Continued concerns shown by some leading democratic countries over the deteriorating human rights situation and decaying democratic norms in Nepal have remained unabated in recent weeks. The attitude supported both by their ruling and opposition parties reflect the lines of their thinking and actions on global and regional concern, which will have perceptible impact over the future relationship between Nepal and democratic countries unless the political deadlock here takes a turnaround for a quicker democratisation process.
All know, Nepalâ€™s dependence on foreign cooperation for economic survival is crucial because of its poor resources. Critically seen in the context of Nepalâ€™s political predicament vis-Ã -vis its bilateral relations with the leading democratic countries â€” the US, UK, India etc, four significant points of concern emanate from the stance they have taken. First, they assume Nepal should have a viably functioning democracy. Second, the ultra-leftist forces in South Asia should not be allowed to remain as unfettered tiger on the prowl. Third, disturbance of deeper scale in the region should not entail forced immigration and displacement creating unwanted migration growing unabated. Fourth, if the political situation goes beyond manageable limit, their trade and economic interests in booming economies of South Asia may slacken.
In 1990s, Nepal was in a great need of caring and grooming not only by domestic political actors, but also by external world with credible incentive-based support. However, intra and inter-party struggles, insensitivity toward the needs of the people and lack of a genuine cooperation to build a democratic state and society from democratic world adversely contributed to a sinking democracy in Nepal. Nepal is an impoverished land with heterogeneity of social structure and diversity of geographic condition. Its population consists of at least 59 recognised ethnic groups divided into numerous sub-groups inhabiting in sprawling areas. It has its varied physical features with a highly rugged topography and hard-to-access terrains with their profound effects over governance. Nepal is ruled from a more comfortable seat of the capital, but never governed with minimum services and security assured for the people in the rural areas, where illiteracy is widespread and awareness of modern way of life highly lacking among the poor.
Under such pitiable circumstances, democracy and democratisation process are very hard to flourish with major political actors of the country paying scant attention to this age-old bleak reality. No wonder, leading modern democracies of the world do not throw even a cursory glance over this worrisome situation of Nepal. Obviously, its natural consequence is political uncertainty sweeping over the country with turmoil raging over and above the capability of any political force to manage it. While two fierce armed opponents of the country are engaged in taking greater risks to tame each other, there is not even a slight inkling of conscientious opinions coming from any quarter. Nepalâ€™s ongoing reality is a highly simmering political situation produced by ineffectual and weak governance infested much by corruption and laxity of rule with no serious attention given to its weak socio-economic fragility long suffered from inequality, injustice and imbalance since the creation of a unified Nepal.
Political reconciliation as propounded by democratic countries would not cure the extensive festering the country has been experiencing from the military confrontation, as the proposition itself has not taken realistic note of the existing rural condition. At maximum, it can help unite royalists with centrist-cum-rightist elements of Nepali political spectrum. Not even the leftists of the seven-party alliance would join hands despite repeated pressure calls. It would rather push most aggressive leftist elements to get closer to the insurgents who are encouraged and assisted by their cohorts through the porous borders of the South. Given the experience of the continued fighting, it would be highly futile to imagine victory by military prowess. Under such circumstances, reconciliation between the two political forces can never brace up to resolve the crisis wherein the third one is a visible force to reckon with, which is being presently ignored.
A clearer scanning of the political horizon of the conflict-afflicted Nepal for fresher ideas and strategies for political cohabitation with broader view over its socio-economic and geographic condition is much sought after to give any clue to a resolution of the conflict. One certainty is that no proposition, however grand it may look, can make any dent if it remains establishment-centric and is focussed exclusively on the urban political activities. Also, a pertinent question arises who will initiate this painstaking job that demands an astute political capability and strategic resourcefulness to haul out the country from the tumultuous sea.
Shrestha is an ex-foreign ministry official