The more elusive peace becomes, the more it seems to become an industry. Foreign conflict-resolution consultants and mediation experts are swarming all over the capital, sometimes rubbing shoulders in hotel lobbies with arms merchants.
At last count there were at least two dozen government and non-government outfits with the word 'peace' on them like the Peace Secretariat, High-Level Peace Committee, Civic Solidarity for Peace and Citizen's Peace Commission.
The Americans have hired South African conflict expert Hannes Siebert to advise government officials, political parties and civil society. Britain's DfID has hired a slew of consultants for what it calls 'mitigation of conflict effects' and has spent 4 million pounds to promote peace. DfID officials told us the money was used for "capacity building" in conflict resolution for officials, parliamentarians and civil society, research and conflict analysis and support for media.
Visiting British Minister of State Douglas Alexander, said in Kathmandu Wednesday: "Nepal's problem should be resolved internally, and we will support such efforts."
The Europeans hired two experts to prepare a report on conflict prevention assessment two years ago and another expert is arriving next month. The EC is releasing another report on the conflict soon.
"Everyone within and outside the country seems to be pushing their own agenda," says a bewildered Peace Secretariat official. There is a distinct lack of urgency in the secretariat, and Information Minister Mohsin (see Interview) says it is setting up a 'documentation centre'.
Actually, the Peace Secretariat is supposed to be a foundation for future peace process. Government officials are not comfortable about the formation of the Citizen's Peace Commission, an umbrella organisation of peace groups. "Why do you need a parallel organisation when a Peace Secretariat has already been formed?" asked one member of the High-Level Peace Committee.
Most people interviewed for this article agreed the government and the rebels are just paying lip service to negotiations. This week, the military launched a major air-borne and ground assault from Dang on Maoist strongholds in Rolpa and Rukum from Dang amidst reports of an imminent Maoist offensive in the west.
Mediators are disappointed. Krishna Jung Rayamajhi of the Civil Society Peace Commission says: "Efforts to bring the two sides together have not been encouraging, the response is distressing."