See through clearly

The US government has alleged that Nepal is becoming a “convenient logistic and transit point for some outside militants and international terrorists.” The report titled “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003” says Nepal’s “relatively soft targets” attract “terrorist operations.” It sees security to be weak at many public facilities, attributing it to the shortage of funds, weak border controls and poor security infrastructure. Referring to the Maoists’ “repeated anti-US rhetoric and actions,” it says they view the US as a “key obstacle to their goal of establishing a doctrinaire communist dictatorship.” The document also claims that the insurgency poses a threat to American lives and property. The US has added the Maoists to its Terrorist Exclusion List, clamping travel restrictions on them. Earlier, they were included in the US list of second-tier international terrorists, resulting in their assets being frozen.

Indian authorities have also alleged from time to time that “anti-Indian elements” have used Nepali territory for operations “against India.” Because of about 1800-km open border, the crossing of the border from either side has indeed become a convenient means of escape and operations for unscrupulous elements as well as for political activists and leaders in the bad books of the government in either country. The tendency to blame either government on this count is, therefore, generally unjustified. Crossing the border involves the security appartus of at least two countries. As for India and Nepal, border regulations deserve a serious thought.

Some powerful countries have also occasionally been criticised for shielding some of those declared terrorists by other countries. And western nations do not hold a glorious record in this matter. Their importance to such issues has varied according to what they perceive to be serving their “national interests” better. The US, for example, has blurred the distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists. When Osama bin Laden operated against the Soviet-propped government in Afghanistan, he was a darling of the Americans. But when he threatened US interests, he became a dreaded terrorist. Thus, the Iraqis taking up arms against the occupiers become terrorists and the occupying forces who shoot down Iraqis are not. As for the Maoist issue, it is Nepal’s internal problem that needs to be solved politically. Any disinterested offer of international help, such as that by UN secretary general Kofi Annan, should be highly regarded and utilised. But the Nepalis should see through clearly and deal appropriately with any attempts by foreigners to use the Maoist issue as an excuse to increase their intervention in this country to serve their vested interests.