The strategy of the government to solve the problem of the ongoing conflict in the nation has been made clear by the recent developments. It has been quite clear that the government was for liquidation of the Maoist insurgents by means of armed suppression and did

not consider the insurgency as an expression of political discontent.

In the past, the successive governments, having considered the Maoist uprising as a matter of political discontent, invited them to the renegotiating table twice. Both times the talks failed and the political parties involved in the talks blamed each other for the failure.

However, none of them gave up the hope of holding talks again in order to arrive at a mutual agreement in the cause of the people and the nation.

Eleven months back the present government was installed after the royal proclamation in which restoration of peace and security in the nation was one of the primary objectives. With the passage of time and the activities of the government, the hope for the restoration of peace is waning from the mind of the public.

The unilateral ceasefire called by the Maoists was welcomed universally. The enthusiastic observance of the national festivals like Dashain, Laxmi Puja, Bhaitika and Chhat had raised a great hope amongst the Nepali people that the ceasefire would be a long-lasting and efforts would be made to restore peace and security through political mechanism.

During the unilateral ceasefire, the inflow of tourists had increased and according to the representative of the World Bank in Nepal, the ceasefire had contributed to the development of numerous economic activities in the nation.

However, the government considered the Maoists’ offer of the ceasefire as their weakness and erosion of their armed might and declared that the backbone of Maoist insurgency had been smashed. It went further to assure the people that peace would be restored by defeating the Maoist insurgency.

People in the nation had felt a great relief during the four-month duration of the ceasefire and so they demanded that the government ought to reciprocate the ceasefire and give the peace process a political direction.

Political process has been superseded by adventure in the government’s strategy to solve the problem of political instability. Thus, a one-third period of three years demanded in the royal proclamation for the task has passed without any sign of hope that the primary objective of restoration of peace would be fulfilled.

The government not only ignored the positive approach of the Maoists after their working understanding with the major political parties and their public commitment in favour of multiparty system and peaceful resolution of national problems, the ministers in the government slandered the initiative taken by the leaders of the political parties to make the Maoists agree to the peaceful solution as a conspiracy and opened a second front against the parliamentary forces.

Because of the misjudgement of the constructive deeds of the political parties and the wrong analysis based upon the misinformation of vested interests in the present political mould created by the government, the government has started axing one after another of the fundamental rights of the people culminating on the daylong curfew imposed on January 20.

The argument given in favour of imposing such drastic restrictions was that the Maoists would take advantage of the peaceful agitation by the seven party alliance. But the Maoist leader Prachanda had already assured that there would be no Maoist participation in the agitations conducted by the seven party alliance and also the seven-party alliance had repeatedly denounced the atrocities of the Maoist rebels.

During the last one year, the conflict has increased and no sign of restoration of peace is in sight. This does not augur well for the nation and its supremely important institution — the monarchy.

In such a background of curtailment of people’s rights, the forthcoming election would become a mockery of the democratic institution. Given a free and fair chance

to participate or boycott the elections, the people could reveal the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the government and the political parties. This could be a very good way to fathom popular will. However, given the types of manipulation being carried out by the government and its supporters, there is very little trust in the free and fair conduct of the

slated elections. The government must be warned that the failure of trust in the forthcoming election will totally erode any trust in the government and the conflict will flare up, which would not only create a problem for the government but even for the political stability of the nation.

Upadhyay is a former foreign minister