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Peace Building Process in Nepal

Organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung(FES)

8 October 2007, Lalitpur


Excerpts of the discussion

Inaugural session
Chairperson: Kasiraj Dahal

Ananda Srestha's welcome address: We are meeting after a long time and many developments have taken place in between. We discussed issues like the constituent assembly polls, the Kapilvastu violence and the like in yesterday's discussion. Today's theme of discussion is not much different from yesterday's as both are somehow related with each other.

In all these developments that have taken place in the country the academicians have remained silent. This discussion is expected to open ways for the thinkers to come up with their ideas about these developments. We have taken democracy as beyond criticism, a holy cow of sorts. Now we see it being turned into a muscle-flexing bull as well. Those in power appear to be doing what they like.

The question is why the constituents in the ruling alliance have not been able to see eye to eye on major issues and on national questions. It may be pertinent to ask whether our politics is in our hands at all. Or, is it being remote-controlled by international powers? The record of the eight parties has been dismal. Even after the Maoists quit government, things have not shown any difference.

Since we are talking about the peace process, the question to ask is whether the peace process is actually in motion. Rome is burning and Nero is playing his flute. Violence has continued. This is a picture far from the promised democracy. Who is to blame for this? The political parties have not been able to perform. Even when eight parties are in power, nothing has happened. The leaders say they will perform, but they have not. People have been crying hoarse for peace but to no avail. At least, the silent majority is allowed to speak during the vote. But, today, even the elections are not happening.

Let me welcome you all, once again.

Devraj Dahal's address: The International Crisis Group gives three reasons for absence of peace-- weak governance, lack of political will and marginalization of sections of the populace. As long as these factors prevail, there will be no peace.

How can we avoid violence in the society? We entered a peace process, but then policies and institutions laid down by the process have not been formed so far. Conflict was bipolar-between the Maoists and the state, before the peace agreement. But, after the agreement, the conflict has taken the social dimension as well. And, the peace agreement does not visualize the social conflicts. Unless we get into the roots of the conflict, we cannot resolve it. This must be done in the political sphere. But, today's politics is based on, and counts on, enmity among groups.

In the changing context, conflict resolution knowledge has no relevance. The various perspectives of political actors and the sectoral perspectives must be transformed into executable policies by finding the converging points.

The nature of Nepalese conflict is that it is open ended, thus equilibrium of the state is proving to be elusive. This is perpetuating and reinforcing the inherent contributing factors of the conflict.

The factors that contribute to stability must be sought. Heterogeneous actors must be allowed to have their stake in the state. The problem has been aggravated by the political parties and by the civil society. Parties must be mass based and civil society must be democratic to come out of this situation.

One of the reasons for the intensification of the conflict has been the weakness of the state to resolve the issues before they come into fruition. The state must begin to act to resolve the issues, otherwise we find that it encourages other groups to confront the state. Management of the transition should be geared towards reconstruction.

The leaders must change their behaviour and we should raise awareness of the people in this, through the media. The civil society too contributes to lawlessness and they should mend their ways. Some points to consider:

  • Monopoly of power must be balanced among politically significant groups. The international community can help in stabilizing the situation.
  • Optimizing the group interest rather than maximizing it.
  • The state's focus should be the citizen.
  • Non stakeholders must be co-opted.
  • A system that focuses on the destruction of the weak creates conflict.
  • Power transfer must be based on democratic methods. Violent means only justifies a violent culture.

Chairperson Kasiraj Dahal's remarks
My predecessors described the political developments leading up to the present and also the different dimensions of the conflict. We see that conflict is continuing in various forms even today. This is perpetuating instability, violence and weakening the state. Only a strong state can mitigate all these vices.

The views so far show that there is a need to seek consensus between the status quo and the revolutionaries to mitigate the conflict. Devraj Dahal said that if democracy is thwarted for self-interest there will be no peace. He also said that parties must be active and mass based. He wants the civil society too to be democratized.

As a constitutional expert, I view the history of constitutionalism as a search for political documents for a system of rule of law. The search began in the 18th century. There are methods of drafting these documents- some do it through referenda, some through the constituent assembly, some by exhortation or even through the parliament.

World history shows that countries that drafted the document through political consensus have brought in stability, but in those countries that could not base it on consensus, instability continues. Hence, the importance of consensus.

The aspiration of the popular movement was for sustainable peace and a loktantrik constitution. In France, the first constitution was not based on consensus, and hence led to instability. The country remained a laboratory for constitutionalism for the years that followed.

Constitution drafting is a political initiative, but we have political confusion at the moment, in spite of the claim by the eight parties that they have a definite road map. Hence, the instability. The change agents must be clear on their goals.

In S. Africa, in spite of the numerous political parties, they could still come up with consensus and they moved towards peace in an institutional manner. In India, too, they were clear on their road map. In Italy, a referendum resulted in the road map. In other words, institutionalization of peace has been possible through a constitution based on consensus. We, on the other hand, have only pledged to act, but not enforced our pledges. As long as the confusion prevails, there will be no peace.

We do not have a long history of political parties cooperating with each other for the sake of the nation; hence thinkers like academicians must be able to guide these parties.

Transitions are a difficult time for rule of law. But lengthening of the transition leads to questions about the legitimacy of the transitional authority, hence concessions must not be given to those creating further confusion and justifying it in the name of transition.

Civil society can be political, but not partisan, for the transformation of the conflict.

Even if I say that those undermining the rule of law can be pardoned citing the transitory phase, we still see that there is not even a political commitment needed to bring about stability. This was amply proved by the stalling of the constituent assembly election. The parties had said that they would resolve all the issues to hold the election on schedule until the very previous evening. We need political consensus among the different political groups for them to be able to hold the constituent assembly election if stability is to be ushered in.

Our role in ending the instability is vital as we can guide the political sector.


Session I
Chair Sridhar Khatri
Sushil Raj Pandey's presentation

Presentation
Sushil Raj Pandey's presentation courses between the imperative that brought the seven party-Maoist coalition into existence, that is to overthrow King Gyanendra's rule, and the ups and downs involved in resolving the myriad of issues involved in building peace. And, here he finds a lot of ironies. How can such ironies resulting from the gaps between grassroots realities and political imperatives be sorted out?

Pandey's paper does see a ray of hope, despite the wobbliness of power struggles among disparate political groups and the imperative for a stable situation required for a sane peacebuilding plan in a geo-politically volatile context. He finds that hope in the form of the term 'state restructuring' found in various political documents that have been crafted since the Jana Andolan II. But he sees even that hope being threatened by intra-coalition differences even while the grassroots reality has already begun to show impatience. What with different kinds of armed groups already coming into existence?

FLOOR

Sridhar Khatri: Please focus on the fluidity of the situation. The paper reflects it. The paper says that to expect a rational system at the moment appears to be mere conjecture. It calls for attitudinal change among parties. The author sees the seven party alliance as a syndicate and other groups are emerging as well. He thinks that to seek harmony in a hydra-headed leadership is difficult. He also raised other points. Please focus on peace building ideas.

Ganga Thapa: Have you seen Maoists adopting a peaceful participation in the political process anywhere?

The alliance you say was formed to throw the monarchy.

You also say that the Maoists have joined the mainstream. Does it mean they are not democratic?

You talk of full democracy, what does it mean?

You talk of permanent peace, but we know that it first begins with factionalism, then goes on to polarization and then only to the later stages. We are still in the factionalism and polarization stage. When will we be there?

You talk of restructuring, is it a new state like the Maoists want or just a political change?

We have a violent transition, not a peaceful one.

Can we have anti-nationalist parties?

A referendum can only decide the fate of the monarchy, but what about other issues that would require a constituent assembly?

Ananda Srestha said that politicians are not leaders. What do we do? Do we import them?

To Pandey, which is the centrist party in today's context?

If it is politics, it is struggle for power and competition. How can there be concessions?

Lal Babu Yadav: Nelson Mandela said that peace cannot be brought through talks among friends, but only with enemies. But we are talking about peace among the seven party alliance, and not their opponents. The prime minister could not even travel to the Madhesh for dialogue some time ago, due to security reasons. How do we bring rivals to the table for talks? Monarchy can be removed through a coup, the parliament and never through the constituent assembly. Had there been no talks between Mandela and De Klerk there would be no peace in South Africa.

Please give me examples and tell me where elections have taken place for the constituent assembly and constitution drafted afterwards.


Prem Sharma: The myriad of ideas in the paper does not provide a clear direction as to where we are moving towards. Are you trying to say that the current process has no direction? The perpetuity of the current confusion that you point out has confounded me. What is the resolution?

Narayan Gurung: We are talking of restructuring the state. But the political actors are not represented in these discussions. The problems [of marginalization] remain where they are even in these discussions as no actors are represented by the political players. How will we have peace?

I do not see the paper coming out with a resolution to these problems.

The Maoists signed various agreements to enter the peace process, but they never abided by it. No one pointed a finger at them. They have been changing their tunes all the time.

These seminars could do better had there been a mixed participation.

Suman Dhakal: Impunity has not been dealt with in the paper. Its role in peace building should be noted.

Jitendra Dhoj Khand: The paper reflects the need to follow the national interest in the milieu of regional and global power politics. How do we go for peace in the context of an open border? We know that culprits entered the border and killed Nepalese people before returning to their bases across the border.

Nepal would have been a zone of peace long ago. There was about to be a two-thirds majority at the General Assembly declaring Nepal as a peace zone. It was then that the movement began in Nepal. The import of Chinese weapons was only a pretense.

There is greed, love for power, mismatch between qualification and ambition for power, jealousy and arrogance among the politicians. These are the six diseases afflicting our psychology. If we shed jealousy we will have peace.

Not just the nation, but also the individuals are heaped deep in loans.

We should also be aware about foreign intelligence agents.

The king handed power in a constitutional manner, but the power takers have thwarted both the king and the constitution and now they are faced with a situation where they have nothing to base their acts on. This has resulted in the confusion. In Cambodia, two million people were killed in 44 months. Let Nepal not follow that.

Laxmi Kesari Manandhar: The Maoists are working to seek consensus on the election system and the declaration of a republic. Will the election take place if their efforts are successful?

You say that political actors and civil society must change their attitude, but that takes a long time. Does it mean we have to wait for tens of years?

Regarding the elements spreading violence, the eight-party sister organizations have spread to schools and the government is weak because the rule of law is not being followed by the affiliates. Neither the police have been enforcing the law nor are the police abiding by their own rules.

Chuda Bahadur Shrestha: In colonized countries, peace prevails after the colonizers leave, only the system remains in place. India is an example. In the other kind of change, if the grieving actors are not accommodated, peace proves elusive. The eight parties are exclusive and do not allow other voices to prevail. No one is raising objection to this through the media.

We have a prime minister who is an ultra supreme commander, but when talking of the anarchy, he does not appear to be interested even while he is overly concerned about the king visiting a temple.

Our Minister Ram Chandra Poudel used to blame the Maoists of being palace agents. Now, again, he has blamed the Madhesi movement being instigated by the palace. We also see the Maoists saying that they will not follow the interim constitution.

Have we tried to include all voices for the sake of peace? If we look at Afghanistan, the end of the monarchy there led to coups and counter-coups.

Bihari Krishna Shrestha: The paper does not take into consideration the India factor, which cannot be overlooked whether for war or peace. Can such overlooking be justified?

After the 1950 treaty was signed Mohan Shumsher was kicked out of power. Ganesh Raj Sharma has recorded that India told an unnamed person to have B.P kicked out of power too. During the Panchayat system, the 1965 treaty was signed to extract various concessions. In 1990, the Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal- UML activists were paid [for their work] in Indian currency. Today, we are talking of a republic at the behest of India. India wants either Bhutan or Sikkim type arrangements with Nepal. How do we hedge the Indian design? This must be taken into account while devising strategy.

People criticize King Gyanendra, but he is just a human being. When he went to India, he went to Patna and Lucknow, he talked with local politicians to control the Maoist infiltration into their territory. This was followed by criticisms of the king. This was again followed by his proposal to have China given an observer status at SAARC.
Please include these points in your analysis.

Dev Raj Dahal: The peace agreement is confusing- it talks of social change but in another place it talks of transformation. There is also another term mentioned there- restructuring. All these terminologies mean different things. The agreement only appears to be an attempt to include all the different ideas. But such mixture will not take us anywhere.

The changes that have taken place must be assessed to find a domestic source for resolution.

The law has been framed for a common identity, but no one is following them. This is why we do not have peace.

The leaders have been seeking unity for ten years. This could be a search for power monopoly or also an honest search for harmony.

If the political actors are externally supported, they suffer from a free-riding mentality. As long as this happens we will always suffer from absence of peace.

Also, conceptual clarity should be there, not mere use of terminology. Changing the village panchayat to VDCs will not give us anything until we change the concept.

Regarding revolutionary transformation, political movement does not bring it about. There must be the foundation for that to take place. Hence, we must follow evolutionary change, not revolutionary.

Small nations must always anticipate change. Secondly, strengths and limitations of the state must be assessed, something only statesmen can understand. Political leaders cannot.

Hari Krishna Adhikari: All the developments that have taken place is not only a result of us not having leaders. The prime minister has succeeded in keeping the Maoists inside cantonments. Indeed, the dramatic changes were not anticipated. We cannot have statesmen, always. But I do not believe that the peace process is in any danger, although risks are there.

Karna Bahadur Thapa: The paper does give me hope that there is still the feeling of nationhood among writers.

First, we should make the leaders understand that they did not come to power after a total victory. If they do not understand their limitations, they will be forced to live in the same situation they were in before they came to power.

Arms can be imported by the state, smuggled or acquired in grey areas. Nepal appears to be in the grey zone at the moment. These issues have not been raised by the media.

The lower level employees are penalized for great crimes, but not the leaders who ordered them to, especially with regard to impunity and law and order.

In 2006, people anticipated huge losses of life through state action, but that did not come about.

We still have a possibility of foreign intervention. The political forces could invite them without qualms as they are only their appendages. Or the situation can go out of hand inviting their presence.

In Nepal, if another violent group emerges, the violence could take the vertical route, not just horizontal. In other words, killings of opponents will not be the only concern. The leaders too may be targetted by their lower ranks.

Samira Luintel: I think the paper lacks analysis about the situation coming in the days ahead.

I like the proposal the author gave about making parties independent of foreign donors. That argument should be extended to the Tribhuvan University professors as well.

The role of the civil society should also be defined, not just the role of political parties.

Authors' reply
Restructuring the state has meant that parties have talked about options like a federal democracy, a federal republican democracy and a republican democracy. The parties are still working out the kind of structure they want.

Since we did not have the patronage of a colony, we are seeking enmity within ourselves, from amidst the homogeneity and harmony that we have had so far.

The civil society cannot be expected to give us peace, as they too have their limits. Definitely do not ask the political parties.

Adoption of a different election system will warrant us to junk the 1.5 billion rupees that we have spent on the old one and a lot of homework and time will be required for the adoption of a new election system.

I have hope that the seven-party alliance will work. But I am not partial for or against them.

Regarding impunity, you can point your finger at anyone. But, that will not provide the solution. You can blame the policeman for disappearances, but who was running the government then?

Leadership training programmes are there and the civil society has been assisting the process. But party control supersedes even there and that may not be enough in the Nepalese context.

Regarding the Indian factor, I did not go into the details as it would have been a very long exercise if I did that.

Also, we are all revolutionaries. But tomorrow all the revolutionaries become conservatives. The need is to become pragmatic, in spite of our need for revolutionary change.

Regarding, the risks that we face, the Maoists have threatened an urban revolution. And, with the free flow of weapons, through the open border, we must be alert about how to manage the situation thus resulting.

Ananda Srestha: Regarding leadership, we had 14 PMs in 14 years. I did not see that leadership quality in any one of them. I saw that quality in King Mahendra and B.P. Koirala. But that was taken to the extreme by the followers-- making Mahendra the light of the Shah dynasty and B.P. a Mahamanav [super human]. This tendency still continues and as long as that happens, political stability will always remain elusive.

Leaders must have vision, and rise above party interests. I do not see these characteristics at the moment. May be the younger generation has such leaders waiting in the wings, but they have not been allowed to rise.

Secondly, please do not blame us for not inviting the required mix of participants, several of them have not made it here today.

Sridhar Khatri

First, the postponement of constituent assembly polls, a part of the peace building process, is regrettable. It is inexcusable but necessary. You cannot go for the polls without the participation of the seven parties.

There are flaws in the peace building. First, the structure of the peace accord is a flawed one. There was no truce agreement but a code of conduct on how to bring that about. There must be an accord and then only a code on that.

There are many issues in the accord, but no timetable given to execute them.

The second ingredient of the accord is that there must be the mechanisms to enforce the points agreed upon. For example, the constituent assembly polls was defined but no deadline given to hold them. It is these flaws that have given rise to the confusion.

The peace accord therefore becomes a bargaining chip all the way. It is not just the Maoists who have used it as a bargaining chip, also the Communist Party of Nepal-UML has been talking in different languages.

The whole structure has been flawed as the peace process was not brought through bargaining. Instead, it is the result of appeasement efforts of the government while the agenda was set by the Maoists. If we go over the past one and a half years, we see the Maoists steadily gaining throughout the negotiations with the government. Therefore, it is not just the Maoists to be blamed for the flaws in the peace process, but also the other actors.

UN role is vital during a peace process. Third party role is important. UN gives credibility and prestige to the process. But the disturbing fact is that the UN is involved in Nepal in a risk free environment- on a very ambiguous agenda. It is supposed to manage arms and oversee the CA polls. They are talking of a second phase of arms management. We do not even know how the CA polls can be managed without first managing arms. This is what I mean by risk-free environment. People hired by the UN are given a contract of only three months, hardly enough time even to understand the country.

Security sector reform cannot be carried out without arms management. The question of Maoist fighters and their integration has not been discussed so far. The reduction of forces has not been worked out. One side being armed and the other not armed can only be a pipe dream.

The last point is that people do not like drastic change. And, we are facing this dilemma right now. The transition management is a matter for review. The difference between 1991 transition and the current transition is that the then government then knew that it had two mandates- to draft the constitution and hold the election. The present government is deciding on everything and leaving nothing for future governments. Until we realize our mandates, the problems will continue to plague us.

Session II
Presenter: Jan Sharma
Chair: Ananda Aditya


Presentation
Jan Sharma sees the peace process in Nepal facing obstacles, not just because of differences among the domestic political actors but more so because, since the Nepalese conflict is a part of the geo-political conflict, the unbridgeable divide among the conflicting international forces. The only thing all the international actors agreed upon was to remove the King from power but they were left high and dry when it came to a roadmap for peace in the country, he says. His thesis is that it was the same anti-monarchy forces that brought the nation into the vortex of the conflict in the first place, because of their incompetence to deal with vital issues. With their differences not only continuing but gaining intensity by the day not much can be expected out of a peace process that depends on the same actors to come up with workable solutions.

Sharma says that the media and the civil society are mere appendages of the political actors and the global and regional forces operating in the country rather than beacons of light for the Nepalese masses. In other words, perpetuators of the conflict by pursuing their own vested interests, rather than healers. He still sees hope for Nepal's peace on condition that the constituent assembly election be held in a free and fair manner so that it could take up the issues plaguing the country and resolve them.

FLOOR

Samira Luintel: We always blame India for all our ills. Still, we have to depend on it. Canada too needs to depend on the United States. Canadians even feel pride over their dependency. India provides transit facilities to us, they give us jobs even their army allows Nepalese recruits. Because we are a small nation, we need to depend on it. If we have the negative attitude, why should India work for us? We need India for education and even health.

Laxmi Kesari Manandhar: You talk of non-state actors. Do they not belong to the state? I do not agree with that.

You say that INGOs have mushroomed. I think you talk of NGOs, not INGOs.

Regarding the media, private media appear to be aligned with political parties and are not independent.

Narayan Gurung: You provide reasons for the failure of the constituent assembly elections to take place. If you include our own faults, it would be better.

Also, I have found media persons take pay from embassies and business houses. Similar is the case with academics and even government officials. These people are also members of political parties at the same time.

The privatization of Nepalese public industries has been anti-people and the governments are not working to alleviate the people's plight. I also agree that Indian policies have not been conducive to our needs.

The Nepalese foreign policy was clear in the past, but today, we do not hear what our foreign policy actually is.

To talk of foreign meddling is not going too far out of hand. We know that India has a big hand in today's developments. Will Nepal remain sovereign?

Ujjwal Baral: There is talk of a grand democratic alliance. Girija Koirala raised the issue as soon as he was ousted after the Holeri incident in his previous stint as prime minister.

Regarding the all party government, we have the alliance of parties involved in the popular movement, Only the Maoists have quit the government at the moment.

What is civil society? A crowd of several people or individuals like Krishna Pahadi and Devendra Raj Pandey and the like? If the citizens are involved, an organizational structure of the civil society needs to be defined.

I agree that India has given us transit facilities. We feel happy when it gives us several ambulances. And when there is instability in Nepal, it becomes concerned about spillovers. The Maoist fear did give it concern about a spillover to its own territory.

C. P. Gajurel's arrest has been portrayed politically in the paper. But he was arrested for a fake passport.

Ananda Aditya: I was handling an American group of 33 once. They too were not aware about a clear definition of civil society. Civil society has no definition, just like the definition of the state. It is something that keeps evolving with the times. This does not mean we should not try. But we should try and get as close to a definition as we can.

Ek Raj Ojha: There are two kinds of rulers: A ruler used for measurement and those that rule people. If the ruler is straight, it does not matter the kind of wood it is made of. Instead of blaming others, we need to have good rulers. It is okay when you blame others, but we should also keep our own house in order.

Please edit the language, instead of repeatedly using phrases.

Ganga Thapa: Are we going through a regime change or is it a regime collapse?

Free and fair election is not enough, we also want an environment free of fear for any election to take place.

If we do not take money from abroad, we cannot have seminars even. But if it only tries to fulfill the interest of the donors, it is bad.

Let us hope that even if the bad developments continue, we can always hope that some good will happen some day.

Keshav Khadka: Do you have examples where nations remain aloof from global and regional developments? The paper should talk of situations where interactions take place with other international actors. Our perspective is that in spite of all the pressures, we could come to an agreement without direct third-party involvement. The Maoists have left government, but have they gone back to the jungles? Is this not an achievement? Please list the gains in spite of all the foreign meddling.

The silent majority is there. And, it speaks. The voice of dissent is the civil society which has had a powerful impression on the people.

Instability occurs when you are bent on doing away with a 2000 year old history.

Ananda Aditya: When Tek Nath Rijal had sought refuge in Nepal, we sent him back. That has never happened in Nepal's history. We have always provided asylum to asylum seekers. We must be ashamed of that act. Nobody spoke then. When Rijal launched a hunger strike three years ago, there were 12,000 signatures collected to support him in three days. This is proof of the growth of civil society.

Chuda Bahadur Shrestha: Regional, global and national perspectives are taken into account to describe national interest. Cambodia was sandwiched between two large nations. In Yugoslavia, we saw that it was broken down into pieces.

Regarding violence resulting from violence, Bosnia is a prime example. CNN had reported of a violence which had never taken place. But the report did provide NATO the premises to enter.

In Nepal, today, we see that there is a disintegrationist tendency on the rise. How should the media deal with it?

Vidya Nath Nepal: NEFAS should begin homework on planning of restructuring and peace. Yesterday's papers should have been presented today.

Here are some points to be considered for the homework:
1. Rehabilitation of the Displaced.
2. Reconstruction of infrastructure
3. Health and education
4. Social integration through development
5. National and regional projects- like vocational training, computers and new regional growth poles.
6. Create investment environment
7. Financing of reconstruction.
8. Popular participation
9. Foreign assistance.
10. Institutional mechanisms

These papers could be written to plan the reconstruction. NEFAS can initiate this and FES can assist in this.

P. Kharel: Prof. Baral used to talk about expressing understanding towards India's assistance, some 30 years ago. But that would have meant accepting the status quo.

Also, India has the best of relations with non-democratic Bhutan and one-party Maldives. Canada too may have its grievances with the US and not everything must be going on well there.

We talk of Tek Nath Rijal. But the Indian media does not talk about him. This is because Indian interest does not warrant that, as it would go against Bhutan. While talking about foreign interests we should think about preserving the national interest.

Sixty per cent of the civil society functions according to the guidelines provided by political parties. The wives of politicians are NGO heads. Most of them are working as party affiliates. It would not have mattered if only a few of their agendas had coincided with those of the parties. But that is not the case. We must therefore, conclude that the role of the civil society has been to remain partisan. In our country, it is not a question about which civil society organization is partisan, but which is not? Hence, why talk about the role of civil society in the political process, why not say the role of parties, as they are just appendages?

Similar is the case with the media. The role of the media is therefore redundant, as they are mere political appendages. This situation has to end. Otherwise, it will have its boomerang effect one time or the other.

There are media organizations affiliated to parties. Media organizations should not receive state funds. But only recently the government began to allocate budgets for media organizations. All Press Council members are political party members so far. Those talking about right to information should not be party members.

Liberal democracies do not have state funded Press Councils. State funding is there to some extent in Britain. It is the media houses that are supposed to fund them. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists has received 300 million rupees in two years from different sources and state fund is added on that.

Ananda Aditya: We have a plan to take the issue of Tek Nath Rijal to different parts of India. Also, democracy and Prajatantra do not go together. Only loktantra can. Praja cannot be rulers.

Mohan Lohani: Regarding the UN's role, the author says that it has no exit policy. Invitation of the UN needed the Indian nod. And, that appears to have delayed the invitation. The PM sent the letter to the UN and the foreign minister did not know about it. But the mandate given to the UN was the same in both the Maoist and government letters of invitation. The mandate is the management of arms and the monitoring of CA polls.

We must understand that without the management of arms, elections cannot take place.

The exit policy is there if the CA polls are held and the peace process is successful, there is no need for them to stay.

If we look at the pay packet of the UN staff, naturally, they will try to remain and seek a role. Hence, we must give them the exit.

India and China have their interest, and the US may also have some. The EU does not have too much of an interest. Even if they do, it is nothing compared to the neighbourhood interest.

I agree with Kharelji regarding the media situation.

Surendra KC: This seminar is getting lively. The media and other forms of writers have their own sets of syndicates of writers. There is a tendency to follow the leader even when they are taking the Nepalese down the drain. NTV and Radio Nepal directors get paid by the Indian embassy because any statement of the prime minister or the king have to go through there.

The paper should have been updated.

The paper ends by saying that the author does not want to recommend anything but stills says that reconstruction is necessary.

Jitendra Dhoj Khand: The paper has been bold- talking of the loktantra terminology as an import from India. But getting bogged down by terminologies is not fruitful. Ganatantra could be said to have been derived from the Gan used for army battalions, like the Bhairab Gan. This is mere creating confusion.

The term Bharatkhanda was misused. Vedas were written here in Nepal at the banks of the Kaligandaki. Hence, Bharatkhanda does not mean India. Vyas was born thrice in Syangja. And Bharat is the source of Bhaarat. Understand this before talking.

Regarding neighbourhood relations, we see that Indian and Chinese foreign polices have failed. UN in Nepal is proof; and a way for the US and the EU to enter Nepal. The foreigners want the army numbers to go up for better security, but the Indians want to reduce it. Such Indian policy will not go far. Nepalese have begun to understand better these days.

Global strategies are changing. The global focus has been on Southeast Asia and South Asia today. Once the two regions break down, then we will have the real loktantra. The entry of UNMIN is a grave issue.

Bihari Krishna Shrestha: Please change your hopes into methods.

Ananda Srestha: The first government after the CA polls will have to develop a security doctrine. What kind of doctrine will be that?

I hear that three doctrines have already been formed and they will be unearthed as the situation develops.

To Vidyanath, let me say that we focus on national issues and as a result we are always strapped for cash. Only FES has been supporting NEFAS for the past 14 years. Other INGOs do not fund us for our issues.

Author's reply
I am not blaming anybody. But their meddling in crucial decisions has been pointed out by me. My question is whether Nepalese are not capable of doing it on their own. I have only presented the facts.

Most of the problems would go away if political leadership were merit-based.

Comparing Canada's relations with the US with ours with India is inaccurate.

There are positive outcomes from the transition and debates as well.

In India, government briefing to the media is very extensive and the media men organize the stories in a very professional manner. But the content is the same across all the newspapers the next day. I do not call that media freedom. This is specially so regarding foreign policy and security policy.

There is hardly any example where the UN has accomplished its mission. This is purely because of fat salaries.

Ananda Aditya's remarks
One of the secretary generals of the party could not spell the word 'secretary general'; he made three spelling mistakes in two words. Then I came to know of King Gyanendra through another man it made me think that we are in a brink of disaster.

We tend to be judgmental on the basis of myths. Political parties have never been in power for more than 25 years. Hence, we cannot blame everything on them. Hence, let us not jump to conclusions.

Let us not forget that India is far ahead in terms of democracy. In India, old murders have also been made public by the media over time. So many murders have taken place in Nepal. And, no one has said anything so far. This is the difference between India and Nepal.

 
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