Wikileaks: Indian Minister Tells U.S. That Reintegrating Nepal Maoists Has Failed
Posted by Mike E on December 17, 2010
This is about our first tantalizing tidbit — emerging from Wikileaks about the revolution in Nepal. It is only one sentence in a cable dealing with other things. We don’t want to read too much into it, or treat it (standing alone) as something authoritative.
But we can now get a sense of what we may soon learn about the thoughts and intrigues of various powers against revolutionary change in South Asia.
This first Wikileaks mention of Nepal’s Maoist revolution appears in a January 2010 cable from the U.S. embassy in India (New Delhi) to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington D.C.
It is from U.S. ambassador Timothy J. Roemer. And it contains notes on Special Envoy Holbrooke’s discussion of Afghanistan and Pakistan with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
As you can see for yourself, the cable mainly deals with an exchange of views on Indian-Pakistan contention for influence in Afghanistan present and future. In any case, the notes mention a passing remark by Rao about Nepal:
“Rao and Sinha raised grave concerns about Taliban reintegration plans currently under discussion. Sinha argued that no amount of monetary incentives would induce the Taliban to alter its core beliefs of intolerance and militancy. He was particularly troubled by the British plan which, in his view, takes Afghanistan back to the pre-1990s. Rao expressed skepticism that such a plan would work unless Pakistan changes its policy on supporting the Quetta Shura and other Taliban elements. She observed that it had failed to bring in the Maoists in Nepal and was likely to fail for similar reasons in Afghanistan.”
Let us set aside India’s dislike of British views on the Taliban (which India perceives as potentially increasing Pakistani influence over future Afghanistan).
For our purpose here, let’s just highlight Rao’s analogy:
“She observed that it had failed to bring in the Maoists in Nepal…”
“[Rao] observed that [reintegration] had failed to bring in the Maoists in Nepal…”
Let’s break this down:
Indian is the main power dominating Nepal. They have been deeply disturbed by the emergence of a revolutionary force inside Nepal — especially because they face their own revolutionary Maoist challenge within India and because India considers Nepal to be its “own.”
In 2006, there was a negotiation cessation of the Maoist peoples war in Nepal — and the Maoists undertook a political offensive, to overthrow the monarchy, to enter the cities as a legal force, to build new base of support for themselves in areas previously out of reach. This involved running for national elections — in which (to the surprise of all) the Maoists emerged with a plurality in the Constituent Assembly, as Nepal’s most powerful and respected party.
As part of that process (and those negotiations), there was an agreement to integrate the armies of Nepal — to democratize the caste-riddled, Royalist Nepal Army, and to professionalize the Maoists’ Peoples Liberation Army. They were withdrawn into separate areas (cantonments for the Maoists, and barracks for the Nepal Army). And the plan had been to “reintegrate them.” On the part of the reactionary forces (meaning the parliamentary parties, and powers like India and the U.S. — operating through UN forces) the idea was to dissolve the PLA, and “integrate” a few of its forces into the National Army in a subordinate way. It was a plan to dis-arm the Maoist (and the people).
There have been sharp struggles over how to assess these reintegration plans. Some people have argued that it was wrong for the Maoists to participate in such negotiations, ceasefires and compromises — that whole thing was a slippery slope and that merely by agreeing on paper to reintegration the Maoists had already abandoned revolutionary armed struggle.
Others have pointed out that today, years later, the PLA still exists, has grown in the cantonments, and that (despite difficulties) has remained as a viable armed force within Nepal. The Nepal Army has balked at “democratization,” and the Maoists have refused to dissolve their armed forces.
What this cable reveals (in this brief passing remark) is the opinion of the Indian Foreign Minister (who is, after all, no small player in the counterrevolutionary plots and intrigues around Nepal).
Foreign minister Rao says that reintegration has “failed to bring in the Maoists in Nepal…” And she uses this failure (which she assumes is known and obvious to Holbrooke) as a frustrating learning experience that argues against trying something similar elsewhere.
We should note that some forces have tried to claim that the Wikileaks would reveal that Nepal’s Maoists are in the pay of India’s government. This is a common lie spread by Nepal’s most feudal and conservative forces (who claim themselves to be the only protectors of Nepal’s independence from India). Nepal’s Maoists have denounced these claims as a lie, and (for what its worth) Rao’s comment about failure would be one confirmation that India is distressed with both the rise and political direction of Nepal’s Maoists.
* * * * * * * *
This is just our first very small glimpse into the Wikileaks exposures around the revolution in Nepal. There are more to come as, over the coming months, revelations start from those cables that deal directly with Nepal. This main stash consists of 2,278 memos sent by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal to the U.S. State Department. Eighty-four of those memos are reportedly labeled secret and 1,399 confidential while the remaining 795 are unclassified. Wikileaks said it would be releasing the embassy cables “in stages over the next few months.” A Wikileaks report on these Nepal-related documents say they date to 1995, with almost 1,200 tagged with PTER (Prevention of Terrorism). There are 339 with the specific tag “Maoist” or “Maoist Insurgency.”
In other words — we have just gotten a one-sentence comment by Rao in one cable. And there are now thousands of memos on Nepal coming.