US road map - Ignoring basic reality of Nepali politics

The US has suggested that mainstream parties should rethink their 12-point understanding with the Maoists. According to reports, US ambassador to Nepal, James F Moriarty, has expressed his country’s strong reservations about the 12-point understanding. The US says it thinks the Maoists lack the commitment to transform themselves into democratic mainstream, arguing that they continue to resort to violence and adopt an anti-American stance.

After Prachanda’s interview in the media, including BBC, the US has again come out openly against the Maoists after an apparent spell of silence and is trying to bring about a reconciliation between the parties and the monarchy. The US thinks this is the best way of resolving Nepal’s crisis. Moriarty seems to be working hard to translate his country’s road map of uniting traditional rightist forces with the moderately rightist and centrist forces. According to this plan, after such a coming together, it would be easier to crush the Maoists. But Moriarty’s prescription of excluding the rebels from such a deal misses the basic point that peace is impossible in Nepal without a political settlement of the insurgency. America’s suspicion of the Maoists is understandable. However, the Maoists deserve the benefit of the doubt as they have said that they are ready to join peaceful democratic competitive politics.

We should consider the shifting ground reality in Nepal. The 12-point understanding needs more clarity to bind the Maoists to their commitment and they should again announce a ceasefire to assure the parties. The need of the hour is reconciliation among all forces, including the monarchy, casting aside personal egos and petty interests and working collectively to resist foreign intervention. Hesitant foreign stands are obvious because foreigners tend to look after their national interests more than the Nepali people’s interests. We should come forward to enhance peace and democracy.

Moriarty’s response to the criticism concerning his comments shows his view of crushing the Maoists because US sees them only as a terrorist group. However, the agitating parties say the 12-point understanding was aimed at resolving the conflict but the US is openly expressing its displeasure. However, Maoist supreme leader Prachanda in his interview to BBC has stated that they are ready to work with all international power centres, including the US, in the future democratic set-up, but the US still doubts their intentions.

Noam Chomsky, a noted American political theorist, in an interview to Newsweek on January 9, said, “The US invaded Iraq because its major resource is oil”. “The US went to war in Vietnam because they were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of independent development and that would infect others who might try to follow suit. Indeed, the US has manifold interests to keep a hold in South Asian politics, including Nepal, including commercial and strategic geo-political ones. The latter apply more aptly to its interests in Nepal. The US is worried about rapid normalisation of China-India relations and is afraid of losing its influence in Nepal. America has come in for much criticism and hatred, not only in the developing world but in Europe too, for its unilaterist approaches in world politics.

After the end of Second World War, the West and the US got cultural confidence. They prescribed the replica of Western liberal democracies. Many followed and some of them succeeded but China resisted. This sparked the debate on Asian values. This meant that it alone wants to promote monolithic political and cultural world order instead of multilateral pluralism. Opposing the UNSCO cultural pact provides an example. Choosing to defend Hollywood’s interests over joining an international consensus and opposing a new convention on cultural diversity at UNESCO last year designed to combat the homogenising effect of cultural globalisation are other examples and the leftists have been critical of these approaches. In contrast, US never wants to differentiate between making an ideological criticism of imperialism and the globalisation agenda.

Political leaders have stressed national consensus to resolve the national crisis. The consensus must enlist the support of the monarch, the parties, and the Maoists. However, the diverse views of these forces on forging consensus is creating chaos.

At a time when foreign diplomats have increased their activities, foreign interference is natural. It looks as if Nepal has arrived at a point where foreigners’ role may be decisive in settling its internal problems.

In a pluralistic, open society, international observers cannot be dictating changes. Reforms are a complicated mix of ideas and evolutionary process. Any reformer must try to make the pace of reforms appropriate for his country. No one can export democracy, or systematic change. These must be done at home. But patriotism should not be defined to suit the vested interests of those in power or of those out of it.

Chalise is a career journalist