American rejoinder:

Your February 22 editorial wrongly implies the US does not fully support the return of democracy in Nepal. Since arriving here nearly 20 months ago, I have stressed repeatedly that we seek democracy, peace, and prosperity for Nepal. This would be in the best interests of both Nepal and the US. As the past year has shown, an authoritarian government of the right not only denies the basic rights of its citizens, but it lacks public support and is thus inherently weak. It offers no hope to resolve Nepal’s most dangerous threat — the Maoist insurgency. A government of the totalitarian left, as envisioned by Maoist leaders, would bring horrific economic and social problems — and destabilise the entire region. My country welcomes attempts by the parties to encourage the Maoists to disarm and come into the mainstream. Yet despite signing the 12-point understanding, the Maoists have escalated their violence and proclaimed that armed and unarmed struggle will topple the state. They claim to welcome a constitutional assembly but have made it clear that they plan to resume control over their weapons after assembly elections. Does anyone believe the Nepalis would feel free to vote their conscience if they believe rearmed Maoists would return to their villages shortly after the polls? If the Maoists are serious about supporting peace and democracy, they should call for another ceasefire — one that bans all violence, including killing, kidnapping, extortion and threats. We would welcome such an arrangement between the government and insurgents. As you suggest, the actions of Nepalis themselves will determine the future of this country. I pray that they make the right choices in the coming weeks and months. The threats to your country’s future should not be underestimated.

James F Moriarty, US Ambassador to Nepal

Bird flu:

It has been noticed for a long time that all agencies, especially the government ones, are guided by rhetoric rather than reality. Once again officials are seen repeating that they are well prepared and everything is in proper order to combat the threat posed by the pandemic bird flu disease. But the reality is different. Not long ago the same thing was said about Japanese encephalitis, but when the disease broke out what happened everybody knows. So many innocent people lost their lives, which could have been easily prevented had adaquate measures been taken in time. It has also been observed that officials are seen busy attending seminars, symposiums etc. inside and outside the country rather than concentrating on the gravity of the situation in the country. It is high time they became accountable to the people. Mere verbal assurances and physical presence in the media are not enough.

Arun Pandey, Chakupat, Lalitpur

Show support:

I was shocked to hear the news of the publication of controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammad by a Danish newspaper. This is a clear sign of disrespect and mockery of Islam. Religion is a sensitive issue and such acts by the media can only aggravate communal hatred in all parts of the world. Everyone must respect each others’ religious sentiments, including the media.

Ishwor Singh, Kalaiya