Discouraging signs

Peace, like democracy, is an attractive term and everybody wants to seize on it for his own purpose, even though his purpose may lead him away from it. The Nepalis have been an eye-witness to these paradoxes. Even those people whose actions are widely seen inimical to peace and democracy often sing praises of these popular concepts, often with greater demonstrative skills. No political force in Nepal has ever admitted that it stands against peace and democracy. Each claims that it is more committed to these than any of its political rivals. Accordingly, the government calls the Maoists terrorists and seeks to drum up international support to crush them, and, indeed, it has seized political power in the name of peace. The Maoists see the government as the root of the present impasse.

The political parties, standing at some distance from both warring sides, assert that they represent the people and criticise both for not being serious about peace and democracy. However, stung by the royal takeover and with no response from the palace for reconciliation,

the political parties are now considering forming a talks team to sort out various issues with the Maoists concerning peace and democracy. The latest developments, including the kind of new faces inducted into the Council of Ministers and the government’s political mood reflected

in the new national budget vis-a-vis the conflict, security, and peace and political settlement, seem to have disappointed many who favour a reconciliation between the constitutional forces on the one hand and a negotiated settlement of the Maoist problem on the other. The increasing reliance on military might, as a rise in the security outlay shows, without any feasible ideas for the peace process, does not provide any hopeful signs. The government has shown a disinclination to accept any important international role in peacemaking. It seems to be ready for peace with the Maoists and the political parties only on its terms. But this position is unlikely to promote peace, as the government will continue to have to deal with two sets of opponents, the armed Maoists and the unarmed political parties, which have a popular political base. And they are in no mood to oblige, either. The uncertainties in the country hang heavy.