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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Testing time for patriotic Nepali people

Yuba Nath Lamsal
It was indeed a matter of pleasure for patriotic Nepali people when Prachanda and Jhalanath Khanal made a last hour deal to foil Indian design in the prime ministerial election. Maoist chairman Prachanda not only withdrew his candidacy from the race but his party—UCPN-Maoist— also backed Khanal to form a Maoist-UML coalition government. This move served as a surprise shock to New Delhi and their agents in Nepal simply because they failed in their attempt to install Nepali Congress-led pro-Indian government in Nepal. Still they have not given up their conspiracy and are now active to fail this new coalition. Not even a week has passed since the new prime minister was sworn in, Nepali Congress has already demanded the dissolution of this government ostensibly in the behest of external forces. The CPN-UML, too, is in internal imbroglio that is between the patriotic and pro-Indian elements within the party. At the behest of New Delhi, some of the UML leaders are working out to pull down the government led by the chairperson of their own party. This cannot be bigger irony than this. India was behind the delay in the formation of the new government even more than six months. India wanted to give continuity to the alliance that was suitable for New Delhi than for the people of Nepal. India had not been successful in this bid for more than six months. But it had been successful not to let other parties mainly the UCPN-Maoist— the largest party in parliament—to lead the coalition government simply because it has refused to toe New Delhi\'s line on domestic as well as foreign affairs. All previous sixteen rounds of prime ministerial election had failed to elect the prime minister. India applied all kinds of diplomatic or otherwise tactics to defeat the Maoist candidate in the prime ministerial election. At the same time, it also could not succeed to ensure victory of the Nepali Congress candidate. Even in the fresh round of election, India made a plan, under which the first and second round of elections would produce no results. In the third round, it had expected the victory of Nepali Congress leader for which pro-Indian force in the CPN-UML had been duly mobilized. This plan was designed by New Delhi in due consultation with the Nepali Congress, Madhesi parties and pro-Indian faction in the CPN-UML. However, the Maoists and a faction of the CPN-UML foiled this design in the last hour that paved the way for the formation of Khanal-led government, which is being dubbed as a patriotic coalition. This is a fitting reply to India that has been interfering in Nepal\'s internal affairs and also the forces that serve Indian interests more than the interest of Nepal. Right after the Sugauli Treaty Nepal has been struggling hard to safeguard its national identity and independence. The Sugauli Treaty was a symbol of Nepal\'s humiliation as British dictated its terms on Nepal in the name of the treaty. The treaty was signed following Nepal\'s shocking defeat with British colonial power that had already gobbled up entire South Asian continent except Nepal. But Nepal somehow defended its independence despite ceding a large portion of its territory to British colonial rulers and also compromising on some crucial matters. In other words, this was treaty not signed between the two countries but imposed by British colonial rulers upon Nepal. Some people even describe this as an event that marked the beginning of Nepal being turned into semi-colonial state. This treaty was revised later which accepted Nepal\'s independent and sovereign status. However, t he treaty became automatically invalid after the British colonial rulers left India and India was divided into two countries. At that time Nepal should have claimed its lost territories but failed to do so. Since the present India is not the successor of British raj, it has no right to occupy the land British had conquered. During the partition, it had been agreed that there would be two countries—Hindustan and Pakistan— out of British ruled India. But India started violating the agreement made during the partition from the very beginning as it called itself as India rather than Hindustan. But Pakistan respected the agreement in its letter and spirit. It had been agreed that neither Hindustan nor Pakistan would claim to be the successor of British India. The New Delhi defied the agreement to call itself India simply to claim to be the successor of British India. This is the case of India\'s non-compliance with the international agreement which raises the question about New Delhi\'s trustworthiness. The breach of trust and agreement has been more often with India right from its birth, which has been well reflected in the relationship with all its neighbours as well as others. India\'s claim to be the successor of the British colonial rule means that New Delhi wants to assert the right to pursue colonial policy with its neighbours. And New Delhi has been pursuing the same old colonial policy with regard to its neighbours despite it being independent from British colony. The relationship with Nepal, Bhutan and some other smaller countries in South Asia clearly reflects this colonial mentality of India. Nepal is sufferingmore from this attitude of India and its continued interference in our domestic affairs. As the Sugauli Treaty signed between Nepal and the British raj became invalid in 1947 after British colony ended in India, New Delhi adopted even tighter and more hegemonic and expansionist policy with Nepal. When the Rana oligarchic regime was on its way out in 1950 in the face of popular uprising, India forced the beleaguered regime to sign a treaty that was worse than the earlier one. The Rana Prime Minister, whose administration had been in danger because of the popular unrest, quietly signed the treaty with the hope that New Delhi would come to its rescue and protect the oligarchic regime. New Delhi had also assured the Rana oligarchic regime to protect it from the popular uprising in exchange for 1950 treaty. Although the name of this treaty is the 1950 treaty of peace and friendship, in reality it is the most unfriendly treaty that has imposed India\'s terms on Nepal. Nepali parties have often described it as an unequal treaty and have demanded its abrogation. But India has consistently rejected any idea and demand concerning the abrogation of the treaty. Unfortunately, some of our political parties and leaders have echoed India\'s voice stating that the 1950 treaty was at the best interest of both Nepal and India. The 1950 treaty is not, at all, in the interest of Nepal. It has encroached upon our sovereign rights. The defense of the 1950 treaty by any Nepali is an act of treachery because the abrogation of 1950 treaty is a must to reach a bilateral accord with India on equal footing. Any patriotic Nepali cannot support this treaty. Any political party that opposes the 1950 treaty and demands its abrogation is termed as an anti-Indian force. New Delhi plots against the patriotic force of Nepal and makes every possible effort to ensure that the patriotic force may not go to power. For this, India applies any kind of tactics—moral or immoral, legal or illegal and diplomatic or otherwise—which was clearly evident during the prime ministerial election in the past. Although a strong faction of CPN-UML now advocates India\'s interest, this party, too, had opposed the 1950 treaty in the past. As long as CPN-UML opposed 1950 treaty, it always remained in the black list of India and New Delhi did everything to weaken the CPN-UML and to prevent it from going to power. Even when the CPN-UML won people\'s support in the election and emerged as the largest party in parliament, serious attempts had been made not to allow the UML to form its government. But the designs to prevent the UML were exhausted and UML finally formed a minority government headed by Manmohan Adhikari as the first communist prime minister in Nepal. However, it was ousted from power in nine months. This government for the first time in the history of Nepal had frankly and strongly put forth a proposal on the negotiating table with India for the review and change in the 1950 treaty, which irked New Delhi. Indian hand was well perceived behind the fall of UML minority government in nine months. Later, the CPN-UML made a U-turn in its India policy and it accorded priority to power than patriotism. The CPN-UML thought that it cannot go to power without India\'s support. Since then, it completely stopped anti-India rhetoric and started appeasing New Delhi. The CPN-UML found an opportune moment to please India at the time of the ratification of Mahakali Treaty, which marked a big shift in UML\'s India policy. Since then, CPN-UML has found space in India\'s good book and it has been pursuing this policy even now. As UML turned out to be a pro-Indian force, its popular base started trembling. People of Nepal are basically patriotic and they do not like pro-Indian force. This was well reflected in the Constituent Assembly election. The Nepali Congress and CPN-UML fared poorly in the election whereas the CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest force. The victory of the CPN-Maoist was an endorsement of its agenda including its patriotic stance. New Delhi had expected that the Maoists would change their policy on India after they went to power. However, the Maoists continued with their patriotic stance. This is the reason why the Maoists had to be out of power through a drama staged by India. When in government, the Maoists repeated their demands to scrap 1950 treaty and reach a new treaty with India on the basis of mutual equality. This could not have been tolerated by India and its agents in Nepal. The army chief issue was just a pretext of a drama that had long been rehearsed to oust the Maoists from power. These are some of the instances that confirm India\'s naked interference and aggression in Nepal. But, instead of countering this aggression, some of our parties are trying to further consolidate Indian interference. The present crisis that has appeared in Nepal\'s political landscape is the result of the tussle between the patriotic forces and pro-Indian elements. But the patriotic forces need to be united and collectively counter and foil Indian designs and also to defeat the Indian agents in Nepal to safeguard Nepal\'s national independence and national interests. This is the testing time for patriotic forces of Nepal to safeguard their sovereignty, national independence and identity. The global experiences have shown that patriotic forces always prevail and Nepali patriotic forces would also prevail against traitors, conspirators and collaborators.

Relevance of Democracy Day in Nepal

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Last week, Democracy Day was observed in Nepal in commemoration of the day that marked the end of a century of Rana oligarchic rule and establishment of multi-party monarchical democracy in Nepal in the face of the popular uprising in 1951. Since then, the day is observed every year to pay rich tributes to those who made valuable sacrifices for the political change. As long as the monarchy was around, there was valid ground to mark this day as it restored the power of the king in Nepal. Now questions are being raised about the significance and relevance of marking this day especially now that Nepal has entered the republican era.
Conspiracy
It was the day that shifted power from the Rana family to the Shah dynasty. The political change that was brought about in 1951 did not transfer power to the people. When the popular uprising was building up, a serious conspiracy was hatched both in Kathmandu and New Delhi to abort the movement, and a power-sharing formula was devised between the Ranas and the Shah king under India’s midwifery.
Although this was known as the tripartite Delhi pact between the Ranas, Shah king and the revolutionary force - the Nepali Congress - the deal was mainly reached between the beleaguered Rana Prime Minister Mohan Shumsher and the exiled king, Tribhuvan. The revolutionary force which forced the Rana rulers to bow down had also been kept in the dark about the agreement but was informed only after the deal was formally signed and announced through the media.
Under the new arrangement brokered by India, the king, who had gone into exile, would be restored whereas a new coalition government comprising representatives of the Ranas and the Nepali Congress would be formed under the leadership of Rana Prime Minister Mohan Shumsher.
In fact, the deal was a humiliation to the revolutionary forces that had launched a determined struggle to abolish Rana rule. However, the deal ensured the continuity of Rana rule, and the revolutionary forces had to join the government under the very person against whom the revolution had been launched. In the beginning, the Nepali Congress had rejected the deal, but it came under tremendous pressure to accept it.
The new arrangement was definitely better than the earlier Rana regime because it, to some degree, reduced the power of the Ranas. But it was still not the one that the people had fought for. The new arrangement was a shift of power from the Ranas to the Shah kings. The real and genuine democracy for which the Nepali Congress and the people of Nepal had fought for was not achieved. Despite its initial reservation, the Nepali Congress quietly accepted the Delhi accord, thereby aborting the popular movement.
It was this reason why some people, especially the communists, had condemned the Delhi agreement and described it as a betrayal of the people. Some of the revolutionary commanders, too, rejected this deal and vowed to continue with their fight for total democracy and freedom. Dr. K. I. Singh was one who continued his war in parts of the Terai, but he was later captured with the help of Indian troops and kept behind bars under tight security. The Communist Party had also opposed the Delhi agreement, but it, too, was banned. This is how the 1950 popular uprising was ended in a compromise for power and positions.
The king slowly started consolidating power by creating political instability and pitting one force against the other for almost eight years. Although he had promised to hold the election for a Constituent Assembly within a couple of years, he delayed the process to fully consolidate power. After the king became fully confident that nothing would happen even if elections were held, he announced the general election for Parliament in which the Nepali Congress won. This was once again a betrayal of the people.
The Nepali Congress, too, made a blunder by quietly accepting the parliamentary election instead of the election for a Constituent Assembly. Although the Nepali Congress won a landslide victory in the general election, there was a fundamental flaw in it because this election was held under the constitution given by the king, which had reserved special prerogatives for him. The king later used the same prerogative given by the constitution to disband the elected government and trample on democracy. Had the Nepal Congress insisted on a Constituent Assembly election and had the constitution been written by the people’s representatives, the king would not have gotten so much power to scuttle democracy. The Nepali Congress failed to visualize this situation largely for power. As a result, the country had to remain under monarchical dictatorship for more than 30 years.
Even after this incident, the parties failed to learn lessons from past mistakes. The parties, mainly the Nepali Congress, continued to back the monarchy. B.P. Koirala, founder of the Nepali Congress, defined and described the monarchy as one of the twin pillars of democracy. BP had repeatedly said that the monarchy was the symbol of national unity and that Nepal’s national identity would be jeopardised in the absence of the monarchy. Even parliamentary communists subscribed to this view. But the revolutionary communists continued to insist that the monarchy was an undemocratic institution which must be abolished to institutionalise democracy and strengthen nationality.
The CPN-UML, which has a revolutionary history behind it, had initially adopted a republican programme, but it, too, eventually degenerated into a parliamentary reformist party which accepted the rightist agenda.
The 1990 political uprising ended in a power sharing agreement between the parliamentary parties and the monarchy. Under the agreement, the monarchy was retained in the name of constitutional kingship whereas the parties were able to enjoy political freedom to carry out activities in the name of multiparty democracy. The constitution drafted by representatives of the king, Nepali Congress and the United Left Front (a front of parliamentary communist groups) in 1990 immediately after the political change reserved some key powers for the king that included the power to declare an emergency and suspend the constitution. By exercising the same power, former king Gyanendra disbanded democracy and took over power in 2005, thereby, marginalising the role of the political parties.
The eyes of the parties opened wide only after this incident. The major parties, mainly the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, became desperate when the people did not respond to their call for a movement against the king’s authoritarian move. This did not mean that the king’s move had the people’s support, only that they wanted to teach the parties a lesson. Further frustrated by the people’s lackluster response to their call for a movement, the parliamentary parties, mainly the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, hastened to reach an accord with the Maoists through a 12-point agreement. Earlier the parliamentary parties were die hard critics of the Maoists, but they changed their strategy to join hands with the rebels against the king.
The alliance between the parliamentary parties and the Maoists was not a choice but compulsion under the existing situation. This agreement paved the way for a joint movement that toppled the monarchy and declared Nepal a federal democratic republic.
Relevance lost
Since the country is already a federal republic, the celebration of Democracy Day that marked the shift of power from the Ranas to the king has lost its relevance and significance. Celebration of this day gives a sense that the monarchy still exists and implies that the monarchy is necessary for the country. In fact, the monarchy is an anti-democratic force that always suppressed the people in the name of either religion or nationalism. Nowhere in the world has the monarchy been democratised willfully.
The modern age is an era of democracy - republican democracy. So is it with Nepal. In this modern republican era, celebration of the day that glorifies a feudal institution that has already been scrapped is an insult to the people and their sacrifice made for the establishment of a republican set up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lessons From Uprisings In Arab World

Yuba Nath Lamsal
With globalisation and the revolution in the information and communication sector, the world has become so small that any event - big or small - that takes place in any part of the world has an impact on every corner of the planet. The recent Arab uprising has sent a message across the world, however, differently to different people. The revolution in Tunisia and Egypt, and the changes it has brought about have been music to people wanting change and reform. At the same time, the Arab uprising has sent shock waves to dictators, compradors and repressive rulers in the world.
The revolt in the Arab world has already deposed two of history’s worst dictators. Some others, too, may be counting their last days. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt have fled the country in the face of the unprecedented protests by the people, thereby, paving the way for change and political reforms. But the revolutionaries have not taken rest as they sense conspiracies to abort the spirit of the revolution and impose a dictatorship in different forms.
In Tunisia, people are still watchful, and they are exerting pressure on the new regime not to deviate from the spirit of the revolution. But the situation in Egypt is different. Although Mubarak has relinquished and fled the country, the army has taken over, which could be a more dangerous form of dictatorship. The spirit of the revolution was not to transfer power from one form of dictatorship to another. The change in Egypt is, thus, not complete. This, instead, requires the revolutionaries to intensify their protests for the total end of dictatorship so as to introduce freedom and democracy in the land of the Nile.
The revolution in Tunisia, popularly known as the ‘Jasmine Revolution’, has had a similar impact in the Arab world as the French Revolution in Europe. The banner of the Tunisian revolution was ‘bread, freedom and dignity’, similar to the ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ slogan of the French Revolution. It is for this reason that the Tunisian revolution was touted as the Arab version of the French revolution. Like the French Revolution that created a wave of revolutionary and political consciousness not only in Europe but in the entire world, the Tunisian revolution also has had a similar impact on the Middle East and the Arab world.
The mayhem has already spread to Yemen, Jordan, Algeria and Iran. The people in the rest of the Arab world, too, are waiting for an opportune time to say good bye to their despotic rulers.
Change is necessary in the world, provided it brings a better and dignified life to the people. People all over the world want change, but it is more so in the Arab world, where democracy and freedom are still alien concepts. The rulers are ruling and trying to consolidate their authoritarian regimes either in the name of religion or Pan-Arab nationalism. But their tactics of fooling the people to protect their regimes are failing, and dictatorial regimes are crumbling one after another like a house of cards.
So far, the popular revolt has been limited to the Arab world, but it is likely to spread to the entire world to liberate oppressed humanity. Revolt is the right of the people, and the people have the right to overthrow a regime peacefully or revolt in order to install a regime of their choice.
As a result, the authoritarian order in the Arab world is being shattered. The developments and change in Egypt will have greater impact and repercussion in the Arab world because of its size and influence. Egypt accounts for roughly one-quarter of the Arab world’s 300 million population. Cairo stands at the heart of Arab culture and power in the Middle East. The transition of political power in Cairo will, thus, have an impact on all countries of the Middle East from Casablanca to Kuwait, Tripoli to Damascus.
This has sent a message to the people of the world that revolution and change are inevitable for bringing change in the lives of the people. This will have its repercussions in Nepal, too, because Nepal is also going through a difficult situation similar to that of most Arab countries. The condition through which Nepal is passing demands a new revolution to establish people’s supremacy and teach the corrupt and power-hungry parties and politicians a lesson that people’s power is invincible.
The political parties and their leaders have played with the fate of the people and the country in their pursuit of partisan and personal interests. Despite the pledges made to the people to give the country a new constitution to institutionalise the achievements of the 2006 popular movement known as Jana Andolan II, the parties have failed in their tasks. As a result, the political situation has only given rise to uncertainty and instability.
The unstable and uncertain situation of the country and failure of the political parties to work in consensus have given rise to external meddling and interference. This has sent a message to the international community that the Nepalese people are not capable of determining their own destiny. As external meddling is growing, a new kind of polarisation is taking shape in Nepal.
The parties seem least bothered about the condition of the country and plight of the people. The life of the people is getting more difficult due to the skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, poor law and order situation, rampant unemployment and pervasive corruption and cronyism. The parties and leaders of Nepal have pushed the Himalayan republic into a chaotic situation.
The failure of the parties to complete the jobs they were entrusted with has raised a serious question about the parties’ credibility and ability to lead the country. This is a disregard for the verdict of the people who had mandated the parties during the Constituent Assembly election to write the constitution in two years and complete the peace process as early as possible.
Instead some of the parties are acting on the instructions of foreigners, and serving the interests of the external forces than the interest of Nepal. Alien culture and values have so forcefully invaded the country in the name of globalisation and liberalisation that we are slowly losing our national culture and values.
Against this dismal situation, people have no alternative but to go to the streets and revolt against the parties’ misconduct. This, however, does not imply support for the feudal, monarchist and rightist elements. In a multi-party system, parties are here to stay, but the revolt is necessary to bring the parties back on track.
The people, thus, have to revolt against the dictatorship, deceit and deception of the parties and leaders. Revolt is necessary to safeguard Nepal’s sovereignty and national identity. All these conditions have indicated that a people’s revolution is ripening in Nepal, ready to burst anytime soon as in Tunisia.
The people of Nepal are, therefore, expected to rise from their slumber against the conspiracy being jointly hatched by domestic reactionary forces and external elements. Once they fully awake, the people of Nepal would definitely shake off the foreign meddling and interference, which is necessary to safeguard the sovereignty, national independence, freedom and democracy. The revolutions in the Arab world, perhaps, teach us the necessity of a peaceful mass resurrection to reaffirm the rights and freedom of the people.

Patriots and compradors being polarized

Yuba Nath Lamsal
A new kind of polarization is taking shape in Nepali political landscape. The new polarization would be quite different from what some political pundits have predicted. Instead it would a polarization between the patriotic forces against the traitors, compradors and agents of foreign expansionists and interventionist elements.
Nepal's political circle had been abuzz about the possibility of polarization between the democratic and communist forces. Some had even claimed that it was necessary. Different people have different logics on this issue. The rightist elements have been pushing for the so-called democratic alliance incorporating the entire rightist, conservative, reactionary and regressive forces. The staunch advocate of this alliance has been Surya Bahadur Thapa who leads a rather tiny group with a couple of seats in the 601-member Constituent Assembly. His views and logic for the creation of such an alliance is to fight and counter the growing leftist and communist forces. But deep inside his heart is the goal instilled by foreigners to keep the patriotic forces at bay and serve the interest of foreigners mainly India's expansionist and interventionist policies and interests in Nepal.
There are also some other people and groups that want this kind of alliance. This brand consists of the people who did not emerge on their own strength or with support from the people but were raised and fed by India and their agents in Nepal. Unable to go to power on their own strength because they were and are virtually rejected by the people are trying to go to power in proxy in the name of democratic alliance. This brand of people and groups want the Nepali Congress to lead the so-called democratic alliance taking all the rightist compradors in its side in support from New Delhi. They want the leadership of the Nepali Congress because of its glorious history in leading the democratic movement in 1950/51 and its unflinching support for liberal democracy. However, the Nepali Congress is still reluctant to take this initiative, although it is tempted to do so with the hope of going to power. Nepali Congress is afraid of growing patriotic sentiment in Nepal which would further benefit the leftists who have been the champions of patriotism and national independence, if the Nepali Congress did not take initiative to lead the anti-communist force. Even if this so happens, the alliance of the rightist should still not be able to form its own government because the rightist parties alone do not form the majority in the Constituent Assembly and they still have to rely on the support of some leftist groups. Thus, the interest of having the government of the rightists alone would not be served.
If the so-called democratic alliance of the rightists at all takes shape, it would create a necessity to form an alliance of the leftists, although there is a slim chance of such an alliance (leftist alliance) given the naked interference of India and its efforts not to allow any kind of force that does not toe New Delhi's line. If leftists, at all, create such an alliance, it would be a big force which would be able to tackle all the pending issues including the constitution making. In the Constituent Assembly, the combined strength of the leftist is more than two-thirds of the total strength of the Constituent Assembly, which would be sufficient to take any vital decision. If the alliance of the leftist is created, the new constitution would also be written and promulgated without any hindrances because they have the majority required for the passage of the constitution. The leftist alliance would not only benefit the leftists but it would also be in the interest of the country and the people because leftists are relatively more patriotic than the rightists in the context of Nepal.
Unfortunately, this is not going to happen. The leftists themselves are divided. The CPN-UML is also divided on the creation of the leftists' alliance. CPN-UML chairman is positive but he is not strong enough to convince his party on this national necessity. As a result, the faction led jointly by KP Oli and Madhav Nepal, who have commanded New Delhi's trust, are strongly opposed to the idea of an left alliance. They are openly in support of the so-called democratic alliance under the leadership of the Nepali Congress with South Block's blessing. The Oli-Nepal camp in the UML had advocated the formation of the Congress-led government excluding the Maoists, despite it being the largest political force of Nepal. The duo pushed hard their own party to support the Nepali Congress and not to align with the Maoists. But Khanal took a firm stance against the Congress-led government in which he succeeded. In the form of prize for his stance against the Indian design and conspiracy of the Nepali compradors, the Maoists extended their support in the eleventh hour which installed the prime ministerial crown on the head of Jhalanath Khanal. Although he succeeded to be the prime minister on anti-India plank, his position has weakened after he was elected as prime minister. He has not been able to be decisive to keep the pro-Indian force at bay. The problem began with the signing of the seven-point pact with the UCPN-Maoist, which has been sharply opposed by the Nepali Congress and some other rightist parties. The anti-Khanal factions in the CPN-UML have already joined this bandwagon and have started exerting pressure on the party leadership not to continue coalition with the Maoists. This is being done in the behest of New Delhi that is against the Maoists to be in the cabinet.
The entire drama is being staged to weaken Nepali patriotic movement and consolidate external meddling mainly Indian interference in Nepal. Nepali Congress is leading this group in Nepal whereas some Madhesi parties, who were created by India as a safe bet in Nepal's politics, and a faction of the CPN-UML is backing this initiative. Despite having many weaknesses, the Maoists are relatively more patriotic than others, although the Indian agents have made significant inroad in the UCPN-Maoist as well.
But conspiracy is on not to allow the leftists' alliance in Nepal. As a result, the efforts are being made to create a so-called democratic alliance in which all forces except the UCPN-Maoist are likely to join. This ground is being created by India for which New Delhi has invested a lot. Thus, there is a likelihood of polarization not on the basis of political ideology but based on patriotism. If the pro-Indian forces are united under the banner of democratic alliance, patriotic force would also be compelled to join hands and counter the conspiracy being hatched against Nepal's sovereignty and national interests.
It is a part of the India's game plan to ultimately gobble up Nepal in the similar fashion it did to Sikkim in 1975. Presently, it is in the process of Bhutanization and once the process of Bhutanization completes, New Delhi would create the ground for Sikkimization of Nepal for which India has been at work right after its independence from British colonial rule. It should be worthwhile to note here that the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had made a statement in 1948 that India's northern border extended as far as Himalaya, which implied that New Delhi had planned to annex Nepal during those days. But India's design was foiled because of international situation as the newly liberated communist China had adopted a tough policy regarding its relations with its neighbors. At the same time, the United States was also watchful and concerned about Nepal's sovereignty and independence. Now India has been emboldened because of the new strategic alliance with the United States in the hope that the US-led western world would keep quiet if India implements its hegemonic and expansionist policy in South Asia more particularly in Nepal. However, the international situation is not favourable in the way New Delhi has thought. Moreover, majority of the Nepali people are patriotic who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the country. It is this patriotic and fighting spirit that kept Nepal independent even when the rest of South Asia was under British colonial rule. Even British could not conquer Nepal because of the valour the patriotic Nepalese people had demonstrated during the Anglo-Nepal war. Even now patriotic forces are powerful and strong in Nepal. They seem to be weak because they are divided. Once they get united, brushing aside their ideological and political leaning, they would form a strong force to be enough in the fight against external hegemony and its Nepali agents. Now it is time that all true patriotic force, irrespective of their political ideology, must get united and create a common front to safeguard Nepal's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Progressive Coalition At Work

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Nepal has witnessed some new twists and turns in the political spectrum that have resulted in the formation of the Jhalanath Khanal-led government with the backing of the UCPN-Maoist. This is a positive signal that has heralded a new chapter in Nepal’s political history. The new development that saw Khanal’s victory in the prime ministerial race has demonstrated that the Nepali people are capable of determining their destiny and do not seek external meddling and interference in Nepal’s internal affairs and politics.
External powers were openly and blatantly interfering in Nepal’s internal politics and were active in imposing conditions and terms on the Nepali political parties in the formation of the new government. There could have been genuine concerns from some friendly countries that want peace, stability and prosperity in Nepal. These countries are genuine friends of Nepal and want to make meaningful contribution to the development of Nepal.
Foreign Interference
But there are some countries which, in the name of friendship, are making efforts to extract maximum benefit by squeezing Nepal through various means. To serve their interest, they often dictated terms and conditions on our government. Worse still, there are countries that seek a direct role in every decision taken by Nepal.
They even want to see a government of their choice. The deadlock and delay in the formation of the new government for a period of over six months was mainly because of external meddling and interference in our domestic politics. This was definitely unfortunate for the Nepali people. But more unfortunate was the case when some of our own political parties and leaders not only acted as agents of the foreigners but did everything to fulfill their interest than our own national interest and needs.
The formation of the Khanal-led government is a big and serious blow to the external forces that had been directly meddling in Nepal’s political process. Some external forces were of the misguided notion that a government cannot be formed without their support. This particular external force that was directly interfering in Nepal’s internal politics wanted an alliance between forces other than the Maoists. The external element had adopted the policy of not allowing the Maoists to be in the government of any kind. This factor played a key role in keeping the Maoists out of power for a long time simply because the Maoists refused to toe its line and accept its domination and dictation.
The external powers and their agents in Nepal often talk of a democratic alliance against the Maoists. This is an absurd position with no justification whatsoever. What do they mean by a democratic alliance? According to this school of thought, which is often backed by some external hegemonic power, the anti-Maoist alliance in Nepal is the democratic alliance.
Then what is the UCPN-Maoist? Is this not a democratic party? If a name is any yardstick to determine whether a particular party is democratic or not, there are other parties including the CPN-UML, which continue to have the communist tag in their name. If a particular party toes the line of a particular country or countries, it is certified as a democratic party no matter what its name or policies. But if any party does not toe the line of the external forces, it is described as an authoritarian party.
Look at their view of the CPN-UML. As long as the CPN-UML joined hands with the rightist parties, including the Nepali Congress, it was a democratic party, and once it gave up its alliance with the Nepali Congress and other rightist parties, the CPN-UML was suddenly described as a communist authoritarian party.
In the past, there was a government headed by the CPN-UML leader, in which the Nepali Congress and some other parties were in. This government was described as a democratic coalition simply because it could keep the Maoists out of power. Now there is an alliance between the CPN-UML and the Maoists, which is being dubbed as communist polarisation by the rightist parties and elements. This is flawed thinking.
The right to decide whether a particular party or government is democratic or not solely rests with the people of a particular country. This is not the business of foreigners. Moreover, the Maoists in Nepal took part in the election which was certified as being free and fair by international observes and emerged as the largest party in Parliament. How can a party that takes part in a competitive, free and fair election and wins popular support be branded as an anti-democratic party?
This is exactly the case with the Nepali Maoists viz-a-viz its position with the external forces and other rightist parties in Nepal. The Maoists took part in the Constituent Assembly election held under the laws and conditions formulated by the interim parliament in which the Maoists were in a minority. The Maoists accepted these conditions and contested the elections in which they emerged as the largest party.
Perhaps the anticipation and assumption of the other parties, mainly the Nepali Congress, and some external forces were that the Maoists would not be able to gain so much strength. But they were shocked by the election results, which gave the Maoists an upper hand even in open and parliamentary politics. The election result was a popular endorsement of the Maoists and their policies.
In a democracy, people are supreme, and their verdict is final. But any attempt to misinterpret and disregard popular verdict and mandate in itself is an anti-democratic step. The Maoists are the largest force in Parliament, having won the largest number of seats. Since the people of Nepal have accepted them as a mainstream democratic party and given them the mandate to lead the government as well as lead the constitution-writing and peace process, what right do the external elements and their agents in Nepal have to make statements whether a certain party is democratic or not? This is purely an expansionist and hegemonic position of the external power and reactionary and anti-democratic policy of the domestic forces.
If one believes in the universally accepted cardinal principles of democracy, he/she must respect the verdict of the people. Similar is the case with the present coalition government headed by CPN-UML Chairman Khanal. The international community in general is happy with the formation of the new government, which has broken the nearly seven-month-long political deadlock and stagnation.
The formation of the new government has once again revived the hope that the constitution might be written in time, and the peace process concluded. But certain external powers and elements that want to keep Nepal under their political and security ambit are trying to discredit the Khanal-led government, and they have, right from the beginning, started hatching an ugly conspiracy against it.
This is an alliance between the two major parties in Parliament - one is the largest party and the other the third largest party. Other fringe parties have either joined or backed this alliance. Thus, this alliance is a patriotic, democratic and progressive alliance. Some have even raised the possibility of polarisation of politics in Nepal as the alliance between the CPN-UML and the Maoists would ultimately create two political poles - communist and non-communist camps.
Polarisation a necessary evil
Some have described the non-communist front as a democratic alliance while the leftists and progressive groups see them as reactionaries. According to the leftists, polarisation between the progressive (communist) forces and reactionary (non-communist or democratic) forces is necessary to complete the task of the present political transformation of Nepal more successfully.
Whatever the logic and counter logic, the present coalition is not against any political group or any particular country or group of countries. As long as the external forces and countries continue to have friendly relations based on the principle of equality and mutual respect, refraining from interfering in another’s internal affairs, the coalition government and its partners will be happy to exchange meaningful cooperation with all countries on the world. But interference under any pretext and cover would be unacceptable for the government as well as the people of Nepal.

Peace in South still elusive

Yuba Nath Lamsal
In a talk programme last week, Pakistan's ambassador to Nepal Syed Abrar Hussain highlighted more elaborately the role played by his country (Pakistan) for regional peace and stability in South Asia. Ambassador Hussain mainly focused on Kashmir issue and India-Pakistan conflict, which has direct bearing on peace and security of South Asia. His focus was on the initiative taken by Pakistan in resolving outstanding issues with India and establishing peace in entire South Asia.
Peace is the most desired commodity not only in South Asia but in the world as a whole. However, genuine peace has still been a far-fetched idea and the world is suffering from various types of conflicts— inter-state and intra-state conflicts. South Asia is not an exception. Despite efforts made from various quarters to develop South Asia as a peaceful and prosperous region, peace is still elusive in this region. This is mainly because of the policies and approaches of a particular dominant country in the region.
South Asia continues to be a region dogged by conflict, mistrust and suspicion. As a consequence, this region has fallen far behind in terms of social and economic development. South Asia is, thus, dubbed as a region of poor and backward people, which is often conflict ridden and hotbed of terrorism. Such a remark may appear to be quite disparaging. But this is a true statement, to a large extent, which can be validated by facts and figures.
Given the resources this region possesses, it outmatches the rest of the world. In terms of human resource, South Asia alone has the one-fifth of world's human resource, which can be turned into productive force for development if proper policies and measures were taken and collaborative and cooperative approaches are adopted by the countries of the region. If China is included in South Asia, this would be the region of almost half of the world's humanity. Besides being a part of East Asia, there are ample reasons to include China as a member of the South Asian fraternity because it has a long land border with five of the eight countries of South Asia and shares maritime border with the rest three. Based on this reality, South Asia is the world's biggest regional group, both in terms of population and geographical size.
If we look at other positive aspects this region possesses are the abundant natural resources and ancient and rich civilization and cultural heritage. The region has the world's largest potentials of water resource with hundreds of perennial rivers flowing down the mighty Himalayas. The Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea links this region with the rest of the world. South Asia used to be the treasure grove in the past for which many European came to South Asia to make their fortune. The British, French and Portuguese invaded part of South Asia and colonized it to extract economic benefits. The British imperial power remained in South Asia until 1947 that made the United Kingdom world's dominant power. Once British lost South Asia, they also lost their grip and control over the world thereby being reduced to an insignificant power from the earlier status of world's most powerful nation. This demonstrates the value and power South Asia has.
Apart from economic and natural abundances, South Asia is an ancient civilization with rich and diverse cultures. This is an asset for the people of the region to be proud of. However, these positive features have been dampened by the conflict, mistrust and suspicion among the countries of South Asia. And the region is so backward that its development level is only better than that of sub-Saharan Africa. The nature of conflict within a state and between states is so worse that it has not only dogged the development process but also divided the people of the region mentally and psychologically despite having identical history and culture. In the heart of the animosity and suspicion is India's hegemonic policy that seeks to keep the entire South Asia under its strategic and economic domination. Minus India, all other South Asian countries are in friendly terms. But India has problem with every country in the region.
In recent years, this region has earned the reputation of a breeding ground for terrorism. As a result, the focus of international war on terror has been shifted to South Asia. Afghanistan is the birth place of Taleban Islamic fundamentalists that provided base for Al Queda, a deadly international terrorist organization. Al Queda is behind most deadly attacks on several key interests of the Western countries in general and the United States of America in particular. The US –led multi-national forces are waging a war on terror in Afghanistan. Although some success has been achieved, the complete victory over terrorists in Afghanistan is still elusive. Terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to the region.
The Afghan crisis is the making of the superpower rivalry in the past. The then Soviet Union pursued the interventionist policy in the world in general and Asia in particular. As a part of encircling China and hurting US key strategic interests in East Asia, Soviet Union had brought some of the countries in East Asia including Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos under its grip. Already having strategic military pact with India, Soviet Union's next target was South Asia. Afghanistan became the first victim. The Afghanistan intervention was Soviet-India collaborative design to gobble up South Asia. Had they been successful in Afghanistan, their next target would have been Pakistan because of its location between Afghanistan and India. Fortunately, US came to the rescue and joint initiative between the United States, China and Pakistan ultimately drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan, which ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Now the conflict in South Asia has shifted to Kashmir, which has been the flashpoint of conflict not only in South Asia but also in the entire world. The bone of contention in the relations between Pakistan and India is also the Kashmir issue. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars over Kashmir, which has, in a way or the other, afflicted the entire region. Even a layperson understands that peace in South Asia is not possible unless Kashmir issue is resolved. Yet the issue has not yet been addressed amicably. Kashmir continues to remain a disputed territory. Every day, innocent people are being killed, tortured and harassed by Indian troops. Once Kashmir issue is resolved permanently, peace would dawn in South Asia heralding new era of prosperity in the region.
The basis for resolving Kashmir issue is the implementation of the United Nations resolution for an impartial plebiscite to allow Kashmiri people determine their own destiny. The tension has prolonged in Kashmir for more than six decades because India has continued to refuse to abide by the UN resolutions despite repeated plea from the international community.
India's hegemonic and hawkish policy has marred South Asia's peace and stability. In every country in South Asia, India has, in a way or the other, meddled in the internal affairs of others or instigated tension. While it fought war with Pakistan, New Delhi is behind every conflict and tension in all other South Asian countries, too. Although Bangladesh was created with India's direct intervention, New Delhi's relations with Dhaka, too, are not comfortable as there are several outstanding issues in which India has violated international laws and other universally accepted traditions and practices. India was the one that orchestrated ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka from which Colombo has just got rid of. It has already kept Bhutan under its tight grip in exchange for protecting the authoritarian monarchy in Thimpu. Afghanistan is in the process of state building. But India has already had strong presence with the objective of having its tight grip in Kabul and also instigating some elements against Pakistan from Afghan soil. Some of the symptoms have already been visible. Nepal's case is even worse. India is directly interfering in Nepal's internal affairs by buying some of the parties and politicians. But Nepalese people are determined to fight back and are committed to safeguard Nepal's sovereignty and independence.
This is the scenario of South Asia. The animosity and lack of harmonious and cooperative relations among the countries of South Asia has contributed to further worsening the situation. These negative features have eclipsed the positive sides. Some countries in the region especially the bigger ones have the tendency of treating the smaller states as junior partners, which is the main reason for causing mistrust and suspicion. This has served as the main roadblock towards confidence building and fostering cooperative relations in a true spirit of genuine neighborliness. Despite all these pessimistic views, South Asia, indeed, possesses some positive characteristics which, if properly harnessed and utilized, the region can be turned into a prosperous zone. It would do well if South Asian countries identity the positive features and make best use of theirs for the common good of the people in the region.
The author can be reached at: yubanath@wlink.com.np

Friday, February 4, 2011

US, China Destined To Cooperate

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Like it or not, the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China are destined to work together in the present global context. Economically, they are so interlinked that they cannot do anything else other than cooperate with one another, despite having diverse and different approaches on global affairs.
Global powers
Both the countries are global powers today. The United States is a super power already, and China is a super power in waiting. The fate of humanity, therefore, hinges on how these two global giants behave and act. This fact was best reflected in the overtures of the Chinese and American leaders during the recent visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the United States.
During the sojourn, the Chinese president spoke highly of the need for strengthening multi-sectoral cooperation between the United States and China, ranging from the economy and technology to strategic matters. This, according to President Hu, is necessary not only for the benefit of the two countries and the two peoples but also for the interest of entire humanity.
In response, American President Barack Obama made it clear that the United States had nothing to fear from a rising China and wanted to collaborate to rescue the world from history’s worst financial crisis. According to President Obama, the United States welcomes China’s rise.
The overtures of the US and Chinese presidents are indicative of the fact that both the countries need one another. Both the United States and China have reservations on certain issues, but they are prepared to bury their differences and apprehensions in the greater interest of the two countries and the world.
The ground reality is that both the US and China cannot ignore the other. The United States - the world’s dominant power - is a priority in the foreign policy of all the countries. China is no exception, and Beijing attaches greater importance to its relationship and cooperation with the United States.
China is in the priority list of the foreign policy of the United States, too, because of its economic power, huge market and intricate and entwined business relations between the two countries as well as China’s growing clout and assertiveness in global politics.
Previously, Japan was America’s priority in Asia. It still is because of Japan’s economy and Washington’s greater obligation towards Japan’s security. But Washington’s relations with Tokyo are different and special, which are complimentary, whereas there is a sense of competition between Washington and Beijing. Their approach is, therefore, cautious and calculated so that none would be in a position to undermine the other.
Although the two countries have agreed to find a common ground to work together in global affairs, they need to amicably identify what exactly is that common ground. It is necessary to avoid clashes of interests between these two global powers. China has time and again made it clear that it is not a competitor of any country and would by no means pose a threat to the world.
President Hu has repeatedly tried to assure the United States, its neighbours in East Asia and the Pacific rim as well as countries in South Asia that China’s rise would not harm and hurt the interest and sentiments of any country, rather it would help build a peaceful, just and safer world. However, the United States and other countries are not in a position to trust Beijing.
China is currently the world’s fastest growing and second largest economy. Predictions are that China would outrace the United States in the next 20 years to become the world’s largest economy. As the sole super power, the United Stated sees a threat to its global status due to the rapid rise of China. Beijing is growing in leaps and bounds not only economically but also militarily. The other countries that aspire to become regional powers in Asia are also sceptical and jealous of China’s growth and modernisation.
However, the position and status of the United States will not be replaced by any country in the next 50 years or so although some pundits have predicted otherwise.
In terms of technological and military capability also, the United States would continue to dominate the world for at least the next 50 years. Even if China overtakes the US in terms of GDP growth also, Beijing would still be far behind in the level of development and technological innovation and would have to depend on the United States for technological back up for its modernisation, including the military. Washington, therefore, need not worry and fear China perhaps for at least half a century more. Beyond that nothing is predictable.
The United States is the global power with unmatched economic and military strength. Its presence is worldwide so is its international obligation. The United States has special obligations in East Asia and the Pacific rim because several countries in this region depend entirely on the United States for their security. The United States is, therefore, under a compulsion to have a strong presence in Asia and the Pacific.
But the rise of China as a regional super power of Asia has created a compulsion for the United States to work closely and cooperate with Beijing. Any attempt to isolate or contain China, as is seen in the US policy on East and South Asia, would ultimately invite clashes and competition between Washington and Beijing in terms of military buildup, which would not be in the strategic interest of the world as well as for peace and stability in the region.
Moreover, the super power status of the United States would be at stake in Asia and the Pacific region if Washington continued with the policy of promoting other regional powers to contain and counter China. Washington must understand that unless it keeps a strong presence in Asia and the Pacific region, the United States, as once observed by Singapore’s elderly leader Lee Kuan Yew, would lose its hold on the world. The interest of both the countries and also the world lies, therefore, in close cooperation between the United States and China.
The Obama administration seems to be well aware of the consequences of pursuing a containment policy viz a viz China and the benefits of having good rapport with Beijing. It is for this reason that there has been a shift in the China policy previously pursued by George Bush, and Obama has adopted some conciliatory approaches with China on several matters.
China containment
Some hawks in Washington are critical of Obama’s China policy and want a more aggressive stance against China on several issues. They seem to have forgotten the role Beijing played in the difficult days during the Cold War era. Despite the ideological closeness - as the Soviet Union and China were communist countries - Beijing stood firmly against Moscow’s expansionist and interventionist policy and cooperated with Washington.
A China containment policy may create another Cold War in the world. It is now Washington’s turn to reciprocate and work together with Beijing for the greater interest, peace and stability of the world.

Arab World wakes up: What lesson for Nepal?

Yuba Nath Lamsal
It began in Tunisia and the mayhem is slowly spreading to other countries of the Middle East. Already Egypt and Yemen are feeling the heat. Iraq is not yet settled even after the withdrawal of US combat troops and Saudi Arabia is likely to implode any time because public grumbling and grievances against the despotic regime are at the boiling level. Iran has undergoing fear psychosis as the United States-led western world is set to strike at Teheran with suspicion that Iran was proliferating nuclear bomb. As the heat of the public protests is building up in the Middle East and North Africa, the world is watching the events in the Arab world more closely as its fallout would have serious and dangerous repercussion in the rest of the world if the problems are not addressed in time and people's voices not heard.
· In a way or the other, upheaval is rising in the Arab world and spreading beyond national border. The dictatorial rulers of the Middle East are feeling hot water and now trying to devise a way out to crack down the public protests. Given the mood of the people and nature of the protest, the public anger is not likely to subside so easily and so soon without achieving their goal—the goal of liberation from theocratic, feudal and imperialist exploitation and enjoy freedom, dignity and democracy.
· The revolution in Tunisia, which is also called the ' Jasmine Revolution', was touted as the Arab version of French Revolution. The French Revolution had been an inspiration for the entire world to stand up against despotism. So is Tunisian revolution in the Arab world. In the mid-January, people mainly youths of Tunisia took to street with the slogan "Bread, Freedom, Dignity", almost akin to the slogan of French Revolution— Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The protesters initially faced brutal repression of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. As the revolution continued to build up, the Tunisian dictator president fled the country to seek asylum in Saudi Arabia. The events--largely spearheaded by youth using social media to coordinate demonstrations and share information, as well as by Arab-language television news channels especially the Al Jazeera instilled the message of revolution in the mind of people in the Middle East and North Africa. Fed up with cronyism and corruption of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime, the Tunisians youths were demanding change—the progressive change—that would not only end cronyism and corruption but also guarantee employment and democracy in Tunisia. The events in Tunisia has already brought about change in the regime and dust is still not settled as the Tunisian people are demanding not just the change of regime but a structural changes in the political and economic fronts that would end the perpetual exploitation and discriminations of all kinds. It has sent a message to the Arab world that change is inevitable for which people must wake up. The anti-government protests are building up in Egypt, which has sparked the wave of fear to Hosni Mubarak's iron fist regime in Egypt. Although Mubarak is trying to calm down the public ire, anti-government protests continue to flare up spreading far and wide in Egypt.
· Some pundits claim that dictatorships are often stable but the events in the Middle East are testament to the fact that the stability maintained with iron fist would not last long and collapse ultimately. The power of the people is invincible and anyone who tries to play with the power of people is destined to cave in. 'Stability first and freedom next' is what some tend to propagate. In a chaotic situation that we have seen in various parts of the world including Nepal, peace and stability are the first and foremost priorities. However, peace and stability in the absence of freedom is farce and dead peace does not ensure stability and development anywhere in the world. Freedom and stability should go hand in hand and freedom should, under no circumstances, be compromised in the name of peace and stability.
· Egypt also needs to change in the way Tunisia witnessed change. The events in Egypt have shaken Mubarak's 30 year-long regime. The opposition leader Mohammad Elbaradei, who was once head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is back in Egypt to lead the movement and has been accorded hero's welcome by the people. The way movement has intensified, Mubarak's days seem to have been over unless he announces political and economic reforms. As said by Elbaradei, the protests are the manifestoes for change in Egypt, which President Hosni Mubarak must listen to and respond accordingly.
· So far, Mubarak does not seem to have understood the call and message of the protests. He has not only clamped curfew to bar the protesters to come out to the streets but also has reshuffled the cabinet with the hope that the cosmetic changes may pacify the movement. People have already defied curfew and continued to demand reforms and change in the land of the Nile. This is a clear signal that the days of Mubarak are number and if he continues to ignore the call of the people, he would also have to face the same fate that Tunisian dictator did.
The Arab region is the world's existing bastion of dictatorship. Nowhere in the Arab world people have had the taste of freedom and democracy. Most Arab rulers are ruling with iron hands in the name of religion. But no religion including Islam defends dictatorship. The essence of all religions in the world is freedom from fear and freedom from want. Now the people have understood the real meaning of religion and stood for their rights. As a result, the Arab world is trembling, which is certain to bring about democratic change in the entire region. Starting with the ouster of Tunisia's dictator, Arab people are now emboldened to challenge the dictatorship. While people all over the world in general and in Arab world in particular are expressing their solidarity with the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, the dictators of the region have backed the despotic regime of Egypt. Jordan and Yemen have also been shaken due to the fear of possible revolt. Saudi Arabia, which is largest dictatorial regime in the Arab world, may be next target of revolutionaries. Similarly, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and United Arab Emirates are also waiting revolutions.
The Middle East is a primary source of world's fossil energy. If the region turns into chaotic state, it would send strong ripples to the rest of the world. So far, the despots of the region are ruling with iron hand with the help of petro dollars and with the backing of western capitalist countries. No power in the world wants to lose hold on Middle East because losing hold in the Middle East would mean losing reliable source of energy supply. The world powers ranging from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, are, therefore, coaxing the regimes in the Arab world to ensure unrestricted supply of petro energy. However, situation is beginning to change. The people have risen against their own despotic regime. It is now time that the international community changes its opinion and policy in relation with the Middle East and the Arab World.
Revolting against authoritarian and repressive regimes is the right of the people. In other words, people always have the right to revolt, which the Tunisian youths have proved. Similar process is going on in Egypt as people are on the streets to change regime and bring about democratic reforms and change in their country. This has given the message to the people of the world that revolution and change are inevitable to change the life of people. This will have repercussion in Nepal, too, because Nepal is also going through difficult situation. The condition through which Nepal is passing, a new revolution is a must to ensure the supremacy of the people. In the name of multi-party system, the political parties and their leaders have played with the fate of the people and the country. The country's sovereignty is at stake and foreigners are openly meddling and interfering in Nepal's internal affairs. Nepali people are slowly losing the right to decide their own destiny because of the parties' capitulation to external powers. Similarly, the life of the people is getting difficult, as inflation is skyrocketing, law and order is in the lowest ebb, unemployment is rampant, corruption and cronyism is pervasive.
The parties and leaders of Nepal have pushed the Himalayan republic into chaotic situation, which has added a strong apathy to the mind of the people. The parties that were entrusted with the responsibility of writing a new constitution in two years and subsequently concluding the ongoing peace process to transform the country into a peaceful and inclusive democracy have utterly failed which has raised a serious question over parties' credibility and ability to lead the country. The largest party in parliament is being pushed to the corner and is not being given the responsibility of leading the government as well as the constitution writing process at the behest of external forces. This is a disregard to the verdict of the people and also a treachery against the country. Acting on the instructions of foreigners to serve the interests of the external forces in the expense of national interest is an act of treason and those who are doing so are traitors. The people, thus, have to revolt and will revolt against the treachery of the parties and leaders. Revolt is necessary to safeguard Nepal's sovereignty and national identity. All these conditions have indicated that a people's revolution is ripening in Nepal which would burst anytime soon in the same way Tunisian people have woken up.

UNMIN's departure was In India's interest

Yuba Nath Lamsal
After a stiff debate and controversy, the political mission of the United Nations in Nepal or the UNMIN has finally packed up and departed. The UNMIN closed up its mission in Nepal not on its own volition but forced to do so simply because the Nepal government asked the UN body to pack up. The abortion of Nepal mission of the United Nations has raised a number of questions which neither the United Nations nor the Nepal government have been able to answer to the satisfaction of the Nepalese people and observers abroad. On its way out, the UN mission felt a big humiliation on the part of the Government of Nepal, as the Prime Minister of Nepal even refused to be a guest of honour during its flag downing ceremony held last Friday (January 14). Since the UNMIN worked in Nepal to facilitate the peace process, the Prime Minister should have shown minimum diplomatic courtesy by being present in the flag downing ceremony, which demonstrates diplomatic poverty of the present caretaker government. This shows that there was a virtual diplomatic war between the Nepal Government and the UN body.
The UNMIN did not establish its office in Nepal on its own but on written request by the two warring sides of Nepal—the Nepal Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or UCPN-Maoist. Accordingly, a tripartite agreement was signed among the three parties—the United Nations, Nepal Government and the UCPN-Maoist— in 2007, which specified the mandate, jurisdiction and working procedures of the UN mission. Despite some shortcomings, the UNMIN, on the whole, did its job in accordance with the mandate provided by the agreement. The monitoring of the Constituent Assembly election, peace process and management of the arms and armies were its mandate which it did successfully to a large extent. The most critical mandates given to the UNMIN was to oversee the disarmament of 19,000-plus Maoist combatants, as agreed upon in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) reached in 2006 between the Nepal Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists). The verification of the Maoist combatants was done under UNMIN's aegis that too can be taken as one of the key responsibilities the UNMIN discharged in Nepal. Accordingly the Maoists combatants have been kept in camps located at seven different parts of Nepal and their weapons locked in the containers monitored by the UN.
The job of managing the Maoist combatants has been the key issue at present which needs to be resolved if the peace process is to be completed successfully. The management of Maoist combatants was delayed not because of UNMIN but because of the wrangling of the political parties. The UNMIN is not the determining factor on Nepal's peace process. Nepal's political parties are the main players in determining how should the issues related to the peace process including the management of the two armies be addressed. Given the sea of mistrust that the parties possess against one another, the faltering peace process and other issues related to it may develop further complication in the absence of a neutral party to oversee and monitor as well as coordinate among the key actors in a more professional manner. The UN political mission, therefore, should have been here until the management of the Maoist arms and armies was complete and peace process concluded.
The circumstances that led to UNMIN's premature exit from Nepal has link to external factors more than the internal or domestic politics. It is widely believed in Nepal that India's hand was behind UNMIN's early departure. When UNMIN's finally closed down its office and prepared to depart from Nepal, Indian media hailed this move as a major diplomatic victory of New Delhi in the United Nations. India, right from the beginning, was against the involvement of the United Nations in Nepal's peace process. New Delhi claims that the peace process in Nepal started with India's midwifery role simply because the 12-point agreement between the seven parliamentary parties and the UCPN-Maoist was signed in New Delhi. By virtue of this, India wanted to meddle more in Nepal's political and peace process. By any means, India's effort was to send UNMIN back from Nepal.
In the beginning, all five permanent members of the Security Council were in favour of UN involvement in Nepal's peace process. The issue concerning the departure of UNMIN had been raised in the past as well. But the five permanent members of the Security Council were unanimous on the presence of the UN in Nepal, which resulted in the continuity of the UNMIN. However, the position of the United States and the United Kingdom changed for the last two months and they stood against the UNMIN's continuity. The changes of position of the United States can be attributed to Washington's South Asia policy shift. As a part of containing and encircling rising China, the United States has entered into a strategic partnership with India. Since then the United States had started looking at the South Asian affairs specially Nepal's affairs through New Delhi's eyes. In Nepal, Indian and American interests have converged that is to check the Maoist growth. This convergence of Washington's and New Delhi's interests worked in sending UNMIN back. While India toed US line in relation with China, Washington, in exchange, may have given up its independent policy on Nepal and supported India's policy. So far as the United Kingdom is concerned, London does not go against the US policy.
Nepal's peace process is at the cross road. Given this situation, sending UNMIN back prematurely is not, at all, in the interest of Nepal. The government of Nepal and the ruling parties have taken this decision not on their own but being guided by the external forces specially India. This is a testimony to the fact that our parties totally lack their decision making power but act obedeintly in accordance with the instruction and advice of their external masters and mentors. The ruling parties have served the interest of India more than Nepal's national interest with regard to decision on UNMIN's departure.
The premature exit of UNMIN has raised a number issues. Firstly, it has raised the question of UN's independent decision-making capability. Despite support of three permanent members—France, Russia and China— and also other European countries for the continuity of the UNMIN, the US decision ultimately prevailed. The other three permanent members had also to give in to US pressure, which can be taken as a diplomatic failure of China, Russia and France. It shows where the decision-making power of the UN Security Council is. Secondly, the departure of UNMIN without accomplishing its mandated tasks has raised the question of capability of the United Nations in building peace. The decision of the Nepal Government to send UNMIN packing has failed the world body in peace building efforts in Nepal. By virtue of this, the UN has been proved to be an incompetent body.
By aborting UN mission in Nepal without achieving its goals, Nepal has, now, lost legitimate ground to participate in the UN peace keeping mission as it has proved the United Nation incompetent and unsuccessful in Nepal. It would be immoral to work under an incompetent organization. This would have negative impact on Nepal's role in UN peace-keeping mission, too. Nepal also has to rethink its foreign policy priorities and bases. Nepal's foreign policy is partly guided by the ideals of the United Nations Charter. The ideals of an incompetent and failed organization cannot be the bases of our foreign policy. Similarly, this decision of the Nepal Government to send UNMIN back without completing its tasks has definitely irked the world body. This would also have impact on Nepal's relationship with the United Nations. The United Nations has providing assistance to Nepal's social and economic development. The United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) is a major donor of Nepal. Since UN's ability and credibility in peace building was questioned, the global body may not be as supportive to Nepal as it was in the past. Moreover, there is no certainty that peace process would be concluded in time. If peace process fails and conflict escalates again, Nepal would again be forced to seek UN assistance for peace building. In such an eventuality, Nepal would lose ground to seek UN help and the world body would also think many times before it takes any decision to get involved in Nepal in future.

Factional politics dogs Nepal parties

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Political parties make up the key players in a democracy. In essence, political parties are the life blood of multi-party democracy. However, the parties themselves become a problem when they forget their role and responsibility and get bogged down in partisan interests.
In the present context of Nepal, the political parties have become the problem. They are the ones that have blocked the entire political and peace process and created the protracted deadlock and crisis in the country. Behind the problem lies factionalism in the parties. No political party in Nepal has so far been able to get rid of it. Factional politics rules the roost in all the political parties at present.
The bigger the party, the more factions and groups they have. But the smaller parties, too, are not free from this factional syndrome. The way factions exist and operate within the parties, our political parties can be best described as a coalition of different factions and interest groups. Factional politics and fighting have become particularly intense in the present context.
Interest groups
The Nepali Congress is the oldest party among the existing political parties in Nepal. On the basis of its strength in the Constituent Assembly formed through the election held the year before, the Nepali Congress is the second largest party in Nepal. Right from the beginning, this party has been plagued by factional politics. Different leaders have created their own factions within the party and accordingly lobbied for the interest and benefit of their groups and their members. The leaders have hardly paid attention to the overall interest of the party. Instead, they are more concerned about the interest of their own clique.
The Nepali Congress was born out of the unity of two parties - one party led by Subarna Shumsher Rana and the other headed by BP Koirala. Subarna’s party was the Nepal Prajatantra Congress and BP’s party was the Nepal National Congress. With the merger of these two parties, the Nepali Congress party was created. Right from its creation, the Nepali Congress had distinctly two groups within the party - one loyal to BP Koirala and the other to Subarna Shumsher. This factionalism within the Nepali Congress has continued throughout its history.
After BP’s death, the party developed the concept of a troika or collective leadership of three senior leaders - Ganesh Man Singh, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Girija Prasad Koirala. Accordingly, the troika was entrusted with the responsibility of running the party on the basis of collective leadership. But they created their own groups and camps instead of acting collectively. The ugly scene of factional politics in the Nepali Congress surfaced after the formation of the GP Koirala-led government in 1991.
Ganesh Man Singh did fire a salvo against Koirala, but he failed to tame the strong and ambitious Koirala. Instead, Ganesh Man quit the party towards the end of his life. In course of time, Bhattarai was also virtually marginalised, and Koirala held the sway in the Nepali Congress party.
The Nepali Congress continues to suffer from this old disease even at present. Several groups and sub-groups exist within the party. Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba groups are clearly visible in the Nepali Congress. Both the groups are doing their best to outmaneuver the other in the party. Although the Koirala group has managed to have the upper hand in the party leadership after the national congress held a few months ago, the Deuba camp has not lost confidence and is doing everything possible to regain its lost image. The elected president, Sushil Koirala, has not been able to nominate the office bearers of the party even after four months of the national congress due to the factional struggle.
The UCPN-Maoist is the strongest party in Parliament at present. As a communist party, it is more disciplined than the other parties. This party has already seen splits and mergers at different intervals of time in the past. In this party, there are leaders and workers that have come from different schooling and have differing views and perspective on issues like Nepal’s revolution, ideological direction and relationship with other parties and countries.
The Maoists deny there is any kind of factionalism in the party. But factional politics has surfaced there in recent times. The fierce factional fighting was partially responsible for the resignation of Prachanda from the post of prime minister. Prachanda was not in the mood of quitting, but factional politics took an ugly turn which forced him to announce his resignation.
There are clearly two visible groups in the Maoist party. Previously when the party was in the government, the equation in the party was different. There were two groups - one led by Prachanda, which had the backing of Baburam Bhattarai and his group. The other group was led by Mohan Vaidya alias Kiran. The Vaidya group was critical of the Prachanda-led government for not being able to bring about radical changes as per the party’s policies and workers’ expectation. The Vaidya group had an upper hand in the party’s organisation, which instructed Prachanda to step down over the issue concerning the sacking of the army chief.
But once the party was out of the government, the equation in the UCPN-Maoist changed. Three distinct groups emerged - Prachanda group, Vaidya group and Bhattarai group. These three groups remained in existence until the Palungtar plenum. After the plenum, Prachanda and Vaidya have come closer whereas Bhattarai tends to differ with them politically and ideologically. Thus, there are now the Prachanda-Vaidya group and Baburam Bhattarai group in the UCPN.
There are other sub-groups within these two broad groups as well. There is a sharp difference and struggle between the two groups in the UCPN-Maoist, which became visible during the party’s orientation programme in Kathmandu recently.
The other key political force is the CPN-UML, which is suffering from ideological dilemma and ugly factional politics. This is a communist party in name but not in its programmes and policies. Instead, the UML is a social democratic party. But ugly factional politics is also a major characteristic of its internal life. Apparently, there are three major groups within the party. One is led by the party chairperson, Jhalanath Khanal, the second by Madhav Nepal and third by K.P. Oli. There are sub-groups even within these three major groups.
Analysed from the factional politics in the CPN-UML, this party can best be described as a federation of groups and sub-groups. There is intense tussle among these groups. Some distinct characteristics of these groups have surfaced with regard to national politics. The Khanal group is relatively soft with the Maoists, while the KP Oli group is sharply critical of the Maoists and close to the Nepali Congress.
The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party have already split due to factional fighting among the leaders for post, perks and position. Similarly, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party is divided into three parties because of the clash among different interest groups. Once a unified party, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party has three forms - the original Rastriya Prajatantra Party led by Pashupati Shumsher Rana, Rastriya Jana Shakti Party led by Surya Bahadur Thapa and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal led by Kamal Thapa.
Internal democracy
Since each group within a party is vying to meet the interest of its own camp than the overall interest of the party, it would be na├»ve to expect them to serve national interest. Internal democracy within the parties is necessary, which makes them lively and vibrant. But factional politics is by no means internal democracy but a tussle and struggle for meeting their respective vested interests. The politics of vested interests has often led to frequent change of government and power equation in the party, which is one of the contributing factors to Nepal’s instability.