A little moonlight

Kirtinidhi Bista, one of the vice chairmen of the Council of Ministers, expressed the government’s ‘intent’ to hold talks with the Maoists as well as with the political parties to restore peace. He made these remarks to officials of the Civil Peace Commission (CPC) headed by former Supreme Court justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi on Friday. “Dialogue

is the best way to resolve the crisis,” Bista told journalists after the meeting. Rayamajhi quoted him as saying that a military solution is not the best option to win, restore and maintain peace and that the government is doing the homework to initiate the process of dialogue.

While such apparent signs of conciliation and pledges to democratic means have occasionally come from those in power, the statements and remarks made and threats issued by government leaders reflecting a hawkish line have been predominant these six months. Against that backdrop, Bista’s remarks can be accorded only qualified welcome. On the other hand, talks for the sake of talks will lead nowhere, as the past rounds of negotiations testify. Certainly, the Maoists will not come for talks or join the national mainstream by laying down their arms first, without serious discussions, give and take, and final settlement. If the government was ready for this, it would be abandoning a line stressed in the royal address to the nation on February 1.

What is, however, more important is the interests of the nation and the Nepalis. As the Maoist war, by general reckoning, is unwinnable by either side, it will be wise to seek a political solution, if the country is to be saved from further loss and destruction. To give some assurance of its sincerity, the government will do well to remove the general impression that it is out to reverse the historic compromise of 1990 as embodied in the Costitution. Many people doubt that such a government will be able to negotiate peace with the rebels, whose demands are rather radical. But given the fact that the situation in the country is getting out of hand, the government needs to take a serious initiative for talks with the rebels. One may want to give the government the benefit of the doubt once again, but this good faith will soon evaporate if it fails to match words with actions.