Conflict resolution Saying farewell to arms

The 12-point agreement is only a starting point for further steps to be taken in the direction of restoring peace

The time for saying farewell to arms by the Maoists is fast approaching. The armed conflict, that has resulted in the death of twelve thousand lives and rendered thousands of people homeless, though not as many in Cambodia, El Salvador and in other African countries, appears to be maturing gradually with the passage of time. The Maoists have realised that social and political transformation cannot be brought about by the armed revolution alone but it can also be achieved through the unified peaceful movement of the people by acquiring democracy.

The ceasefire declared unilaterally for three months by the Maoists on September 3, 2005, not only paved the way for dialogue between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists but it also slowed down the process of militarisation by the government. The unilateral ceasefire facilitated the dialogue between the Maoists and the political leaders on the one hand, and provided a sigh of relief for all, including the armed forces who were deprived of visiting their homes to meet their near and dear ones for years together, on the other. The 12-point agreement signed by the Maoists and the leaders of the seven-party alliance on November 22 is a landmark decision for resolving the armed conflict, which will give solace to the peace-craving people. The agreement is only a stepping-stone to further steps to be taken in the direction of restoring peace.

The point number four of the agreement sheds light on the Maoists’ emerging adherence to their commitment towards democratic values based on the competitive multiparty system, civil liberties, human rights, the rule of law, and other fundamental rights. This shows the beginning of a new era of peace and the end of gun-culture that was being cultivated by the Maoists and also by the army in the name of counter-insurgency. The credit for this crucial change goes not only to the Maoists alone, but to the political leaders as well who have chosen to go along with the Maoists for bringing the triangular conflict to a bi-polar one. As a matter of fact, this was the only way left before the seven-party alliance not as a political compulsion but as a natural need of the process. The bi-polar conflict appeared as such, but it was not so in reality. Under the shadow of two-polar conflict, it was basically a triangular one from the very beginning, as the third factor was present there in absentia. In course of time, it showed its real face by turning it into a triangular one. Now, again it is returning into its bi-polar form, but differently in charter. This is a healthy sign for conflict resolution, as there will be real change in the position of the main actors. It can be presumed logically that it will definitely prove to be moving in the proper direction towards conflict resolution.

The changing scenario will definitely help the establishment to form a decision on establishing peace in the kingdom. Since the King has always been upholding the need for peace in the country through the royal messages from time to time, there is widespread optimism that there will be suitable actions by the King towards the resolution of the conflict. It has to be accepted that seeking military solution to this problem will be pushing the kingdom towards militirisation further, which may one day boomerang politically, and may prove devastating economically to the point of a failed state. It is high time that narrow interests of some individuals were dropped and not be allowed to dominate national interests. There is a clear distinction between narrow interests and the national interest. National interests may serve individuals’ interests but not vice versa.

The 12-point agreement has fixed the goal of people’s aspiration and has provided a road map for the goal to be achieved as well. In reality, though there is a Constitution in the kingdom, another constitution is required. The new constitution has to be drafted and passed by the representatives of all classes and communities of the kingdom. There are two ways of forming the constituent assembly. One way is to elect representatives directly for it and the second one is to skip the electoral process and form an assembly including all those elected members of the parliament since 1991 till1999 together with 75 to 100 members from the Maoists’ side. To make it a broad-based assembly, representatives from different professional

organisations, women, tradesmen, students, ethnic groups, other marginalised communities and the reputed members of civil society should be included in significant numbers. The second alternative appears to be a middle course meeting the demands of the Maoists and the political parties. It is sincerely hoped that a conciliatory approach will be preferred to a confrontationist one as, in the former case, there will be no loser, but in the latter, one has to lose hugely. Ultimately, the nation has to bear the brunt of the losses.

Mishra is a former election commissioner