Nepali Times
One-sided truce

The announcement last week of a three-month unilateral ceasefire by our wily comrades just went to show that they are way ahead of the government in the propaganda war. The truce has been welcomed by one and all and except for a rather dazed royal cabinet everyone is pretty ecstatic.

Prachanda's carefully crafted truce statement was also masterful timing. It torpedoed the king's planned trip to the UN in which he was expected to forcefully defend the 'war on terror in Shangri-la'.

The international community welcomed the truce, Kofi Annan sees the possibility of peace and civil society here hailed it. The political parties protesting the king's takeover took credit for pushing the Maoists to make the gesture and India sent an ambiguous statement that could be interpreted in many ways.

More than all that, it gave us a glimmer of hope that our misguided comrades will finally realise the futility of an outdated dogma that believes in wrecking a country in order to rebuild it. After all, they look pretty foolish standing there with their guns when parliamentary parties didn't need to kill a single person to be even more radical than them.

It is the royal regime that is looking most foolish. The grouchy cronies who were handpicked for ministership lacked the confidence and courage even to welcome the announcement. Asked to comment, a government spokesman just reacted with a silly grin in front of tv cameras and another snarled at reporters. What they should have done was double the stake and announce a six-month ceasefire. It appears someone had his head deeply buried in sand.

When we urged a ceasefire three weeks ago ('Cease fire', #261) in this space, we had expected the government to show such magnanimity. It would have snatched the initiative and laid the groundwork for the royal visit to New York in search of support for peace efforts at home. But the problem with non-representative governments is that they are so far removed from the people they think they can get away with doing nothing.

Two days before Prachanda's truce call, the new question in the Nepali Times/ Internet poll was: 'Should the security forces and the Maoists declare a one month Dasain-Tihar ceasefire?' Aside from the uncanny coincidence, nearly four times the usual number of respondents voted and four out of every five who did gave a resounding 'yes'.

This unilateral peace is like the sound of one hand clapping-it must be converted into a three-way handshake. No matter how much some monarchists and mainstream parties hate each other, they must hang together if they do not wish to be hanged separately.

The onus of forging a unity between constitutional forces, however, lies in the hands of he who broke it up in the first place. And if the Maoists hate the revival of parliament so much, there may be some merit in it after all. Either way, the people are waiting. And watching.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)