Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Common cause

The recent speech of the chief of army staff, in which he criticised political parties for bad governance, which has resulted in the country's present situation, has created a stir. But some good has also come about as a result of his criticism. It might not have been right for a man in his official position to make his opinion public, but that doesn't invalidate what he said. Political games and bad governance are responsible for the current situation. Yet, we must not forget that apart from political parties, every other branch of government also bears responsibility for the nation's current state. Ignoring the problem is not a solution. At least the army chief's comments have pushed the parties, that were until now involved in dirty games, to think about safeguarding the achievements of 1990. If the parties could come to a national consensus to save the nation, and not get embroiled in partisan politics, they could weather every crisis. But what is more interesting is the chief's criticism about the style of governance of the prime minister and a few younger ministers. Why was he pointing out a few corrupt ministers while he embraced others?

The army chief's speech resulted in a few positive developments. It pushed parliament to pressure Deuba to give a clarification. Deuba's cautioning of the chief not only raised his stature, it also enhanced the dignity of parliament. We have to thank the political parties, parliamentarians, and the prime minister for this stand. The appearance of the army chief before a parliamentary committee seeking an update on the work of the armed forces, is another sign that democracy is functioning. This in turn has added to the dignity of the army chief's position. The recent visit by the king to Maoist-affected areas, his interest in the situation of the people, and his discussions with political parties, government and civil society are all laudable. Another praiseworthy event was the calling off of the five-day bandh by the Maoist party. The bandh would have affected the future of 2,50,000 students. The Maoists gave in to the requests of political parties, and to public pressure.

The political parties are finally exhibiting unity, and their commitment to democracy. Even if it is for their self-protection, party leaders appear ready to take the blame. "I must be blamed for the failure of government, not democracy," says Girija Prasad Koirala. "After the establishment of democracy all of us have done some wrong, big or small. It is important to face up to them," says Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary and leader of the main opposition CPN (UML). The stand the leaders have taken following the army chief's politically-coloured speech, is in the interests of the people and the country, so they deserve our gratitude. Only the future will tell whether it is because they want to remain in power or to save the country. If they are really keen on saving the country, they should make public a common view.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)