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Seminar on National Interest, Security Policy and Civil-Military Relation in Nepal

Organised by Nepal Ex-Police Organisation and Saugat Legal Research Consultancy

Civil-Military Relation: Strengthening Democracy in Nepal by Lt. Gen (Retd) Bala Nanda Sharma

25 April 2009


Nepal ex-police Organisation and Saugat Legal Research Centre has organised one day National Seminar on National Interest, Security Policy and Civil-Military Relation in Nepal. The programme was supported by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a German political foundation based in Kathmandu. The programme was attended by the high ranking officials (former and serving) from the civilian police forces, armed police forces, Nepal army, secret service agents and civil servants. The programme was also attended by the Members of the National Interest Committee and State Affairs of the legislative parliament. The programme was also attended by journalists, NGO members, political leaders, members of Constituent Assembly, other stake holders of society, among others. By and large, the seminar drew good number of people and was able to reverberate dialogue on national interest and civil-military relations which is crucially important for state-building in Nepal. There were altogether 70 plus participants.

Dr Chuda Bahadur Shrestha of the Saugat Legal Research Centre welcomed the participants and highlighted about the programme. He said that the overarching objective of this seminar is to have a vigorous discussion in order to chart out a future direction of national security which is quintessential particularly in the changed political scenario of the country. The whole idea of this seminar was how can citizen as a whole contribute or participate in the issues of national security/national interest and develop a culture of consensus among political parties on vital issues of national interest.

There were five sessions altogether with papers on national interest and the formation of security policy of Nepal by Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat ( CA member from Nepali Congress), civil -(military) security relation in strengthening democracy in Nepal by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Balananda Sharma, Member Special Committee Integration of armed forces both the sessions were chaired by Mr. Amit Sherchan - Chairman of the National Interest Committee of the Parliament. Other three papers were on the role of security agencies on state-building and national security by Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, role of private security companies in the current context by Dr. Karna Bahadur Thapa and integrated border security management by Mr Budhhi Narayan Shrestha. These sessions were chaired respectively by Mr Bhim Rawal (CA member from CPN-UML), Mr Pradip Gywali (CA member from CPN - UML) and Prof. Habibullah Chairman of the Special Committee for the Army Integration.

Floor Discussion

Presenting a paper on national interest and formation of security policy for Nepal Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat emphasised on the fact that security policy of Nepali state should protect national interest vis-à-vis freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity and alike. Security policy of the state should strike a balance between external and internal factors that poses challenge on national security. Commenting on his paper from the floor Col. Prem Singh Basnet said that we should ensure physical security of the state as we have witnessing unabated border encroachment from the south. The unabated foreign influence in our domestic affairs is creating a great deal of nuisance in maintaining national interest and protecting our traditional values said another commentator. The main strategy of the west (barring few countries) is to attack on our traditional values and impose their ones. The greatest challenge we face at this juncture is how exactly are we going to strike balance in national interest and security when country practically becomes federal. We have not yet started debated on this front. There were comments from the floor on the need of forming security policy that can protect our national interest. We need have the clear physical demarcation of our border so that we can have physical security intact. In response, Dr. Mahat said that we need to develop the culture of comprise in the major issues of national importance irrespective of our political standing. He argued that problem of past 240 years is not ethnic problem but that of democratic deficit and this has to be bridged.

Lt. Gen (Retd). Balananda Sharma presented a comprehensive paper on Civil-Military Relations - Strengthening Democracy in Nepal. The main argument of his paper was that army should be used for the positive benefit (the purpose of military) and wrong use of army both by the military and civilian political leadership should be checked. He argued that while developing national security strategy we need to develop a feeling that political parties will only become strong when state becomes strong. That focus should shift towards state rather than party as party is only 'part' not a 'whole'. His paper received wide varied of questions from the floor encompassing existing corruption in the army, democratizing the army, boosting the morale of security forces, improving civil-military relations, issues of integration and rehabilitation and the concept of security. Dr. Prem Singh Basnet said that there is a lack of understanding the concept of 'security' in Nepal. He said that the feeling that only those who carries the 'guns' belongs to the 'security' should change. It involves public at large in the issues of national security. Only this type of feeling can bring positive result. What is missing currently is the feeling that enemy for the army is enemy for the nation. Once this feeling is instilled upon citizenry at large then only can army function successfully and a vibrant civil-military relation could be maintained, said Let. Gen (Retd) Sharma. Responding a query on the mass entry into the national army - General Sharma said that entry should be individual on the basis of merit and by respecting individuals freedom . Mass entry is something like imposed upon and it curtails personal freedom. On the question of security sector reform - General Sharma said that merely reforming security sector is not enough; we also need to reform our legal system. Overall, he emphasised the development of national security document which we still don't have and we need to generate the feeling of security consciousness at different layers of society that can protect our physical security.

Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha presented his paper on the role of security agencies in state-building. Commenting on his from the chair Mr Bhim Rawal said that we need to analyse the role of security agencies in the different stages and what would be their role in the current context. Security agencies should play a proactive role in stabilising political process in Nepal said Mr Rawal. He also said that security forces of the nation should not be politicised and also emphasised on the fact that security forces can only become popular when they engage themselves in the 'legitimate duty'. Likewise, Dr. Karna Bahadur Thapa presented a paper on Private Security Companies and stressed that government should develop proper mechanism to streamline the private security companies which is not the case now. Commenting on his paper Prof. Habibullah said that the private security companies will virtually undermine the role of the state security should be discouraged in the country. We need the strong state security agencies not the private; it is only suitable for the corporate class. The increase in the private security companies indicates state weakness said Prof. Habibullah. While Dr. Chuda Shrestha said that both private and public security companies should work together

Keeping the mushrooming numbers of security companies in mind, there was also question whether the members of private security companies could take membership of trade union or not, whether they can take part in strike or not while negotiating with management for the collective benefits. Commenting from the Chair Pradim Gyawali said that we need to draw clear line between private and state security and mechanism should be developed to regulate private security companies.

The final paper was presented by Mr Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, former Director General of the Nepal Government, has presented a comprehensive paper on Border Security Management. There is an urgent need for border management both to maintain physical security of the state and also to maintain law and order in the country. Many cases of the crimes in the country take place because of this open border. There were comments from the floor on the need of maintaining pillars in the South as many 'Janage' pillars are missing.


The overarching objective of this seminar was to discuss various issues of national security and national interest that impinges on the state-building process in Nepal. That said seminar tried to address various facets of national interest such as how we can prioritise national interest and strengthen national security organs of the country, at a time, when internal security of the state is being threatened by the flaring up of new conflicts and non-state actors. From this prism, the seminar has been able to generate the genuine need of the nation. Finally, security is related with life and state should take it seriously.

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