Destination Delhi

CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal dashed to New Delhi on Wednesday, along with politburo member K P Oli, just four days after return from his three-week-long stay in India. Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala and some of the other leaders of the seven-party pro-democracy alliance are already in Delhi. Even Maoist leaders are reported to be there. US ambassador to Nepal James F Moriarty flew to the Indian capital on Wednesday, too, to discuss, according to Delhi-based US embassy spokesman David Kennedy, with Indian officials the question of restoring democracy in Nepal. Not surprisingly, Indian ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee also headed for Delhi. Though the visits of Koirala and Nepal are supposedly for medical purposes, they are mainly aimed at finding a political cure for the current crisis in Nepal.

Also on Wednesday, Shyam Saran, Indian foreign secretary and former Indian ambassador to Nepal, speaking in New Delhi at a launching ceremony for a book on Nepal, said that India is ‘engaged with’ all the actors in Nepal’s crisis. As the stakes for India are ‘extremely high’,

‘we are carefully monitoring the ‘evolution of the situation’ in Nepal, Saran said. He also made it clear that the Maoist insurgency cannot be won by military means alone. During the Dhaka summit last weekend, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had urged King Gyanendra to restore democracy. All these consultations are also taking place at a time when the seven-party alliance and the Maoist insurgents have started showing some tentative signs of a possible broad agreement on ending the national deadlock.

Against the background that the domestic political forces have failed to come anywhere near showing that they are capable of resolving the crisis themselves, the Delhi consultations need not be looked upon otherwise. The ongoing efforts might ultimately lead to peace in the country. The criteria for judging any such efforts are whether they contribute to peace and democracy and whether they keep intact the pride and sovereignty of the Nepali people. Ultimately, any agreement between the political actors should be subject to endorsement by the Nepalis. But it would be an exercise in futility to cry ‘foreign interferenece’ in Nepal’s internal affairs over the current consultations; indeed, such initiatives have taken place on several occasions in the past, as elsewhere in the world. Moreover, certain issues like democracy and human rights have ceased to remain purely internal matters in today’s interdependent world. It would be rank irresponsibility, too, not to take the initiative for peace, except on one’s own terms.