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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

India must speak out

Published on :-17 Apr 2008,

Ian Martin is a favourite cultural czar of the strong western Christian lobby who considered it prudent to station him during the tumultuous period when a new Christian dominated country like East Timor was being carved out of Indonesia. He was secretary general of Amnesty International and has also served in Bosnia-Hercegovina. His best known book is Self-determination in East Timor.

As was in vogue during the liberation theology days in Maharashtra's Talasari area where Marxists and the Jesuits carried out a joint programme authored by the World Council of Churches, Martin is dividing Nepal into smaller identities. He is also working with the Maoists to ensure they stay in power and their aides are fully integrated into Nepal's Army, Armed Police Force and the Nepal Police. There is great resentment against this move among the loyal Nepalese forces which are disciplined and well-groomed and have recruited members after rigorous tests, interviews and verification of antecedents.

On the contrary, the new entrants to these forces – the Maoists – are simple rogues who were inducted into the Maoist PLA either through compulsion or by selling them false dreams. Their induction into the regular Nepalese army will not only seriously affect the morale of the patriotic forces but give an immense boost to the terror outfit of Maoists to retain their hold on the governance and administration through newly-inducted Maoist soldiers in the state force.

Martin has been issuing statements and giving interviews each day like an extra-constitutional head or the correctionist interceptor. And instead of limiting himself to the monitoring of elections, he is becoming a self-appointed initiator of 'security reforms' and 'inclusion of marginalised sections'. The Maoists have compromised with the pride and self-esteem of the nation by demanding in their 23-point Comprehensive Peace Agreement that elections be held under UN supervision. This implies that the Nepalese people are not capable of holding elections to their own constituent assembly.

The UN Security Council established the United Nation's Mission In Nepal (UNMIN) under Resolution 1740 (2007) for one year with a clear mandate to monitor the Maoist ceasefire and assist elections to the Constituent Assembly. But under Martin, UNMIN has made people wonder about its real motives. Martin began direct talks with the rebel Madhesi groups, gave special interviews and issued press statements about including “marginalized” groups like Dalits and Janajatis (tribals) even as UNMIN staff shut their eyes to the vandalism of the Maoist youth wing – the Young Communist League.

Even before the process of verifying Maoist “soldiers” could be completed, Martin said he would ensure that all Maoists were confined to their respective cantonments. He also said those who killed Maoist workers in Terai would be punished though he had nothing to say about the murder and mayhem the Maoists indulged in. Martin has been accused of advocating press censorship in Nepal, prompting a journalist to ask him why UNMIN is raising the issue of press “ethics” and appealing to “exercise press freedom in accordance with professionalism”. He was defensive rather evasive in his answer.

He said in his briefing to the Security Council that ''... most important for the completion of UNMIN's arms monitoring mandate (is) that there is progress towards decisions about the future of those Maoist combatants whose status is verified within the framework of decisions about the future of Nepal's security sector”. Martin admits in the next paragraph that “views and expectations about the future of the security sector differ greatly and it would be unrealistic to expect quick and easy decisions”. Working on this “line of thought”, he builds up a case for extending his tenure and said at a press conference on November 6 last year that UNMIN was expected to assist on issues regarding Nepal’s security, including a managed transition of the Maoist army from temporary cantonments and restriction of the Nepal army inside barracks.

He not only equates the regular Nepal army with the rogue band of the Maoists but emphasises a greater role for himself through providing “assistance” in the security sector and “greater advisory support for promoting public security”. Back in July 2007, Martin had said “only Nepalese actors can rise to these challenges”, but in January this year, he began lobbying for an extension by praising the political groups – ostensibly the Maoists – who have been violating every single UN guideline for transparent conduct of the elections. In fact Maoists have left no one in doubt by issuing at least two public statements implying that the UNMIN is working at their behest. Baburam Bhattarai, second-in-command at the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), has also issued a veiled threat to send UNMIN packing if it “doesn't behave”.

Under these circumstances the security scene in Nepal remains uncertain.

Nepal turned red and the peoples' verdict should be respected. Who else knows it better than the Indians who have learnt to accept such major turnarounds with an unmatched grace and an élan that is rare in this part of the world. So Nepal's new rulers have nothing to fear from Delhi. But do we have the same confidence in Kathmandu's new rulers?

The driving philosophy of the Maoists in Nepal was born in deep hate and intolerance. They hated those who were not on their side and physically eliminated their opponents. So far the tally says 15,000 were killed by the so-called Peoples' Liberation Army formed on the pattern of China's PLA by the Maoists. They are such dedicated followers of the dreadful legacy of Mao Tse Tung that they are ashamed to have any relation with their own motherland's culture, religion and civilisational traditions and would rather call themselves proud inheritors of an alien legacy which is being revisited by the younger generation in China. Mao’s biographies have been either deleted or shortened in Chinese text books and the entire Cultural Revolution period has finally been recognized as a gross mistake.

But in this part of the underdeveloped, illiterate or semi-literate, corruption-laden land of weak and spineless politicians, Marx, Mao and Stalin are still gods of a leftist extremism, a fossilised cult of the bygone era. Like old moth-eaten files suddenly being dusted in a sleepy Naxalbari, communally hardcore, Maoist targets continue to be Hindus, Sanskrit schools and Nepalese Brahmins. None of the non-Hindus have been found to be anti-revolutionary. Clearly Capitol Hill and the House of the Saudis work better for their flock than the gestures of large-hearted, pot-bellied Delhi. Since India has remained mired in the same secular talibanism of the Left and the left-out variety and there are hardly any credible protests from nationalists against such gross human rights violations, the barbarism of Maoists continued for 10 years. The leader of the gang, Prachanda, became a hero for Delhi's glitterati, invited to address special media events as a red revolutionary.

Now he is the new monarch in Kathmandu with special absolute powers. As was announced by his party, Nepal may soon have a presidential form of government. India was prepared to face this eventuality, which is a culmination of collective sins on part of all the parties who say they care for Indian interests. The last 10 years were the most crucial for India-Nepal relations as well as Nepal's domestic politics. India either bullied Nepal or simply ignored its plight. The Nepal watchers and big mouth friends were more interested in writing long reports and giving speeches in their backyard than forming any effective strategy to bail Nepal out from its crisis. Indian Marxists helped their ideological comrades quite openly and since the UPA government came to power with CPM help, their actions made it clear that they will be happy to see Maoists ruling Kathmandu.

It just happened.

Now South Block thinks it is prudent to engage Maoists and have them included in the mainline political flow rather than keep them at bay and invite further animosity. Prachanda will soon be officially invited to India and our new envoy-designate Rakesh Sood, fresh from his Afghanistan stint, shall be able to manage equations with the new palace owners who don't find any dichotomy in raising slogans about a proletariat revolution with a Rolex shining on their wrist.

What are the threats that loom large on our radar if Prachanda chooses to show that he means Maoist business? Communists have never shown that power makes them sober and appreciative of a different view point. From Kannur to Singur and the blood-stained 'red corridor', the story is that power whets their appetite to be more lethal and spiteful.

Nepal should not become a hotbed of superpower rivalry. This time China has gained clearly and with Tibet already in its control, it has reached the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Besides, Martin would be helping the “harvesting agencies” of the proselytisers. India can't afford to be a mute spectator to the growing threats in her immediate neighbourhood. Martin should be sent back immediately and Maoists need to be engaged and monitored closely. So far Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee has acted well though belatedly. If one goes by his patriotic speeches in the Asia Society, we may have reasons to trust his diplomacy.

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