Clarity for peace

Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala has returned after a 10-day visit to New Delhi during which he met important leaders across the Indian political spectrum, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and talked to unspecified Maoist leaders ‘over the telephone.’ He said he was carrying back home New Delhi’s good wishes and moral support for the cause of democracy in Nepal. He argued that if the Maoist problem was a political one needing a political solution, the objections to political leaders’ initiatives to bring the rebels to the negotiating table were meaningless. Though Koirala did not disclose the names of the Maoist leaders he had talked to, or the details of the talks, he said he had urged them to support the seven parties’ agenda, which drew ‘no concrete response’ from them.

Few doubt the relevance of Koirala’s call for creating a suitable atmosphere for peace talks. But talks are not the end. There were several rounds of talks under three prime ministers — Sher Bahadur Deuba, Lokendra Bahadur Chand and Surya Bahadur Thapa — but all ended up in smoke. A clear approach and a proper structuring of the peace process are highly important. Above all, what is crucial is the political will on the part of all the major political actors to embrace a broader democratic framework, even beyond the existing arrangements, if need be.

Unfortunately, narrow interests have led the domestic political forces to strike off on divergent

courses. Here lies the root of the national deadlock. They should not expect foreigners to clean up the mess they themselves have created. Each is trying its best to gain international support for itself and, which, if not forthcoming, it tends to play up as foreign interference. Nepalis can, however, expect on the part of friendly countries like India, the US and the UK a clarity of their stands and their sincerity and seriousness. These countries should consider how military assistance sit well with their public stances which rule out a military solution and support a political settlement, all the more so in view of growing calls, for example, by Amnesty International, for international suspension of military support to Nepal for human rights violations.