Himalaya Watch

People, issues. Debates, perspectives. Details, nuances. A crisp view from the top.

Visit the new professional website of Jiwan Kshetry

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Challenges to the Twelve Points

The world is lately abound with the weak, failing and failed states. The menace of economic turmoil is further worsening the daily lives of the people worldwide already facing a stiff challenge from rising militant extremism. A generalized sense of frustration and gloom pervades the populace as the worse news keep pouring in. In Nepal meanwhile, a new age of political confrontation and stalemate appears imminent even as the new government is set to take its full shape. The mood throughout the country is not as bright as it should have been with the 'change' that is taking place in the government. Indeed a mix of anxiety and frustration is being expressed to the direction that the country is about to take with the political change.

Literally, it has been the undoing of the 12 point agreement that started with the formation of a majority-government led by the Maoists last year that is now going to be completed. Those historic 12 points changed the course of history by provisionally ending the decade long conflict and deposing the centuries-long monarchy. Rough and tedious as the journey was, the accomplishments were also colossal as that was the beginning point of the polarization in stalled political process of Nepal. That was ultimately what worked in favor of the people after innumerable trials that saw the alignments of different kind. It seems the importance of the collaboration among the major political parties is more than ever now as none of the milestones in nation-building has been completed.

To the utter dismay of everyone, however, the interest of the people and the nation has been always secondary to the petty interests of their party or the faction for the politicians in Nepal. That is why the spirit of the 12 points is being undermined by one side after another. Even though the political parties still keep paying lip service to the spirit of the agreement, rhetoric is something that does not change anything in this world so long as there is no will power to see it through the practice. The deeds of all the major players in politics of Nepal now do nothing more than dismantling the accomplishments towards nation building that were achieved with the successful CA polls.

The first thing that will feel the chill of the developments now is the process of drafting constitution that has seen the time tables adjusted after one milestone fails to be achieved after another. Indeed the task of drafting the constitution has eventually fallen second in the priority list of the major players. The unscrupulous game of gaining and retaining power has once again reminded people of the post-1990 years during which similar activities had pushed the country into the ditch. What next? This has been the question confusing enough for the new government that is apparently emanating feeble confidence that the change in the political equation will do better for the country and the people.

At a moment about one and a half year ago, the CA polls were like a distant dream and few believed they would be held with the credibility that they actually did. A devastating wave of chaos was sure to unleash had the obstacles of the polls been able to sabotage the polls. With the collective will-power of the major political parties and reasonable cooperation from the regional parties, however, the cataclysm was averted for the moment infusing the rare optimism in the people that finally some positive development was possible in Nepal. Now also, not that all the doors for positive change have been closed. But the direction that the national politics is taking is dismal enough to cause a wave of frustration among the civilians.

The setbacks and regressions have been repeatedly reversing the achievements of popular uprisings in Nepal ever since the change of the 1950. The issue of handling the national army has been especially sensitive as the army has been instrumental in the repeated coup de tats of the monarch. As the conflict between the civilian institutions increases reducing their vitality in the process, the army remains as the most prominent institution representing the national establishment. That is indeed why the democratic processes have been unable to take deep roots in the developing countries with Nepal included.

This time around the process has been doubly complicated by the issue of integration into the NA of their former rivals, the PLA of the Maoists. The scenario is thus quite different from the earlier episodes during which the army had locked horns with the civilian administration on behalf of the king. With the monarchy gone, the commissions of the first president are going to set important precedence for any successor of him. Now that the role played by the president on reversing the decision of the civilian government has precipitated the downfall of the government, all these factors are going to come under intense scrutiny in the history.

The inherent reluctance of the NA to let their former rivals merge into themselves was understandable from the outset. That was, it seems, only precipitated by the CD scandal that explained how Prachanda had been pacifying the cadres by a promise to undermine the national army. For one camp of increasingly radicalized political pundits opposed to the Maoists, this is the ground enough for the army to behave the way it did with the COAS outright disobeying the government. Given the lessons from the past, however, this reasonably heralds the continuation of the peculiar position of the army that, we thought, had been dismantled by the latest uprising and the declaration of the republic. Ever since the armed conflict drew the army into prominence, it has preferred to obey the civilian government only so long as it is not confronted.

What is now to follow then? Bringing and keeping the army in the civilian control is one important task and time will tell if the new alliance is correct in assuming that it can be done by simply not challenging the body and not provoking it. The story, however, does not end here as the issue of civilian control of the army is entangled with other important issues of national importance. The past agreements, especially the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that formally ended the decade-long conflict envision the integration of the two armies, something persistently opposed by the army top brass. The process of drafting the constitution now hinges on the timely management of the former rebels. Not to mention, the number of the rebels was unscrupulously swollen by the Maoists in the transition period as exposed by the CD scandal.

How will the new government proceed now? Can it afford to further alienate the Maoists by following the idea of the army top brass on the issue of integration? How meaningfully will it seek to reconcile with the disgruntled predecessors in the power? These questions will be answered with time. The silver line around the cloud now is that the new government will strike a balance which becomes acceptable to both side of the former enemies. That needs, however, enormous will power and ability to see beyond tomorrow, something seldom seen in politics of Nepal. With his pathetic past record with extreme myopia that led to the inclusion of the UML in King's cabinet two years back, MK Nepal needs a political rebirth for the purpose, something difficult to rationalize if not to imagine. It may be last chance for anybody to keep alive the spirit of the 12 points failing to do so will ensure the failure of the new government along with that of Nepal as a state. Let's just see.

No comments:

विजय कुमारको खुशी पढेपछि

जीवन, खुशी अहंकार

जीवनमा अफ्ठ्यारा घुम्तीहरुमा हिंडिरहँदा मैले कुनै क्षणमा पलायनलाई एउटा विकल्पको रुपमा कल्पना गरेको थिएँ, त्यसलाई यथार्थमा बदल्ने आँट गरिनँ, त्यो बेग्लै कुरा हो त्यसबेला लाग्थ्योः मेरा समग्र दुखहरुको कारण मेरो वरपरको वातावरण हो, यसबाट साहसपूर्वक बाहिरिएँ भने नयाँ दुख आउलान् तर तत्क्षणका दुरुह दुखहरु गायब भएर जानेछन् कति गलत थिएँ !

Read more from Dashain Issue

Debating partition of India: culpability and consequences

Read the whole story here

Why I write...

I do not know why I often tend to view people rather grimly: they usually are not as benevolent, well-intentioned and capable or strong as they appear to be. This assumption is founded on my own self-assessment, though I don’t have a clue as to whether it is justifiable to generalize an observation made in one individual. This being the fact, my views of writers as ‘capable’ people are not that encouraging: I tend to see them as people who intend to create really great and world-changing writings but most of the times end up producing parochial pieces. Also, given the fact that the society where we grow and learn is full of dishonesty, treachery, deceit and above else, mundanity, it is rather unrealistic to expect an entirely reinvigorating work of writing from every other person who scribbles words in paper.

On life's challenges

Somebody has said: “I was born intelligent but education ruined me”. I was born a mere child, as everyone is, and grew up as an ordinary teenager eventually landing up in youth and then adulthood. The extent to which formal education helped me to learn about the world may be debatable but it definitely did not ruin me. There were, however, things that nearly ruined me. There came moments when I contemplated some difficult choices. And there came and passed periods when I underwent through an apparently everlasting spell of agony. There came bends in life from which it was very tempting to move straight ahead instead of following the zigzag course.

Read more