Nepali Times
Hammer and nail

Your editorial ('Hammer and nail', #285) hits the nail on the head. The threat to democracy in Nepal was never the monarchy but the Maoists' violent rebellion. Most of the Maoist demands, including those relating to the constitution, are achievable through peaceful means. Nepal's media, civil society and parties have delayed for far too long in stating this point forcefully enough. There is no military solution to the conflict. Cornering the king and putting a magnifying glass on his activities alone will not help. It's time we started working seriously towards removing the nail instead of breaking the hammer!

However, your continued support of the parties' agitations is depressing. They are prolonging the conflict and besides stone-throwing, tyre-burning and destroying property do not constitute 'peaceful' protests. Finally, your contention that 'there would be no need for pro-democracy rallies' but for the 'throttling of democracy a year ago' is spurious. Street agitation has been going on in Kathmandu since 2002 when parliament was dissolved by Prime Minister Deuba. So whether it's the king or someone else in power does not matter, disturbances and demonstrations will go on. The only way to stop them is by a legitimate government through the ballot.

Abhishek Basnyat,

. While it presents an interesting analogy I disagree with 'Hammer and nail'. The editorial makes the generalisation that 'those who believe in violence as the only way to rise to power have a deeper distrust of those who don't than they do for each other'. This is misleading. Rather than taking action on account of fear, Chairman Gyanendra is making an example of the protesters. His oppressive regime can only be sustained by appropriately despotic ways-through power discourse or violence. Curfews, police brutalisation, arrests: these are all tools of totalitarian dictatorships. Not signals of fear.

Name withheld,

. I echo Jacob George's assessment (Letters, #283) and totally disagree with Pranabh Shrestha's response (Letters #284). When there is a violence it is the state's duty to respond and protect citizens. Unfortunately the political mafia has made life of all Nepalis miserable. Political leaders must first bring democracy into their own parties and then talk about democracy in the country.

P Pratul,

. In reference to Bihari Krishna Shrestha's Guest Column ('Crisis within a crisis', #284) I find it difficult to swallow the rhetoric of Sikkimisation perpetuated not only by the Maoists but by the very administration who before the arms embargo shared endless history of close ties. In the bag of tricks that the monarchists carry with them, the threat of The Foreign Hand is definitely one. One could literally hand over the plate called Nepal to India just to realise how much of a burden that would actually be to the southern neighbour. Hence for now we can quietly put to sleep the fantasy of getting annexed by India. I agree with Shrestha's view that party structures need immediate reform, so much so that the current struggle to gain back 'people's power' is almost meaningless in its absence. However, I find it useless to further stretch that line of reasoning to infer people's whole-hearted support for the king. Further, it becomes very disingenuous to criticise the lack of democratic ethos within the agitating parties when we clearly see the assumption of absolute control and forceful implementation of unwanted authoritarian tactics on the general population by the self-professed saviour/s of democratic ideals. If the parties are the legitimate representation of the people why are the two warring sides fighting if not for retaining what they have and acquiring what they don't? 'Countervailing forces' are created by implementing appropriate checks and balances within a system which is monitored by the judiciary and legislative branches of the government. In other words, the people and not the king. The lack of legislative body and insignificant judiciary is not only a reflection of countervailing force as a farce but an expression of dictatorial tendencies, not towards the sworn enemies but towards citizens themselves.


. I agree with Bihari K Shrestha's views in 'Crisis within a crisis' because it identifies what is wrong with the Nepali polity: we are still following these corrupt politicians even though they have left us high and dry, time and again. The politicians are perhaps the true reflection of us all: the degradation of our ideals and our moral bankruptcy. Why would so-called democrats run away from polls? Nepalis replied empathically by going to the polls braving adverse conditions. What bigger of a slap in the face could there be to these politicians? Big powers with questionable intentions and their accomplices perched in powerful media houses are backing these parties.

Pramila Gurung,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)