Nepali Times
Guest Column
The middle ground


For three hours on 13 March, a group of Nepalis in America gathered in solidarity to voice their concerns on the plight of their homeland and make a united declaration in support of peace, democracy and national pride.

There were several striking features of the gathering in Lafayette Park in Washington DC. The ethnic, economic and cultural diversity was evident, there was no single dominant ideology or group and therefore no ulterior motives exclusively upheld.

Various groups respectfully acknowledged differing opinions of their compatriots. There were some with unconditional support for the monarch, others voiced cautious optimism regarding the royal move and still others expressed outright disapproval of the suspension of the democratic process in Nepal. For once, it seemed, the existence of such varied opinions served to galvanise (instead of weaken) the Nepali community's collective resolve.

Despite differences, there was complete and unconditional rejection of Maoist tyranny in Nepal. Many also expressed disgust at the degradation of Nepal's political leadership while hoping for a much needed reform within Nepal's democratic parties. A petition with over 1,300 Nepali signatories was submitted to US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice who was on a visit to the South Asian region this week.

The much sought after 'middle ground' appeared in Lafayette Park that sunny afternoon with the emergence of unanimity by every democratic measure - majority representation, a varied range of opinions and inclusive, tolerant and peaceful expression.

All participants hoped in their hearts that similar freedoms would exist in their motherland so all Nepalis could exercise their democratic rights in an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence. The Washington demonstration followed meetings held by a group of prominent Nepali intellectuals at the offices of American senators.

The combined effect of these separate initiatives resulted in precisely what Nepalis here have sought since February First: the galvanisation of a non-partisan 'middle ground' which serves as a forum for the majority of Nepalis living in the US to voice their aspiration for a peaceful and democratically vibrant Nepal.

Perhaps the most significant outcome of this exercise was the further marginalisation of a divisive and destructive force spreading extremist propaganda within the Nepali community in the US. The frustration experienced by these radical elements was apparent in attempts at character assassination of members of the coordination committee of the demonstration in Lafayette Park.

Following the demonstration, they engaged in what they do best - lie, deceive, fabricate and divide. The natural targets were a handful of organisers who volunteered time and effort to mobilise the community in support of peace and democracy in Nepal.

The same radicals may believe that the tactics of their contemporaries in Nepal (which contributed significantly to the demise of democracy) may help boost their egos in America but this is hardly the case. By stooping to such levels, they have irreparably undermined their own agenda and exposed themselves by displaying intolerance and jealousy.

It is hoped that a similar exercise can be replicated in Nepal so a peaceful and sustainable democratic polity may grace the homeland at the earliest. The sooner the myth that opposition towards failed political leaders (and the Maoists) translates into unconditional support for the king is dispensed with, the sooner we are likely to experience concrete results on the ground in Nepal.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)