Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reflections from Sri Lanka and lessons for Nepal By P.S. Kunwar

Like everyone else in the world in general and South Asia in particular, the end of the LTTE has provided an opportunity to look for lessons for Nepal . The general perspective from the liberal left leaning international press, caught off guard as usual, has been to say that the Sri Lankan tactic of shunning negotiations, pursuing a relentless military campaign and acceptance of civilian casualties, a) should not have been followed and b) would not have worked. This press perspective was backed up by the never ending interviews from aid workers and human rights activists that focused on humanitarian suffering and the absence of peace. However, it did work and Sri Lanka is now rid of an affliction that hindered its progress for more than a quarter century.

Nepal on the other hand has done everything by the book. So theoretically we should be well on our way to permanent peace. Theoretical prescriptions followed fast and furious from the likes of the treacherous UNMIN, the simplistic Nordics, unreliable Europeans, and a lumbering giant neighbor led by its fringe communist tail. We gave up our constitution, kingship, religion, culture, history, unitary state, national anthem, national seal, national dress and we still don’t have peace. In addition we gave away; citizenships, money to enemy combatants, the honor of being declared martyrs, and - most importantly of all - our place as a fully sovereign state in South Asia . Yet we still don’t have peace. Nepal ’s peace process is a case where the operation was a success but the patient died!

How did we come to this pass? Before following Sri Lanka ’s example of rejecting prescriptions from international peace quacks, it may be interesting to see why these international quacks and their attendant nurses from the press, human right activists and development business were tried. What were the motives of the Nepali leaders to allow such a travesty? It is all about cover-up, consolidation, cash and hope.

Motive 1: Cover Up. The simplistic interpretation of history and the cause of the Maoist uprising, swallowed hook-line and sinker by the likes of UNMIN, served our self-serving politicians well. According to this, Maoists took up arms against an autocratic king to restore democracy and create social justice. However, the fact that there was a functioning democracy, with a constitutional king, that they took up arms against in 1996 is conveniently forgotten. This version allows the politicians to cover up their decade long misrule and corruption as well as lay all blame on the kingship.

Motive 2: Consolidation. Even without the Maoists, Nepal had had enough of the geriatric greedy politicians and hence the celebrations after the royal coup. Following the advice of the quacks, these politicians were handed with the status of major parties without ever being put to the test. Who knows how history would have changed if they had participated in the 2006 elections. As the last election showed, these so-called major parties have continued to decline in popularity. In addition to the parties, it allowed a group of mentally challenged has-beens to emerge as leaders of civil society who till today are up to their vomit inducing antics in their attacks against the Presidency.

Motive 3: Cash. No one can deny the huge amount of money that accompanied the prescriptions from quacks. It was far easier for our “leaders” to rather lie down as a patient than debate the quacks understanding of reality. This led to a rabbit like multiplication of newspapers, NGOs, human rights groups with names like HURPES and peace builders eager to lap up this distorted understanding of history and make hay in the process.

Motive 4: Hope: Since Nepalis are a hopeful lot; our leaders who sold their souls still have two hopes. One is that the motives mentioned above do not come to light. The second hope is that the quacks prescription will still work. However, both hopes will be shattered. The alternative to the Maoists are not the mainstream parties. They can never be a bulwark against a Pol Pot like state. If a fresh alternative does not emerge from within the parties soon, they will lose the next conflict with the Maoists and take us with them to the darkest days in Nepal ’s history. If we depend on them we are sunk. The real civil society needs now to enter politics, the press and human rights movement to remove the cancer in Nepal ’s democracy, and like Sri Lanka , do it our way.


Anonymous said...

Our friends across the southern border keep coming up with new "angles." Found this one quite breathtaking... whoever this Bengali Babu is

China’s King-Size Card In Nepal
By Dipankar Biswas

"The Chinese have been very quiet about the monarchy, their traditional friend. Now that Prachanda feels he has been victimized by India, could he make common cause with the palace? If the Chinese do end up facilitating a palace-Maoist alliance, would Prachanda and his people support a referendum on the monarchy? In the past, the Maoists have said they would accept the verdict of the people on the people.

"Anyone with a basic familiarity of Nepalese history recognizes how notoriously fickle the public mood there is. Amid the general chaos abetted by political ineptitude of the new republican leadership, more and more Nepalis seem to be nostalgic for the good old days when power cuts were the exception rather than the rule. Should the Chinese succeed in placing a referendum on the Nepalese political agenda, there is a good chance we Indians would be surprised by the extent of the support for the monarchy. The question is, can we do anything more?"

HORATIO said...

Anon 4:47, and what is wrong with having a referendum on the monarchy? Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work? You know, and it looks like the "Bengali Babu" also knows, that a republic was shoved down the collective throat of the Nepali People by Prachanda, Girija and the current PM. So nothing "breathtaking" about this article.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more Horatio. But the part that took my breath away was Bengali Babu's assertion that the Chinese are behind the bid to restore the monarchy, especially given Beijing studious studious silence these few years.

HORATIO said...

Yes, Anon, on that point I agree with you fully. The Indian government has this deep-rooted paranoia about the Chinese. It really needs to get over that.