Prabhakar justifies his role in integration panel

Kathmandu, October 31:

Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ today said that his party had two representatives in the newly constituted special committee not on the basis of its

political strength but because of the legal provision that mandates Peace and

Reconstruction Minister to be the ex-officio member of the committee.

“If the ministry goes to other party tomorrow, then the ex-officio representation will also go to the same party,” Sharma told an interaction organised here today.

Main opposition Nepali Congress has been demanding that it should also get two seats in the committee.

Minister Sharma expressed hope that the Nepali Congress would join the committee.

He said that the government decided to form the committee only after holding consultations with the NC and it was because of the latter’s demand that they let go the position of the coordinator of the committee to Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam.

“Former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala signed the peace pact with Prachanda. Koirala is the backbone of the peace process and I believe he will not do anything that might put the peace process in peril,” the minister said.

He expressed hope that the government would be able to settle the issue of army integration within six months.

Sharma said terms of reference of the committee was the major issue and added that there was a political consensus on the ToR.

“We are encouraged by the visit of UN security general Ban Ki-Moon. I hope that the world body will extend more cooperation to bring the peace process to a logical conclusion,” said he.

Asked about the proposed talks with the armed Tarai outfits, he claimed that the outfits had taken the government’s offer positively.

“The government will hold talks with the outfits that have political agenda. Their pre-conditions for the talks will reflect their agenda,” he said.

He further added that none of the groups were demanding the formation of a separate country.

He said the government only paid past dues to the People’s Liberation Army combatants and added that the increment was given to them “as they are also a part of security agencies.”