Monday, July 16, 2007

Peace or Appease Process?

One year has passed since the April revolution, but the country is going nowhere. Some might like to call the ongoing process a “peace process” but there is hardly any peace being restored through the continuous process; it would not be an exaggeration to call the ongoing process an appease-process. The Maoists have skillfully reduced the entire peace process into an appease-process whereby the mainstream political parties have been somehow convinced by the Maoists that the peace in Nepal is contingent upon the appeasement of the Maoists and the government's ability to appall and antagonize other forces that have dared to challenge the Maoists' fiefdom, in blunt words, the Maoists' existence in the terai.

Actually, the chance to establish peace was strangled the very day the mainstream political parties bought the idea that to appease the Maoists was the only way to achieve peace. One of the many reasons why the so-called ongoing peace process is failing is that the Maoists have never taken the mainstream political parties seriously and treated them as an equal partner. It's not the Maoists' fault but the fault of the politicians of the mainstream political parties, because they are the ones that are unable to portray themselves as an equal partner. The negotiations that took place prior to the Maoist joining the government were hardly negotiations. It was a complete submission by the mainstream political parties. They have nodded in agreement to everything that the Maoists have asked for so far. When you are submissive to such an extent, there is no need to take you seriously. So, the mainstream political parties should not be grumbling now about the Maoists' unruly conducts; it is they who have been providing the Maoists with a free ride on their backs.

Whether you agree or not, it depends on your political affiliation and biases. If you put down the ideological baggage and biases you carry and think as a neutral citizen, you will agree that the nation is undergoing a deep and continuous crisis. Despite all the efforts of the Eight Party Alliance (EPA) to defend the accomplishments of the past year, there is a colossal failure of EPA's effectiveness to navigate the nation and to provide solutions for economic, social, and political problems. There are no practical dividends of democracy in sight. The general public does not have the will to wait indefinitely, for the practical changes to occur; they will eventually get fed up with their ruling elites, who had promised heaven but delivered dust so far. What will happen after that is for the people to decide and the politicians to speculate.

It is one thing to remain optimistic but it is foolish to believe that the product is going to be beautiful even if the process is flawed. Just as the morning shows the day, the process shows the product. If the lawlessness, chaos, and lack of political accountability could translate into peace and meaningful democracy, most of the African nations that are now engulfed in civil war-like situations would have been thriving democracy long ago.

If you are among those who get pleasure from comparing post-revolution French or any other Western society to that of today's Nepali society, and think like France, we too are going to become a viable democracy sooner or the later, you are comparing apple to oranges. Today's Nepal is not even remotely comparable to the then French society. The political culture, societal norms, and the desire and ability to translate unstable and bitterly divided society into a meaningful democracy among the then French politicians and today's Nepali politicians is beyond comparison. In addition, the level of political accountability was way higher even then, in France, than what it is in today's Nepal. So this false solace and wishful thinking is not going to get us anywhere.

Let's get real for once. Nepal today does not need to define democracy, since the basics of democracy have been there for the good part of the last two decades. Nepalis first need peace and stability (which is not going to come through the mere appeasement of the Maoist), a safe environment to send children to schools so that they may grow up to change the face of the Nation, and the time to grow food. A free and fearless environment to progress and develop.
The current home minister, who has miserably failed to maintain law and order situation is among many that are not further pushing the nation to the edge. Sitaula, who is known for doing the Maoists' dirty laundry, is all set to execute Prachanda's new game plan now: use the army against the rebelling Madhesis in the Terai. The latest two weeks' deadline for the talks and Sitaula's threat of stringent action is nothing but a preparatory step towards the future operation of the security forces, primarily against the agitating Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), which is the main competitor of the CPN (Maoist) in the terai.

Sitaula for one is for sure digging the grave for Nepali Congress (NC) and dashing away the dreams of Nepali citizens. He is in the advent of annihilating those very people that helped NC remain in power during the post 1990 democratic era. While United Marxist Leninist (UML) maintained strong hold in the remote hills of Nepal, it was the terai that gave NC the seats it needed to remain at the helm of state affairs. Strangely, now, the NC is silent when its home minister Sitaula is all set to deploy the security forces at the Maoists' wink. What an example of gratitude the NC is exhibiting!

Sitaula might have been convinced by the Maoists that the ongoing rebellion in terai is a law and order situation. The truth that the Maoists do not want to acknowledge is that the ongoing rebellion in the terai is the result of the apathy of the elite in Kathmandu, and their failure to acknowledge the need of inclusion of the Madhesis into the process of building the nation. Leave alone the need of inclusion, for the most part, the elites in Kathmandu have chosen to ignore the existence of the Madhesis and silently questioned their nationalism. Thus, the ongoing rebellion is the result of pent-up frustration that has been brewing for a while. This is definitely not a law and order problem.

Sitaula is all set to dig a grave for himself and for the NC too. Stop him. The idea of using security forces against unarmed Madhesis will prove a disaster for the nation and suicidal for the NC. The retaliation in kind, and the mass voting against NC in the terai, is inevitable if the security forces are used against the Madhesi people that have suffered a lot, and for too long. The killing of one Madhesi in Lahan brought down the government to its knees a couple of months ago and forced the Eight Party Alliance (EPA) to amend the constitution. Think about what might happen if the security forces in its attempt to please Sitaula indulge in indiscriminate killings of Madhesis in the terai? The Madhesis will be forced to see fellow countrymen that are pahadis as insensitive and vindictive. And what might follow after that is simply unthinkable, but probable.


Deepak Adhikari said...

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Anonymous said...

And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( )?