Give Maoists One Last Chance for Reform
New and critical phase of struggle for power in Nepal
Email Article  Print Article Bhuwan Thapaliya (Bhuwan)    
In contrast to the euphoria in Nepal after the overthrow of monarchy, political developments thereafter has led to a sober realization of the difficulties of the political transformation and the short term costs of reform. These difficulties have been greatly magnified by unforeseen internal shocks -- the spread of democratic demands in Terai, Maoists autocratic policies, delays in the designs of reform programs and in policy initiatives, different views among the ruling parties on the priorities for reform, and the lack of cooperation between the political parties.

When parliament looks silly, democracy suffers. With this in mind, troubles have already rippled the political water of Nepal. The struggle for power in Nepal has entered a new and critical phase. The first worry is consensus trouble, a social time bomb whose long, burning fuse may finally come to an explosive end: Maoists' Absolute Monopolistic Rule. The second worry is the army. The seductive charms of soft martial law continue to work its magic in Nepal after the outing of the Maoists inner party training tapes. Both these options, however, are obsolete for a progressive nation as ours.

For the past couple of months, the stubborn behavior of the Nepalese Army and the Maoists had offset the spirit and the principles of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and other written agreements. The current slump could make things worse. The widening gap between the army and the Maoists must be addressed urgently. Unless amended quickly, this breakdown could mark the start of a dangerous unraveling.

How should the Maoists act with the army? It would be unwise to struggle for supremacy with the army. As the fall of Gyanendra has shown it has more to gain from partnership. On the other hand, the army would have much to lose by not accepting Maoists as a major force. Both sides need to consider a peaceful solution. At this stage, nationalism and peace should serve as the axis of their relations. Peaceful coexistence between the army and the Maoists is beneficial for the stability and security of the nation.

Let’s hope all nations concerned and all major political parties concerned will treat the two forces impartially. Let’s hope that these forces be very concerned about the welfare of Nepal and her people. Rather than increasing the gap, they must work to narrow the wide fissure that has erupted.

Meanwhile, the danger in writing anything thoughtful about the Maoists is that it will be out placed by events. They are too hard to trust. They say one thing but implement the reverse in practice.

What are we to make of this? This shows that they are still harboring a political superiority complex in their core though deep down inside they know they are fighting a losing battle pretending to win. If they continue what they are doing without changing their intimidating policies, then they would would soon find themselves out from the frying pan into the fire. As they say in French: one cannot be in front of the oven and at the mill at the same time.

The rapidity with which the world events change nowadays might just be too much for Maoists to handle. For example, take the case of Maoists in India. They are now doomed as a terrorist outfit by the Indian government. And let’s not forget that Indian sledge hammer could fall on them anytime as India found that it gained nothing by providing a safe haven to the Nepalese Maoists in India during the decade old phases of conflict.

Furthermore, the deepening political crisis following ex-Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahl’s move to sack Chief of Army staff Rookmangud Katawal and the president overriding the prime ministerial directive that very day shows no signs of receding. This, however, reflects deep misgivings in diplomatic circles over how the tepid political environment had been avidly used by the Maoists to further their authoritarian political ambitions. Moreover, the view is widespread that the Maoists attitude towards other parties and their ‘Hit and Trial Politics’ are largely responsible for many of the internal problems the new republic faces today.

However, to be precise, on the other hand, to give greater power to the military is a self-defeating proposition too. To turn to the military for a solution to problems created by the Maoists monopolistic political ambition would be to seek a cure that is worse than the disease. Hence, analysts recognize that Nepal’s survival depends on political unity. So the coalition, they say, is a necessity. Give Maoists one last chance to reform. Forget about the Shaktikhor tapes -- we must pay some price to be stable.

Remember, unity, not division, is the soundest basis for rule. Constructive debate is what we need as we need as we are aware of the damage internal division can cause. If we lose energy in fighting there is no future for Nepal. In piloting South Korea to export-led prosperity, Park Chung Hee had a motto: “Economics before Politics.” A model worth following by Nepal too. If South Korea can, then why can’t Nepal?

National Government of Nepal is on the verge of the constitutional crisis. And if the prevailing political polarization continues, Nepal would land from frying pan into the fire. Maoists should lead the way by not disrupting the house as history shows that there is no meaning of confrontation and no alternative to consensus in Nepal.

On the other hand, non-Maoists parties are making a major mistake yet again by underestimating the Maoists. This would only serve as a recipe for the disaster. Maoists on the other hand should in reality practice what they preach: their commitment to democratic ideals, multiparty politics, freedom of press and human rights.

2009/07/08 오후 5:45
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