Nepali Times
Guest Column
The error of terror


The Maoist 'people's war' that began with the objective of political, social and economic upliftment, has now veered off course. The use of terror as a tactic is being applied indiscriminately to undermine the social political, administrative and economic fabric of the state.

There are fundamental questions about whether the current position and posture of the Maoist movement can be considered legitimate. Yet an organisation which has adopted terrorism as an end in itself, continues to be accepted and receive sympathy and consideration from responsible and intelligent liberals and democrats.

The answer probably lies in the post-1990 political standoff. The disillusionment of the people led to the Maoist insurgency wherein a micro-political group wanting to draw attention to their grievances resorted to using terror as a shortcut to power.

This path of violence and anarchy, which rests on a foundation of subversion and terrorism, has attained dangerous dimensions in the absence of appropriate political initiatives. The longterm objectives of the Maoists and their methods have not been properly analysed and need to be seen in the correct perspective. The campaign of violence and coercion has effectively destroyed the state's ability to achieve any progress or development. It has also seriously damaged the very social foundation and harmony of Nepal's unified and heterogeneous society.

Maoist subversion was developed and designed to lead to the eventual collapse of the state machinery, infrastructure and economic activities. In the absence of political resolve and effective policies to counter these designs, there is an urgent need for a socio-political movement against the inhuman methods adopted by the rebels. Public awareness, initiative at all levels, commitment and concerted action by civil society in particular is an absolute necessity.

There is a certain reluctance on the part of media to term Maoist activity as terrorism. These Kathmandu-based journalists may be respected and responsible, but they are far removed from the daily reality of rural Nepal where the people grapple with terror every day. One internationally-accepted definition of terrorism is: 'The premeditated deliberate, systematic murder, mayhem and threatening of the innocent to create fear and intimidation in order to gain political or tactical advantage, usually to influence an audience.' This accurately describes the Maoist tactic of fear, intimidation, threats and murders that is happening throughout Nepal today. However, the reporting of this is sanitised and ad hoc. The source and accuracy of the reports in the media are questionable.

Most reporters have never been near the scene of an incident and when and if they are, it is hard to gauge if they are not unwittingly victims of Maoist misinformation or intimidation. The astonishing thing is that the international community has selectively accepted the propaganda of human rights violations by the security forces in total, without the benefit of doubt.

All forms of terrorism violate human values and are desensitised towards loss of innocent lives: Maoist killings are carried out without any sense of remorse. Terrorists use the cold-blooded murder of non-combatants as a means to an end, but why is society tacitly accepting and sometimes even justifying it?

It is clear that a once-politically savvy Maoist party is now trapped by its own rigid interpretation of a defunct and outdated ideology that it is trying to force on an uneducated and desperate populace using unrestricted and systematic terror to establish a monolithic single party state.

The priority now is to pursue diplomatic and political initiatives to develop the appropriate armed response to bring the Maoists to the negotiating table. The Maoist tactic of assassinations and threats against non-combatants to create panic and chaos has not worked and will not get them any nearer their goal. The only rational course open to the rebels is to stop this futile violence and terrorism and revert to peace talks.

Samrat Rana is the pen name of a military analyst.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)