Excerpts of an interview with former chief of the Royal Nepal Army, Satchit Shumsher JB Rana.
Can the ceasefire be turned into lasting peace?
There must be give and take for the ceasefire to become lasting peace. His Majesty's Government and the Maoists can't lead the talks to a logical conclusion by themselves. Political parties, social and human rights organisations should all be taken on board. It is very sad to see major political parties talking contradictorily regarding the peace talks.
How big an army does Nepal need?
The strength of Bangladesh's army is nearly 125,000 while its area is roughly equal to ours. Sri Lanka now has an army of 150,000. The number of soldiers in Nepal is only around 50,000. Given our geographical conditions, Nepal needs to raise the strength of its army to around 125,000. In that situation, problems like the Maoist insurgency can be prevented from happening again. A nation's security is as essential as education, health and development.
Who should control the army?
It's our good fortune the army was not politicised and has His Majesty as the supreme commander. Otherwise, its fate would have been similar to that of the bureaucracy, police and intelligence sectors. If the army had been politicised, the Maoists would be ruling the country today.
What about putting the army under the control of the parliament?
The king has kept the army in order. If it is controlled by the parliament, the army can't serve the nation properly. There should be a unitary command and the army must remain under the head of the state.