Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Nepal,Former PLA Commander “There is No Alternative to a Revolt”

Posted by artemi0 on April 20, 2010

The interview below originally appeared on Monday 4/12/10 in ekantipur with Janardan Sharma- a former commander in the Peoples Liberation Army.

Monday Interview

  • No UNMIN, no peace process

The Maoists have announced a ‘decisive movement’ to topple the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government. In the meantime, the tenure of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) expires on May 15 even while the modalities for integration and rehabilitation of ex-Maoist combatants are yet to be worked out. Biswas Baral and Pranab Kharel talked to former Deputy-Supreme-Commander of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army and current Maoist representative in the Special Committee for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants, Janardan Sharma, about the current political scenario, integration issues and UNMIN’s role in the peace process.

There is a lot of confusion regarding the process of integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants. At which stage is the process?

The process of integration cannot be analysed by keeping it separate from the current political climate. If you try to analyse the issue in isolation, there will be no ready answers. The question of integration is the backbone of the peace process and one that is closely related to constitution drafting. A lot of progress has been made in discussions on the issue of integration in the Special Committee, but there has so far been no agreement on its implementation. For instance, even the modality of integration has not been fixed. But even if the modality was decided, there is no guarantee that the process will move ahead. For the issue of integration cannot gain momentum unless there is progress in constitution making and the peace process.

There have been reports that as much as 40 percent of ex-combatants have left cantonments and the numbers remaining in the cantonments need to be rechecked and reverified. Is that the case?

UNMIN has clear records of the number of cantoned combatants. There are also clear rules in place regarding their movements and activities. For example, 12 percent of them can go on a leave at any one time. Past agreements clearly mention that the combatants will be kept under the Maoist chain of command. Now, work is afoot to bring the chain of command under the control of the Special Committee. But to reach that point, certain steps have to be followed, which we have not been able to do so far. Regarding the numbers inside the cantonments, there is no dispute whatsoever. Some of the ex-combatants have died in accidents, a few others have left willingly, but the records of these developments are kept by UNMIN at respective cantonments. But that is not the issue at all. The issue is: people have come up with their own numbers regarding how many ex-combatants are out of cantonments. Some say as many as 40 percent have already left. I believe this is being done to provoke the combatants who have so far dutifully remained inside the cantonments as per previous agreements. These kinds of irresponsible statements, especially from those in the government, have only added to a climate of mistrust. Each person in the cantonment has to look after all his or her needs with what little is available from the government — one’s educational needs, health needs, the need of families. It is cynical to think that money being sent to them is being misappropriated.

You are a member of the Special Committee for integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants. How is the issue of  integration playing out in the committee?

The main issues before us are the peace process and the new constitution. If we move ahead with this in mind, the issue of army integration is a minor one. People’s Liberation Army fought voluntarily; no one saw it as a salaried job. They fought for their belief, for their ideology. Thus, if the country can come up with a constitution that secures the right of all the marginalised communities and which is in keeping with the wishes of the common people, we may not integrate even a single ex-PLA combatant.But various conspiracies are being hatched to undermine previous agreements. The vital role PLA played in getting to where we are today is being undermined . This is the major issue; not the numbers. We may integrate all 19,000 or not even a single ex-combatant. The issue is whether we want to move ahead on the basis of consensus or not. During the last couple of meetings of the Special Committee, we have reached decisions on how to bring the ex-combatants’ chain of command under the committee’s jurisdiction. We have arrived at various other agreements as well. Now, what we are saying is that let us first decide who wants to be integrated into security forces and who doesn’t — not the numbers to be integrated. We need to go to the cantonments and seek the views of the cantoned combatants. If someone doesn’t want to be integrated, he or she should be allowed to join mainstream politics or any other job of choice. At the same time, there is no meaning to pushing the issue of integration while no progress is made in the constitution making and the peace process. All these issues have to be dealt in package.

The Maoists have just announced another round of agitation to topple the government. Why do you believe a new government is necessary to complete the constitution on time?

As a change in government relates directly with the peace process as well as the new constitution, it is important to link up the two issues. But we also have to analyse why we got to this point. The political parties were not ready to accept the result of the Constituent Assembly polls and no government could be formed for four months. The delay in government formation created an environment of mistrust. Especially after the election of the new president, consensus politics as emphasised in the Interim Constitution, as such, were abandoned. There lies the origin of the current political deadlock.

Is it possible to promulgate a new constitution under this government?

This government has no legitimacy. It has been a complete failure and is incapable of achieving anything meaningful. If this government continues, there is no alternative to a revolt. It is impossible to draft a constitution under this government.

The other political parties point to the Maoists’ continued attachment to violence as the biggest obstacle to working with the party. Is that really the case?

The other political parties claim to have brought the Maoists into the peace process. In fact, it was the Maoists who took the initiative to bring the mainstream political parties into the republican agenda. The 12-point agreement which initiated the peace process was also drafted with the initiation of our leadership. Even when we were at war, we never thought everything could be achieved through violence. The ‘people’s war’ started as a result of the then government’s attempt to suppress peaceful voices. And during the war, we came forward for talks time and again. If we were so wedded to violence, why would we have come for dialogue? We have never seen arms as the end; it was only a means. We took up the arms to end the violence being perpetuated on the vast majority by the feudal forces of the society. As that system has come to an end, there is no need for us to resort to violence, especially when we have proven our capabilities in competitive politics.

What is your assessment of UNMIN’s role in the peace process?

UNMIN was invited into the country as a witness for the successful conclusion of the peace process with a clearly laid out mandate. Many people don’t understand UNMIN’s mandate and criticise it for different reasons. But UNMIN cannot overstep its mandate — and it has been effectively working within that. It has pointed out the mistakes of both the government as well as the Maoists. It has been especially effective in monitoring the arms and armies in the cantonments. Now there is talk about ending UNMIN’s mandate. But to end its mandate now is to declare an end to the peace process. There can be discussions about its new mandate. But one thing should be clear: the rationale for prolonging UNMIN’s mandate should be to give continuity to its current duties.

What is your view regarding extending the term of another UN body, the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)?

OHCHR is an organisation which carries out the routine duty of rights monitoring for UN, unlike UNMIN, which is a political organisation specially tailored for Nepal’s needs. OHCHR came in during a period of war. Now that the peace process has come so far, its continued relevance to Nepal remains a matter of debate. Let me put it this way: It’s nearly not as important as UNMIN. Without UNMIN, the peace process will be derailed; but the peace process can survive without OHCHR.

3 Responses to “Nepal,Former PLA Commander “There is No Alternative to a Revolt””

  1. Nationalist Maharjan said

    He was ex-peace minister as well….He was a very courageous fighter..he always fought for change for working class people.

  2. SR said

    Nepal’s economy grew at 5.6% the last fical year. Imagine this lasting for another 10 or more years or even better at 10% and above for 10 years. Now what I’m talking here is time and that real change takes time. If shortcuts were possible to better our lives the world would be a different place. But Nepal has the misfortune with obsolete thinkers like this guy who do not understand how Nepal can realize its true potential. Its time these guys be ignored and watched to ensure needless blood is not spilled and more importantly time, unlike during the war years, for real growth not be wasted.

    I can not believe [moderator snip: flaming is not allowed on this site] are given more press space over issues like how to ensure continous supply of goods and services to the nearest and biggest market, how to develop new urban industrial centers in the country, how to maxamize agricultural output, how to improve education and technical training, and how to improve transportation.

  3. It is my request, the Maoist should be changed their dogma to save Nepal.Nepal is an origin place for Hinduism and Budhism. Prithvi Narayan Shah was committed to protecting the pride of Hinduism and Budhism with a firm belief in co-existence. Prithvi Narayan Shah, the unifier of Nepal is the pride of Nepal. It was almost 100 years before unification of Germany (1868), Italy (1868), and the restoration of the Meiji (Japan, 1868) in which America was also under British dependency, that Prithvi Narayan Shah had already unified (1768) 54 small fiefdoms to build a large, expanded and greater Nepal. But after the movement of April 2006 and the party leaders Congress, UML and Maoists came to power they smashed the statue of the great King, contempt and insulted him and called off the birth anniversary of the late king as a day of national unity. Why?
    Prithvi Narayan Shah promoted the identity of this nation by acknowledging various tradition, rituals, culture, religion, language and ethnic attires of various ethnic groups as the national treasure after the unification of greater Nepal. Those who accuse him of creating a feudal state cannot be anything less than traitors of this nation. After the unification of the state the rituals, cultures, religions, language and attires of all the ethnic groups were adorned as the common treasure of Nepal. Then Prithvi Narayan Shah directed the sort of diplomacy to be adopted to protect the nation from China in the north and India in the south. Why are some the Maoist leaders moving against national unity & sovereignty? The patriotic Nepalese will not tolerate such attempts to destroy nationality of Nepal.
    The only interest of all royalist-nationalists is that this country should live as a sovereign country. The Maoist group itself is an organization that has come up with a revolutionary thinking for strong nationalism and against foreign interference, oppression, suppression and rampant corruption. The way the Maoists were successful in breaking the one-sided control and dominance in power of the Nepali Congress, UML, RPP and Sadhvabana Party by using the traitors and corrupts in those parties it needs to be very careful to meet the future challenges. The main agenda of Nepal is to control and curb foreign interference and corruption and all must remain aware that one cannot impose all its thinking and prejudices in the context of Nepal. The Maoists’ political success will be measured on how it can move according to the national and international contexts. All nationalists are convinced that as the Maoists face a stiff challenge, it can achieve great success only if it can respect the country’s identity and the established norms and values.
    It would be relevant if the Maoists move ahead by expressing commitment to the guideline of late Chinese leader and namesake of the CPN-Maoist on a sovereign Nepal and the integrity of one-China principle. Although Nepal and India are near geographically and culturally Nepal has been facing threat since the Mugal times. But Nepal has not faced any kind of threat from China since communism was established there. China’s leader Mao Ze Dong used to say even when communism was at its height in China that ‘China was in favor of monarchy in Nepal as its sovereignty is safe only because of monarchy’. Mao used to have total faith on Nepal’s monarchy as he understood it very well that Nepalese communists even if they wear the façade of a revolutionary always run under the Indian design. China had understood it clearly that Nepal’s sovereignty is linked with monarchy. Therefore, there is no option for the Maoists too to accept this reality. The Maoist should be able to understand the game plan of India and America to destroy China by using Nepal and for that they first want to weaken Nepal. In such a situation, we nationalists including Maoists should request Him to reinstate the throne with Crown. The attempt to establish a republican state in Nepal is a Herculean task.
    Secularism, republic and federalism is the agengas of CIA & RAW to destroy and abolish the Nepalese culture and traditions to establish the Christian state to creat their domination.
    So, Please, if we desdurb the agendas of CIA and RAW, there should be reinstated the Hindu & Buddha Kingdom and monarchy. And all the imperialistics forces will run way from Nepal. Then,
    this will be our glory.
    Thank you.

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