(IANS) With India assuming a seat on the UN Security Council after 19 years, Nepal’s opposition Maoist party will have to do some quick rethink of its old strategy of projecting the southern neighbour as its arch enemy.
As the former guerrillas ready for a fresh round of deliberations at their central committee meeting starting today, the voice of reason is urging the party leadership to go back on the threat Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda made at the recently concluded plenum, calling for a war on India.
The former rebels have been banking heavily on the UN for legitimacy as a political party after staging an armed insurrection for 10 years from 1996. While signing a peace agreement with the major political parties in 2006, the Maoists insisted on the UN being part of the peace process, and from 2007 the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) began to monitor their People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
After the parties and the Maoists failed to work together to disband the PLA and rehabilitate its nearly 20,000 guerrillas within six months of signing the peace agreement, the UNMIN was given several extensions by the UN Security Council. However, in September this year, the Security Council announced it would give one last extension to the UNMIN, after which it would begin to pull out from Nepal from January 15, 2011.
Though only 45 days remain for the pullout, neither Nepal’s caretaker government nor the Maoists have made any move to discharge the PLA.
Now with India joining the UN Security Council from January 1 as a non-permanent member, it will be a difficult, if not impossible, task for the Maoists to seek another extension if it continues to attack the Indian government.
New Delhi says it feels the Maoists are not serious about the peace process. While signing the peace accord they agreed to multi-party democracy and a peace process climaxing in a new constitution. Disbanding the Maoist army is pivotal to the peace process but even four years later, there has been no ground action.
When UN undersecretary-general for Political Affairs B Lynn Pascoe arrives in Kathmandu tomorrow to assess the progress made to rehabilitate the PLA, India will convey its serious concerns to him.
The Maoist leadership has also belatedly begun to understand the implication of India returning to the UNSC. Soon after the plenum, both Prachanda and his deputy Narayan Kaji Shrestha have begun to try to gloss over the attack on India, saying the Maoists do not regard India as the prime enemy. They are also trying to underplay the call to arms against India by saying the resistance will be made only if India tries to intervene in Nepal’s internal matters.
But New Delhi is not buying the explanation. Senior Indian diplomats say Prachanda proved to be a master of doublespeak.
The best example of that, they say, is the Maoists’ repeated attacks on the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty between India and Nepal. The Maoists dubbed it unequal and demanded it be scrapped, right from 1996 when they went to war.
However, during Prachanda’s own tenure as prime minister, he did nothing to get the issue rolling. Instead, every time the Indian foreign secretary visited Nepal and the Prachanda government was asked to sit down and begin talks on the issue, it kept on shelving the subject.