Elusive peace

The government and the Maoists have been trading allegations over the three-month ceasefire unilaterally declared by the latter on September 3. The announcement, widely hailed at home and abroad, has, however, drawn a cold response from the government. The supporters of the ceasefire have urged the rebels to honour their word fully and the government to respond positively to it at the same time. Undoubtedly, the Maoist announcement has had wider political fallout than just the cancellation of the King’s planned visit to the UN. This has led the political forces to calculate profit and loss. But all of them, including the Maoists, should rise a lot above to find a solution acceptable to all.

Ministers and pro-government sections are currently concentrating their time and energy on trying to show that the Maoist ceasefire is a hoax or inspired by foreigners, and that nobody should fall for it. While the security forces have given “examples of Maoist violations of their own ceasefire”, Maoist leader Prachanda, in his latest statement, has accused the government of trying to sabotage the unilateral ceasefire and claimed that the clashes reported from Bardiya, Kanchanpur, Jajarkot, Dailekh, Taplejung and Kaski were pre-planned activities under the government’s disinformation campaign. Prachanda has urged the political parties, civil society and others to “monitor” the alleged incidents and bring out the truth, besides appealing to the international community, including the UN, to “raise a voice in favour of a democratic solution and peace”. Several reports have also surfaced of abductions and extortions by the Maoists.

For the non-combatants, therefore, it has become extremely difficult to determine which side is right. Numerous human rights reports have cited gross abuses from both sides. A recent report by the Centre for Victims of Torture says that both sides tortured nearly 1,300 people in the mid-west and far-west regions in the past three years. So neither side can stand on the moral high ground. For its part, the government cannot hope to prove its commitment to peace and democracy just by blaming the Maoists. What it should do is to put the Maoists to the test and be tested itself. This occasion is also a test for the international community, particularly for countries with considerable clout over Nepali political forces, such as India and the US. Deep mutual distrust prevents the domestic forces from finding a solution themselves; here, therefore, the international community can play a highly constructive role.