Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Army to help government

Despite all the allegations, accusations and counter-accusations, the army has finally agreed to help the government to counter the Maoists. Immediately after the Maoist strike in Dunai, there were consultations between the prime minister, the home minister and the army and it was agreed that the army would help the government. The government had planned to mobilise the army to block the route leading out of Dunai for seven days, but on 27 September the army said it would not be able to do that now. The prime minister finally realised that he had to speak to His Majesty and in the evening he met the king.

The prime minister met the king and briefed him on the state of the country, the public opinion about the army and his own views on how to resolve the problem. He came back a happy man. Sources say preparations to deploy the army has already begun.

Taking advantage of a weak and unarmed police, it is also suspected that the army was out to make the police and the administration dysfunctional. While that was the case on one side, the refusal of the army to help had created a negative public image of the army. Questions were asked as to why an army should be maintained if it doesn't act in such situations.

The army also has its own grievances. After the re-establishment of democracy the successive governments have been accused of providing preferential treatment to the police. The army wanted the proposed armed police force to be under its control but it ended up with the police.

The army also says that the distrust of the army for its role in suppressing the 1990 movement does not help matters. The police should not be projected as an alternative to the army. The police and armed police cannot do what the army can.

A highly placed army source said that the Maoists have graduated from the "hit and run" stage of their attacks, and that is why the army has to step in. In many democracies the army has been deployed to control such rebellions; democracy will not be endangered if the army steps in, instead it can guard democracy.

This is the first time the army is about to step in. The military believes in doing what it is assigned to do, that is why it wants its authority and limits to be clearly spelt out before it becomes active. This could be done within a few days. Sources say that a package programme is also being prepared for the Maoist-hit areas and the role of the army would also be to help in the development process.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)