Thursday, May 14, 2009

तिब्बती भुराजनीतिसँग जेलिएको नेपाल


सुजित मैनाली



Sujit Mainali

२१ औं शताब्दीको अर्थराजनीति एसियामा स्थानान्तरण हुनेतर्फ विभिन्न अध्ययनहरुले संकेत गरिसकेका छन् । बदलिँदो परिवेशमा विश्वशक्तिको हैसियत प्राप्त गर्ने दौडधुपमा रुस चीन जापान र भारत लागिपरेको भए पनि यस दिशामा चीन र भारतको दाबी सशक्त देखिएको छ । आफ्ना दुवै छिमेकी राष्ट्र भावी विश्वअर्थराजनीतिको निर्णायक खेलाडी बन्ने होडबाजीमा लागेकाले बदलिँदो परिवेशमा नेपालको सामरिक महthव थप चुलिएको छ । २१ औं शताब्दीको समग्र व्यवस्थालाई हिन्द महासागर र चीनको स्वशासित क्षेत्र तिब्बतको महत्ताले निर्धारण गर्ने भएकाले विश्वराजनीतिमा नेपाल नयाँ सम्भावना बोकेर उदाएको छ । नेपालको भूराजनीतिमा तिब्बतको बढ्दो उपयोगिताले अबका दिनमा निर्णायक प्रभाव पार्ने देखिन्छ ।

तिब्बतसँगको भौगोलिक अनुकूलताका अलावा नेपालको हिमाली क्षेत्रको सांस्कृतिक पक्षले तिब्बतसँगको नेपालको अन्योन्याश्रित सम्बन्धलाई थप उचाइ प्रदान गरेको छ । चीनले दाबी गरेको अरुणाचल प्रदेश सिक्किमजस्ता भारतीय भूभागका अलावा हिमााचल प्रदेशको संस्कृति र भुगोल तिब्बतसँग मिल्जोजुल्दो रहे पनि हिमालपारिका मनाङ र मुस्ताङजस्ता भूभागको तुलना अन्यसँग गर्न सकिन्न । यसमा भारत-चीनबीचको जटिल सम्बन्ध र उनीहरुले अन्य राष्ट्रसँग राखेको कूटनीतिक सहकार्यले पनि प्रमुख भूमिका खेलेको छ । खम्पा विद्रोहको व्यूह नेपालमै रचिनु र भर्खरै अमेरिकालगायत युरोपेली राष्ट्रका राजदूतहरुले विवादस्पद ढंगले मुस्ताङ भ्रमण गरेको समाचार बाहिर आउनुले तिब्बती भूराजनीतिसँग नेपालको विशेष सम्बन्ध रहेको पुष्टि हुन्छ ।

आखिर किन तिब्बतको महtव दिनप्रतिदिन बढिरहेको छ यसको उत्तरका लागि तिब्बतको भूराजनीतिमाथि िसंहावलोकन गर्नुपर्ने हुन्छ । भूराजनीति भुगोल र राजनीतिको संयोग हो । त्यसैगरी राजनीति अर्थतन्त्र र सैन्य शक्तिद्वारा निर्धारित हुन्छ । तिब्बतको विशिष्ट भुगोल र यहाँको स्रोतबाट हासिल हुन सक्ने आर्थिक तथा सामरिक समृद्धिले संसारको आँखा यसतर्फ खिचेको छ ।

सन् १९६२ मा चीनले भारतमाथि आक्रमण गर्नुपछिको कारण तिब्बत नै थियो । निर्वासित धार्मिक नेता दलाई लामा र उनका अनुयायीहरुका लागि हिमााचल प्रदेशमा व्यवस्थित सहर निर्माण गरेर भारतले तिब्बत विषयमार्फत् चीनसँग राजनीतिक मोलमोलाई गर्न चाहेको थियो । चीनमा तिब्बत विलय भएकोमा यसप्रतिको भारतको असन्तुष्टिलाई यसले आधिकारिकरुपमा व्यक्त गरिदियो । सन् २००३ मा भारतीय प्रधानमन्त्री अटलविहारी वाजपेयीले चीन भ्रमणको दौरान तिब्बतलाई चीन अधीनस्थ भूभागको मान्यता दिइसकेको भए पनि भारतको नागरिकस्तरबाट यसको व्यापक विरोध भइरहेको छ ।

यसका अलावा इस्लामीहरुको बाहुल्य रहेको सिङचियान क्षेत्र र तिब्बतलाई जोड्ने अस्काई चीनमाथि भारत र चीन दुवैको दाबी भएकाले यसमाथि नियन्त्रण कायम गर्न भारतमाथि चीनले आक्रमण गरेको थियो । सिङचियान युरेसियासँगको र तिब्बत भारतसँगको चीनको 'बफर जोन' हो । त्यसैले यी भूभागमाथि चीन सम्झौता गर्न कुनै हालतमा पनि तयार छैन । यहाँ उपलब्ध स्रोत चीनको सुरक्षाका अलावा उसको अस्थिरता र सम्पन्नतासँग समेत सम्बन्धित छ । चीनको बढ्दो प्रभावसँग टड्कारो सम्बन्ध राख्ने भारत युरोपेली युनियन तथा अमेरिकाजस्ता राष्ट्रहरु चीनको विश्वव्यापी भूमिका खस्केको हेर्न चाहन्छन् । दुई महाशक्ति गुटबीच हुने विपरीत रुचिको टकरावले आगामी दिनमा प्रमुखता पाउने देखिएको छ । यसै द्वन्द्वमा अब नेपालको अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय हैसियत खोज्ने समय आएको छ ।


एसियाका अधिकांश नदीहरुको उद्गमस्थल तिब्बत हो । अक्सअस सिन्धु ब्रह्मपुत्र गंगा इरावेदी ह्वाङहो जस्ता एसियाका विशाल नदीहरु तिब्बतबाटै उत्पत्ति हुन्छन् । तसर्थ निकट भविष्यमा देखापर्ने पानीमाथिको शक्तिराष्ट्रहरुको अस्वस्थ हानथापले तिब्बतको महtवलाई थप उकास्नेछ ।

खानेपानी सिँचाइ तथा जलविद्युत् उत्पादन अभियानमा लागिपरेका भारत र चीनबीच तिब्बत विवादित विषय बनेको छ । चीनको उत्तर-दक्षिण क्षेत्रमा जारी मरुभूमीकरण रोक्न सिँचाइ व्यवस्था आवश्यक भएकाले तिब्बतबाट सुरु हुने नदीलाई चिनियाँ भूभागपट्टि फर्काउने योजना उसले बनाइसकेको छ । ब्रह्मपुत्र सिन्धुजस्ता नदीहरुको प्रवाह विपरीत दिशातर्फ फर्काउन चीन सफल भए भारतमा भोकमरी महामारी ऊर्जा संकटजस्ता जटिल समस्या देखापर्नेछन् । त्यसैले तिब्बतलाई आफूअनुकूलको बनाउनुमा अमेरिकाको भन्दा भारतको बढी स्वार्थ छ । हिमााचल प्रदेशदेखिका तिब्बती शरणार्थी स्वतन्त्र तिब्बत आन्दोलनका लागि काठमाडौंसम्म आएको घटनालाई यसैतर्फको भारतको यात्राका रुपमा बुझ्न सकिन्छ ।

तिब्बतमा चीनले सैन्य गतिविधि बढाएकाले यसतर्फ सम्पूर्ण विश्वको ध्यान आकृष्ट भएको छ । परमाणु भट्टी साचालन आणविक हातहतियार निर्माण क्षेप्यात्र प्रक्षेपणका अलावा यस क्षेत्रमा चीनले विशाल परमाणु खोज तथा विकास केन्द्रसमेत स्थापना गरेको छ । यसै सन्दर्भमा तिब्बतको हातहतियार तथा क्षेप्यास्त्र केन्द्र भारततर्फ लक्षित भएको भन्ने भारतीय तथा पश्चिमी विश्लेषकहरुको अनुमानलाई अतिशयोक्तिमात्र मान्न सकिन्न ।

परमाणु हातहतियार निर्माण तथा ऊर्जा उत्पादनका लागि आवश्यक युरेनियमको विशाल खानी तिब्बतमा छ । यहाँ विश्वकै सबैभन्दा धेरै युरेनियम रहेको अनुमान गरिएको छ । यसै परिप्रेक्ष्यमा केही समयअघि दलाई लामाले एसियाको स्थिरताका लागि तिब्बतले ुतटस्थ बफर जोनु को भूमिका निर्वाह गर्दै आएकाले आगामी दिनमा विश्वमा शान्ति स्थापनाका लागि तिब्बतलाई हतियाररहित क्षेत्र बनाइनुपर्ने बताएका थिए । ुभारतको कठपुतलीु को संज्ञा पाएका दलाई लामाको अभिव्यक्तिमा भारतको रणनीतिक आशय अन्तरनिहित भएको विश्वास गर्ने हो भने तिब्बतको बढ्दो सशस्त्रीकरणबाट भारत सशंकित छ । अमेरिका र भारतबीच मैत्रीपूर्ण कूटनीतिक सहकार्यको थालनी भइसकेकाले यस्तो आशंकाले भोलि प्रत्यक्ष विवाद ननिम्त्याउला भन्न सकिन्न ।

तिब्बतमा जारी युरेनियम प्रशोधन र परमाणु कार्यक्रमबाट निस्केको फोहोरले यहाँको पर्यावरणमा मात्र नभई सम्पूर्ण एसियामा नै प्रभाव पार्ने देखिन्छ । तसर्थ मानवअधिकार र पर्यावरण संरक्षणलाई निहुँ बनाएर युरोपेली युनियन जापान भारत अमेरिकाजस्ता राष्ट्रले चीनलाई कूटनीतिक दबाब दिन सक्छन् । तर चीनलाई भौतिकरुपमा दबाब दिन उसको संवेदनशील क्षेत्रको पहिचान गर्न आवश्यक छ ।

तिब्बत चीनको सर्वाधिक संवेदनशील क्षेत्र हो । बौद्ध धर्मको प्रसार कैलाश पर्वत मानसरोवरजस्ता क्षेत्रले तिब्बतसँगको नेपाल तथा भारतको ऐतिहासिक र सांस्कृतिक सम्बन्धलाई पुष्टि गर्दछ । तिब्बतसँग सीमा जोडिएका भारत बर्मा भुटानजस्ता अन्य राष्ट्रहरु पनि छन् । तर तिब्बतसँग सहज भौगोलिक सम्बन्ध भएका राष्ट्र नेपाल र भारतमात्र हुन् । भारतीय भूमि चीनको विरोधमा प्रयोग हुन सक्दैन किनकि यसको दीर्घकालीन असर भारतले बेहोर्नुपर्दछ भन्ने भारतीय रणनीतिकारहरुको विश्वास छ । भारत र चीनबीच सिक्किममा रहेको ऐतिहासिक व्यापारिक मार्ग नाथुला-पास साचालनमा ल्याउने सहमति दुवै राष्ट्रबीच भइसकेको भए पनि आपसी आशंकाका कारण उक्त मार्ग अझै प्रयोगमा आउन सकेको छैन । यसले भारत र चीन एकअर्काप्रति बन्द हुन चाहन्छन् भन्ने तर्कलाई बल पुर् याएको छ ।

यसका अलावा भारत र चीनबीच रहेको पर्वतमालाले उनीहरुबीच प्राकृतिक पर्खालको काम गरेको छ । हिमालयको अवरोधका कारण तिब्बतलाई अस्थिर बनाउने भारतीय तथा पश्चिमी राष्ट्रहरुको योजना भारतमार्फत् सफल हुने देखिँदैन । तर मनाङ र मुस्ताङजस्ता नेपाली भूभागहरु हिमालयको पारिपट्टि रहेका छन् । पातलो मानव बस्ती रहेको यस क्षेत्रमा तिब्बत छिर्ने सजिला नाकाहरु प्रशस्त छन् । यसै सम्भावनालाई मध्यनजर गर्दै यस क्षेत्रको पूर्वाधार विकासमा भारत र अमेरिकाले गरेको करोडौं लगानीलाई अर्थपूर्णरुपले हेर्नुपर्छ । बदलिँदो विश्व परिवेशमा तिब्बतको भूराजनीतिसँगै नेपालको महtव पनि जोडिएकाले वैदेशिक सम्बन्धमा यथेष्ट सचेतना प्रदर्शन नगरे नेपाल कुनै पनि समय शक्तिराष्ट्रहरुबीचको लुछाचुँडीको केन्द्र बन्न सक्छ ।

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The perception that Nepal is tilting to China is exaggerated’

Siddharth Varadarajan

The Maoists want an integrated Nepal army to be loyal to the state, not their own party, insists Prime Minister Prachanda.


BASELESS: No Chinese delegation came to Nepal on my invitation, says Prachanda.

Hours after Nepal’s Prime Minister resigned last week on the question of civilian supremacy over the army, a videotape of a speech he made to PLA combatants 18 months ago was leaked to the media. The aim was to discredit Prachanda since the speech showed him boasting about how the Maoists would eventually take over the Nepal Army. In the second and concluding part of his interview to The Hindu, the Maoist leader explains the contents of that speech, his party’s understanding of army integration and India’s fears about a ‘China tilt’ in Nepali policy.

Excerpts:

Why should the generals and political parties not be afraid of integrating the Peoples Liberation Army cadres in the Nepal Army? In your leaked speech of January 2, 2008, you said unit-wise integration is good because “that way our units will remain with us.” Doesn’t this formulation create danger of a state within state? If some units are loyal to one party after integration, this will create a problem, won’t it?
First of all, we should not compare the integration process with the January 2008 speech. That was said in very different circumstances. There was uncertainty about whether elections would be held and I needed to boost the morale of my cadres. That cannot be compared to the current situation, after the election and formation of a government Secondly, as far as I understand the process of integration, only those cadres who are physically fit should be integrated in the army. And I think it would be preferable to have unit-wise integration. This is not because we want to remould the whole army according to the Maoist understanding. We want to integrate them. When Maoist cadres are taken [as individuals] into different battalions of the NA, they will take 3-4 years to be really integrated because the PLA cadre are not very professional. They are more political and ideological. And there is necessity of democratising the NA, because it has not been very democratic in its functioning and nature. Now, to do this in a planned way, it’s quite important to have separate units of the PLA coming under the NA’s direct command. Only then can they be really integrated.

So you don’t expect the former PLA units will remain loyal to your party after integration in the army?
They must be loyal to the state, to the government. We don’t have any confusion on this question.

The principle of civilian supremacy over the military cuts both ways. Tomorrow, a non-Maoist government might feel these former PLA units or officers are not loyal and may wish to act against them. Would that be acceptable to you?
Yes, this is acceptable to me. According to the constitution, the elected government can take action if they challenge civilian supremacy, if they challenge the decision of the government.

For example, by siding with your party…
Exactly. There is no confusion in my mind.

Your critics say the 30-year service rule is being applied to retire senior people in different fields as a way for the Maoists to capture the state.
This is wrong. The 30-year provision was there previously in the police. And we established it in the armed police and police. But we do not have the intention to apply it in the army, where the situation is quite different. Although there was a debate and discussion on this, I clearly stated my position, even in public, that in the army, the 30 year issue will not be applicable.

The Shaktikhor video has also created doubts about the size of the PLA. There you said, “We were at 7,000 to 8,000. If we had reported that, we would have had 4,000 left after verification. Instead we claimed 35,000 and now we have 20,000.” Don’t you think this admission makes the integration process more difficult?
No, I don’t think so

There is a demand for re-verification, for example.
That is not going to happen. We had two kinds of regular forces during the Peoples War: central and regional forces. Both were PLA cadres and 35,000 was the combined figure. What I said in the videotape was about the central force, whose number was 7-8,000 at that time. The regional forces were near about 25-27,000. During the peace process, regional and central forces were merged and taken into cantonments. And they were scaled down to 20,000. In fact, during the Peoples War, we also had a militia of irregulars, 65-70,000 strong. We wanted them to be integrated or rehabilitated as well but the government and all major political parties did not agree because the state would not be able to handle such a big force. So it was suggested that this militia should be changed into a political organization. In this way the Young Communist League (YCL) emerged.

In your interview to The Hindu in April 2008, you said you wanted to convert the YCL into a development-oriented organisation. But we haven’t heard much about that, and again, there are allegations of criminal activities by the YCL.
The YCL has changed from a political to a social and development organisation. There is also a lot of exaggeration about the activities of the YCL; all the positive things they are doing in the development and social sector are not covered by the media. The media only reports things when something bad is done by an individual connected to the YCL. And in those incidents where members are involved, we are taking action against them.

Maoist cadres have targeted the media in the past — there was the attack on Himal Khabarpatrika, for example. Can you assure us the party will not tolerate such acts?
We are in favour of freedom of the press. But even in democratic countries and old democratic parties there will always be some incidents. In the Himal incident, some of our workers were involved. But I took the initiative and brought them into police custody.

India played a positive role in the peace process and the transformation of Nepal to a republic. But now, it appears as if there is distrust between the Maoist leadership and the Indian government. Why?
Because there has been a very mechanical and subjective analysis of the situation by the Indian side. Especially on the question of the so-called tilt to China. With the Indian political leadership busy with elections, security and bureaucratic officials are perhaps driving policy. And a highly exaggerated perception exists about what is going on here.

Indian officials say a huge number of Chinese delegation have visited Nepal recently. And they wonder why your defence minister paid a “secret visit” to China.
This is also baseless. Last year, because of the Tibet situation, the Chinese side got more sensitive about Tibet-related activities going on in Nepal. I would like to say clearly that not a single delegation came to Nepal on my invitation. The initiative came solely from the Chinese side. As for this “secret visit” of our defence minister, that was no “secret” at all. It was also not much of a “visit.” Some of our ministers went to Tatopani near the border during Deepavali. From there, they crossed the border and went to Khasa and spent the night. Everybody from Kathmandu wants to go to Tatopani and sometimes stay in Khasa to shop.

There are also apprehensions on the updated Nepal-China friendship treaty being negotiated. Do you intend to hold wider consultations on this before proceeding?
Time and again I have proposed that we should have continuous discussion, so that we can clear any confusion. We have a very specific type of relation with India — an open border, history, culture. When I was in Delhi, I tried to explain why our relations are unique. With China, we have our own specific nature of relations — because of the Himalayan range. One should not confuse this issue. As for the treaty, there is still so much discussion to be held between the parties here. Nothing is going to be signed in a hurry. Certainly, I was not going to sign anything during the trip I had scheduled to Beijing before this crisis.

The Indian side says the Maoists send mixed signals. When you came to Delhi, you spoke of 10,000 MW joint hydroelectric projects, an East-West railway. But at the Kharipati party convention in December, existing projects like Arun-III were called a manifestation of “Indian expansionism.”
There is no confusion. I don’t know what kinds of documents India received from Kharipati. There was serious discussion and debate on different issues and it is possible someone has seen different documents and taken them to be the final ones. If there are such references, in my assessment that was not the final document. There are different documents and maybe some tendency inside the party [to look at things that way] but in the final document a more pragmatic conclusion is there. I stand by my position that the east-west railway is very important for us, and without India it cannot be fulfilled. I have talked about the Chisapani project. I am in favour of having those kinds of megaprojects with India’s cooperation, although in some issues, like Pancheshwar on the Mahakali, there is serious confusion among the masses here. Unless we clear this, it is difficult to go ahead there. But on Karnali, there is no problem from our side. (Concluded)

लडाकू पुनः प्रमाणीकरण हुँदैन : प्रधानमन्त्री

प्रधानमन्त्रीको प्रस्टीकरण चित्तबुझ्दो भएन : भारत
अर्काको आन्तरिक मामलामा हस्तक्षेप गर्दैनौं : चीन
'युनिट वाइज' समायोजन हुन्छ
सेनामा ३० वर्षे सेवाअवधि लागू हुँदैन
भारतसँगको सम्बन्ध विशिष्ट
चीनसँग सन्धि गर्ने कार्यक्रम थिएन
पाचेश्वरबारे असमझदारी छ
कर्णालीमा कुनै आपत्ति छैन


सुजित मैनाली
काठमाडौं वैशाख २९ ।
शिविरमा रहेका माओवादी लडाकूको पुनः प्रमाणीकरण हुनुपर्ने माग उठिरहेको समयमा कामचलाउ प्रधानमन्त्री तथा एकीकॄत नेकपा माओवादीका अध्यक्ष पुष्पकमल दाहालले जनसेनाको पुनःप्रमाणीकरण नहुने बताएका छन् । भारतीय दैनिक पत्रिका 'दि हिन्दू'लाई प्रधानमन्त्री निवास बालुवाटारमा दिएको अन्तर्वार्तामा दाहालले सो कुरा बताएका हुन् ।
संविधानसभा निर्वाचन अघि माओवादी छापामारहरुलाई प्रशिक्षण दिने क्रममा अध्यक्ष दाहालले 'वास्तविक जनसेना सात-आठ हजारको संख्यामा रहे पनि प्रमाणीकरणका क्रममा २० हजार पुर्याइएको' भनेको भिडियो टेप हालै सार्वजनिक भएपछि लडाकू पुनःप्रमाणीकरणको माग मुलुकभित्र उठिरहेको छ ।
'दि हिन्दू'को अनलाइन संस्करणमा बुधबार प्रकाशित अन्तर्वार्तामा प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले छापामारको आत्मविश्वास बढाउन त्यतिबेला भनाई राख्दाको र अहिलेको स्थिति फरक रहेकाले यसलाई तुलना गर्न नहुने बताएका छन् । अन्तर्वार्तामा शिविरसहितै युनिट वाइज सेना समायोजन उपयुक्त भएको ठहर गर्दै प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले शारीरिक रुपमा योग्य लडाकूहरुलाई मात्र सेनामा भर्ना लिइने बताएका छन् । विभिन्न सरकारी सेवामा ३० वर्षे सेवा अवधिसम्बन्धी नियम सत्ता कब्जाका लागि नल्याइएको प्रस्ट पार्दै उनले सेनामा भने उक्त नियम लागू नगरिने बताएका छन् ।
माओवादी नेतृत्व र भारतबीच उत्पन्न अविश्वासको वातावरणबारे सोधिएको प्रश्नमा प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले भारतीय पक्षबाट स्थितिको यान्त्रिक तथा आत्मपरक विश्लेषण भएको दाबी गरेका छन् । भारतको कर्मचारीतन्त्र र सुरक्षा अधिकारीहरुले नेपालमा जारी परिस्थितिको विश्लेषण बढाइचढाइपूर्वक गरेको आरोपसमेत उनले लगाए ।
चिनियाँ पक्ष तिब्बत मामिलाप्रति थप सम्वेदनशील बनेकाले गत वर्ष विभिन्न चिनियाँ टोलीले नेपाल भ्रमण गरेको बताउँदै दाहालले भने 'तर कुनै टोलीलाई पनि मैले भ्रमणको निम्तो दिएको थिइनँ उनीहरु आफै आएका थिए ।'
गत वर्ष रक्षामन्त्री रामबहादुर थापा 'बादल'ले गरेको गोप्य चीन भ्रमणसम्बन्धी सोधिएको प्रश्नमा प्रधानमन्त्रीले यस विषयमा गोप्य केही नरहेको बताउँदै भने, 'तिहारअघि मेरा केही मन्त्रीहरुले खासा गएर एक रात त्यहीँ बिताएका थिए काठमाडौंका सबैजना ततोपानी जान र किनमेलका लागि खासामा रोकिन चाहन्छन् ।'
भारतसँगको खुला सीमा यहाँको इतिहास र संस्कृतिले दुईदेशबीचको सम्बन्ध विशिष्ट बनाएको धारणा राख्दै उनले हिमालयको अवरोधका कारण चिनसँग नेपालको बेग्लै सम्बन्ध रहेको बताएका छन् । हालै रद्द भएको चीन भ्रमण अवधिमा आफूले कुनै सन्धिमा हस्ताक्षर गर्ने कार्यक्रम नबनाएको प्रस्ट पार्दै उनले भने, 'चीनसँग गरिने सम्झौताबारे विस्तृत छलफल गर्न बाँकी नै थियो ।'
पूर्व-पश्चिम रेलमार्ग चिसापानी परियोजनालगायतका विशाल आयोजना भारतसँगको सहकार्यमार्फत निर्माण गर्नुपर्छ भन्नेमा आफू अडिग रहेको जानकारी दिँदै उनले भने, 'तर पाचेश्वर परियोजनाबारे जनतामा गम्भीर असमझदारी विद्यमान छ यसको निराकरण नगरी अघि बढ्न सकिँदैन ।' तर कर्णालीमाथि आफूहरुका तर्फबाट कुनै आपत्ति नरहेको उनले प्रस्ट पारेका छन् । अरुण-३ परियोजना 'भारतीय विस्तारवादुको उपज' भएको ठहर माओवादीको खरिपाटी बैठकले गरेको बारे सोधिएको प्रश्नमा प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले उक्त समाचार सत्य नभएको जिकिर गरेका छन् ।

भारतद्वारा खण्डन
सेनापति प्रकरणबारे भारतसँग छलफल गर्न नपाएको भन्ने प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालको भनाइको भारतीय अधिकारीहरुले खण्डन गरेका छन् । भारतीय दैनिक पत्रिका 'दि हिन्दू'मा सोमबार प्रकाशित अन्तर्वार्तामा दाहालले विदेश सचिव वा अन्य उच्चपदस्थ अधिकारीलाई छलफलका लागि नेपाल बोलाउन भारतीय राजदूत राकेश सुदसमक्ष आफूले गरेको आग्रह अस्वीकार भएको खुलासा गरेका थिए ।
स्रोतको हवाला दिँदै भारतीय समाचार संस्था आईएनएसले भारतका वरिष्ठ अधिकारीहरुसँग यस विषयमा दाहालले छलफल गरेको र सेनापतिलाई बर्खास्त गरेपछिमात्र उनले राजदूतसँग त्यस्तो आग्रह गरेको जनाएको छ । भर्खरै सार्वजनिक भएको भिडियो टेपप्रति पनि भारतको गम्भीर ध्यानाकर्षण भएको र यसको सफाइमा प्रधानमन्त्रीले दिएको प्रस्टीकरण चित्तबुझ्दो नभएको भारतीय अधिकारीहरुले जनाएका छन् । त्यसैगरी माओवादीबाट भइरहेको संस् अवरुद्ध गर्नेलगायतका कार्यबाटसमेत भारत चिन्तित रहेको समाचारमा उल्लेख गरिएको छ ।

चीनको स्पष्टोक्ति
नेपालको आन्तरिक मामिलामा चीनले हस्तक्षेप गरेको भन्ने भारतीय साचारमाध्यमहरुमा प्रकाशित समाचारको चीनले खण्डन गरेको छ । उक्त समाचार आधारहीन भएको दाबी गर्दै चीनले अन्य राष्ट्रको आन्तरिक मामिलामा हस्तक्षेप नगर्ने आफ्नो नीति रहेको प्रस्ट पारेको छ । चिनियाँ विदेश मन्त्रालयका प्रवक्ता माजाओक्सुले मंगलबार आयोजित नियमित पत्रकार सम्मेलनमा सो जानकारी दिएका हुन् ।
छिमेकी राष्ट्र नेपालको शान्ति राजनीतिक स्थिरता तथा आर्थिक समृद्धिका लागि सबै दलहरुले सहकार्य गर्ने विश्वास चीनले लिएको समेत उनले स्पष्ट पारेका छन् । यसअघि भारतीय दैनिक पत्रिका 'टाइम्स अफ इन्डिया'ले सेनापति अवकाश प्रकरणमा अडिग रहन प्रधानमन्त्री दाहाललाई चीनले सन्देश पठाएको जनाएको थियो ।

'सेनापति प्रकरणमा भारतसँग छलफल गर्न खोजेको थिएँ'

चीनसँगको सम्बन्धबारे भारतमा गलत धारणा छ
कुनै पनि चिनियाँ टोलीलाई निम्तो दिएको छैन
चीनसँग हुने सन्धिबारे भारतसँग छलफल हुन्छ
खड्कासँग गोप्य सम्झौता भएको छैन


सुजित मैनाली
काठमाडौं वैशाख २८ ।
प्रधानमन्त्री पुष्पकमल दाहालले प्रधानसेनापति रुक्माङ्गत कटवाललाई बर्खास्त गर्ने विषयमा छलफलका लागि भारतीय अधिकारीलाई नेपाल आउन आफूले आग्रह गरेको खुलासा गरेका छन् । कटवाललाई अवकाश नदिन नेपाल सरकारलाई सुझाव दिएको छिमेकी राष्ट्र भारतसँग यस विषयमा गम्भीर छलफलका लागि विदेशसचिव अथवा अन्य उच्चपदस्थ भारतीय अधिकारीलाई नेपाल बोलाउन भारतीय राजदूत राकेश सुदलाई आग्रह गरेको प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले बताएका छन् ।
भारतको दैनिक पत्रिका 'दि हिन्दू'लाई प्रधानमन्त्री निवास बालुवटारमा दिएको अन्तर्वार्तामा प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले आफ्नो सन्देश दिल्लीसम्म पुर् याउन राजदूत सुदलाई आग्रह गरेको बताएका छन् ।
कटवाल अवकाश प्रकरणमा माओवादी नेतृत्वको सरकार र भारतबीच असमझदारी बढेपछि छलफलका लागि आफूले राजदूतसँग यस्तो आग्रह गरेको प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले बताएका छन् । तर भारतमा निर्वाचन जारी रहेकाले भारतीय अधिकारीहरु नेपाल आउन नसक्ने जानकारी राजदूत सुदले आफूलाई गराएको उनले बताएका छन् ।
'दि हिन्दू'को अनलाइन संस्करणले सोमबार जनाएअनुसार प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले नेपाल र चीनबीचको बढ्दो हिमचिमबारे व्याप्त गलत धारणाबाट प्रधानसेनापति प्रकरणमा साउथ ब्लकको दृष्टिकोण निर्धारण भएको दाबी गरेका छन् ।
यसअघि अर्थमन्त्री डा। बाबुराम भट्टराईले निर्वाचनमा राजनीतिज्ञहरु व्यस्त रहेको समयमा भारतको कर्मचारीतन्त्रले माओवादी सरकारविरुद्ध षड्यन्त्र गरेर गम्भीर गल्ती गरेको बताएका थिए । त्यसैगरी भारतीय दैनिक पत्रिका ुटाइम्स अफ इन्डियाुले स्रोतको हवाला दिँदै सेनापति बर्खास्तसम्बन्धी निर्णयमा अडिग रहन चीनले माओबादीलाई सुझाव दिएको समाचार प्रकाशित गरेको थियो ।
विगत केही महिनायता विभिन्न चिनियाँ प्रतिनिधिमण्डलले नेपाल भ्रमण गरेको विषयमा प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले कुनै पनि चिनियाँ टोलीलाई आफूले निमन्त्रणा नदिएको प्रस्ट पारेका छन् । 'सम्पूर्ण भ्रमणको तयारी चिनियाँ पक्षबाटै भएको थियो', अन्तर्वार्तामा उनले भनेका छन् । तिब्बती समस्याका कारण चिनियाँ प्रतिनिधिमण्डलले नेपाल भ्रमण गरेको समेत उनले जनाएका छन् ।
चीनले नेपाललाई बुझाएको शान्ति तथा मैत्री सन्धिको मस्यौदामाथि अन्य दल र दिल्लीसँग परामर्श नगरी निष्कर्षमा पुग्ने विचार आफूसँग नरहेको जानकारी प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले दिएका छन् । सरकारबाट राजीनामा दिएपछि भारतीय दैनिक पत्रिका 'टाइम्स अफ इन्डिया'सँगको पहिलो अन्तर्वार्तामा कामचलाउ प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले चीनसँग विशेष सन्धि गर्ने तयारी भइरहेको बताउँदै १९५०को नेपाल-भारत सन्धिकै उचाइमा चीनसँग पनि नयाँ सन्धि गर्ने इच्छा व्यक्त गरेका थिए ।
'दि हिन्दू'सँगको अन्तर्वार्तामा उनले राष्ट्रपति डा। रामवरण यादवबाट असंवैधानिक कदम फिर्ता नभए नागरिक सर्वोच्चताको निम्ति आफूहरु प्रतिपक्षमा बस्ने जानकारी दिएका छन् । प्रजातान्त्रिक प्रकि्रयाबाट निर्वाचित सरकारको अधिकार हनन भएको देख्नुभन्दा प्रतिपक्षमा बस्नु उचित भएको समेत उनले बताएका छन् ।
लेफ्टीनेन्ट जनरल कुलबहादुर खड्कालाई माओवादीले प्रधानसेनापति बनाउन चाहेको भन्ने हल्ला आधारहीन भएको दाबी गर्दै उनले खड्का अथवा छत्रमान गुरुङबीच आफूले कहिल्यै फरक नदेखेको प्रधानमन्त्री दाहालले बताएका छन् ।
'नागरिक सर्वोच्चताको विरोधमा देखापरेका कटवालप्रति मात्र हामी लक्षित थियौं', उनले भने 'खड्कासँग हाम्रो गोप्य एजेन्डा अथवा लेनदेन केही थिएन ।' दाहालले खड्कालाई माओवादीले उपयोग गर्न खोजेको भन्ने आरोपको खण्डन गर्दै यसलाई 'जनता झुक्याउन सिर्जना गरिएको हल्ला'को संज्ञा दिएका छन् ।

Monday, May 11, 2009

‘India should have defended civilian supremacy in Nepal’

Siddharth Varadarajan


Allowing the military chief to prevail today will condemn the country to a fate similar to Pakistan, says Nepal’s Prime Minister, Prachanda.


PRACHANDA: If we go into opposition, it will mainly be for civilian supremacy.

In an interview on the circumstances leading to the dismissal of his country’s army chief and his own subsequent resignation, Prime Minister Prachanda of Nepal tells The Hindu the Maoists will prefer to sit in the opposition rather than see the authority of a democratically elected government undermined.

Excerpts:

1. Controversy has surrounded your decision to sack General Rookmangad Katawal as army chief. He had defied civilian authority since December on the recruitment issue but was going to retire soon. Why precipitate a political crisis when his tenure was ending anyway?


When the question of recruitment came, we knew what was at stake was the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and its implementation. So we discussed the issue within government and also tried to convince other political parties that this man is trying to challenge civilian supremacy. That this is a question of principle — either we assert civilian supremacy or army supremacy will get established. A serious debate took place with different political parties and ultimately, I acted because the other major political party in the government besides the Maoists — the United Marxist-Leninists — agreed to take action against Katawal. It is only then that I asked some questions of the army chief and tried to take action against him.

2. Who were the UML leaders who agreed with this?


Top central leaders like Jhalanath Khanal, Ishwar Pokharel and Bam Dev Gautam agreed that Katawal is always trying to challenge the elected government and that this will create a very bad situation in the coming days and therefore we should take some action. And when UML leadership agreed, I also discussed with the leadership of the Madhesi Forum (MJF). They too agreed to go ahead. Today, the MJF is sticking to its position but the UML reversed itself later on.

3. In the cabinet, when it became clear that UML was no longer on board, why did you feel it necessary to go ahead with the dismissal, knowing it would trigger a major crisis?


Because it is a question of principle, it is a question of making history in this country. If we surrender to this army chief or to army supremacy, this will create a very big problem in coming days. Therefore, we preferred to stand firmly. Even if I should have to resign from the government, I must establish civilian supremacy in Nepal.

4. So you were looking at the experience of Pakistan?


Exactly, we discussed here what happened in Pakistan, and how in India, civilian supremacy has been established from 1947 up to this time.

5. And that is the model you wanted to follow for Nepal?


Exactly, I discussed this question with different political leaders, that we have to learn from the experience of India in this issue, not Pakistan.

6. But India went along with President Ram Baran Yadav’s decision to rescind the cabinet order and reinstate the general. Did that disappoint you?


Well, we expected that India would take a consistent position in favour of civilian supremacy because of its own traditions and because it had supported the struggle for democracy here. In fact, I want to make it clear that before taking any action against Katawal, I told the Indian Ambassador, Rakesh Sood, that if it is possible, could you please send a message that I want to have a serious discussion on this issue and if either the foreign secretary or some other senior person can come here to talk. We knew some confusion is there between the Maoist-led government and India on this question. I wanted to settle this issue through interaction and discussion with high-level officials from Delhi. But unfortunately, the ambassador informed me that this cannot happen now because the election campaign is going on, that nobody is there, that it is very difficult.

7. So you wanted the Indian leadership to be on board before you took action against Katawal?


Exactly.

8. But they say you promised you would not act without wide consultations, and that you didn’t stick to that assurance.


Let me clarify. When the question of this army chief was in debate, right from the beginning of the recruitment issue last December, I tried to consult with different stakeholders, even with Indian officials, that this man is not comfortable with the peace process, not comfortable with civilian supremacy. And, therefore, I want to take some action against him. So the debate was there, just after the recruitment issue came. They said, yes, but it is not good to take action now, let him go in the natural way. But these negative things continued. Even then, before taking action, I had said I would consult with the different political parties. And there were 15 days of consultations.

9. Some people say the change in the UML’s position was the result of Indian pressure. Do you agree?


That would be going too far. Inside UML there was a heavy pressure for the leadership and maybe some sorts of pressure from Delhi also.

T10. he media is speculating that the Maoists had reached out to Lt. General Kul Bahadur Khadka, that you wanted him as army chief because of some understanding. What is the truth?


All these rumours are baseless and completely wrong. We see no difference between Khadka or Chattra Man Singh Gurung or other generals. Our concern is with Katawal, who is acting against civilian supremacy. And we tried to convince other political parties, and even some members of the international community, that we don’t have any preference that Khadka should be the next chief. He is second in command and when we take action against the chief, the second will naturally come. But we did not have any hidden agenda or hidden interaction with Khadka.

11. And there was no plan to give him an extension, since has only a few weeks to go till retirement?


No. In fact, we made him acting chief. If we wanted to make him chief in that way for an extended period, we would not have made him only acting chief in our cabinet decision. So he was to be acting chief and we were open to discuss about the chief [after his retirement] — to either make Gurung or some other general. Some people think we are trying to manipulate Khadka in favour of the Maiosts. These baseless rumours are meant to confuse the people.

12. Why was the army recruitment issue so important for you? And what was the need to deny an extension to the eight brigadiers as recommended by Gen. Katawal? I am told many of them were highly competent, professional officers.


It was agreed that there should be no recruitment by the Nepal Army or Peoples Liberation Army until integration and rehabilitation of the PLA is complete. In fact, the UN wrote a letter to us saying the proposed army recruitment should be stopped as it violates the CPA. After this, we wrote to Katawal saying it should be stopped. But he defied us. As for the brigadiers, there have been so many instances in the past when an officer’s tenure ended and extension was not given. So this time too, in the case of the eight brigadiers who had reached the end of their tenure, we felt that to address change, to give opportunity to new officers, we should do this. And not only in the army but in the police, 10-11 officers were not given extension. If I don’t give opportunity to new officers, the old status quo will be maintained, it will not be consistent with the movement for change.

13. Some of your leaders have said that unless Katawal’s reinstatement is revoked, the Maoist bloc will not allow the Constituent Assembly to function. Wouldn’t that be an irresponsible thing to do?



We believe the president should correct his extraconstitutional action and we are not going to disrupt the CA functioning for the time being. Previously, the Nepali Congress had disturbed the functioning of parliament on the issue of the chief and in a counterattack we are also stopping it because NC taught us to do these kind of activities! But we are not going to have a continuous kind of programme like that, we will let the CA function and elect the government.

14. So you are not going to stand in the way?


No.

15. And can you rejoin government?


We will not be part of the government if the president does not correct his instruction on Katawal.

16. Could a possible compromise be restoring the status quo ante before the dismissal but with the CA passing a resolution firmly establishing the principle that the civilian government alone has the right to take decisions about the military and not the president?


On the issue of the principle, we will agree with that kind of proposal. But right now, in the process of forming the government, it is not possible to form an agreement on that line. We will be in the opposition in that situation.

17. Do you feel the Maoists will gain electorally in the future by staying in the opposition now?


We haven’t thought of the next election, we are thinking about civilian supremacy. If we go into opposition, it will mainly be for civilian supremacy. The Maoists struggled hard for a CA when others were against it, we fought hard for a Republic and now for civilian supremacy. People will ask why other parties are silent, how come only the Maoists are fighting for this. The image of the party has gone up in the hearts and minds of the people. This is our victory.

Source : The Hindu
May 11, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

We'll not bow to foreign pressure: Prachanda

You resigned as PM at a critical time. Nepal is in the middle of a peace process. It’s preparing to write a new constitution...

I didn’t step down suddenly over an individual (chief of army staff). There’s a background to this. Right from the beginning, internal forces linked to privileged and feudal elements were against us. They never wanted us in power. Again, there were external elements who did not want us at the helm.

Could you identify these forces?

First, Nepali Congress could never bear to see us in power. People loyal to the palace were trying to create instability in the country. There are big foreign powers that back elements inimical to us.

You cancelled your China visit after your allies pulled out of the government over your move to sack Gen Katawal. That led to your exit. How do you look at these developments?

It could be a planned strategy or a coincidence. It’s also true that there are forces that did not want the (Beijing) visit to take place. A lot of things were being said about the trip.

Was it the right time to go to China?

This was my first official visit to China. I’ve already made a similar trip to India. I had gone to China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Is it true that you planned to sign a special treaty with Beijing?

Yes. We want a pact with China on the lines of the 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship. We could have prepared the ground for this. We had planned to formalize it only after taking other political parties into confidence. This treaty would’ve had no negative impact on our friendship with India. We just want to strengthen our ties with China according to the changed situation in Nepal. We are now a republic.

But you want to overhaul the 1950 treaty with India.

It’s because this treaty doesn’t represent the aspirations of the Nepalese people anymore. Many leaders in New Delhi also in principle support our demand for a fresh treaty.

Have you pinpointed the changes you want in the treaty with India?

At heart, the Nepalese people feel cheated by this treaty. They say it’s loaded in India’s favour. Why should Nepal seek India’s consent on its security? The treaty doesn’t deal with economic issues according to the size of the two countries.

Does your party still stick to its headline demand for an end to Gorkha recruitment?
(smiles) We can talk about it later.

In India, many feel you try to play the China card...

As PM, I’ve never played China against India and India against China. There’s certainly a kind of imaginary fear in Indian political circles that Maoists play the China card against India. Such things can complicate matters for both sides. Our relationship with India has its own special characteristics because of the open border and cultural affinity. Similarly, our ties with China have their own specialties because of the Himalayas. We want equal friendship with both and gain from their rapidly-growing economies.

Hasn’t China shown extra interest in Nepal in recent months?

It’s true that Nepal has received a number of delegations from China. Maybe, after last year’s trouble in Tibet, China has become more sensitive towards Nepal.

There’s a feeling within and outside Nepal that you faced opposition from India while dealing with the army chief. Why?

Many Nepalese suspect India’s hand in the row. They feel India shouldn’t put at stake its contribution to Nepal’s peace process for the sake of one particular individual. The dispute over the army chief arose because he was trying to undermine civilian supremacy over the military. People of India and Nepal have an emotional bond. I’ve no negative feeling towards India and its people. But as a sovereign nation, we’ll never bow before any external pressure.

How do you put yourself vis-a-vis India?

I haven’t worked against India’s interests. Instead, I’ve followed the joint statement that we signed during my visit to India. We’re trying to take concrete steps to address India’s security concern.

Many complain that you are pursuing the Maoist agenda by attacking the media, religious institutions, the judiciary and the army.

These are allegations by a particular class that’s yet to come to terms with our rise as Nepal’s biggest power. This class doesn’t have anything to do with the peasants, workers, Dalits, Madhesis and other groups that have been deprived of their rights for ages.

Didn’t Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) go against court decisions in the past? As a mainstream leader, how will you maintain a balance between the three magical powers of Maoist revolutionaries — party organization, People’s Liberation Army and united front of support groups?

Everything is being taken care of. PLA can always be integrated into either the army or armed police or the industrial security force. A section of army officers are ready for its integration into the military.

Source : Times Of India
9 May, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cold Embrass



Cold Embarrass Between Maoist And India Exposed In Current Crises Where India Publicly Denies Maoist Maoist's Desire To Sack Army Chief Rookmangaat Katwal.
Since the Nepal is turn into a republican country, foreign relation has became a matter of public concern. During the regime of King, activities followed to formulate foreign policy used to be confined within the wall of royal palace. However, after Nepal abolish monarchy, government has now became totally oblige and responsible to device foreign policy. Nude intervention of India in Nepal's internal affair will soon become a matter of public debate. This will intensify the already pervasive anti-Indian sentiments among the people of Nepal.

A diversity of allergens By Jawed Naqvi

Thursday, 07 May, 2009, www.dawn.com
There are allergens that trouble India as well as its neighbours writes Jawed Naqvi. Barely a decade ago India had not allowed the Saarc summit to be held in Kathmandu, insisting that Gen Pervez Musharraf should first return Pakistan to civilian rule that he had displaced in a bloodless coup. Musharraf didn’t oblige. The summit took place, but only after a year’s delay.
Moreover, the military dictator declined India’s generous offer of an air corridor, closed to Pakistani flights following the Kargil standoff. He opted instead for the China route to Kathmandu. Musharraf scored more brownie points by clasping the Indian prime minister’s hand during the summit amid thunderous applause by all the member countries. The gesture paved the way for the Agra summit without anything being conceded by Islamabad to show for India’s acceptance of it.
The wheel turned full circle for India’s neighbourhood policy this week. The outgoing Maoist rulers of Nepal blamed their exit on New Delhi’s support for an Indian-trained and discredited army chief, an appointee of the ousted king who was overthrown not too long ago by a popular uprising that ushered democracy for the first time in the landlocked and impoverished country.
India has denied the Maoists’ accusations that it wants to destabilise Nepal. Maoist leaders say New Delhi was in any case not happy with their rule over a country whose only other neighbour is China. Their fears are not misplaced. It took Madeleine Albright 45 years to acknowledge the CIA’s role in overthrowing Iran’s elected government to return the throne to the autocratic Shah.
It must be acknowledged as no mean achievement that India which is rightfully proud of its status as the world’s most populous democracy has learnt to live in an unstable neighbourhood where armies call the shots more often than civil society. So what was the point in making an exception of Gen Musharraf? Apart from eating humble pie what else did India achieve by holding the Saarc nations hostage, all to placate a momentary quirk?
Who can deny that India lives in a difficult neighbourhood, but how much of the problem is of its own making is a point to ponder. Gen H.M. Ershad, the former president of Bangladesh, hosted the first Saarc summit in 1985. He was a military usurper but Indian leader Rajiv Gandhi didn’t seem to have a problem with that. Gandhi was not uncomfortable with Gen Ziaul Haq either who represented Pakistan at the Dhaka meeting. Moreover, India looked the other way only recently when a so-called civilian-military regime took over in Bangladesh. Whose side are we on?
In 1997 Ershad emphatically said in a TV documentary on South Asia (ironically sponsored by the Indian foreign ministry) that the smaller countries surrounding India were 'allergic' to their big neighbour. They had, therefore, decided to come together to deal with India collectively. That, in a nutshell, was the driving force behind the idea of Saarc, as at least its first host saw it.
Clearly there are allergens that trouble India as well as its neighbours. We know that human allergies are nearly impossible to identify accurately and we know very little about what sets them off. But those prone to an attack learn to take evasive action. Part of India’s poor chemistry with its neighbours can be blamed on the Cold War, in which India was seen as aligned with Moscow. The others flirted with Beijing and Washington, often too seriously for New Delhi’s comfort.
Another clue to South Asian allergies is rooted in a parallel history. The Hindu carries interesting tidbits from its reports of 50 years ago, which could help locate the source of one of these elusive allergens. That issue pertained to the beginning of India’s Tibet policy, which immediately angered China and brought the ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai’ euphoria between the two to a stunning halt.
The Hindu of May 6, 1959 carried two reports on the Tibet issue. One dispatch came from Washington. 'President Eisenhower told his press conference in Washington on May 5 that he could quite understand the astonishment of Mr Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian prime minister, at the increased attacks on India from Peking,' it said.
'The president was asked if he had any comment on communist China’s mounting criticism of India following the events in Tibet. The president replied that he could quite understand Mr Nehru’s astonishment and may be his sense of apparent indignation that these attacks should be made upon a nation which had tried hard to be peaceful.'
The other dispatch came from Beijing, and it quoted the New China News Agency as reporting on May 4, 1959 that 'Peking citizens' who studied Mr Nehru’s Tibet statement in parliament on April 27, had decided that the Indian prime minister 'distorted the facts of the rebellion in Tibet'. The Chinese 'citizens' also generally agreed that Nehru’s speech 'openly supported the Tibetan traitors'.Had Nehru’s intervention made a whit of a difference to China’s Tibet policy? If it did, he would be a global hero. The fact is that China has not budged at all on Tibet. However, India got embroiled in an avoidable war, that too with the country with which it eventually signed a treaty of peace and tranquillity on their Himalayan borders in 1993. Moreover, Eisenhower’s successors have been heading to China, not India, to strategise policies that could bring stability and profit to the world, including New Delhi.
India is meanwhile rising to another silly bait, this time as a make-believe foil to China because, as its advisers say, now it too has nuclear weapons to flaunt. Nothing could be more shortsighted than to play the role of a contrived bulwark against China that American think tanks and their Indian clones have assigned to New Delhi.
In 1983, Indira Gandhi was deified in the Third World for standing up to imperialism. The non-aligned summit held in New Delhi that year assigned her the responsibility of bringing Iraq and Iran to the negotiating table. India’s stature was given a further boost when Rajiv Gandhi inaugurated his vision of nuclear disarmament and led the battle against Apartheid in South Africa.
But Rajiv also symbolised the perils of dealing with insecure and mistrusting neighbours closer home. While he improved ties with Beijing, he placed an economic blockade on Nepal, evidently to force the former king to keep away from China.
That became the single most powerful factor that triggered a groundswell of anti-India sentiment in Kathmandu, which has not abated to date. He ordered Indian troops to salvage peace in Sri Lanka. The result? He was butted by a Sri Lankan Sinhalese soldier at a guard of honour and then assassinated by a Tamil suicide bomber for apparently letting down the Tamils. There is an urgent need to work on the huge diversity of allergens. The alternative is to learn to dodge the beast, and not poke it in the eye, as we seem to have done in the case of Nepal yet again.
The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.

US policy in South Asia

Kashmir Watch, May 6
By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Of late USA has been balancing its South Asian policy to make an arrogant India see reason to relax its petrified mindset over issues affecting peace and tranquility of the region, especially the genocides in Jammu Kashmir continuously committed by Indian terror forces on dramatic pretexts to silence the freedom seeking Kashmiris by using some rich pro-India political outfits guided by New Delhi. Although its terror plank got terribly exposed both in Mumbai and Lahore, India still is planning to make some more efforts on that account to make Pakistan a failed state and a state terrorist which the USA should discard in favor of beautifully carved out India with hidden Hindutva agendas. However, India and USA have engineered turmoil in that Islamc nation so that none I there ever talk of Islam and Shaira.
The Obama administration is trying to get out of Bushdom misadventures against the wishes of Neocons, Pentagon and CIA. Obviously, it is an uphill task for him as an ethnic minority person. But there have been ample hints that Obama considers his options rather seriously, if quite honestly. Former US Ambassador Robert Blackwill said on May 04 said India has been "downgraded" in US' strategic calculations and a "substantial" change in the US policy toward India was visible under the Obama Administration which appears to have put China on a higher plane than its southern neighbour terror India.
With Obama administration devoting enormous thought to Islamic Pakistan, the former diplomat who weeps for farcical democracy and terror India, cautioned that India would encounter eventual US pressure on the issue of Kashmir. The Obama administration wants good relations with India to ensure Kashmir freedom, but there can be a substantial change viz a viz the policies of the Bush administration, Blackwill said it would take "very hard work and skillful diplomacy" from both the governments to keep the US-India relationship on.
Unlike Pakistan and India, both nuclear states, other South Asian nations like Bangladesh, Nepal or Maldives do not figure in US policy formulations as scuh. But, focused on killing Afghans, USA plays coercive politics with Pakistan by using India as a bargain chip. USA does not show any willingness to quit Pakistani soil but wants those who want to establish an Islamic society in Islamic Pakistan to die. Asking Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to defeating Al Qaeda on its soil, the US has said that it "unambiguously" supports Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
While former US President George W Bush looked at India as an emerging democratic power as a key factor in balancing the rise of Chinese power, "there are preliminary indications that the Obama administration has a different policy orientation towards India. "First it is not clear that the Obama administration has the same preoccupation with the rise of Chinese power and India's balancing role in it. Rather, Washington is now naturally focused on US-China economic relations. Blackwill said China today appears to be on a substantially higher plane in US diplomacy than India which seems to have been downgraded in the administration's strategic calculations. The possible effect of such an enveloping US preoccupation with Pakistan seems on its way in practical terms to re-hyphenating the US-India relationship, leading the administration to see India largely through the lens of deeply disturbing developments in Pakistan. "This will produce an understandable and growing US interest in trying to reduce tensions in India-Pakistan relationship, not least because Pakistan will argue that tensions with India and the Kashmir dispute are preventing it from moving robustly against the Islamic terrorists," the Christian state militant diplomat added.
Zardari is in Washington to meet US President Barack Obama in a trilateral summit with the Afghan President Hamid Karzai on 06-07 May. Washington now believes that India will not be a major player in the long-term future of Afghanistan and it would even be a burden on peace process in the region. The former pro-India US Ambassador said Afghanistan presents another set of potential differences between India and Pakistan. He listed Iran as also another "knotty" issue in US-India relations and a potential source of considerable bilateral tension. India is using Afghanistan as a launching pad to create turmoil in both Afghanistan and Pakistan having long historical bonds and eager to keep them enemies for ever.
At the same time, USA seems to pushing for Indo-Pakistan reconciliation with the new regime in India that would assume some time next month. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari says he proposes to start a fresh peace dialogue with India after the Indian elections are over later this month. 'Democracies have never gone to war. No Pakistani democratic government has gone to war with India. We've always wanted peace. We still want peace with India,' Zardari told CNN in an interview on May 04. 'I'm waiting for the (Indian general) elections to be over so that all of this rhetoric is over and I can start a fresh dialogue with the Indian government,' he said. Zardari was responding to a question whether what President Barack Obama called Islamabad's 'obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan' was indeed 'misguided'.
India and its mischievous media wanting to see any bilateral dialogue breaking down are panicky about US aid to Pakistan. Asked about US concern that most of about $10 billion provided by US to Pakistan since 9/11 has been used to beef up its arsenal against some sort of threat from India, Zardari said: 'Let's say they've given $10 billion in 10 years, a billion nearly a year for the war effort in-against the Taliban, and the war that is going on.' The American terrorists are almost settled down in Afghanistan and are surveying the situation in Pakistan to occupy it as well to unleash regular terror activities.
Earlier, the Western state militant type specialists said Pakistan is a failed state. Now US democratic stalwarts who promote state terrorism in Islamic world, say: "We do not think Pakistan is a failed state," as US special envoy Richard Holbrooke announced in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in advance of meeting between Zardari and President Barack Obama. Pakistan's of such immense importance to the United States, strategically and politically, that our goal must be to support unambiguously and help stabilize a democratic Pakistan headed by its elected president, Asif Ali Zardari," Holbrooke said rejecting US media reports Washington is seeking a deal with Zardari's political rival, Nawaz Sharif. However, he said Pakistan is under an "extreme test" from its enemies, and that the US and Pakistan have "the same common enemy". Obviously, USA considers Muslims as their enemy and wants Pakistan to kill as many Muslims as it possible, possibly to appease both Americans and Indians. America instructs Islamabad to demonstrate its commitment to rooting out Al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders, but USA intends to implement measures of performance in its economic, social and military assistance to Pakistan so that conditions don't get worsened and the 'trust deficit' that plagues" US-Pakistani relations are removes.
The 'trust deficit' that plagues" US-Pakistani relations is not a matter of concern for USA which thinks Pakistan could be easily coerced to fall in any time no matter who rules there, thanks to the terror India factor. India is available for any subversive and divisive activities in its neighborhoods, mainly in Pakistan and is busy in controlling the sea waters of the region and controlling part of resources in Asia and establishing foreign military bases abroad, like the one in Tajikistan.
The author is Delhi based Research Scholar in International Studies
7 May 2009, Times Of India

As India's month-long elections move into their home stretch, with the penultimate round held today and the final round on May 13, there is
feverish speculation about who-is-with-who, who-will-get-what-numbers. Those questions are going to be settled in a few days and a government will be formed. It's important, however, that in the frenzy of deciding who gets to govern and who is allotted what ministry, political parties don't forget that the country faces pressing challenges, all of which were placed in abeyance during the long drawn out election process, and that above all it needs good governance. These are uncertain times for India, and when the numbers games have been played out let's remember there are policies to be made and implemented with determination.
There's the economic downturn, for example, which caused Indian exports to fall 33.3 per cent in March. Job losses have happened across the board, with India's textile and diamond processing industries particularly affected. Labour ministry reports show half a million workers have lost jobs in recent months. Fiscal deficits are way out of whack. Growth projections for India are steadily being whittled down.
India's schools, hospitals and infrastructure are in appalling condition and need to be whipped into shape. There's a real possibility of grid collapse this summer, with states drawing extra power from the national grid. If there's lack of direction and leadership from the Centre on this issue, the whole country could grind to a halt. It's a shame that China adds almost as much power generation capacity in a week as India did during all of 2008-09. On top of that 26/11 starkly highlighted the enormous security challenges India faces. Crises mount in India's neighbourhood, whether in Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Much thought needs to go into revamping India's security culture in order to meet these challenges.
There will, of course, be many man-hours devoted to working out which caste combinations were effective in winning the polls and which ones bombed. And even more energy expended in making or breaking coalitions that could capture power at the Centre. But since there are few serious ideological differences left on the Indian political landscape, the country will be hoping for a sense of generosity and catholicity in the process of formation of the next government, where national interest scores over personal egos and agendas. Coalition partners, of course, have to be rewarded, but key ministries such as commerce, home, defence, external affairs, education and health should be in the hands of competent people who can oversee the working of these departments. India has enormous potential and can tackle all its problems with the right leadership. Let's hope the current general elections throw up one.

India’s Nepal policy in disarray

Siddharth Varadarajan, The Hindu, May 7
By going along with the undemocratic machinations of the Nepal army brass, New Delhi is undermining the peace and stability it helped to bring about in South Asia’s newest republic.
After siding with Rookmangad Katawal in his brazen defiance of the civilian government in Kathmandu, India has predictably washed its hands of the consequences by claiming “what is happening in Nepal is internal to Nepal.” The reality is that South Block is up to its neck in the crisis that has emerged there and India is likely to suffer the consequences if the imbalance in civil-military relations that has been recklessly introduced in yet another part of South Asia is not corrected quickly and amicably and the peace process unravels.
Indian officials acknowledge interceding on Gen. Katawal’s behalf as the confrontation between the Nepal Army chief and the elected government began escalating last month. Even before the Maoists, who emerged as the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly last April, took charge of the coalition government, the army chief had placed himself on a collision course with the former rebels. However, despite him publicly opposing the integration of Maoist combatants in the NA — a key principle of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended the nine-year civil war between the People’s Liberation Army and the state — the Maoists made it clear they had no objection to Gen. Katawal serving out his tenure so long as he recognised the supremacy of civilian authority. In reality, the army chief never respected this understanding. He remained firmly opposed to the democratisation of the army and did his best to scuttle integration.
Matters came to a head in recent weeks when he disobeyed specific orders from the government on matters central to the implementation of the CPA. For one, he went ahead with a drive to recruit new soldiers, a move calculated to stir trouble within the Maoists, whose combatants have been cooling their heels for more than two years in anticipation of their integration into the national army. He also defied the government by pushing to extend the tenure of eight senior officers.
With Pakistan and Bangladesh still suffering the consequences of khaki over-reach and New Delhi harbouring reservations about the ‘militarist’ mindset in Sri Lanka, one would have thought the last thing India should want for Nepal is an army that refuses to implement the orders of a duly constituted civilian authority. Yet India did little to get the NA to back off and focussed its entire efforts on urging Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to swallow the rank insubordination of the army brass. When the Maoist leader said he would strive for political consensus before taking the drastic step of dismissing Gen. Katawal, New Delhi queered the pitch by sending clear signals to parties like the Unified Marxists-Leninists and the Nepali Congress that they should oppose the Maoists.
The end result: the Cabinet went ahead and exercised its prerogative to replace the army chief, while the Unified Marxist-Leninists walked out, thereby reducing Prachanda’s government to a minority. At this stage, the President of Nepal, whose role as Commander in Chief is meant to be exercised strictly in accordance with Cabinet instructions, overstepped his constitutional authority and “reinstated” Gen. Katawal. As a result of which Prachanda took the moral high ground and resigned.
The exercise of presidential power in this manner violates what is a settled principle in democratic systems where parliament is sovereign. One only has to think of the consequences of what might have happened if Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, who was unjustly sacked as Navy chief by the Vajpayee government in 1998, had been reinstated by President K.R. Narayanan over the objections of the Union Cabinet. Parliamentary systems often provide for the head of state to be commander in chief of the armed forces. But the head of state is not allowed to use that authority against the advice of a lawfully constituted government.
Even as they deny any involvement in the denouement of the crisis, Indian officials defend the actions of the Nepal President, Ram Baran Yadav, citing the lack of consensus within the governing coalition as reason enough for the dismissal order to be countermanded. South Block also believes that the Maoists were out to gain control of the NA and, thereby, turn Nepal into a “one-party state”, an allegation closely mirroring the arguments the Nepal army brass itself made in a recent presentation to defence attachés stationed in Kathmandu.
If replacing one 60-year-old Army veteran with another is all it takes for the Maoists to establish a monopoly over the instruments of force in Nepal, then the situation there is clearly much more fragile than anyone has ever imagined. The reality is far more prosaic. The Maoists are a divided house. Pragmatists like Prachanda, who led the transformation of the party, are under fire from hardliners who still command the loyalty of the PLA. The only way to resolve this tension is to implement the promise of integration so that the PLA no longer remains a standalone entity. Far from leading to the capture of the Nepal army, integration would essentially help complete the transformation of the Maoists into a purely political force. Which is why a responsible section of the Nepal brass sees some merit in this process; but not so Gen. Katawal or his backers inside and outside the country.
In any democracy governed by a multi-party coalition, the principal check against the biggest coalition member taking unilateral decisions is the assembly of legislators. No doubt the Maoists acted hastily, perhaps even irresponsibly, in allowing the current crisis to come to a head. After all, Gen. Katawal is due to retire three months from now. The Nepali Congress and the UML argue that the hurry was prompted by the fact that Lt General Kul Bahadur Khadka, the army’s second in command who is said to take a more benign view of integrating the PLA than Gen. Katawal, has just four weeks to retire. And once he does, Lt. Gen. Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, an officer in the traditional conservative mould, would become army chief upon the retirement of Gen. Katawal. Though rumours about the individual inclination of these top officers have been swirling around Kathmandu for weeks, the three generals made a joint appearance on television on April 30 to emphasise their unity.
In defence of their action dismissing the army chief, the Maoists say the issue at stake was not the fate of this particular army chief but the principle of civilian control. Allowing Gen. Katawal to get away with his defiance of the government would set a bad precedent for his successors. And in a fragile democracy emerging from a conflict in which the army had been the principal agent of the monarchy, such an unhealthy tendency had to be nipped in the bud.
As a coalition itself, the Manmohan Singh government is not unaware of the checks and balances that Parliament as an institution provides. The Congress went ahead and concluded the nuclear deal despite knowing it had just lost its majority but when opposition leaders met the President to complain, they were politely told it was up to Parliament to reject or accept what the Prime Minister had done. A vote of confidence was convened which Dr. Singh duly won. Similarly, in Nepal, the forum to undo the Maoists’ decision to dismiss the army chief was the CA. The UML could have moved a vote of no-confidence and, if Prachanda was unable to win support from other quarters, his government would have been voted out. A new government would then have been formed which could have immediately reversed the dismissal order. This is the way a democracy would have functioned. There was no need to resort to extra-constitutional manoeuvring, certainly not in order to defend an army chief who clearly has no respect for the boundaries of his authority.
By involving itself in this unseemly process, New Delhi has sacrificed the prospects of long-term democratic stability in Nepal for the short-term satisfaction of undermining the Maoists. That India played a signal role in helping the Maoists make the transition from a guerrilla force to parliamentary party in the first place only shows the extent to which the authorities here seem to lack a consistent or coherent approach towards their northern neighbour.
Earlier, in the midst of Jan Andolan II in April 2006, New Delhi sent Karan Singh on an ill-advised mission to see if the monarchy could somehow be saved. And now, again, it has erred in backing the military over the civilian side. For the present, an all-party national government without the Maoists can easily be formed. But the crucial task of integrating the PLA with the Nepal Army will remain unfulfilled and this will slowly eat away at the innards of the peace process.

China and Maoist Nepal: Challenges for India

Abanti Bhattacharya, May 23, 2008

“[China] feels that the Himalayas alone in this nuclear age are not enough to guarantee its national security, especially in view of Tibet’s strategic location. [It], therefore, ideally wants a China of small, preferably pro-Chinese, neighbours on the cis-Himalayan region separating the two Asian giants.”
- Dawa Norbu
Nepal constitutes one of the cis-Himalayan regions, which Dawa Norbu had once described as the “new buffer zone”, after the old buffer (Tibet) came under China’s sovereign control in 1951. Its strategic importance can be fathomed not only from its geo-political location, being sandwiched between the two rising Asian giants but also from its transformation into a new buffer zone between India and China in the 1950s. This buffer has assumed even more importance in the current times with Royal Nepal being transformed into a People’s Nepal in the aftermath of the Maoist victory in the election to the Constituent Assembly (CA) on April 10, 2008. The victory of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) CPN(M) a one- time rebel group, has significant geopolitical repercussions for the region. The growing concern in India is, therefore, whether the Maoist Nepal would come under the Chinese sphere of influence, or is it going to chart a policy of equi-distance between India and China.
Certain developments suggest China’s growing influence in Nepal and the latter’s cozying up with the former. To begin with, both Nepal and China are planning for greater economic linkages and there are proposals for connecting the two countries with as many as ten roadways. China has also promised to construct a railway line from Lhasa to Khasa at the Nepal-China border within five years. According to news reports from Nepal, China has agreed to provide assistance worth about Rs 460 million (RMB 50 million) to Nepal for the construction of Syaphrubesi-Rasuwagdhi Road.
Apart from road and rail linkages, there has been a sudden proliferation of China Study Centres (CSC) all along the Indo-Nepal border with their number rising from 7 in 2005 to 19 till February 2008. These study centres, which were initially set up in 2000 as civil society groups to promote cultural interaction, have become effective tools for advancing Chinese perspective on key issues concerning Nepal. These centres also disseminate the benign role of China and caution the Nepalis about India’s hegemonic intentions.
Diplomatically, from 2006 onwards, there has been a perceptible shift in the Chinese stand towards Nepal. China apparently regarded the Royal take over of Nepal in 2005 as the latter’s internal affair. But after the 2006 People’s Movement, China stated that “key to resolution of crisis in Nepal lies in conciliation among the constitutional forces”… and urged the King to “reach out to the political parties to restore democracy and peace in the country.”
Another major indicator of growing Chinese influence on Nepal is the latter’s crackdown on Tibetan protests in April this year at the behest of China. Time magazine reports that Beijing has also deployed security officials inside Nepal, to help detect fleeing Tibetans and keep a lid on unrest. There are even reports of Chinese security agents preventing a reporter and photographer from Agence France-Presse from working inside Nepal. These activities demonstrate Chinese interference in the internal affairs of the country despite their stated policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.
For China, Nepal is important as it is integral to China’s peripheral diplomacy. China believes that the March 2008 Tibetan unrest is very much the handiwork of international forces operating from Nepal. In order to secure its southern periphery, which it considers most vulnerable, it feels the need to monitor clandestine activities in Nepal. Therefore, China is likely to play a significant role in determining the future shape of Nepalese politics under the Maoists. From this perspective, China’s conception of Nepal as a new buffer acquires significance. Further, Nepal is important for China in order to check the rise of India. In recent years, China is increasingly exploiting anti-Indian feelings prevailing among the Nepalese and the China Study Centres have been employed in a big way to achieve this objective. This strategy is a part of its larger strategy of building friendly relations with India’s immediate neighbours in order to isolate and marginalise India’s influence in the region. Moreover, China’s rapid rise has deemed it necessary to seek more and more resources to fuel its economic growth. Nepal has a huge resource of hydro-electricity and, according to one estimate, it is only second to Brazil with 83,000 megawatts of energy.
Ever since the Maoists became the dominant partner in Nepal’s coalition government in the post-Janaandolan period, China started to revisit its Nepal policy. It may be noted that earlier China had branded the Maoists as anti-government forces. With the victory of the Maoists in the election to the CA, the Chinese “have beefed up their interests in Nepal” and the Chinese leadership is cozying up with the Maoists. Just after the elections, it sent its first nine-member official foreign ministry delegation to Nepal headed by Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ha Yafei. There are also reports of high-level meetings between Nepali and Chinese officials regarding the government formation in Nepal. China is also eyeing to tap the hydro-electricity power and two of its companies are in the fray for winning the bids on hydro-power projects.
For Nepal, building close ties with China is important as it could gain enormously from China’s rapid rise and spiraling economic growth. A decade of civil-war has left Nepal’s economy in a dismal state. Its growth rate is a meagre 2%, inflation is around 9%, unemployment rate is 42%, about a third of its population is under the official poverty line, and more than half the population is illiterate. More importantly, China serves as an alternative platform for its political and diplomatic bargaining vis-à-vis India. There is a huge dependence of Nepal on India for economic needs. India is Nepal’s largest trading partner accounting for more than 60% of its trade. About 12 of the 13 trade routes of Nepal are via India. About 50% of Nepal’s remittances come from India. Thus, for strategic and economic reasons, the Maoists feel the urgent need to cultivate deeper ties with China on the one hand, and reduce their dependence on India on the other. This, therefore, also explains why the Maoists are calling for renegotiating the 1950 Indo- Nepal Treaty. In fact, one of the top CPN(M) leaders, Babu Ram Bhattarai told Nepal Telegraph on May 10th that it was only because of the open border that Nepal could not achieve economic prosperity. The Maoists are also insistent on reviewing the Gorkha recruitment by the Indian Army. All this evidently suggests that the Maoists are essentially calling for re-negotiation of the relationship with India. Also, the alleged ideological affinity of the Maoists with the Chinese Communists is seen as an added advantage which China is likely to exploit in future.
There is a growing awareness in India about the Maoists developing a close relationship with China, much to the displeasure of India. In fact, there are speculations in some political and intellectual quarters that in the typical style of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Maoists would initially strengthen their position by forging a unified front with other parties and then gradually overshadow them and assume monopolistic hold on Nepal’s democratic space. It would be then very difficult to dislodge the Maoists from power and they would rule Nepal autocratically. Such an autocratic state would naturally find a close ally in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
However, there are also beliefs in certain quarters that there is not much scope for any deepening of China-Nepal relations. Rather, Maoist Nepal would opt for a policy of equi-distance between India and China. Clarifying his stand on equi-distance policy, Maoist chief, Prachanda said in an interview to the CNN-IBN on May 18th, “…we will not side up with one country against the other. We will maintain equidistance in political sense and not in terms of cooperation and other things.” Nepal has deep civilizational and cultural ties with India. Historically, the political forces in Nepal have had deeper political linkages with India than with any other country. In fact, India was instrumental in bringing about the 12-point Agreement between the alliance of seven parties and the Maoists’ party in 2005 in New Delhi.
In summation, the Chinese challenge is real. That with the end of 240-year-old monarchy, Nepal’s politics would chart a new path is a reality. Nepal, being a sovereign country would like to deal with India on an equitable basis. Given geographically contiguous, culturally similar and economically closer relationship with India, Nepal perhaps also realizes that it would be quite impractical to ignore its southern giant at the behest of building strategic ties with the northern giant. Also geopolitically, being sandwiched between the two Asian giants, Nepal does benefit from following an equi-distance policy. With globalisation, shifting Asian balance of power, rise of China and emergence of India, Nepal is, thus, likely to opt for a balanced approach with both India and China, which would eventually pave the path for its own economic growth and stability. For India, the challenge is to support Nepal to gain economic and political stability without being domineering and create a win-win situation. In fact, India has to deftly handle its Nepal policy keeping in mind the growing Chinese influence in Nepal.
Dr. Abanti Bhattacharya is Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

Nepal: New ‘Strategic Partner’ of China?

Nihar Nayak, March 30, 2009

There has been a major shift in China’s foreign policy towards Nepal since the Maoist ascendance to power. China had earlier adopted a policy of ‘non-intervention’ in the internal matters of Nepal and largely stayed out of Nepalese internal politics. However, the demise of the monarchy and the ascendance of political parties have forced China to reshape its Nepal policy. Moreover, frequent protests by Tibetans in recent months alerted the Chinese to the possibility of the China-Tibet border being misused. Consequently, China has sought to engage Nepalese political actors at all levels, primarily to secure the border with Nepal. With the Maoists in power, China also hopes to use its ideological commonalities to suppress the Tibetan movement in Nepal.
When the Maoists emerged victorious in the April 2008 elections, China adopted a wait and watch policy because it was unsure of their intentions. After all, the Maoists were backed by India and were catapulted to the political centre stage only after a comprehensive peace agreement in which India had played a substantial behind the scenes role. However, media reports reveal that after several interactions with Maoists leaders, China has begun to feel quite comfortable with the Maoist-led government. The Maoists’ ideological linkages with China and their keenness to neutralize India’s influence in the region have also made them an obvious choice for engagement.
It has been reported that in interactions with Chinese the Maoist leaders gave the impression that the future of democracy in Nepal could be guided by the example of the Communist Party of China. Indeed, there are many in Nepal who argue that persistence with the Maoist tag in the party name despite joining competitive politics indicates that the party may work towards a single party system in the future, given that dictatorship of the proletariat has prime of place in the Maoist lexicon. In fact, some hardline leaders of the party have suggested a people’s republic similar to that of China on a number of occasions even after Maoists joined the political mainstream. These ideas might have encouraged China to attempt to consolidate its position in Nepal by continuously engaging the Maoists at the political, economic, military and social levels, and thus secure its strategic interests in the region.
In fact, twelve high-level Chinese delegations, including two military teams, visited Nepal in the course of 2008-2009. During these visits, China has repeatedly assured economic, technological and military aid to Nepal. The Maoist-led government was also asked to adopt a ‘One-China’ policy, not to allow Nepalese land for anti-China activities, take strong action against Tibetan refugees and grant special facilities for Chinese investments in strategic sectors. Beijing has also initiated Track-II diplomacy with Nepal and invited Nepalese scholars to undertake visits to Chinese think tanks.
Some of the important visits from China to Nepal were:
25 February 2009: Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue led a 14-member delegation.
19 February 2009: Liu Hongcai, Vice Minister of the International Department of the central committee of the CPC led a delegation to take part in the inaugural ceremony of the 8th convention of the UML in Butwal.
10 February 2009: A high level Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) delegation, one of the largest delegations in two months, arrived in Nepal.
06 December 2008: Lieutenant General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of General Staff of the PLA headed a ten-member delegation. China agreed to provide US $2.61 million worth of security assistance to Nepal.
01 December 2008: China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited Nepal.
24 July 2008: Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Wu Dawei, visited Nepal. He pledged a grant assistance of 100 million yuan as economic and technical cooperation.
04 March 2008: Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, He Yafei, undertook a three-day visit to Nepal.
Nepal’s engagements with China have also increased manifold with the visit of delegations both at State and non-state levels. Apart from visits at the official levels, private visits by political leaders, journalists and academicians are also sponsored by China as part of public diplomacy. During these visits Chinese authorities have reportedly assured all kinds of support to the Maoist government in its efforts aimed at laying the foundation for a ‘New Nepal’. For the Nepalese Maoists, growing Chinese engagement is a win-win situation in line with their ‘policy of equidistance’, which has been deliberately adopted to counter-balance India’s influence in Nepal.
The increasing level of bilateral engagement also indicates that China is wooing Nepal as a new strategic partner. This has been confirmed by the statements made by various Chinese officials. For example, on 16 February 2009, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Beijing that China would prefer to work with Nepal on the basis of a strategic partnership. In fact, Vice Minister of International Department of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China, Liu Hongcai said in Kathmandu in February 2009 that “we oppose any move to interfere in the internal affairs of Nepal by any force.” Similarly, on November 04, 2008, Liu Hong Chai, International Bureau Chief of the Chinese Communist Party, stated that “China will not tolerate any meddling from any other country in the internal affairs of Nepal- our traditional and ancient neighbour.”
China has also submitted to Kathmandu a draft Sino-Nepal friendship treaty. The draft states that China will not attack Nepal and would respect Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Nepal would recognize ‘One China’ policy and not allow its territory to be used for “anti-China” activities. The draft treaty in fact looks more like a strategic one that is tilted highly in favour of Chinese security concerns. China needs this agreement because it does not have confidence in the democratic arrangements and future governments in Nepal, and wishes to consolidate its position while the Maoists are in power.
China has penetrated the Nepalese political system by gaining the confidence of hardline communist leaders both in the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist. China is also known to have played a major role in facilitating the alliance between the CPN-UML and the Maoists. Prior to Jhala Nath Khanal becoming UML Chief, a four-member Chinese delegation visited Kathmandu on May 10, 2008 and met Khanal and other Maoist leaders. A senior delegation from the Communist Party of China led by vice Minister Liu Hongcai was also in Kathmandu in February 2009 to attend the inaugural ceremony of the 8th national convention of the UML. The victory of Khanal as chairman of the UML, who is close to Prime Minister Prachanda, has been crucial for the survival of the Maoist-led coalition government.
The nature of Chinese engagements in Nepal goes beyond the political domain. They might also be aimed at influencing the process of drafting of the new constitution to ensure that China’s long-term interests are served, particularly in hydropower and other strategically important projects. China has also assured Nepal help in the modernization and integration of registered Maoist guerrillas into the Nepal Army.
Considering the strategic and economic interests Beijing has in Nepal, in terms of energy from hydro projects and as a transit country between China and India, China may expand its state level engagements by entering into long-term agreements at various levels. The proposed new friendship treaty marks the beginning of this process. Moreover, the treaty may enhance the bargaining power of the Maoist government vis-à-vis India to resolve some of the long standing disputes between the two countries.
Any foreign presence in Nepal is a concern for India. Given the centuries-old socio-cultural and economic ties between India and Nepal, recent Chinese insistence on closing the Indo-Nepal open border is a matter of concern for both countries. The Indo-Nepal relationship was acknowledged as “unassailable” during the official visit of Nepalese Prime Minister, Puspa Kamal Dahal to New Delhi in September 2008. But an ‘equidistance policy’ can only come at the expense of India-Nepal relations.
Dr. Nihar Nayak is Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

India treads fine line in Nepal's political crisis

Thu May 7, 2009, Reuters India
Krittivas Mukherjee

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - India is walking a diplomatic tightrope as Nepal tries to form a new government, aware that excessive meddling in its traditional "backyard" could risk pushing the fragile Himalayan democracy closer to China.
India has always seen Nepal as part of its strategic sphere of influence, but that has been challenged in the past year since the election of Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda, who before he resigned last week had edged closer to Beijing.
Former guerrilla leader Prachanda quit on Monday after his dismissal of the army chief was blocked, sparking a political crisis and dealing a blow to Nepal's peace process after a decade-long civil war that saw the Maoists lay down their arms.
Prachanda blamed "external forces" for his downfall, a likely reference to India and a sign of a growing backlash against its bigger and more powerful neighbour.
As Nepal's parties bicker over a new government, China could back the Maoists to keep their influence.
India, aware the former rebels are still the main political force with 40 percent of seats in parliament, could look for a counterweight to any pro-China tilt in a ruling coalition.
"India has to do business with the Maoists, so they will have to do a nice balancing act -- not anger the Maoists while backing the forces it thinks are favourable to it," said Lok Raj Baral, head of the Nepal Centre for Strategic Studies think tank.
"The Maoists know anti-India rhetoric now has quite a bit of appeal among the Nepali people. If India is perceived by the Maoists as too intruding it could push them more towards China."
A "GREAT GAME"
Landlocked Nepal depends on India for trade and crucial supplies of food and fuel, the two nations share a Hindu culture and many Nepalis cross over the border to work in India.
Trade and travel links across the Himalayas that divide Nepal and China are, by contrast, much weaker.
But now India and China are playing their own "Great Game" in South Asia. Many in India fear a slow encirclement by Beijing, which has used its economic clout to win influence across the region, from building a port in Sri Lanka to selling arms to Pakistan.
India denies meddling in Nepal but it was criticised in its own media for backing army chief General Rookmangud Katawal against Prachanda in an attempt to keep its influence there.
New Delhi also has had ties with Nepal's former monarchy and the opposition Nepali Congress party, even though it helped the Maoists join the political mainstream and brokered a 2006 peace deal.
"As usual, India interfered," said Maoist party foreign department head Chandra Prakash Gajurel, adding that the Indian ambassador to Nepal met Prachanda several times to ask him not to fire the army chief. "We are not sure what India's agenda is."
That agenda may be warding off China. Some analysts say Beijing has encouraged a nationalist front to counter India.
Those fears gained ground in New Delhi after Prachanda travelled to China last year for the Olympics closing ceremony, departing from a tradition which has seen incoming Nepali leaders make New Delhi their first foreign port of call.
India has also nervously watched China's rapid inroads into Nepal with plans of a rail service from Lhasa to the Nepal border. A dozen high-level Chinese delegations, including two military teams, have visited Nepal since last year.
"The increasing level of bilateral engagement also indicates that China is wooing Nepal as a new strategic partner," Nihar Nayak wrote in a recent paper for the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
Chinese interest in Nepal mainly centres on containing pro-Tibet politics. The battle is also for control of key passes in the Himalayas used by Tibetan separatists to go to India.
India and China fought a border war in 1962, but there is little possibility of an India-China proxy war in Nepal.
"I think there's a long-standing agreement that the south of the Himalayas is India's sphere of influence," said Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times weekly. "As long as Nepal is not the springboard for Tibetan protests, China should be okay. It looks at Nepal through the Tibet prism."

Nepal's Maoist double-cross

EDITORIAL: Washingtimes, Thursday, May 7, 2009

A negotiated peace agreement doesn't bring peace. So the chairman of Nepal's Maoist radicals brags that he and his fellow-travellers tricked United Nations officials and admits that the 2006 peace deal was a sham - and gets caught on videotape doing it. The video of the recently resigned Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, was shot in January 2008 and just surfaced.
Revealingly, he instructs his fellow communists not to be fooled by the compromises struck with Nepal's democratic government. Seizing total power, he makes clear, remains the communist goal.
The latest crisis in Nepal is a useful case study in communist duplicity and instructive for those who believe that the path to peace with guerillas is cutting deals with them. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) joined Nepal's government after a decade-long insurgency that left more than 12,000 dead. Under terms of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Maoists agreed, among other things, to cut the size of their force in half, place their weapons under U.N. supervision and participate peacefully in the political process. In the 2008 elections, the Maoists emerged as the largest party in parliament with 30 percent of the vote, and Prachanda was named prime minister.
But the communists didn't consider the war really ended. The Maoists steadily maneuvered to increase their power with a view toward implementing their revolutionary agenda.
The latest step was an attempt to remove Nepal Army chief Gen. Rookmangud Katawal, who had resisted Maoist demands to integrate their guerrilla army into the national force. He maintained that the "former" guerrillas are brainwashed fanatics seeking to seize control of the army. He's got a point.
Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav blocked Prachanda's move to sack Gen. Katawal. Prachandra resigned in protest. Nepal's supreme court now has the case.
Prachanda says it is a question of civilian control of the military. That's rich. Meanwhile communist thugs are taking to the streets in coordinated demonstrations calling for further intervention from the U.N.
The video of a relaxed Prachanda addressing his party faithful exposed the Maoists' cynical manipulation of the political system. In true communist spirit, Prachanda said that the compromises struck with the government were only tactical expediencies, and that the "bidroha," or rebellion, was still on. He joked about how they duped the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) into thinking they had 35,000 fighters when in fact they only had 7,000 to 8,000, which allowed them to swell their ranks to 20,000 while claiming to be demilitarizing. And he confirmed Gen. Katawal's suspicions by saying it would take only a small number of his guerrillas to establish "complete Maoist control" of the Nepal Army.
He added that they had not turned over their weapons as required and that relief money earmarked for the victims of the civil war would be diverted to party coffers. "You and I know the truth," he slyly told his comrades, "but why should we tell it to others?"
In an unguarded moment, Prachanda revealed he is still a terrorist at heart and those who make deals with him are dupes. "Why would we abide by [the peace deal] after we win?" he said on the tape. "Why would we follow it when we have the upper hand?"
The situation in Nepal and Pakistan's Swat Valley illustrate the risks in bargaining with extremists, who do not change their goals, only their methods. The lesson is important when contrasted to Sri Lanka and Colombia, where we have seen the value of taking the fight to insurgents. U.S. deal makers should understand that there is more than one way to lose a guerrilla war. Sometimes it happens with the stroke of a pen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nepal: A Political Crisis and Indo-Chinese Tensions

Nepalese Prime Minister Prachanda resigned on May 4 in protest of the president's decision to block the Maoist leadership from sacking Nepal's army chief. While the political disarray in Nepal threatens to break the government apart, it also has stirred a long-standing rivalry between India and China over the Himalayan country.
Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda resigned May 4 in protest of the Nepalese president's decision to block the elected Maoist government from firing the country's army chief. The Nepalese government is now in danger of collapsing as India scrambles to form a coherent policy toward Kathmandu to counter China's growing influence in the Himalayan country. The Maoist leadership, meanwhile, will draw on Indo-Chinese competition over Kathmandu in an attempt secure its political demands.
After waging a decade-long insurgency, Nepal's Maoist guerrillas came to power under the leadership of Prachanda in April 2008 elections. The Maoist political party used their majority in parliament to transform the Nepalese kingdom into a full-fledged republic, much to the discontent of royalist-backed army and opposition parties that harbor deep fears that the Maoists will use their political prowess to form a Maoist dictatorship.
Eager to put out a fire in its backyard, India facilitated political reconciliation among the Maoists, rival political parties of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the monarchists to end the insurgency and bring stability to Nepal. As STRATFOR noted, however, the Maoist demand to integrate its cadres into the armed forces would pose a critical threat to the newly-formed republic.
Some 19,000 Maoist fighters have been confined to barracks under U.N. supervision as part of a standing peace accord, but the army has resisted taking in Maoist-indoctrinated guerrillas. The army claims that the Maoists have not fulfilled their end of the peace bargain in returning land that was appropriated during the civil war and in dismantling their militant youth wing. The Maoist guerrillas in the youth wing are mostly uneducated and are most familiar with the ways of the insurgency, causing a split between those Maoist cadres who want to pursue a political future and those who wish to maintain a militant arm. The Maoist leadership, wary of the intentions of its political rivals and of the army, has used these young militants as a political lever in Kathmandu by threatening a resurgence of violence unless their demands are met. To this end, Maoist cadres have resorted to extortion, armed robberies, kidnappings and beatings to both remain financially afloat and intimidate their political rivals.
The power struggle came to a head May 3 when Prachanda (a former schoolteacher who still uses his nom de guerre, which translates into "fierce one") tried to sack the army chief, Rukmangad Katuwal, without consulting other members of the Nepalese parliament. The Maoist leadership accused Katuwal - who was expected to retire in just three months - of continuing military recruitment in spite of the government's halt order and of reinstating eight brigadier generals who had been dismissed by the Maoist-controlled Defense Ministry.
When Katuwal was sacked, The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) - the Maoists' main ally in the five-party coalition with the second-most seats in the Constituent Assembly and the smaller Sadbhavana Party have pulled out of the ruling coalition in protest of the Maoists' unilateral move. The Nepalese president (who also officially heads the army), Ram Baran Yadav of the centrist Nepali Congress, then reversed Prachanda's decision May 3 when he reinstated the army chief, causing Maoist and counter-Maoist protests to erupt in Kathmandu. Prachanda then resigned in protest, and the president has now accepted Prachanda's resignation, leaving the government in disarray over how to form a new Council of Ministers, since Maoist political rivals lack enough seats in the interim assembly to form a Cabinet on their own. The situation is complicated further by the fact that the writing of the constitution of the new Nepalese republic has been left incomplete.
The Maoists understand their political strength in the government and are unlikely - at least in the near term - to sacrifice the immense political gains they have made thus far by returning to the insurgency. After all, the Maoists still have a political parliamentary majority to block any moves by the newly-formed Cabinet. The Maoists are likely to use violent intimidation tactics and disruptive rallies to try and force the hand of the army and Maoist political rivals in meeting Maoist demands to fire the army chief, reinstate Prachanda and work out a compromise over Maoist demands on integrating its cadres into the armed forces.
India, meanwhile, is watching nervously as its Nepal strategy is unraveling at the seams. New Delhi has took a calculated risk in supporting the Maoists' entry into the political sphere since India itself is already dealing with its own vibrant Maoist insurgency that runs along the eastern belt of the country. By supporting the Nepalese Maoists' political ambitions, India risked sending a message to the array of militant insurgents in its own country that insurgencies could succeed in paying political dividends. Nonetheless, India sought a means to end the insurgency on its northern border and attempted to manage the Maoist rise in Kathmandu by supporting the army's position and maintaining close relations with the monarchists. The Nepalese Maoists - fearful that India may backstab them and support a coup favoring the royalists and Maoist political rivals down the line - are now sending the Indians a message that their balancing act will cost them influence in Kathmandu.
It is of little surprise that Prachanda made the decision to sack the army chief just ahead of a scheduled trip to China. Although Nepal, particularly when under the control of the royalists, has historically sat firmly in India's sphere of influence, the Chinese have been working on enlarging their footprint in the Himalayan country by building up a relationship with Nepal's new Maoist-dominated government.
It is quite interesting, then, that Prachanda had chosen Katuwal's deputy, Gen. Kul Bahadur Khadka, to assume the position of army chief, as Khadkha is known to have a pro-China stance. Prachanda has also reportedly threatened to scrap the India-Nepal Treaty and replace it with a China-Nepal treaty during the Maoist leader's scheduled visit to China, revealing his intent to play on Indo-Chinese competition in Nepal to strengthen the Maoists' political clout.
Prachanda's trip to China has now been put on hold given the political fallout over his attempt to sack the army chief. Though Prachanda will now be unable to make that trip to Beijing in an official capacity, the current situation in Nepal has brought to light a long-standing competition between India and China over the Himalayan nation.
Chinese interests in Nepal center on countering India and containing Tibetan autonomy. If Beijing maintains a healthy relationship with Kathmandu, it can develop security guarantees that Nepal will refrain from supporting - or more importantly, prevent India from expanding support - for exiled Tibetan followers of the Dalai Lama. The Chinese have no real ideological affinity with the Nepalese Maoists. In fact, the Communist Party of China views the Nepalese Maoist guerrillas as an embarrassment to the Mao legacy and never quite approved of their move to intimate a relationship with China and the Chinese revolution when the rebels launched their insurgency in Nepal in 1996 in the name of a "People's War." Chinese involvement in Nepal, regardless of who is in charge of Kathmandu, serves Beijing's interest in balancing against India and preventing the Tibetans and other separatists from gaining a strategic foothold to threaten China. The Chinese therefore maintained links with the royal family that ruled Kathmandu while the country was still a monarchy, and then began enhancing political and economic ties with the Maoists once they came to power.
Beijing also appears to be benefiting from the number of preoccupations afflicting India as it expands Chinese influence into Nepal. As this crisis in Nepal is unfolding, India is already extremely consumed with many other issues, which include but are not limited to: general elections at home currently in progress, the implications of Pakistan potentially breaking under pressure from its jihadist insurgency and issues in managing Tamil opposition over the Sri Lankan army's final push against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The Nepalese Maoist leadership will use the Indo-Chinese rivalry over Kathmandu for its own strategic gain, but neither China nor India is interested in a showdown over Nepal. China is more interested in preventing India from monopolizing foreign influence in Kathmandu, while New Delhi would rather have Beijing stay out of India's perceived sphere of influence. This is a long, simmering dispute that has spilled into the open with the current power struggle in Kathmandu, but not one that is likely to develop into a major confrontation between Beijing and New Delhi. How this current Nepalese political crisis will play out is still unclear, but the tussle between the Maoists and their rivals in Nepal is yet another foreign policy conundrum to add to India's list.

Source : www.stratfor.com