Peace or bloodshed?

The government’s statement on Maoists’ declaration of unilateral ceasefire must be condemned. The statement says that the rebels’ response has failed to assure them. It further states that the Maoists’ previous announcements did not yield any results. The authorities must realise, in the first place, that this announcement would not have been possible had the previous announcements been fruitful. Secondly, the government will fail to convince the people of its bona fides if it does not take the ceasefire seriously. Thirdly, public resentment against the government will grow further if it dismisses the Maoist offer as a mere conspiracy. This is an opportune moment for the government to prove its intention on the Maoist insurgency — whether it wants to solve the problem through dialogue, weapons or any other means. The government must transform this short-term ceasefire into a lasting peace. Both sides must sacrifice something to achieve the much-desired peace; otherwise, there will be more bloodshed.

Prithvi Raj Aryal, Naya Bazar, via e-mail

Visa fee:

After going through various newspaper articles, one gathers that the numbers of tourists coming to Nepal from South Asia, Europe and the US are going down. This has hampered the progress in the tourism industry. The recent closure of a four-star hotel in the valley is a pointer to this trend. I just want to say that the current policy for tourists does not match the expectations. At least that’s the impression I get from the documents of Nepal Tourist Board which professes to increase the tourism growth rate. I am not a tourist in the real sense of the term. I am a Buddhist monk who has come to Nepal to perform social work. I have to extend my tourist visa by paying $30 for each month I wish to stay. After having lived in different Asian countries, I find this fee to be perhaps the highest in the region. Moreover, we can stay in Nepal only for 150 days in a year. This is a punishment for frequent visitors like me who have to stay for longer periods. It seems that the government authorities do not understand the major problems besetting the tourism industry. Or is it that they have a hidden agenda? I suggest they revise visa fee regulations, thereby lowering the fee and letting the tourists stay for six months, like in India and other countries of the region.

Daniel Nagasaki, via e-mail

Discouraging:

The Nepalis and international community have taken the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Maoists positively. The United Nations and India have welcomed the move. But it is unfortunate that the government, which holds the key to the peace process, has responded negatively. The government spokesperson Tanka Dhakal’s statement is vague and ambiguous. The government would welcome ceasefire if the Maoists surrender arms. It is clear that if the political parties, civil society and the international community do not exert pressure on the government it will not hold talks with the Maoists. Therefore, the government needs to change its stance if it wants peace restored in the country.

Kamal Dev Bhattarai, Kavre, via e-mail