Happy indication

Messages of welcome and congratulation on the historic breakthrough of November 8 have started coming in as the Nepalis are holding celebration rallies across the country. Spokesman Gonzalo R Geelegos of the US state department said, “We hope this agreement will be an important step toward establishing lasting peace and a transparent and democratic system of government.” Eric Solheim, the international development minister of Norway, hopes the agreement “prepares the way for an end to the conflict. It is a promising start for a peaceful, democratic and inclusive Nepal.” India has lauded it as a “victory for the Nepali people”. Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a statement, hoped that “these decisions will take Nepal on the path of reconciliation, peace, stability and economic prosperity”. The statement stressed the right of the Nepalis to “freely choose and decide their own destiny and future without fear of the gun” and looked forward to the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement on November 16. Similarly, Switzerland has called the accord “a great achievement”, and Denmark “a decisive and important step towards lasting peace”. For Britain it is a happy indication.

Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala termed the peace deal a “victory for the people” and Maoist chairman Prachanda described it as “the biggest and historic” event in the modern history of Nepal. Prachanda singled Nepal’s southern neighbour out for the “positive role” it had played in making possible the 12-point SPA-Maoist understanding, which formed the basis for the successful April Revolution. Other countries are likely to send in their messages along similar lines. But the principal challenge lies in translating into reality this international focus and goodwill and the high hopes the final settlement package has generated among the Nepalis. The country stands at a unique and most momentous juncture of its internal political development. Political parties, after seeking the people’s mandate, can mould the future the way they like. This puts a far greater burden on their shoulders.

While the Nepalis have to act more responsibly in the days to come, no less is the need for the diplom-ats of friendly countries to contribute to a conducive atmosphere for free and fair constituent assembly polls. Their siding with or against any party or the continuation of their intemperate statements on Nepal’s internal matters in contravention of the international norms of diplomatic behaviour just because Nepal is not powerful would be most unfortunate. They ought to contemplate how they would have reacted if foreign diplomats in their capitals had conducted in a similar fashion. So the task of putting Nepal firmly on the road of democracy, peace and prosperity in these times of globalisation becomes the obligation of all. It would be difficult to implement the historic accord to good effect without full cooperation of Nepalis and friendly countries, particularly those who have considerable clout in Nepal.