Nepali Times

Mr CK Lal's towering reputation built on alternatively bashing Nepal's monarchy and Pakistani polity is only matched by his cavalier disregard for basic facts ("Musharrafship", #124). Without regard to historical and constitutional differences, he makes a blanket comparision between Gen Musharraf and the Nepali king. Should we be suprised if Mr Lal declares in his next instalment that the 4 October decision was after all an ISI grand design?

Who can match the redoubtable Mr Lal in name calling? Anyone who holds a different view point or interest position is quickly dismissed as "donor collaborator", "King's collaborator", "high-priest", "reactionary" or such other slurs. Just because some of his views are congruent with the Maoists and the Indian state, how would he feel if others similary labeled him as an "Indian collaborator"?

Rather than reason with facts, Mr Lal will posture from the high horse of cliched generalities like "democracy" and "human rights". For example, he claims rather pompously that "democratic rights and human rights are intrinsically intertwined. It's impossible to have one without the other". This is fine ideological rhetoric, but how does this statement fare empirically? England had the Magna Carta in the 13th century, but that did not stop it from abusing the human rights of Africans, Asians, natives, women, and the Irish for the next seven centuries. The French revolutionaries proclaimed "fraternity, equality, liberty" from the ramparts of Bastille in 1789, but they continued to treat the Haitians, Africans, Vietnamese, and the Algerians as anything but humans till recently.

Nearer home India is supposed to have "democratic rights". But that does not seem to ensure any "human rights" for millions of people in Kashmir, Gujarat, or Bihar for that matter where the state, fascist thugs or land lord armies, independently or in collusion, regularly commit most brutal inhumanities. Few "authoritarian" states can match this record of human rights abuses. If anything, the Indian "democratic" regime appears to reward the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing with handsome electoral rewards, as was recently witnessed in Gujarat. Recall how Hitler won a landslide victory after his storm troopers began taunting the Gypsies and the Jews. But Mr Lal does not see these contradictions across the border, he has to go all the way to Pakistan to find fodder for his biased intellect.

Mr Lal goes on to label Nepal's monarchy as an "ossified institution". If anything, the vociferous campaign by the Maoists, UML, and Nepali Congress to disrupt and discredit the king's visit to Biratnagar to attend a civic reception exposes the lie cultivated by "elite intellectuals" like Mr Lal who maintain that the monarchy has no base or relevance in Nepal. Why are "democrats" and "communists" scared of the people meeting their King? Further, how does Mr Lal see the so-called "mass-based political leaders" getting us out of the insurgency quagmire if they themselves have been sleeping with the Maoists all along?

Finally, Mr Lal accuses the government of being a dictatorship. Over the years he has been throwing every kind of invective against the monarchy and the army. I can't imagine The New York Times, London Times, or The Times of India carrying such virulent attacks against their head of state and the armed forces, week after week. I have seen no greater tolerance of expression.

The public expects more accountability from its intellectuals, not just empty slogans and accusations. Or does Mr Lal feel, as Mother India's prodigal son in self-exile, he is somehow above such trifles as facts and evidence?

Kshitiz Basnet,

. As we descend into geo-political Darwinism, it is obvious the big fish eat the small fish. Our best neighbour is treating us like big brother US of A treats it. Nepal's advantage (or disadvantage) is that we are located mainly south of the Himalayan watershed. The river systems and the access to the sea aligns us to the south. Our difference is political, but India's top concern is security. So, post-September 11 India finds itself under the US security umbrella, while we find ourselves under India's parasol. Absolute sovereignty is a thing of the past. In our case it didn't even exist during British India. Jang Bahadur was a pragmatic man, who ruled the country peacefully because he decided to make peace with a belligerent and expansionist neighbour.

But in the past five decades, we have been guided by a bunch of ambitious aparatchiks who have propounded the theory of unlimited sovereignty. So the best thing to do is to adjust ourselves with give-and-take to address India's security concerns, and then wrest the concessions that are important to us.

This is not to say that we have not been shabbily treated by India, mainly sharing our rivers. But let us do our homework, be practical and sober and not be ruled by emotion on this critical issue since it will determine whether we can ensure the speedy, dignified and respectable development of all Nepalis.

And now, there is the added question of the Maoists. Maybe swallowing the bitter pill now will mean we won't have to suffer so much later. Time is running out. I have no reason to doubt the patriotism of 25 million Nepalis, nor should anyone doubt mine.

Name withheld on request

. I completely agree with CK Lal's opinion that the terror discourse denies political legitimacy. ("When the women begin to weep", #125). Maoists should realise that class-war fuelled with propaganda invite revolutions in cycles, ultimately resulting in a failed state.

Zubin Kumar Karn,

. CK Lal\'s "Jumla is not Jaffna" (126) has finally zeroed in on the eye of the storm. India has always been a refuge for saints and savages. Comrade Prachanda and his team are no exceptions. Out party leaders make regular pilgrimages to meet them in their safe havens south of the border. The ruling class in the panchayat days roared at home, fanned patriotic sentiments for their survival as a means for diverting attention away from the democratic aspirations of the people. The 1965 "exchange of letters" was the great capitulation. This realisation of geopolitical imperatives led to the return by BP Koirala to his homeland in 1977.

The sooner landlocked Nepal recognizes the vital security concerns of India, the better it will be able to resolve the Maoist problem. Delays in facing our geopolitical reality will be costly and will force us to make more concessions. A third invisible stakeholder holds the cards, so it will be wise to address their concerns in time. Jingoistic nationalism nurtured by the ultra-left and right royalists will do more disservice to the long-suffering people of Nepal. Our mutual self-interest lies in mutual self-respect. Let no politician genuflect in Delhi and roar in Kathmandu anymore. It doesn\'t get us anywhere. Let us allay their security fears and get concessions in trade and transit.Thank you, Mr Lal, for reminding us of something unspoken.

S Grimalji,

. C K Lal has once again presented the bitter truth to those who support the Maoists\' "people\'s war". It is true that no force can stop the Maoist if they have public support. The Maoists don\'t need to kill innocent Nepalis so brutally or destroy the nation\'s infrastructure. All this can be obtained through parliamentary politics. Now, the only question is: Do the Maoists want to bring change and development or do they want to rule a Nepal that is ruined like Kampuchea? If our comrades are keen to resolve the problems of the country, develop the country and bring brotherhood among Nepalis then they should give up the violence, come to the mainstream and put their agenda before the Nepali people. A public forced to support them for fear of being killed will turn against them the first chance they get.

Kumar Basnet,
Sophia University, Tokyo

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)