The latest visit to the US by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has thrown up some definite clues that the Obama administration is keen to not only delist the UCPN-Maoist from the so called “terror watch “ list, but also equally keen to look at Nepal in a way which could be expected to boost its economy in the long run.
This and much more came forth following a series of opportunities which PM Nepal got to meet with US President Barak Obama in the course of a week long sojourn in the US. The hallmark of the encounters was that US is very curious as to what must be unspooling in Nepal, especially as regards the UCPN-Maoist.
The meetings between President Obama and PM Nepal were so much so happening for those Nepal and the UCPN-Maoist watchers that they started on what the Maoist leadership was up to, with the underlying meaning being that it would be unfortunate for Nepal and the rebel outfit if it decides not to live up to its public commitment of a hallmark democratic party, which is shorn of Maoist undertones and innuendoes.
That President Obama time and again wanted to know whether the ruling parties were in a position to work together with the UCPN-Maoist emphatically suggests that the US is in favor of the parties taking the UCPN-Maoist along without any exception. Moreover, the fact that PM Nepal has forcefully claimed that he believed that the Maoists could indeed be ushered along notwithstanding complications thrown up time and again.
However, one thing that goes without saying is that the US is equally keen to see that the UCPN-Maoist leadership gives up its ways of dealing with political issues which has at times scared all those who feel content in identifying themselves as democrats. That is to say, the US administration does not want to see political parties in Nepal, and that of course includes the UCPN-Maoist, to smack of Mao and all that which is identified with him and his political ideology.
It was interesting to note that the Maoist outfit figured in talks in the US capital and the White House. Equally interesting was the series of meetings between Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They met as often as PM Nepal and President Obama met.
It must be said here that Foreign Minister Koirala enjoyed tremendous popularity among US officialdom largely because of her being a representative of the Koirala family. But it is also true that she demonstrated enough charm and deftness to attract commensurate interest wherever she went in the US.
Meanwhile, the fact that the US is keen to see the UCPN-Maoist morphing into a democratic outfit has been reinforced in the remarks that the party will be removed from the “terror watch” list the moment the US feels that the party is well and truly democratic, and that there is no fear of it relapsing into violent and nasty politics usually associated with the communist outfits of the Maoist variety.
For US democracy, rule of law and unqualified respect to human rights is still the yardstick that measures the goodness of any political party worldwide. Herein what must be kept in mind is that the US has taken the time it has taken to delist the Maoist from the “terror watch” list just because it is not fully assured of the Maoist tendency.
Minister Nepal has contributed a lot by way of vouching for the UCPN-Maoist that it was on the path to peaceful politics, and that there was no way that the party may relapse into underhand ways and politics which for the US is the hallmark of communist outfits worldwide.
However, one thing which should not go missing on Nepal-US relationship analysis is that the US should be expected to take the Indian word on events in Nepal. Said conversely, the Obama administration will be taking cue from the Indian policy towards Nepal whenever it comes to forge any policy in the future.
There are many reasons behind it, but the first is that US and India are now partners in certain areas in
the region and that the
US has in a way sub-contracted the task of forging policy for countries like Nepal and Bhutan to India. This is likely to continue in the decades ahead until there is dramatic shift which stands ruled out.
That is to say the UCPN-Maoist will need to review its policy vis-à-vis India if there is one before it can be expected to be treated as a political party which may be free from the red bug, and which can be depended upon as an ally in the region. So, the key for the UCPN-Maoist to the US heart passes through New Delhi.
Yet, another reason why the US is concerned about Nepal, the UCPN-Maoist and the peace process is its geographical proximity to China through times when the western world is doing all it can to foster unrest in Tibet, and thus weaken China as part of the longstanding strategy to score over that country.
In a way, Nepal is a pawn which must be kept clean and within reach. Another reason why the US is worried over Nepal and its peace process is the involvement of the UN which is another face of the US.
US viewpoint Yet to be assured about Maoists
Published: 04:47 am Oct 07, 2009