“The international community’s euphoric reaction to Friday’s royal address is ludicrous, to say the least. It also shows how shallow is their reading of Nepali history and how far removed they are from the present ground reality,” Editorial in The Kathmandu Post titled ‘Int’l Community‘
Currently, Nepal stands at a crossroads. On the right side of it is a new Nepal where people are fully sovereign; insurgency is resolved and the Maoists join the political mainstream; the state is restructured to accommodate the disfranchised populace; and the society makes a peaceful transition towards prosperity. On the wrong side of it is the status quo, where the fundamental issue of sovereignty remains unresolved; the Maoist insurgency continues; state, under the direct control of the king, remains unitary and unwilling to address the issue of widespread exclusion. As Nepal has entered the final stage of the labor pain, the international community, unfortunately, seems to be supportive of the status quo. The international community’s euphoric reaction to Friday’s royal address is ludicrous, to say the least. It also shows how shallow is their reading of Nepali history and how far removed they are from the present ground reality. The foreign envoys’ suggestion to the parties to break with the rebels and to take the royal offer is fraught with two serious problems.
First, it does not address the Maoist insurgency, the main problem of the day. Breaking with the Maoists at this point in time and rejecting their legitimate demand for a constituent assembly means more bloodshed and more chaos for several years to come. Second, it denies the Nepali people their sovereign rights to decide — through peaceful means — the future of monarchy. Between three to four million people, who have already hit the streets nationwide, demanding the election to the constituent assembly, didn’t suddenly wake up one fine morning and said that they wanted to do away with the monarchy. These people have a painful memory of thier history where monarchy has played, time and again, with Nepali people’s democratic aspirations. King Tribhuvan failed to live up to his promise of constituent assembly elections in the 1950s. Then, King Mahendra dismissed the first democratically elected government in December 1960. King Birendra gave in to the demands of democracy only after dozens of Nepalis shed blood in 1990. Again in 2004, King Gyanendra sacked the elected government and in 2005 seized absolute power, jailed the political leaders and gagged the press.
Now the people want to break away with this history, of which the international community does not really know. That is why they are happy with the king’s announcement of transfer of executive power and want the parties to grab the prime ministerial post offered by him. Sher Bahadur Deuba was reinstated to the post of prime minister in 2004 by the king transferring the so-called executive power. What happened after a year? Moreover, parties were criticized in the past for being power-hungry, for running after the chair. Now, when they are saying it’s not an issue of becoming a prime minister but a question of resolving the country’s burning problems, they are being pressurized to take king’s offer of prime minister.
The most unfortunate failure of the international community has been their inability to see the courage and democratic aspirations of the Nepali people. This is a country marred by a violent insurgency. Yet during the last two weeks, millions of Nepalis have come to the street rejecting violence. They have braved bullets, baton charges and tear gas shells but have refrained from violence. What is the message of the international community to these peaceful protestors? Are they going to say, “No you can’t meet your demands through peaceful protests?” Are they going to say, as the Maoists advocate, that armed revolution is the only answer to the Nepali state’s violence? Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran tried to do a damage control in New Delhi the other day in a hurriedly called press conference saying that India would respect the Nepali people’s decision. If the rest of the countries do not review their stance immediately, and continue to dishonor one of the most peaceful and colossal uprisings in modern history, they will soon find themselves on the wrong side of Nepali history.