NEPALI ARMY SERIES-II: Trust yet To Be Nurtured

By Ameet Dhakal
News Editor
, the Kathmandu Post

KATHMANDU, Aug 23 – The Nepali Army (NA) is in transition: it has, to a large extent, abandoned its links with the monarchy, but it is yet to fully trust the political parties. “What happens if you buy a cow but get tired of it on your way home and abandon it in mid-journey?” asked a bright army major and answered the question himself without waiting for a reply. “Probably, the cow would go back to the old owner.” He was using the cow analogy to explain the current state of mind of the NA. Another young officer said, “We have come out of the monarchical cocoon, but the parties are yet to embrace us.” He is furious that the parties and lawmakers still doubt the army’s loyalty and fumed, “What shall we do to prove our loyalty to civilian rule? After all, we can’t go onto the street and shout jindabaad and murdabad “.

The relationship between the army and the politicians has a legacy of distrust and suspicion. The parties often considered the army as the king’s force and did not invest in building up a relationship with it. (It is surprising to find how little the politicians and army people meet informally and share a meal or cracked jokes with each other. Social bonding between the two is almost non-existent).

“We for our part never viewed the politicians as our civilian guardians and were angry to see them courting the police, ignoring the army’s sentiments,” said another major.

A retired general says institutions like the army are emotional by nature. “If you admire them and encourage them, they will admire you back. If you ignore them, then they will hate you.”

The army has a laundry list of complaints against the political parties: We were not given a big enough budget; we were left ill-equipped; we were not trusted to fight the insurgency in the beginning and an Armed Police Force was formed; we were defamed over the Holleri incident, etc., etc. One general gave a blow-by-blow account of what happened at Holleri to “demystify” politicians’ claim that in the summer of 2001 the army refused to be mobilized, ignoring the orders of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. “You can go and meet army pilot Major Binaya Singh, who is still limping from bullet injuries he received at Holleri when rebels fired at the chopper.”

Things have begun to change, however.

One of the outcomes of the Janaandolan is both the parties and the army are willing to dump the past and start their relationship afresh. “This is the need of the time and a compulsion for both,” said the major, adding, “We need them and they need us.”

A relationship based on “need” will take time–perhaps a long time–to evolve into one based on trust.

However, most army personnel seem happy the way the prime minister is currently handling the army . “He [prime minister] is aware of the army’s role during the Janaandolan, that’s why he is not interfering with the army,” said another general. A major claimed that he himself was involved in transporting top politicians, during curfew hours, to meetings that drafted the text of the king’s April 24 address to the nation in which he conceded power to the people.

“Despite all this we are still seen by the public as the ones who were bent on suppressing the movement,” he complained. But it’s also true that army personnel opened fired at many places, killing demonstrators, and it was also the army that exercised command under the Unified Command System, wasn’t it?

“If some individual army personnel committed crimes, they should be punished. If the Rayamajhi Commission finds acting army chief Rukmangat Katuwal guilty, even he should be punished,” said the major, adding, “But the whole institution should not be discredited.”

Besides the trust issue, another fundamental problem that army people have with the political parties is, they see politicians as an incompetent lot. That’s why they are not so confident about the present peace process, particularly the negotiations with the rebels. “Maoists are well prepared; they have a plan and strategy for what they want. But the parties and the government are often found in disarray,” said a retired general. But just how competent the army is, is another question altogether.

‘Army for supremacy of people’

KATHMANDU, Aug 23 – Newly appointed acting army chief Rukmangat Katuwal on Wednesday told a parliamentary committee that the Nepali Army (NA) wants to see the supremacy of the people established in the country. Expressing NA’s readiness to extend assistance to the government in every sector, Katuwal further said that the NA is committed to the people.

Katuwal was speaking at a meeting of parliament’s State Affairs Committee Wednesday. The meeting was called to discuss the new army bill tabled in parliament. Today’s discussions were held with army officers and officials from the defense ministry. The committee is currently holding discussions on the bill in the wake of feedback from national and international human rights communities that want to see revisions in it.

According to the human rights community including OHCHR, the bill in its current form does not meet international human rights standards. They have already urged parliament to revise/review some of its provisions. Similarly, Katuwal asked the committee to keep the NA out of politics. He stressed making the Security Council active. In the same discussions, BA Kumar Sharma, chief of the army’s law department, asked the committee to revise the provision in the bill concerning the security council. (source)

36 thoughts on “NEPALI ARMY SERIES-II: Trust yet To Be Nurtured”

  1. Just goes to further prove my point. Good job Mr. Dhakal. It is time the army spoke up since no one is speaking on their behalf, instead of leaving it to hearsay and propoganda from the likes of politicians. It is time people, especially politicans start embracing our army. Communication is the key. Communication is the key to everything. Can the government communicate to the people where in any understanding is the arms management issue mentioned with clarity as per international practice. We are not interested in maoists propoganda, it is time to take the bull by the horns and clarify this arms issue once and for all. There should be no forward movement in all the other stuff without the issue of arms being clarified and acceptable to all concerened – first the people, then the peoples representatives, then the security forces and it would be stupid to ignore our neighbours and benefactors like India,China and donors like the World Bank, ADB etc not to forget the United Nations themselves which we are a member of.
    Otherwise we will have solved all our issues on paper, and then when the time comes to put things in practice, God may have to tell us “You forgot to read the fine print”.

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  2. If Katuwal says in the parliament that Army belongs to the poeple and it has the loyalty to the paople it does not change overnight. He was a dharmaputra of King Mahendra, so his loyalty to the Royal family does not vanish overnight. He has still some close relations up there. he can not be trusted of what he said.

    If some Army officials say that politicians are incmpetent, then it is the story of one incompetent saying another incompetent.I think Army is the most corrupt instituion in the land and incompetent also. Because, at the time of Prazwol it was involved in politics as per the instructions from the palace if one remembers what he said in the Military Academy speech.He was asking for the consensus of all parties to mobilise the army and also asked for the declaration of emergency. Where on earth there would be a declaration of emergency to quash the rebellion ? Where is the need of the all party consensus ? The ruling party orders and the Army should obey. That’s all.

    I wonder why Prazwol is absconding from the country ? Does any body know where he is ? Why nobody asks Rayamajhi Commission to summon him for interrogation ? Prazwol and his wife are the most corrupt persons in Nepal. They should be brought to justice as soon as possible.The Army was politicised and destabalized already during the time of Prazwol.

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  3. Cummon leave this incompetency shit !!

    We have heard Nepal Army stating their false claims many a times.

    Weren’t they the ones who claimed that army can solve Maoist problem in few days………We’ve seen years roll by and we’ve seem how competent Nepalese army is…….well if politicians were incompetent then armed forces could have done something whilst under His Majesty.

    We all are well aware that most of the people join Army not to serve the country or its people but to misuse the facilities under the name of (Royal) Nepal Army.

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  4. Folks,

    If the people of Nepal do achieve (somehow) true democracy and Maoists come into the mainstream government, WHY DO WE STILL NEED THE ARMY.

    I think Nepal should be Fine with a General Police Force and an Armed Police.

    Nepal Army, no matter how big cant match any army in the neighborhood of Nepal.

    Maintaining an Army for a country like Nepal seems to only satisfy resource hungry warmongers at the UN.

    so long

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  5. The army essential for a sovereign country. The maoist were not pushed back by the army but atleast stopped, and without it they will not come to the negotiation table.

    Nepal army is corrupt but is still our best hope to secure the democratic parties are taken seriously by the maoists.

    It will take time for trust and competency to return, for it never existed. And by the way F OFF to all you radical leftists, this is the sign the army and democratic parties are getting together. If maoists keep on breaking the peace agreement its time to break the maoists once and for all. If you are not for Nepali interest they should not be treated Nepali, just like the king.

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  6. Limbu,

    UML a major political force, was founded and funded by King Mahendra. Madhav Nepal’s father was a priest in the household of a Rana. I don’t think Katwal being supported by Mahendra is much to go on. If it is then we should look at the UML with great suspicion. You can’t cry wolf on one and not the other.

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  7. Madhav Nepal”s father being a priest in a Rana house and Katuwal being the Dharmaputra is two different things. Madhav is in politics where as Katuwal is in the army. So do not compare apples with potato.Army and the King is like “nang- mashu”. You could do so many things by the threat of palace in the Army but you can not do anything in politics if your father is a priest in a Rana family. You Mandales never had any simple “Buddhi” so you are called mandales.

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  8. Limbu,

    Waht are you talking about? Politics paves the way for everything else. What do you think the maoists are about? Also forget about individuals, what about an entire governing party, the UML, being funded and founded by King Mahendra? These parties decide not just our defence policy, but out internal policies, foreign policies to name a few. And you are saying – Nepal is in politics and Katuwal in the army? It does not make sense. Katwal stays in office for a maximum of 4 years under the politicians, politcal parties and politicans are there to stay. And what are the minimum criteria to become a leader or senior member of political parties? Are they any?
    Nang masu – you can target one individual, but are ready to brush aside the history of an entire popular party? Whose buddhi should be at trial here?

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  9. Further Limbu,
    Your “buddhi” I’m afraid missed my point. I was trying to tell you that just because King Mahendra helped a poor lad a few decades ago, does not mean he is anti-democratic, just as, just because King Mahendra founded and funded UML, does not make UML a pro-royalist party, and I don’t think you even need a little “buddhi” to figure this out.

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  10. Madhav Nepal became Secretary General of UML not through Rana family connection, I gather. But Katuwal became Chief of the Army only through this link to the Royal family. If you cannot understand these things, you do not know Nepal and its inside stories and I must repeat again that you have a little budhi.

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  11. Limbu,
    You’re still trying your level best to avoid the issue. Forget about Madhav Nepal and his bio, how do you know that Nepal is not where he is with Rana backing? You don’t and nor do I, so drop it. But, what have you to say about Mahendra founding and funding the UML? For people like you this should stir the biggest controversy, much more so than whether Katwal has unflinching royal loyalties or not. As far as individuals are concerned all we can do is ask them but the founding and funding of a party by the King is very well known and what say you of the founding and funding of the biggest party – the Congress by a fellow called Subharna Shumshere Rana? While there is no suspicion as to the beginnings of UML and Cingress there are infact now suspicions that
    the maoists were also supported initially by the palace – more specifically Dipendra. What say you? Just as your’s and people like your allegations against Katwal are based on history and heresay, follow the same path if you must for the others as well. As for me I maintain, that history and background does not make it so. If you cannot understand these things, I’m afraid you do not understand Nepali politics my dear Limbu.

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  12. This limbu thing is a less intelligent version of Kirat. What gives her the right to say the Katwal became the chief of army through royal connection? did not the parliament appoint him as the chief? well, is this thing (limbu) saying that the parliament is still working under king’s instruction as far as the army is concerned? did not the parliament say that it has the power to appoint anyone as chief of army? Limbu, you need to explain what areas of his achievements do you thing is inferior to the other worthy one? I think he is aptly educated, well respected among fellow soldiers and has fulfiled all criteria set to become the chief. You need to decide whether the parliament is currently running the show or not and if it is, you should just give up attacking the monarchy and the army needlessly. If you do notlike something about the army, you criticism should be directed towards the parliament and no one else.

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  13. sl,
    Right on. Limbu, sl is giving you the “inside story”. How many of us know that UML was founded by King Mahendra to oppose the Congress? I also remember in 1999/2000 even some maoists who had quit the movement saying they did so because they found out the stark reality that the palace was funding them via Dhirendra Shah. I think this does make sense as the maoist leaders have admitted that they have met Dhirendra atleast once. Of course, they are not stupid in the current context to say they met him several times and received funding from him as well.

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  14. Limbu,
    If you find Katwal so unworthy, who is your choice for the Chief of the army?
    As for me I think we could do without the likes of Madhav Nepal leading the UML.

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  15. Afterall, what can they do to prove that they are actually on people’s side. Should they go out on the street and shout anti monarchy slogans, jindabad, murdabad and maobad? Should they announce a bandh in protest against the king?

    If we talk about punishments for the corrupt leaders of our democratic past, this limbu would say let us not talk about distant past but then goes on to talk about summuning our distant ex chief of army.

    I think limbu is simply racist and is a member of CPN – UML. this limbu thing has ulterior motives and no understanding of how a system works at all.

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  16. Say I am a potential Chief of Army with all the correct military credentials ,I am a professional and will follow orders from the parliament, but I would also vote for a ceremonial monarchy, do I qualify to be Limbu’s army chief, or is being in any way supportive of monarchy in any form a disqualifier?

    If it is a disqualifier, then do we have to also sit down future army chiefs and any one in the security forces for that matter to find out which way they vote? Is an army chief who supports the Prachanda path more qualified then?
    Or do we leave personal beliefs aside as long as they do their job right and follow orders?

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  17. Limbu,

    I’m afraid Katwal became the Chief of the army through the blesssings of the New Nepal loktantrik government. The King was stripped off all his powers well before Katwal became Chief. What on earth are you going on about?

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  18. Lt Gen Balananda Sharma who is now in some UN mission is the smart guy to take up. There is another guy called Pashmina Gersaab GB Gurung who is third in line.

    Given his “vital” role to suppress the Jana Andolan II? Katuwal should be immediately removed from his post.

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  19. I am really surprised how many bloggers Ajay p Nath has kept to argue for him.He had also groomed some journalists.All these B, CK2 and sl are I suspect, the paid internet surfers and bloggers kept by Ajay P Nath. these people do not under stand even why this Ajay p Nath became Lt. General in the army.

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  20. Hi LIMBU, technically, in my opinion, it is incorrect to say that Katuwal became COAS because of Royal backing as he has been appointed by the SPA. However he would have never risen to his present rank without the blessing of the Palace. After all he was adopted by Mahendra. From what I have read of Katuwal I do not like him. He seems to be the type who will do anything to get ahead in life with no regard for morals and ethics. But such a mentality might ironically benefit democrats as he will readily ditch the Palace just to stay in the SPAs favour.

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  21. LIMBU, it was in last Friday’s issue. It’s in my office office somewhere. I will try to send it via e-mail scan. No promises.

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  22. Further kirat bro,
    What exactly i was saying in the previous post was thet Katuwak reached there upto 2nd man (Lt. Gen.) with the blessing of the Palace.

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  23. Well Limbu,

    All army officials reached top positions with the blessings of the royal family you moron. Like now, it will be the blessing of the SPA. By the way, SPA did send a letter to MR. balananda sharma to return home immediately for the post of COAS, did not they? But he did not come. WHat to do? He said that he would only accept the COAS position if the army is kept under the king. That is why no SPA leaders talk about him anymore. I hope you still remember the SPA sending a letter requesting him to terminate his work with the UN to become the army chief here dont you? well, the sPa was to embarrased to make it public

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  24. Limbu,

    Chase the argument, and stop trying to find solace in trying to attack the debators.

    By the way how do you think the two Generals you mention got to where they are? And do you seriously believe they would not have followed orders from the King as Pyar Jung and Katwal had done last year if they were in their place?
    Infact, let me re phrase that, what the hell do you think these two Generals were doing when the King was at the helm? Sharma was following orders and therefore went for the UN as told and Gurung was also following orders right here in Nepal. All army officers follow orders. If you can point your fingers at the number 2 man during the royal rule then why not the number 3 and 4 and 5 ….. 40….900000?
    I’m afraid Limbu. the best man for the job in the present set up and scenario is Katwal. You’re arguments against him is too vague. The same populist and pro-maoist labelling can be given to the top 40 or more officers in the army today. I have given you my arguments in reference to the UML. Of course you have no answer, as you must silently accept that this is the way it is.

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  25. At least, what I know of Katwal is that he is academically qualified in militaristic descipline: he is an avid reader, unlike other Sahebs.

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  26. you bhote ko chartikala…hare…KIRAT = LIMBU =MATWALI.
    Nepalitimes tero computer ma khuldaina?? Dont act.You are the same person.

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  27. sl,
    yo kirat,limbu bhaneko maobadi hotline ho.24hrs basera maoist ko kura propagate garnalai.Kahile US ma chu bhancha,kahile UK ma re,kahile nepal ma re….Kun company commisar ho bhandena baru.

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  28. ooy mero nepal, thats our unity, BEWARE…..we won’t be manipulated by ur bahunbaad again like our old folks’, we gonna challenge u people…….

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  29. don’t worry bro, this is our own rovolution, fck maoist, fck royalist, n fck u, level us any of them, don’t care, don’t give a shit. but let me tell u this is new revolution this generation of ours has started, we shall glorify it….

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