Party-Maoist Alliance: Much Ado About Nothing

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The hype created by the media regarding the supposed parleys held in New Delhi between senior Nepali political leaders and the Maoist leadership has raised the eyebrows of Nepali citizens.

If Maoist leaders who have a red corner notice on their heads and a terrorist tag stamped not only by His Majesty’s Government of Nepal but also by the Government of India roam around without restraint in New Delhi to meet visiting Nepalese senior politicians, the Indian double-standard regarding terrorism has been very badly exposed.

This comes just four days after the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his speech at the thirteenth SAARC Summit strongly rejected terrorism and called upon other member states to have zero tolerance for terrorism. “No one can assume that when a neighbor is hurt by terrorism one can somehow remain insulated from the consequences,” he said as late as Thursday, inaugurating a seminar in New Delhi.

The Dhaka Declaration likewise states, “The Heads of State or Government agreed that terrorism violates the fundamental values of the SAARC Charter and the United Nations, and constitutes one of the most critical threats to international peace and security. They expressed their satisfaction at the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism by all Member States and called for putting in place effective mechanisms for its implementation. They strongly condemned terrorist violence in all its forms and manifestations, agreed that terrorism is a challenge to all states and a threat to all of humanity, and cannot be justified on any grounds. They underlined that there should be no double standards in the fight against terrorism.”

One of the interesting achievements of this year’s SAARC Summit Declaration is that it “has noted” the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 adopted in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC that imposes binding obligations on all States, with the aim of combating terrorism. The resolution requires member states to deny all forms of financial support for terrorist groups, suppress the provision of safe haven, sustenance or support to terrorists, share information with other governments on any groups practicing or planning terrorist acts and more importantly co-operate with other governments in the investigation, detection, arrest and prosecution of those involved in such acts. UNSC Resolution 1373 later established a Counter-Terrorism Committee made up of all 15 members of the Security Council. The CTC monitors the implementation of resolution 1373 by all States and tries to increase the capability of States to fight terrorism.

Nobody can visualize that the world’s largest democracy that is coping with insurgencies of all types including a growing Naxalite threat within its own territory in addition to a full-fledged cross-border militancy in Jammu and Kashmir to encourage the meeting of Nepalese Maoist leaders with senior political leaders in its own capital city.

If it is true, then not only is it a violation of the UNSC resolution 1373 and the recently signed SAARC declaration but also proves right all those conspiracy theories by a strong section of Kathmandu intellectuals who have since 1996 been clamoring that Delhi has indeed been promoting the Maoist movement in Nepal like it did with the LTTE against Sri Lanka. This is damaging to India-Nepal relations that has been carefully cultivated in political, economic, cultural and other areas and detrimental to Nepal’s sovereignty and integrity, which was sanctified by the 1816 Treaty with Britain and the 1950 Treaty with Independent India. It causes anti-Indian feeling among Nepalese people therefore one doesn’t know why such a thing would be encouraged. India, which uses every regional and international forum to accuse Pakistan for sponsoring cross-border terrorism surely does not wish to be accused for just the same reason by a small neighboring country which is of no threat to it.

These types of “secret meetings” have taken place with regular frequency in the last couple of months in which Nepalese leaders have traveled to India, interacted with Maoists and returned back to say that they need not go to India to meet the Maoist leaders but the harm is already done. This time Madhav Kumar Nepal has even said that he does not want to embarrass India by saying that he met with the top Maoist leadership in Delhi as if he has been asked to say so after the misdeed has already been committed. Therefore, India mustn’t flirt with Maoists – either Nepalese or their own – as they neither believe in international law or human rights nor have they shown any repentance for the mindless killing of 13 thousand harmless Nepalese in the last one-decade of their so-called people’s war.

The American Ambassador James F Moriarty has already warned the political parties not to have any working alliance with the Maoists, as this will ultimately push them into the Maoist trap. He has received appreciation and praise from every rational, patriotic Nepali because what he said in his statement was at the very bottom of their hearts as well.

What the Maoists really want is to weaken the state security forces, demoralize the administration and create an abyss in the country by uprooting the monarchy whether in the name of “total democracy”, “democratic republicanism” or any other nomenclature. Once the monarchy, which fastens the Nepali nation state is displaced, it will only be matter of weeks if not days that the corrupt, inefficient and short-sighted politicians of different political parties will face the punishment by kangaroo courts for their atrocities committed for over 12 years.

The Kilo Sierra Two and Operation Romeo in which a maximum number of Maoist cadres were killed were conducted by the Police when these same political leaders were in power. Therefore, political parties mustn’t forget that the only force still holding a total Maoist takeover in our country is the Royal Nepal Army and the moment it is undermined, a Pol Pot reigning in Kathmandu could be a reality. Worse, who will even be alive to demand the restoration of democracy?

It is very difficult to understand why Madhav Kumar Nepal and Girija Prasad Koirala along with other leaders are accustomed to the practice of running to Delhi’s hospitals for every small illness may it be stomach ache, tooth ache or slight cough and cold. As a medical practitioner, I know very well that Kathmandu’s hospitals are fully capable and equipped with trained doctors and apparatus to treat even the deadliest of diseases but our leaders rich and supercilious as they are, prefer not to be treated by Nepalese doctors. If they feel that our nursing homes and hospitals are ill equipped, the blame must go to the disregard that they themselves bestowed to the health sector of the country when they were at the steering wheel of power.

If this is just a lie and an excuse to have parleys with the Maoist leadership in Delhi, it is incomprehensible on several counts.

Firstly, what do these leaders of mainstream political parties gain politically by forming a working alliance with the Maoists? The Maoists are not popular, they have never been elected, and they have killed thousands of peasants, small-scale landlords, and party cadres. They are so detested by the security forces and their families that Koirala and Nepal that aspire to assume the high office of the Prime Ministership of Nepal should also take stock of the feelings of the security personnel and not just be influenced by newspaper headlines.

These meetings and rumors of alliances with the rebels do not impact positively on Kathmandu’s urban, educated, conscious population. This unholy marriage only tarnishes the image of mainstream parties in the mind of a common Nepali. The 7 party agitation, which has not witnessed participation of more than a thousand people on any day in the last six months, might drop further if this alliance with the Maoists is to take shape.

The only asset that the Maoists do certainly possess is the barrel of the gun; so if it is violence and cruelty that the centrist parties are now going to adopt, then there is a real possibility of the entire Nepali population to turn to the King for protection. His February First step in which he said that “successive governments of the country did little to control the Maoists”, will be proven valid by these same leaders who are now forging a working alliance with the insurgents.

The gruesome murder of thousands of Nepalese in the last 9 years of the insurgency will then have to be shared by the politicians alongside the Maoist leadership. The Maoist support to the house re-instatement demand will have little meaning but the Party’s support to the demand of the constituent assembly will provide a boost to the rebels so it is the insurgents not the parties that tend to gain from this overture.

Secondly, the leaders have a strange habit of returning back from Delhi and each time stating to the press that one doesn’t need to go to Delhi to meet Maoist leaders. If this is true then why visit Delhi time and again and embarrass the government of India, make a ridicule of oneself and put down the Nepalese people?

The seven party leadership must clearly avoid running to foreign lands in search of solutions to domestic problems and shun extremist ideas of working together with the insurgents, as this behavior is sure to backfire.

Some leaders have said that there has now emerged a consensus among them to hold elections for a constituent assembly. If a constituent assembly was going to be the consensus between all power centers of Nepal, why did we wait for a full decade and thirteen thousand Nepalese in the graveyard to accept the same demand put forth by the Maoists?

Why didn’t these leaders agree to the constituent assembly when they were in power from 1996-2005? Even after 60 thousand lives, the Sri Lankans have still not yielded to the demand of a Tamil Eelam, even the military might and the attraction of being a part of the wealthy British Empire did not acquiesce the Gorkhalis to surrender to British India. Why was millions of dollars worth of development infrastructure allowed to be destroyed by the Maoists if at the end we had to yield to their demand?

Instead of experimenting with impractical equations, the parties need to adopt a workable strategy to use the forthcoming elections for the restoration of democracy and civil rights in the country. If they wish to form their own government to conduct elections, they should quickly withdraw the unrealistic demand of House restoration and impress upon the King that a coalition government of the palace and parties will hereafter conduct the municipal elections scheduled for February 8th and then promptly prepare for the general elections.

They ought to remember that despite calls by all the opposition groups urging Spanish voters to boycott the referendum on political reform in December 1976, a total of 77 percent voters turned up to cast their ballet. In May 1984 national assembly elections in the Philippines, 80 percent of the electorate voted, in 1985 Pakistani National Assembly elections boycotted by all the opposition parties, many opposition leaders contested and were elected. Boycotting elections rarely works and in a country like ours where the voters have not seen elections for the last 6 years, there could actually be more than 60-65 percent voter turn out. In such an eventuality, their political fate will be sealed forever.

The most difficult option for them after boycotting elections will be to tie up with the Maoists in an extravagant way. But they must know that no sensible Nepali is prepared to go along with them on a road to self-destruction and mayhem.

Dr Rajbahak is a pediatrician.