Murari Sharma: Maoists, a destructive force in Nepal

Nepal’s political leaders have tabled a proposal in the parliament to impeach Lokman Singh Karki, Chief Commissioner for Investigation of Abuse of Authority. Certainly, Karki has flaws, and the leaders knew it when they appointed him.

Then why the fuss now? Among many, the foremost reason is Karki was preparing to bring charges against several corrupt political leaders. According to one source, the Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is one of those against whom the charges have been prepared.

Anyone that must be brought to justice with priority is Prime Minister Dahal and his former and current lieutenants for their several crimes over the years.

Keeping the frequent disturbances caused by the Joint People’s Front aside, the Maoists have committed umpteen crimes. They have killed or helped kill more than 15,000 people, prevented development activities, and destroyed schools, roads, communication towers, water supply systems, etc. from 1996 to 2006.

Maoist leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai have committed treason by vowing to serve Indian interests in writing in exchange for Indian support for their armed insurgency. Do not take it from me. Read the book of SD Muni, an Indian Nepal expert and Bhattarai’s mentor at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Muni had put Dahal and Bhattarai in touch with the prime minister’s office and Indian intelligence agencies of India and they committed in writing to protect Indian interest so they could freely harm Nepal.

Bhattarai has always proved his loyalty to India, including as prime minister through several controversial measures including the signing of the BIPPA. You may recall, his own colleague and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha had opposed the agreement as anti-national.

But Dahal has been more volatile. In his first stint as prime minister, he wore a mask of nationalism, and India maneuvered to pull him down.

In his second stint, Dahal has vowed not to repeat the past mistakes and enslaved himself to the neighbor. In his endeavor to please New Delhi, Dahal has undermined Nepal’s dignity, sovereignty and independence and stifled Nepal’s growth.

His record speaks for itself. The joint press release issued during his visit to India, Dahal validated Indian interference in Nepal’s new constitution, agreed to equate the Nepali government with the Indian embassy, and concurred to coordinate foreign policy issues with India.

If you recall, Nepal had opposed the inclusion of India’s displeasure with Nepal’s new constitution in the India-EU and India-Britain joint statements. Strangely, Dahal agreed to include that point in the Nepal-India joint statement.

Some disagreements exist over the constitution, but they are an internal matter for the Nepali people to resolve. No other country has any business to poke its nose in this process.

Dahal has reduced the Nepal government to the level of the Indian embassy in Kathmandu in the joint statement. He agreed to create a joint mechanism of the Nepal government and the Indian embassy to monitor the implementation of Indian-assisted projects in Nepal.

It reminds us of the 1950 Treaty that was signed by the prime minister of Nepal and the Indian ambassador. This is humiliating for Nepal.

What is more, Dahal agreed to coordinate Nepal’s position on major international issues with India. Countries do so in international forums to increase their weight, only where and when appropriate or possible. The joint statement has no such qualifying provision, which makes it mandatory.

As if the damages done by the joint statement were not enough, new alarming developments have occurred after Dahal’s India visit recently.

For instance, the Indian Oil Corporation, a state enterprise, has demanded, once again, the monopoly to supply petroleum products to Nepal for next 15 years, as a precondition for laying out the pipeline from the Indian border to Amlekhgunj. Nepal had rejected this idea long time back.

According to the Annapurna Post, India has demanded national treatment in Nepal for Indian nationals. It is demanding the implementation of this provision under the 1950 Treaty, which has been flouted by both countries for so long.

This is extremely troubling. India can implement this provision without much impact. But Nepal will lose its identity and character and be destroyed.

For instance, if half of the Nepali population obtains national treatment in India, it will be only 14 million people. If only 10 percent Indians seek national treatment in Nepal, it will be 130 million.

Similarly, India downgraded the Nepali Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat during his recent visit to New Delhi for the joint ministerial commission meeting. Citing External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj’s illness, a state minister worked as Mahat’s counterpart.

If Swaraj was sick, I wish her a quick recovery. However, my googling did not return any information on her illness this time. The google shows she was ill in April and had gone to hospital. Not this time. New Delhi has shown Nepal its new place.

Otherwise, the Indian government would have designated another cabinet minister as Mahat’s counterpart. That is the widely accepted diplomatic practice.

Finally, Dahal’s cabinet has declared the day the Indian President Pranab Mukharjee — and the Chinese president as well — will arrive in Nepal for a visit as a public holiday. Neither India nor China has such a provision for a visiting heads of state and government.

Why has Dahal slavishly subordinated Nepal’s sovereignty and dignity to India to such unprecedented levels?

There might be several reasons for it, but three of them scream out: Dahal’s greed for power, erosion in Nepal’s standing in the world, and India’s growing confidence.

The legitimate way of obtaining power in a democracy is winning elections. But in Nepal, political parties often use dirty tricks, including Indian influence, to undermine the legitimate system. Dahal is only the latest and most egregious example.

Dahal’s party is the third in the house. He has acquired undeserved power by kowtowing to India and the Nepali Congress, who supported him to spite the CPN (UML) and its leader and former Prime Minister KP Oli, who had defied New Delhi.

Dahal is trying to retain power by selling the country’s soul to India and his own honor to NC.

Nepal has lost its international standing by becoming the sick man of South Asia politically, economically and socially. Since 1994, the government has changed 23 times. Political instability has bred corruption among politicians and bureaucrats.

Political fluidity, corruption and the resultant lack of rule of law have stifled Nepal’s growth. They have discouraged private investment, bled public resources, and undermined public investment.

The Maoists have shattered Nepal’s social cohesion and given room for external powers to play in its internal matters. They drove a wedge between races, ethnic groups and communities first to garner support for their insurgency and then to build their ethnic vote banks.

India’s confidence has increased over the last decades due to its accelerated economy, growing military strength, strengthening USA-India strategic relations and burgeoning international respect. India now feels more confident to humiliate and micro-manage its neighbors.

In brief, the Maoists have always been a destructive force in Nepal. They, more than any other force, have caused woes for Nepal and humiliated the country outside its borders after 1990.

Lokman Singh Karki’s impeachment drama is Prime Minister Dahal’s strategy to divert public attention from his, his party’s and his government’s wrongdoings.

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