Nepali Times
Editorial
Us against ourselves


The only thing we can say about the election of the prime minister by the Assembly on Friday is: better late than never.

The country is being engulfed in an Us vs Them confrontation between Madhes, Tarai, Pahad. What should worry us is not what we call each other, but that the short-sighted, self-destructive politics of identity are now threatening our social fabric and national integrity.

Latent prejudices have been whipped up into mutual animosity, animosity has turned into hatred, and hatred into intolerance that feeds a militancy that is forcing the displacement of hill people from the Tarai. It is only a question of time before this provokes a backlash.

In the name of inclusive political representation, political leaders of every ethnic hue are pushing an extreme exclusionary agenda. They seem to think this is a short cut to leadership and power, and a way to keep the Maoists out of the eastern Tarai. How mistaken they are: history is replete with examples of countries that have reaped the whirlwind.

We haven't even started work on the new constitution yet, and the eastern Tarai has now been closed down for over two weeks. Tarai militant groups, agitating bus companies and anyone with any grievance target the highways. Even ambulances aren't allowed to pass. Private cars with Bagmati number plates don't dare head east or south from Dhalkebar anymore. Those that try to avoid blockades by travelling at night are robbed by armed dacoits.

The police force is a joke. They patrol the streets carrying SLRs but make no effort to clear the handful of hoodlums blocking a major national highway. A former health minister's daughter is kidnapped in Kathmandu by an armed gang, a huge ransom is paid. Western Nepal is reeling under a devastating food shortage?not because of drought but because the East-West Highway in Attariya was blocked for three weeks because of a dispute over bus syndicates.

There is one reason for all these examples of anarchy: the absence of the state. There hasn't been a functioning government in this country for two years. We can only hope that all this will change with the election of a prime minister on Friday and, hopefully, the expeditious formation of a government. They have their work cut out.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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