When we make certain promises and do things that indicate that we are going in a different direction, even those who believed us may start having second thoughts. The government seems to be passing through that phase. At the conclusion of his visit to Nepal on Wednesday,

former majority leader in the US Senate, Tom Daschle, came down heavily on the government for its inaction on the restoration of democracy. As his stay here coincided with the sentencing of former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba by the controversial Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC), this episode seems to have not only influenced his assessment of this government’s pledges but that of the US government, which has issued a statement in protest against the way Deuba and five others were tried and convicted, and in favour of the restoration of democracy in Nepal.

Daschle stressed, among others, the need for reconciliation between the King and the political

parties, a political resolution of the Maoist insurgency, restoration of democracy, respect for human rights and civil liberties, including freedom of the press, release of all political prisoners, dissolution of the RCCC and the transfer of the corruption cases to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority. Inaction on these issues would lead, he said, to growing civil unrest and discontent with the institution of monarchy. To achieve reconciliation, Daschle sees the need for the King to take the initiative and for the political parties to offer to have an unconditional and unambiguous dialogue with the King. While expressing a word of appreciation for the gains of the 12-year multi-party rule, he also offered some advice for the parties — that they should make public pledges of genuine party reform, internal democracy, transparency and accountability, and removal of corrupt people from their ranks, as well as have a clear road map for the country. His overall advice for all sides is sound, reflecting what most Nepalis appear to think. But Nepal’s problem is one of intent. In the final analysis, any dialogue that does not lead to the full activation, in letter and spirit, of the 1990 Constitution would not constitute the restoration of democracy. A settlement with the Maoists is a separate chapter.