Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
PLA integration in constitution writing


DHRUBA KUMAR


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Addressing a mass gathering on Jana Andolan Day last year, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal labelled the opponents of PLA integration 'murderers and criminals'. This year, he said the resignation of the current government would solve all the country's problems. He also made it clear that his party does not have hard feelings against the Nepal Army (NA), and that the two could work together in the national interest.

This does not corroborate with what Dahal said to his cadres in Shaktikhor cantonment in Chitwan last year, according to which 10,000 PLA fighters would be integrated into the NA. This, he surmised, would be enough to ultimately control the institution. "The time has come when the country will be in your hands," he told his cadres, "Why should we worry about your future when we will be running the government?"

The integration process did not gain momentum even when the Maoists were in government, which was a failure on their part, despite their blaming the non-cooperation of the other political parties. The Maoists were not ready to release UNMIN-verified child soldiers and those recruited after verification for political and economic reasons. They finally agreed to discharge 4,008 disqualified PLAs to improve the party's standing in the international community, but this was a decision taken under pressure from the UN and donor agencies. Only 2,394 PLA soldiers were discharged formally, while 1,614 fighters were not in the cantonments during the discharge process. There is no record of them.

There are 19,602 UNMIN-verified PLA fighters in the cantonments, on whom the state has spent Rs 60 billion in three years. The peace process is stuck due to blame games. Technical and high level committees have failed to decide on the issue. The High Level Political Mechanism has been passive and proposed integration schemes have been ineffective. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal believes it is the Maoists alone who benefit from keeping PLA soldiers in the cantonments.

Although the integration, management and rehabilitation of the PLA is an integral part of the peace process, it is not undisputed. The peace process will be disrupted until there are two armies. The integration and rehabilitation of PLA soldiers are very sensitive issues and require a consensus for resolution. But the leaders of the political parties do not have a specific plan to achieve this.

It has come to light that Dahal and Koirala had agreed to integrate 3,000 to 5,000 PLA soldiers into the NA during the signing of the CPA. But since the demise of Koirala, the Maoists have been saying that their demand was for 12,000 to 14,000 PLA soldiers to be integrated into the army. In the Special Committee, PM Nepal has proposed integrating 5,000 PLA soldiers. But these discussions have only focused on numbers, rather than how and where in the security forces they will be integrated, and what designations they will receive.

The Maoist-led government had proposed a system to rank PLA fighters in the NA. The PLA chief, for instance, would be equivalent to the chief of general staff and a deputy commander would be a general. But there has not been any agreement on the matter with integration numbers still in limbo. Maoist objections to the chain of command and integration procedure proposed by the technical committee attest to this.

The latest Maoist demands include the possibility of integrating all 19,602 PLA soldiers. Those opting for rehabilitation or a political career, according to the Maoists, should receive Rs 2 million or 5 to 10 bighas of land. Alternatives include integration and rehabilitation, setting up a separate Maoist regiment, or creating a new security force comprising PLA fighters, army and police.

At first glance the alternatives don't seem unreasonable. But how logical is it to increase the number of security institutions to address integration? Qualified PLA fighters should be integrated not on the basis of claims and counter claims but on the basis of the CPA and the Agreement on Weapons and PLA Monitoring 2007.

It should be noted here that in the agreement signed by Krishna Bahadur Mahara of the Maoists, nowhere is it mentioned that integration is mandatory. But the fact remains: we cannot avoid the issue of integration on these grounds. It is not just a Maoist but a national concern that will determine the future stability of the country. Those who are totally against integration are as wrong as the Maoists who attempt to put a price tag on their fighers. It should be a matter of shame for revolutionary leaders to confine their fighters to cantonments and then bargain for their release, at a price.

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1. rishav
PLA guerillas should be recruited on an individual basis after reaching the required standards as any Nepali citizen would upon entering the National army. Remember it is the PLA guerillas wanting to join the professional army and therefore their professional standards still needs to bet tested and assessed. If we allow a political inclusion without these things being tested it will create a dilution of the current standards of army soldiers.

A soldier like a doctor, engineer, civil servant, scientist is a professional technical occupation which requires training and assessment in order to develop the skills required to carry out their duty. These figures the Government and Maoist bring up on the inclusion of these PLA members into the army just like that really does demean the professional standards of getting selected, training and becoming a soldier. They have truly made light of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice shown by these men and women who have become soldiers already. The idiotic selection policy view which is coming from the both the Maoists and government of merely being able to pick up a gun and having a past history of killing people as enough to qualify you as a soldier really is demeaning.

At the moment no documentation or standards reached by the PLA members have been done. It is not a mere inclusion of two equally trained forces one being army and the other guerilla combining as one. The senior maoist commanders have not even attended officer training corps let alone selection into a professional army and they want to command soldiers who are qualified, experienced and trained up compared to them.

Besides it is recruitment in the security forces as intended by the coalition government is different than selection into the army. I believe security forces is a better option for these PLA members such as border control, security jobs which may not require the same intensity of training and assessment.




2. Shiwaani Pant
The Bristish Ambassador Mr. Andrew hall has very very actively lobbying for all the 19,000 combatants into the Nepal Army.
Each year thousands of Nepalese youth are taken into the British Gorkha, thus i strongly urge Ambassador Hall to take all these 19,000 combatants into Gorkha Army and your army institution might be able to brainwash them to be neutralise soilder in the future. WHY NOT. In all the peace-keeping mission, it is always the UK who goes in first, but they make the Gorkha goes first and clear-up the mess before thay actutally come in, i.e. Kosovo, Iraq, East Timor and few other countries.
Preachers should be practiser as well. How many IRA did your army integrate in the Bristish Army, do you have an answer to this ????


3. Danny Birch
How peculiar that Dahal has called opponents to PLA integration into the army criminals and murderers. Actually it is because the PLA is comprised of criminals and murderers that the opponents don't want them integrated into the army. 

4. Arthur
What these comments really mean to say is that the old Nepal requires preserving the old semi-feudal army.

A new democratic Nepal will democratize the old Army not merely with the inclusion, but with the leadership of those citizen soldiers who actually fought for democracy and won rather than those who fought for monarchy and lost.


5. Danny Birch
Arthur, why must you always (mis)interpret other's views? People mean what they say, not what you wish them to mean.

By the way, what is your definition of won and lost? What is your definition of semi-feudal? And guess what? Monarchy is not a pejorative term in many folks minds. Who killed more people? Stalin or Mao? Do you think that Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime was a step forward in progress for Cambodia. How can you support and defend a philosophy that, at it's very foundation advocates destruction, violence and suppression of independent thought? A system in which conformity is enforced and debate is stifled? What is so wonderful to you about totalitarian rule? 



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