Time to wonder

Kirtinidhi Bista, a vice chairman in the Council of Ministers, has said UN mediation is out of the question in resolving the Maoist insurgency. After meeting Lakhdar Brahimi, the special advisor to UN secretary general Kofi Annan, on Wednesday, Bista said that the government is confident of resolving the crisis internally. On whether Brahimi had offered UN facilitation, Bista snapped back that the issue did not arise at all during their meeting. He dubbed Brahimi’s visit as a continuation of UN-Nepal interaction following the talks between King Gyanendra and Annan on the sidelines of the Afro-Asian summit in Jakarat in April. However, he said, Nepal needed international support, including that of the UN, in overcoming the crisis.

Indeed, the three-member UN team is here as part of Annan’s efforts to help find a political settlement. Annan has expressed his readiness to provide any UN help. The Maoists have demanded international mediation, preferably of the UN, in any peace talks. The parties which commanded the vast majority in the dissolved parliament also favour an important international role. Most of the Nepali public opinion, too, seems to back a more substantial international role than Bista’s version of ‘international support.’

The government’s negative response casts doubts on its motives, particularly because it has failed to give any clue, either, about how it is going to terminate the crisis. While, on the one hand, it says, in line with domestic and international opinion, that there is no military solution, on the other, its actions suggest that it is in no mood for talks with the Maoists, except on its own terms, which would amount to a virtual Maoist surrender. This approach provides no basis for any fair and feasible political solution. During these nearly three years since the dismissal of the last elected government and even after February 1, no prospects have been visible of any military victory. Then what does the government want? Does it intend to continue in power without having to seek the popular endorsement? This would only divide the already divided nation further. It leads even those with a soft corner for the government to wonder if it itself is not the major stumbling block to peace and democracy.