Confusing signals

It comes as no surprise that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has been reiterating that the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants would be completed in four months in line with the scheduled dateline of May 28 for the

promulgation of the new constitution. There are no basis that indicates that the integration task would

be completed within the timeframe put forward so firmly by Nepal who is also the head of the special committee on integration, monitoring and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants. Recalling the

action plan, the need is uppermost for the stakeholders that is the three major parties who are members of the High Level Political Mechanism (HLPM),

the government, the Defence Ministry, the Nepal Army, and UNMIN which has been sanctioned

by UNSG to remain for the same period of time.

Now, conflicting views seem to be emerging from among the sides concerned. Earlier than the PM’s affirmation statement on the integration task time frame, the Defence Minister had come up with the blunt statement that under no circumstances would the former Maoist combatants be integrated in the NA. The confusing signals are not in keeping with the manner in which the highly sensitive issue

should have been taken up. Of course, it shows how no single stand directs the whole Council of Ministers, to be exact. The conflicting views that have surfaced cannot be a mere coincidence.

Even as the Maoist combatant integration issue is in an almost listless state, the HLPM has

the top leaders of the Big Three parties that make it the perfect place to seek a way out. The agreement on the HLPM terms of reference should galvanise it to arrive at a platform of a variety of thorny

issues. But, some sections have doubted the sincerity of the high level mechanism, and they have gone to the extent of referring to it as a ploy to topple the government. The basis of the doubts are no where to be seen at the moment. With the prime minister being an invitee in the mechanism, the doubters can be rubbished off. The disqualified combatants are slowly being discharged from the cantonments, and soon only the qualified ones will remain. Their integration where and how is not spelt out in the CPA, which brings the issue back to square one. It is a sheer irony that those who participated in the ten-year war have spawned other groups and parties claiming for integration which makes the whole issue rather deterring for the government which is already coming under fire for lethargy as far as a number of problems are still waiting to get resolved.

The teachers, doctors, local bodies’ unions, etc. have laid down their demands, and their fulfillment can be the only way out for the inconveniences of the people from spilling over. But, the government has been hesitant to go for fulfilling the related demands because it cites the inadequacies of certain rules and regulations that bind its hands. Whatever reasons are cited, the difficulties of the people can suddenly spiral if the various protesting bodies take to the streets. For that matter, the government is in a fix and has to urgently devise relevant strategies not to let the problems to get out of hand.

Open secret

Despite it being illegal it is an open secret that cannabis farming is taking place on the sly in various parts of the country. Many farmers have been engaging in such farming for decades, and they have managed to evade the law. The colossal scale in which cannabis is being farmed can be gleaned from just one report that these were being farmed all over villages in western Udayapur. What is a matter of concern is that the authorities concerned are very well aware of this clandestine activity, but they are doing little about it. Farmers are enticed to engage in such farming because of the huge amount of money involved in this racket.

From time to time the authorities destroy these illegal crops, but they apparently appear not to be doing enough. Besides, it has come to knowledge that although there is a legal provision for sentencing those engaged in farming cannabis to three to 10 years of imprisonment no one has been punished as of yet. This only encourages the farmers engaged in farming cannabis to continue doing so with cannabis considered to be the best in the world.