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Seminar Report on Civil Military Relations in Nepal

Organised by Ex-Police Organisation (EPO)

30 April 2010


Introduction

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nepal Office organised one day seminar on Civil-Military Relations in Nepal in cooperation with Ex-Police Organisation on 30th April, 2010 in Kathmandu. There were around 70 participants which included high-ranking serving and ex-security officials from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, National Investigation Department, members of the technical committee constituted for the integration of army, constituent assembly members, experts, professors, journalists, and members of civil society, students, lawyers and other stake-holders of society. The objective of this seminar was to explore possibilities to end the current deadlock in the army integration process which has stands as major hurdle to move the peace process to its logical end.

In fact the major bone of contention currently is the integration of Maoists combatants which needs clarification in number of issues such as who is to be integrated and where (in Army or in society), what modus operandi needs to be followed and how many combatants could be integrated and at which rank. The second issue that Nepal Army is of the view that it is a professional organisation and whoever would like to join the army has to follow the certain established standards and there is no way that it can absorb people into it on hotchpotch basis. In addition to this, there are issues linked with "security" itself that needs to be carefully addressed by the state. Nepal stands in the historic juncture; this is the right time to develop national security policy which ensures public security and protects national interests. National interest is defined by overall environment, policies and actions beneficial to all citizens. It stands above the interest of subsidiary caste, class, ethnic, territorial and economic interests groups. There are three papers on different themes such as International Security Environment and Nepal presented by Major General (Retd.) Pradeep Pratap Bom Malla, Nepal: National Security Imperatives presented by Dr. Govind Bahadur Thapa , AIGP (Retd.) and Public/Internal Security and Civil Military Relations in Nepal presented by Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, SSP (Retd.).

Dev Raj Dahal Head of FES Nepal delivered a key note speech wherein he emphasised the need of rectification of the defects of democracy and democratisation of security agencies must be accompanied with a formulation of national security doctrine, institutionalisation of dialogue and regular identification of sources of threat by various stakeholders of society; strengthening of National Security Council through interdisciplinary team of experts coordinated by Defense and Home Ministries who can also inform about early warning of fault-line conflicts and suggest measures for early response. Mutual appreciation of each other's roles and responsibilities between civil and security forces is curial for the construction of a post-conflict Nepal and build a shared peaceful future.

Kul Bahadur Kc (Sonam) of UCPN (Maoist) said that the current security vacuum like situation was created not by the Generals but by the political parties and part of the blame also goes to the (I)NGOs who are engaged in security related dialogue in Nepal. He blamed them for weakening state institutions by floating different ideas. In the name of security sector reform some (I)NGOs are found to have been pitting one against the other and have made Nepal's security policy externally driven.

Proceedings

Presenting his paper Maj. Gen. Pradip P B Malla said that the issues of security should be looked from different perspectives both externally and internally. In the same vein, we have to seriously analyse the challenges brought about by the globalisation per se factors and develop our security strategies accordingly. The new millennium has added many conscientious challenges to mankind. The economic recession, the problem brought about climate change and other post-state challenges need to be addressed while designing national security doctrine of the state. Another presenter Dr Govind P. Thapa on National Security Imperatives in (Post-Conflict) Nepal said that security is a wider concept than just focusing on policing crime. He further said that there is a need for re-engineering of the whole policy and infrastructure of the security system to meet the current challenges. Dr Chuda Bahadur Shrestha presented his paper on Public/Internal Security and Civil-Military Relations in Nepal highlighted various internal issues that might relate with national security in the long term such as population growth, food crisis, poverty and alike and argued that we need to focus more onto these issues for the stable state-society relations.

Discussions

Commenting from the floor Sambhu Ran said that we should not compromise on security issues of the state. We should manage transition period and shorten to keep national sovereignty intact. Ramesh Bhandari, SSP, enquired whether federalism will make Nepal a strong state or a weak state. How can we tackle the interest of different "actors" who are involved in the current political debate in Nepal and what type of national security mechanism should Nepal develop? These issues needs to be given proper though, argued Bhandari.

Dr. Prem Singh Basnet commented that Nepali Army historically has been linked with the rulers either to protect regime or to protect individual interest and blamed that army, over the years, has been misutilised by the political leaders and this practice should be discontinued for the interest of the state.

Deepak Bhatta enquired how we are going to strike a balance between national security and human security as we need the both if we really wanted to have a stable state. Dev Raj Dahal said that there is no way that we can have human security in the absence of national security which is fundamental core and non-negotiable. We have to strike a balance between soft power and hard power said Dahal.

Conclusion

United Nations defines security as freedom from fear and freedom from want. If we take this as theoretical basis security is needed everywhere and has to be attuned with national interest. The main bases of national interests are survival interest, vital interest, major interest and peripheral interest. That our security is linked with the security of neighbour as well (both internally and externally) against this backdrop, we need to develop state-bearing institutions that ensure both public security as well as the security of the state. Except Nepal Army, there are very few state bearing institutions in Nepal. Therefore the need of the hour is to develop other institutions of the state so that people at large can feel secured. There is a great deal of trust deficit between civil-military relations and that needs to be bolstered. Political parties should come up with common security policy rather than using "security" issues as a bargaining chip to gain political power.

 
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