For weeks now Nepalis have had no option but to submit to the International community's inhospitable interpretation of the developments in Nepal. But thanks to Saubhagya Shah ('At the helm', #235) we are reminded of the shortcomings of the international community. Thanks to Shah for making his point with such finesse and eloquence. One hopes, though, that such eloquence will be put to good use in reminding all those at the helm, particularly the leopards who may not have changed their spots (Letters, #236) that the infamous 30-year winter has definitely come to an end. In keeping with global climate changes there can be no return to such harsh winters again, and therefore all leopards would be well-advised to change their spots. Conservation efforts in Nepal can only be successful through sincere efforts to improve the habitats of all flora and fauna and not only that of those at the top of the food chain. Shah's metaphor of a 'show of hands' will be complete when all parties reveal their stance, in words and in action, not only vis-?-vis terrorism but also democracy.
. Since February First I have read Nepali Times with great interest and must applaud you and your staff for continuing to function journalistically despite trying circumstances. What a quagmire. As an outsider, I can't grasp the intricacies of the problem but it would appear that I'm in good company. While constitutional democracy increased expectations, its inability to improve the lives of the average Nepali and effectively defuse the Maoist situation simply made it that much rougher. Carnage in the countryside, little control outside the capital, bandas and blockades. It was only a matter of time before something snapped and snap it did. His Majesty has grabbed the game board, knocked off all the pieces and changed the rules. But how to proceed? A military solution to the Maoist problem isn't likely at hand. Even if His Majesty managed successfully to follow the path of Alberto Fujimori, who freed Peru of the Shining Path by a crushing military defeat, the problems of poverty and economic stagnation will remain. For a roadmap, examine the past 50 years in Israel, Singapore and Thailand. While Israel chose a socialist parliamentary democracy of the finest European traditions to guide its path, Singapore succeeded with more autocratic hand to guide it to prosperity and then greater democracy. Thailand, with a cultural heritage similar to Nepal, travelled the road to prosperity under constitutional monarchy guided by a king in not all that different a place than King Gyanendra finds himself in at the present. Despite their different approaches, what the three countries all have in common is a focus on human capital development through economic reform to allow the free flow of capital, education and political restructuring that supported these changes. Nepal, too, can make the transformation. King Gyanendra has the unique opportunity to break the logjam and put in place the institutional reforms and mechanisms needed for Nepal to make a breakthrough.
. The Nepali people are suffering because the authorities running the government lack proper education. They couldn't care less whether anyone is affected by the current situation because they are busy amassing wealth. Why not get rid of these parasites and bring in new blood: honest, disciplined and well-educated ex-Gurkhas? Just look at how they transformed Dharan. They could replicate that in the rest of Nepal. Good education, a culture of accountability and commitment to nation-building are all that's needed.
. Let me first tell you how much I appreciate your paper, even if I get it about one week late. The content compensates (Editorial 'Been there, done that', #235). Nepal's donors are trying to decide what to do about their aid. I understand that the projects they execute are meant generally for the poor, handicapped and needy. Why then do they want to stop it? If they decide to stop, then the aid is political and not humanitarian.
. As a traveller who considers herself a dear friend of Nepal, I have been upset about the February First royal move. This is a tremendous step backwards for the people of Nepal. The frustration is great because of the lack of information even though it is good to see the online edition of Nepali Times. But the story of the blockade ('Road closed', #236) is sad and made me angry. How can the Maoists think they can maintain this level of blockade and the monarchists think they can suspend civil liberties? In this day and age, it is virtually impossible for activities in Nepal to be hidden.
. Indian ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee's interview ('There was another road map', #236) was a clear reflection of how the Indian government perceives the current Nepali political scenario. However, in very cold words, Mukherjee seems to undermine the fact that Nepal has always been a monarchy. The 'other road map' as guided by the ambassador, has led to no destination in the past political journeys. His remark on ceasing military aid to Nepal is vague compared to reports in the Indian media, which makes derogatory and patronising remarks quoting Indian 'experts' about Nepal. India should come clean with its public and unstated stance towards Nepal. New Delhi may be in touch with Beijing on Nepal as the ambassador points out but at least China doesn't poke its nose into Nepal's affairs.
. A majority of foreign journalists and international crisis think tanks have portrayed a very bleak future for Nepal under the current administration. These very institutions predicted there was no hope for Peru in the early 1990s. When President Alberto Fujimori took office in Peru, the country was fighting against the Shining Path (aka Maoist) guerrillas. Internal bickering within Peru's parliament had allowed the Shining Path to grow into a powerful militant group and control most of Peru's hinterland. On 5 April 1992, Fujimori mounted a self-coup against his own government. One of his key goals was the total annihilation of rebels which he accomplished within three years. Although some have recently criticised Fujimori's methods, a majority of Peruvians are grateful to him for his leadership. Similar to Nepal, the international reaction to the coup in Peru was initially very negative. International financial organisations delayed planned or projected loans, the US suspended all aid except humanitarian, current EU members Spain and Germany cut off all ties with Peru. Unlike Peru, Nepal does not have a
very well equipped military and needs more than just humanitarian aid to help the brave men and women in the army fight the rebels. It is time the US and the EU learnt from their mistakes and used Peru as a model and helped Nepal.