when all is said and done, law-breaking.

When it comes to criminal activities, the only time when the law of the land is open to interpretation is in court, after those charged with breaking the law are apprehended and are on trial. It is Shitoula's mandate as the Home Minister to ensure that those who break the law are processed through the judicial system. However, it is not for this man to act as the legislator, the judge, the jury, and the "executioner" (or in his case, a partial arbiter).

Shitoula's role as the government's Chief Negotiator has earned him notoriety. He has repeatedly implemented secret agreements reached with the Maoists (during clandestine talks). Such agreements have been implemented under the radar, without being presented to the Cabinet, let alone being passed by the House. They have absolutely no legal basis and are the decrees of one man, determined to exploit his dualistic position while circumventing the very legal standards his ministerial position is designed to protect.

Some would argue that Shitoula's continued legal infractions are inconsequential as long as he is able to deliver peace. Such is precisely the foolhardy and wishful thinking that permits this maverick to continue operating outside the law, thereby jeopardizing the peace process, the successful progression of which is Mr. Shitoula's other mandate.

By being in clear violation of the principle of independence (however one cares to define it), Krishna Shitoula is establishing a precedent of inflated expectations for the Maoists and sending conflicting messages to the government. He is the man solely accountable for the "secret 9 point proposal" [1] that came to light AFTER the original date for the government-Maoist talks.

It is understandable that certain details may be withheld from public disclosure in the spirit of making talks work. Specific minutiae may have to be ironed out in private before they are discussed in public.

But the 9 point agenda that Shitoula withheld from current lawmakers are not small details. These points are monumental, umbrella positions such as the inclusion of Maoist militia as part of the civilian police force (before CA elections), retention of rebel courts at the village level, and the formation of an interim legislature to include the Maoists and civil society.

What outcome was Shitoula hoping for by blindsiding the House of Representatives and the Nepali people? How did this man expect the coalition government to weigh in on a set of agenda items that were withheld from them? Where would peace talks have headed had they been held before Dashian?

Shitoula's actions in this instance are at par with facilitating the Maoist agenda itself. If anything, he has misrepresented and intentionally misinformed the SPA leadership, the public, and the entire peace process.

Shitoula needs to recognize that he is an interim minister with an interim mandate which he should not be abusing for personal gain, increased political stature, or to consolidate his political reach within the security forces. Shitoula's conduct in this regard is downright reprehensible, shameful and reflects poorly on his character and on the collective leadership capacity of the entire Nepali Congress.

On the personal front, numerous reports of Shitoula's high-handed behavior have been recorded to date. He has contributed significantly to the erosion of the state security forces' morale by doling out contradictory orders.

On the one hand, he is on record issuing orders to security chiefs to stabilize the law and order situation. On the other hand, he has continued to reprimand security officials for submitting intelligence on criminal activities conducted by Maoists. Such reports according to sources close to Shitoula, are considered "detrimental" to the peace process.

Most embarrassing of all are first hand reports of the head of state (PM Koirala) being frisked by Maoists inside his official residence. Apparently, armed Maoist "body guards" shaking down the Prime Minister of Nepal is acceptable. Such actions, in the presence of the Home Minister of Nepal, are condoned and even lauded as "conducive" to the peace process.

Krishna Shitoula's habits of issuing proclamations on matters outside his areas of responsibility have been duly noted. When confronted with apprehensive National Investigation Department officials (who indicated that apprehending criminals was outside their mandated jurisdiction), he allegedly told the officials that his word of mouth would be sufficient mandate, that no judicial court could successfully challenge him.

This is one of many examples of blackmail being administered by a minister operating way out of his league – "Either you go my way or the highway."

As far as the Rayamajhi Commission is concerned, this body's inability to fully execute its directive is also tied to Shitoula's clandestine activities. Shitoula's secret alliances with certain individuals close to the royal palace are at the core of the Rayamajhi Commission's failures.

His ambition to serve as the de-facto Defense Minister is clear – it was Shitoula who presided as chief guest over the new cadets' passing out parade. It is Shitoula's list of contractors who have preferential status over all security procurement contracts. It is Shitoula who receives daily briefs on military activities, covertly. And it was Shitoula at whose behest the commander of all APF operations during the April Uprisings is now the Chief of the APF (while other more deserving professionals have been superseded, suspended, silenced and sidelined)

While his contemporaries are working to professionalize the security forces, Shitoula is busy politicizing the police, NID, the APF, and now the army. There is one and only one thing on this man's mind – his future in Nepal's politics and the maintenance of his position after Girja's death. Everything else is secondary.

To top the list of legal infractions, it was with the strictest instructions from Krishna Shitoula's personal aide that criminals detained in connection with the kidnapping of an 8-year old child, [2] were released, never to be found again.

Other reports have surfaced of police appearing at homes, bearing no warrants or legal authority save "word of mouth" from the Home Minister's office (namely Mr. Umesh Mainali), and then forcing citizens to accompany them to the Home Ministry. There, demands have been made for settling of past debts and other personal matters.

That the Nepalese police have been involved in these egregious matters is beyond comprehension, but such is the mind of a man who sees position as a route not to service of country but to further power.

In an episode that took place before Krishna Shitoula became a Minister, he was the representative from the Nepali Congress (NC) during discussions on ministerial portfolios. He used his position at the time to consolidate his standing within the NC and to keep his arch-rival, Chakra Prasad Bastola (a highly qualified individual in international affairs), out of power.

Shitoula informed the UML that the post of Foreign Minister should be taken by them. He then reported to Girija Koirala that the UML had insisted on taking the Foreign Ministry portfolio. Girija Koirala acceded to the "UML's demand," which inadvertently disqualified Chakra Bastola from holding a ministerial portfolio.

This is how Krishna Shitoula's mind works. He is ready to take advantage of any and every situation to serve his needs first, then Indian interests and then Maoist interests. The interests of the Nepali masses who pay taxes that contribute to Shitoula's legal salary (and provide the means for Shitoula to distribute government vehicles for personal use by Maoist leaders), do not seem to factor on Shitoula's list of priorities.

The real test of the Maoists' commitment to the peace process would be Shitoula's removal from either or both of his current positions. Shitoula's removal would be to the benefit of the NC's image, the SPA's image, the Rayamajhi Commission's ability to carry out its mandate, and the overall benefit of the peace process. Shitoula's removal would even be to the benefit of the Maoists, if peace is genuinely their newly acquired business.

With all the unknown complications that peace-making involves, Nepal does not need the added burden of a power-hungry, self-serving individual, who shamefully maneuvers to consolidate his own position in the name of bringing peace.

Krishna Shitoula should be impeached for failing to apprehend the criminals who were caught on film intimidating and extorting Nepal Dairy workers. He should be questioned by a separate judicial bench for endorsing the release of individuals detained on suspicion of kidnapping (and murdering) 8-year old Bibek Sharma. He should be asked about the unauthorized comings and goings of police who kidnap citizens claiming his authority. He should be expelled from the Nepali Congress for shamefully taking advantage of an ailing and feeble, near-senile old man, whose limelight intent is to lend resolution to the current political imbroglio.

Krishna Shitoula is an embarrassment to his party, his people, and to the entire country. He epitomizes the bottom-feeding that propelled one extreme to power and is now propelling the other extreme in the same direction. Shitoula is incapable of delivering on the responsibilities associated with being a Home Minister, and he is directly responsible for jeopardizing the peace process.

Why should the Nepalese people be subjected to yet another political disaster when the root cause of the impending failure is clearly in sight?



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