Kunda Dixit hits the nail on the head ("Can't fail this time", #130) when he says it was an endgame-scenario for both the Maoists and the king. Unlike the national government, which can bank on foreign money and arms, the rebels have access to limited resources. For his part, the king desperately needed something to give legitimacy to his rule having come to power dismissing an elected government. But let's not gloat too much over a half-baked cake. Ask former Prime Minister Deuba how the peace fanfare suddenly turned into a political nightmare in October, 2001. It's still a very fluid situation. The formation of the interim government and then the election to the constituent assembly are going to be extremely messy if the Maoists, the monarchy and the political parties don't learn to keep an open mind in the talks ahead. How about bringing in an objective third party to the peace equation, the Norwegians, for instance, at some point? Above all, I am most concerned that very little has been done to bring political parties aboard the emerging political equation. There can be no lasting peace without their participation. Hats off to Narayan Singh Pun. Only time will tell whether there were other key players behind an unlikely truce. But at this point, let's give Pun his due. And King Gyanendra, too. Peace is well within our grasp, but can we do away with our huge baggage of prejudices, petty interests, and oversized egos?
. It is quite obvious after reading "Can't fail this time" that both the king and the Maoists now need a soft landing. King Gyanendra wants to be seen as the one who brought peace back, while the Maoists suddenly realise that they are on a dead-end revolution. And what of the political parties? After having failed the people and shown naked their selfishness are they just going to sulk in the corner or are they going to help, instead of making nasty statements questioning the king's motives and conjuring "grand designs"? The only grand design here has been the utter failure of these elected leaders to be responsive to the peoples' needs.
. I am doubtful about true peace returning to Nepal any time soon. We have irreversibly changed our society with all these indiscriminate killings, the brutality, the lack of compassion and humanity. Our traditional Nepali generosity, self-esteem and pride have suffered a major blow. It will take decades to return to normalcy, and it will only happen with a peace process that doesn't just address conflict but also its deep underlying roots.
. You suggest the absence of war is not peace in your balanced and well-argued editorial ("The absence of war is not peace", #130). Good point. But the peace process needs another vital ingredient-the absence of malice. We have seen in the case of the Sri Lankan ceasefire that malice has cropped up more than the peacemakers had hoped. Could this be rectified in the Nepali peace process?