Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Wikileaks Reveals: India’s Conspiracies against Nepal’s Maoists & Social Change

Posted by Alastair on March 17, 2011

India - An oppressive and expansionist power in South Asia

US Ambassador Moriarty writes;

“The Indian Ambassador continues privately to express much more pessimism about Maoist actions and intentions than in the past. Mukherjee shared our analysis that the Maoists continue to seek total state power — even if he is not prepared to say so publicly.”

The following was written for our Revolution in South Asia Info Project. Alastair’s previous analysis of Wikileaks and Nepal is here.

by Alastair Reith

Thanks to Wikileaks, another classified diplomatic cable from the U.S. Ambassador to Nepal was yesterday made public. Sent on the 18th of June 2007 under the title “INDIAN OFFICIALS TAKE TOUGHER STAND ON MAOISTS”, it details US and Indian interference in Nepal’s peace process and attempts to push for a brutal security force crackdown on the Maoist movement.

Perhaps most significantly, it  confirms that from the very beginning of Nepal’s five year peace process India has categorically opposed the integration of Nepal’s two armies — the People’s Liberation Army and the National Army — into a single, new, unified military force restructured to serve a democratic Nepal (and not the previous feudal, monarchical order).

The cable also raises questions about the relationship between India and former Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who was a leader of the UML, moderate-reformist NGO-oriented parliamentary party.

Counter-Revolutionary Intrigues from both the U.S. and India

This is the second in a series of articles analysing the recently released diplomatic cables from Nepal. The first article looked at a 2006 cable titled “Crunch Time in Nepal”, in which US Ambassador Moriarty laid out a plan for the US to crush the Maoist movement through political, diplomatic and military means. The US has long been accused by revolutionaries in South Asia of conspiring to destroy the people’s movements, accusations that are fiercely denied by Washington.

These lies now stand exposed for all to see.

The main direct threat to the people’s movements in Nepal does not, however, come from Washington. The main threat to the people of the region comes from New Delhi and the expansionist, neo-colonial agenda of the Indian regime and its powerful military-security-intelligence establishment.

The Indian state is currently waging a genocidal war against its own people, as it struggles to defeat a growing Maoist rebellion and to drive indigenous tribal people from their ancestral lands. This is being openly done to clear land for multinational mining corporations who intend to bulldoze the people’s forests and destroy their homes. And this is just one struggle among many – there are also numerous separatist rebellions being fought by oppressed nationalities seeking autonomy or independence, and a growing workers movement in the factories and sweatshops of the cities.

India itself is ripe for revolutionary uprisings and radical change —  and its rulers know this all too well.

Nepal as Possible Fuse for India’s Revolution

The last thing an already unstable India wants is the victory of a revolutionary Maoist movement on its northern border.

On some future day, when the red flag flies from Mount Everest and the people of Nepal have taken power into their own hands, they would unleash a storm of  transformation and change  that will serve as a beacon of hope. Their victory would transform what hundreds of  millions believe is possible —  and the oppressed people of India would be particularly influenced by this example of their brothers and sisters to the North.

The Indian establishment is terrified of this — and this new U.S. government cable gives some sense of how they have worked to prevent it.

Nepal’s Maoists have since the beginning of their movement declared that they see Indian domination of Nepal as one of the main things they are fighting against, and that a genuinely independent Nepal is one of their primary goals. India has long dominated Nepal — culturally, economically, militarily and politically — even if Nepal has always remained formally independent (first of the British empire, and then of its powerful Indian neighbor to the South). The relations of the two countries has been formalized by a series of outrageously onesided treaties, but domination has also been embedded in all the details of daily economic and political life — and by the constant interference of the Indian state in Nepal’s internal affairs.

The Maoists of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) have emerged as the single most powerful and determined voice for  national independence and liberation in Nepali history. And since the Maoists launched their armed uprising of the mid-1996 they have (with good reason) repeatedly accused India of conspiring to destroy them — precisely in order to continue the subjugation of Nepal.

In 2006, the overthrow of Nepal’s dictatorial King and the historic collapse of Nepal’s feudal monarchy, led to a peace process in which the main anti-monarchical parties (including the Maoists) agreed to attempt to work out a New Nepal by peaceful means. This involved the cessation of armed civil war, elections to a new Constitutent Assembly, the writing of a new Constitution to radically restructure Nepali politics and life. And one provision of the initial peace agreement involved an integration of the two warring armies — in which the People’s Liberation Army committed to a “professionalization” of skills and command, while the National Army agreed to a democratization and submission to civilian authority.

In the minds of Nepal’s Maoists and revolutionary people, this integration process aimed at eliminating the existence of an armed force dedicated to the preservation of caste society, anti-democratic monarchy, and the many oppressive legacies of feudalism.

The Maoists won the national elections held as part of the peace process and formed a government — but the National Army high command pointedly and stubbornly refused to submit to their civilian control. This highlighted the nature of this Army. And exemplified the ways in which the National Army had become the remaining hope and pillar of those wanting to preserve the old feudal order in Nepal. In short, this integration process has been deliberately stalled, opposed and undermined from within the Nepali army and reactionary circles — because that Army remains the main pillar of their old order (and their hope for, somehow, beating back the popular desires for radical change.)

Now, thanks to Wikileaks and the cable of the U.S. government, we have some sense of the role of India in those crisis moments (which let the Maoists to resign from their government positions). This is particularly important in Nepali politics because the caste-ridden National Army has historically posed as the best and only protector of independence. Exposing their complicity with Indian domination is a powerful blow to this army’s institutional legitimacy and political support.

The Maoists, of course, have always pointed out that India was behind the collapse of the Maoist-led government in 2009, and that India has from the beginning worked to prevent the transfomation of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army with the National Army into a single democratic, progressive armed national force.

For example here is a press report (from January 2010) on statements made by Maoist leader Prachanda:

“The incumbent ruling coalition and neighbouring India are bidding to derail the peace process by standing against the army integration…According to him, his party resorted to the movement for national sovereignty as foreign countries like India intervened in the internal affairs including implementation of civilian supremancy.

“The Maoist Chairman accused New Delhi of toppling the Maoist-led government and helping the UML, which he said was rejected by the people, for the fulfillment of its ulterior motives.  He said India of striving against international missions like UNMIN, European Union, which have played vital role in the peace process, through Nepal government and its ministers.”

In an interview with the Nepali Times a year later Prachanda elaborated on these points;

L-R: Chairman Prachanda and Vice-Chairman Kiran

The status quoists and reactionaries could never digest the fact that the Maoists became the biggest party. They think that if the constitution is written the Maoists will be dominant for the next few decades, and some reactionary foreign power centres support this view. There is a campaign afoot to weaken the Maoists.”

Vice-Chairman of the UCPN (M) Mohan “Kiran” Baidya echoed these points three days ago, when he directly accused India of being responsible for Nepal’s failure to draft a new pro-people constitution and conclude the peace process:

“I see there is no possibility of constitution being drafted on time and logical end of the peace process because the Indian establishment and expansionist rulers of India have been interfering in our social, economic, political and cultural lives.”

Now the whole world can see that the Maoists were telling the truth, and the denials of India and the Nepali reactionaries have been coverups and lies.

Let’s look at what the U.S. ambassador privately reports to his masters back in Washington D.C.

Puppets and Masters

The cable begins by setting the scene of the meeting;

“On June 15, Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee confirmed to the Ambassador that the Government of India had taken a tougher line on Maoist abuses. Mukherjee’s recent visit to New Delhi had coincided with the visit of Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal.”

MK Nepal’s presence is significant in and of itself.

Two years after the meeting described in this cable, he became Nepali Prime Minister after the Maoist-led government resigned following its attempt to impose civilian control on the Nepal Army, discipline the insubordinate commanding officer General Katawal, and push forward the process of army integration.

MK Nepal defended the insubordination of General Katawal, agreed with his opposition to the induction of Maoist PLA fighters into a new, reformed national army, and preserved the power of the royalist officer corps that still controls Nepal’s military. Despite being defeated in the Constituent Assembly elections not once but twice, despite being clearly rejected by the people, he formed an illegitimate non-revolutionary minority government that was battered by nearly two years of Maoist street protests and strikes before collapsing in isolation and disgrace.

We can now see that the rise of MK Nepal to this post after such a meeting with Indian government officials and (more importantly) we can see that the themes that  MK Nepal cynically exploited to grab for illegitimate power were precisely the ones discussed with India’s foreign minister.

Ambassador Moriarty described that meeting as follows;

“According to Mukherjee, who sat in on a June 6 meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and MK Nepal, the Foreign Minister had expressed concern that the law and order situation in Nepal continued to deteriorate and Maoist abuses had gone unpunished. Moreover, Foreign Minister Mukherjee had been categorical in his discussion with MK Nepal that the Maoists should not be integrated into the Nepal Army… He agreed that the Maoists had not showed a true commitment to joining the political mainstream….

“The Government of India (GOI) was increasingly concerned with the deteriorating security situation in Nepal. Maoist abuses needed to be punished. Foreign Minister Mukherjee had told MK Nepal that the seven parties in the governing coalition needed to stay united and take clear steps to prepare for free and fair elections in November. This was the only way, FM Mukherjee had opined, to keep the Maoists in the political process. The Foreign Minister had also made it clear to MK Nepal that the GON should not – under any circumstances – integrate Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army.”

So, here we have an unpopular Nepali politician traveling to India and meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister, who briefs him on India’s views on the political situation in Nepal. The Indian government believes that the Maoists have not abandoned their revolutionary colours, and need to be isolated and prevented from achieving their goals. In particular, the Indian government stresses to MK Nepal that army integration must not be allowed to take place “under any circumstances”.

Two years later, a Maoist-led government comprised of many small parties and MK Nepal’s UML party (the third largest in the Constituent Assembly after the Maoists and the Nepal Congress) attempts to achieve exactly this integration under civilian (i.e. Maoist) control.

A right-wing, insubordinate Army Chief defies orders from his civilian commander, Maoist leader and then Prime Minister Prachanda. After the Army Chief refuses to accept civilian authority and continues to provoke the government, he is sacked.

In response to this the UML party, then under the control of a faction led by MK Nepal, leaves the governing coalition and causes its collapse. A new government is formed comprising virtually every party in the Constituent Assembly except for the Maoistsparties that have nothing in common except their opposition to the Maoist agenda of radical social change and empowerment of ordinary people. MK Nepal becomes Prime Minister with Indian approval, having brought down a government that India opposed, and Nepal is plunged into a maelstrom of protests and political upheaval.

An interesting coincidence indeed — which exposes the close alignment of Indian, UML and Nepal Army interests!

The Importance of Breaking Up a Pro-Feudal, Anti-Democratic Armed Force

A vision of a new unified armed force for a New Nepal

After the end of the Maoist-led People’s War (1996-2006) and the overthrow of the monarchy around the same time, peace agreements were signed between the Maoists and the conservative political parties that promised major structural change to Nepali’s society and Nepal’s state apparatus.

The Peace Accords claimed to represent agreement on a wide range of changes —  from land reform to womens equality and an end to corruption in government.

One of the most important agreements was that the murderous Royal Nepal Army would no longer exist as it always had, and that a new national army would be created through the merger of the 19,000 PLA fighters with the soldiers of the RNA. This army would have a new chain of command, new methods of operating, and would no longer be under the control of an aristocratic officer class loyal to the deposed King and the feudal class forces that dominate most of Nepal. It was only on the basis of such promises that the Maoists agreed to suspend their armed struggle.

The Peace Accords represented an agreement to“integrate and rehabilitate the Maoist combatants,” and pointed to thedemocratic restructuring of the army”.  They also declared that “Both sides shall not recruit additional armed forces or conduct military activities, including transporting weapons, ammunitions and explosives.” The former Royal Army was confined to barracks, where it remains today, and the Maoist army was confined to a series of cantonments built around the country.

These agreements were never carried out.

Five years later, Nepal is no closer to army integration than it was at the beginning of this process, and the main roadblock is clear: the former Royal Army has not been democratised. It remains under the control of its monarchist officer clique and it does not operate under civilian control. It has continued to recruit additional soldiers, and has recently imported weapons from India – not for the first time. The caste-ridden high command has refused civilian control, the feudal forces of Nepal have refused to give up their main armed protection. And sinister foreign forces (obviously including India above all) have aggressively opposed any transformation of that National Army. And the reasons are clear: Conservative forces see an UN-reconstructed National Army as key to their plans to prevent radical change in Nepal, turn back the upsurge of the people, and somehow crush the Maoists.

The Maoists see the current national army as major obstacle to their struggle to transform Nepal into a genuinely democratic country — and they have sought in many ways to expose its class nature, expose its claims of national guardian and split its ranks.

They are also keenly aware of what happened in countries like Chile and Indonesia, where popular mass movements for radical change and socialism were crushed in military coups that led to the mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands. There are  powerful sections of the Nepali establishment and their international allies that might consider a similar bloodbath in Nepal, and as long as the National Army continues undefeated there is the potential for a coup de’tat in Nepal.

On the other side of the spectrum, reactionary politicians and army officers in Nepal, India and the United States see the Maoist demand for army integration as a plot to take over the Nepal Army from within and remove (what they believe to be) the last major obstacle standing in the way of a Maoist-led popular revolt that would begin a socialist revolutionary process in Nepal.

They are, as a result, determined to prevent army integration from taking place.

It is now clear that India and the United States have been working to breach the Comprehensive Peace Accords and the Interim Constitution from the very beginning. For all the hypocritical claims made that the Maoists are not ‘committed’ to the peace process, we now know that the real enemies of peace in Nepal, the real obstacles to concluding the peace process and creating a better society, are the US imperialists, Indian expansionists and their Nepali puppets and stooges.

The hollow nature of bourgeois parliamentary democracy and its legal system is also exposed by the story of Nepal. When revolutionary movements in any step outside the legal framework, they are condemned by self-righteous politicians, judges and bureaucrats. But when revolutionary movements genuinely attempt to transform society and uplift the oppressed within the legal framework, it quickly becomes clear that this framework exists for one purpose and one purpose only – to maintain the power and privilege of the rich elite, and slow down or prevent entirely any attempts to empower the poor and disenfranchised.

A plan to isolate the Maoists

Puppet and Master: MK Nepal and Indian PM Singh

The U.S. State Department cable goes on to detail the machinations of the US and India in 2007 to isolate the Maoist movement domestically and internationally. They reveal a conscious refusal by the United States to engage with the Maoists or even talk to them at all, and a hostility from New Delhi.

“[The Indian Foreign Minister] asserted that the U.S. should stand firm in its decision not to communicate with the Maoists, as doing so would only reward bad behavior… When asked by the Ambassador whether the Maoists had been invited back to New Delhi for consultations, Ambassador Mukherjee said that officials in New Delhi had refused the informal requests for a visit they had received from Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka Prachanda). According to Mukherjee, Dahal’s go-betweens were told by the Indian Embassy that it was not the time for a visit to New Delhi because the Maoists had continued to break their commitments to the peace process.”

It is somewhat ironic to see the Indian government accusing the Maoists of breaking their committments to the peace process in the very same cable that details India’s conspiracies to undermine key parts of that very same process!

Further questions are raised about Mk Nepal by the following paragraph;

“Prime Minister Monmohan Singh was even blunter with MK Nepal, warning him to be wary of the Maoists and urging him to work with Prime Minister Koirala.”

This proves that Indian hostility towards the UCPN (M) extends to the highest levels of government, and in light of his later actions (MK Nepal’s puppet government was formed through a coalition with the Nepal Congress – the party of former Prime Minister Koirala which helped wage the civil war against the Maoists) lends even greater weight to the Maoist accusation that MK Nepal was and continues to be an Indian collaborator.

The Connection Between Stalemate and Future Revolt

US Ambassador Moriarty writes;

“The Indian Ambassador continues privately to express much more pessimism about Maoist actions and intentions than in the past. Mukherjee shared our analysis that the Maoists continue to seek total state power — even if he is not prepared to say so publicly.”

If it becomes impossible to transform Nepal through consensus and negotiation (and this appears more and more to be the case), the Maoists have stated from the beginning that they (and the people) will be forced to launch a ‘People’s Revolt’, topple the state, split and defeat the Nepal Army, and build a new Nepal on the ashes of the old.

The heated debate within the Maoist party right now is centered on the questions of timing and possibility — has years of stalemate sufficently exposed the army and parliamentary parties? Are sufficient forces accumulated to win a showdown with the military high command? Will sections of the Nepal Army refuse to join an attack on the people?

What these leaked cables reveal is that behind their public statements, the Indian and American governments have been convinced for years that the Maoists remain a revolutionary organisation committed to toppling the state.

This is what revolution looks like

India and the USA may be large and powerful countries and Nepal may be landlocked, impoverished and relatively small. But there remain a real chance  that the conspiracies hatched in Washington and New Delhi will end in  failure.

Only time will tell whether Nepal’s revolution can be successful, even in the face of clear and proven interference by foreign powers.

Hope remains in the Himalayas.

The full cable can be viewed here.

One Response to “Wikileaks Reveals: India’s Conspiracies against Nepal’s Maoists & Social Change”

  1. Alen Psyco said

    Free Nepal

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