I found the letter "Peace at Any Cost?" by "Anil" (#137) muddled, confusing and dangerously na?ve for one who has evidently had the benefit of a good education. I recommend that he returns at once to Nepal to experience the feeling of relief, hope and optimism that has been markedly apparent since the ceasefire came into force.
It was clear that the country could not take much more of the wanton destruction of infrastructure, economy and human life that was reminiscent of Kampuchea under the Khmer Rouge. Far from pushing back the Maoists militarily, the army, lacking in manpower and resources, was stretched to the limit and largely reduced to guarding key points and military barracks. The rank and file were under constant stress in the field. As a result of seeing their comrades killed in front of them, they would on occasions commit atrocities that rivalled those of the Maoists in their violence and senselessness.
Thank god in this hour of desperate need the king had the vision and courage to take what he knew would be an unpopular move to save his kingdom from further destruction. Such action is statesmanship, not dictatorship. He had no option but to take the action he did. Indeed, it could be argued that had he not waited so long, many of those police lives that Anil mourns in his letter might have been saved.
The main political parties of this country are now acknowledged as being morally bankrupt. I would remind Anil that it was they and not the Maoists, the king, or the army that gave birth to the "people's war".
Even in this political vacuum, the king has been reluctant to seize total power. He has appealed to the political parties to set aside their differences and come together for the good of the country. In refusing this request the erstwhile leaders of the main political parties are guilty of treason. We should be grateful that in Narayan Singh Pun we finally have a politician who has the patriotism and selflessness to put the needs of the country before his own and to go out on a limb, at considerable risk to his own safety, to establish contact with the Maoists and achieve a cease fire desperately needed by both sides. It is now incumbent upon the citizens of this country to support him and the Maoists leaders in their search for a just and lasting resolution to the conflict.
I do agree with Anil that the army is perhaps the only institution in the country, with the exception of the monarchy, to have come out of the crisis with any moral standing. This is only because they were under the direct control of the king as Supreme Commander rather than the corrupt and selfish politicians who controlled their unfortunate brothers in the police. That they chose to remain apolitical is to their lasting credit. Any attempt to tamper with the constitutional controls over the army by future governments should be very carefully examined in
Anil is also sadly correct in alluding to the army's faults. It is no coincidence that his letter appeared on the same page as others referring to a protection racket being run by the army company commander in Bardia ('Major injustice", #137). If we are ever going to get back to any kind of peaceful civil society it will be important for such crimes committed by both sides to be resolved, either through some form of peace and reconciliation committee, or through the civil courts. It is my fervent and staunch belief that we will only be able to put the past several years of bloody conflict behind us when such issues have been resolved. They have not been resolved through violence, so let's give peace a chance.