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Nepal: The growing crisis

Nepal: The growing crisis


By Dr Hari Bansha Dulal

The Maoist comrades have done it again. And, this time, the victim is a Swiss national Steve Jeannereet. It is a matter of national shame that we cannot ensure safety of tourists that enrich our public purse and enhance our national image.

The Maoists have killed teachers, journalists, and harassed doctors. But by physically assaulting a foreign national, they have not only ashamed themselves but also dented nation's image. When will the Maoists come to their senses? I guess it is not the right question to ask. Will they ever come to senses, unless they are forced to?

The government is trying to tighten the screw on rebels in the tarai while providing a free pass to the Maoists to engage in criminal activities. This strategy will eventually backfire. It will make easier for the rebel groups in the tarai to manipulate young unemployed youths in the name of ethnic discrimination. If the government cannot ruffle Puspa Kamal Dahal's feathers, it should not set a dangerous precedence of selective justice by targeting Madhesi rebels.

There is no difference whatsoever between Puspa Kamal Dahal and Nagendra Paswan's men. They are all engaged in criminal and anti-social activities. They have blood of innocent people stained in their hands.

The current government has completely failed to maintain law-and-order in the country. One thing that the current government is good at is -- provide compensation to the victims of Maoist crimes. If the prime minister or the home minister had to pay compensation from their pockets, then they would feel the heat. To give away taxpayers' hard-earned money does not seem to bother them a bit. This is height of irresponsibility and unaccountability.
If the Maoists are responsible for committing crimes, the current government is responsible for turning a blind eye on their criminal activities. Needles to say, both are at fault. In order to make the Maoists more responsible, the government should deduct the amount handed over to the victims' family from the money that the Maoists receive for their men confined in the camps. Let them feel the heat too. Hit them where it hurts most.

Of late, it has become evident that the Maoist leadership is not only power hungry but also hungry for money. Thousands of innocent civilians that were lured and registered as combatants have deserted the UN-administered camps, but the Maoist leadership is yet to report the cases to the government and reject payments made to support them. They blame the mainstream political parties for corruption and mismanagement but fail to see how mismanaged and corrupt their own party is. Collecting payments on behalf of non-existent combatants is a fraud in broad daylight.

It is understandable that the Maoists would not budge about it because they are financially benefiting from it. But why are UNMIN and the government silent on this issue? Neither UNMIN has shown any decency and reported the matter to the government nor has the government deemed it necessary to become fiscally responsible and stopped the payment even after media has reported it. When will the people in the corridors of power and those appeasing them to bury their own incompetence be held responsible for their screw ups?

With each passing day, things are becoming clearer: (1) The Seven Party Alliance (SPA) wants to remain in power forever in the name of peace process (2) India, after having burnt it fingers in its mission of buying unequivocal and everlasting Maoist support, now wants to teach them a lesson by strengthening rebels outfit in the tarai (3) the Maoists do not want peace and elections because of the plummeting public support. If there is peace, and free and fair elections are held, the Maoist leadership knows it very well that its bargaining power will take a nosedive. For the Maoists, chaos is profitable. It has both financial and political pay-offs.

Another thing that has become evident from the Maoists' never ending experiment is that they know what they want (capture the power and hang in there), but they don't know how to get there. That's the reason why they are engaged in never ending errant experimentation of all kinds.

The Nepalis are now in a far worse situation than they were during the Maoist insurgency. Then, we had one problem -- the Maoist insurgency. But we have uncountable groups with various motives and agendas. They are used and abused by various unseen forces to gain control. Caught in the middle is the unelected government that neither has the required mandate to force its will on people, nor has any strategy to solve the problems. What an ugly situation to be in.

India by forcing the SPA to join hands with the Maoists has created more problems than it actually had. While Nepal is failing, India wants to redefine its success. After the Maoists stopped dancing to the Indian tune, India now, wants to tighten its grip on Nepal and teach the Maoists a lesson by strengthening the rebel outfits in the tarai. India might have a last laugh by wiping out the Maoists in the tarai, but the Nepalis do not have anything to cheer about. It might be a good strategy from India's point of view, but when it comes to the people of Nepal, India will be simply replacing one devil with another. Creation of warlords has never brought peace and strengthened democracy anywhere.

With each passing day, not only our freedom and prosperity, but also our sovereignty is at stake. How much India values our sovereignty is crystal clear from its recent request to maintain a status-quo on encroachment of the Nepali soil at Susta.

Let us get realistic for a second, shall we? Had King Gyanendra agreed to dance to Indian tune like Jigme in Bhutan, Gayyoom in the Maldives, and General Than Shwe in Burma, what would have been the fate of SPA politicians? Where would they be now?
India's selfless desire towards establishing peace and stable democracy in Nepal is not as selfless as India would like it. It cares more about its grips on Nepal than anything else. It wants to administer proxy rule in Nepal through the likes of Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, Gayyoom in the Maldives. What will it take us to realize this fact?

Ram Raja Prasad Singh has already revealed India's role in fueling the ongoing crisis in the tarai. If India really wanted peace in Nepal and respected its sovereignty, it would not deploy its intelligence agency to bring together all the rebel groups operating in the tarai and have a meeting with them in Indian soil. It would not have engaged itself in encroachment of Nepali soil. It would rather help negotiate a settlement between the rebels and the Nepali government and returned encroached soil even before Nepal approached for it.

The problem with our political leaders is that they don't believe what they don't want to believe. Ignorance is bliss and this adage applies very well to beleaguered politicians who want to conveniently ignore ground realities as long as they can. The self-esteem of the political leadership has sunk so low that it is hard to believe that the current leadership will be able to navigate the nation towards stable liberal democracy.

So far both optimists and pessimists have been proved wrong. Neither peace nor complete political paralysis has resulted. Political crises are yet to be equated with disaster. However, if the current political deadlock and insincerity among the political leadership persists, the nation will plunge into a deep political and social crisis. Nepal will disintegrate internally if the inherent malaise is not removed.

*************

hbdulal@gmail.com

This article was first published in The Kathmandu Post on 13th Dec, 2007.

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