Dogs and a Piece of Bone

By Dinesh Wagle

This is a typical third world story, the story of poverty and frustration and greed and anger and feud. For poor and deprived, every opportunity however small that may be, comes as an equivalent to the piece of bone for hungry stray dogs. Those people fight like those dogs. I am talking about the current feud among political parties and leaders regarding the representation of Nepal in the SAARC summit in Sri Lanka this week. As Kathmandu Post news editor Ameet Dhakal argues in the article below, the whole issue is such a trivial that it doesn’t really deserve the attention and time that it is getting from the so called big, powerful and influential leaders of this country.

Not that I am FOR Prime Minister Koirala’s participation in the summit because I like him but I am also not AGAINST the participation of Nepal in the summit because the absence of Nepal will result in the postponement of the summit itself. And this feud and personal clash between Koirala and Pushpa Dahal doesn’t qualify to be the reason for the postponement of the summit. But this is the question I want to ask: What if, for example, Nepal suddenly comes under attack now? Won’t we fight under the leadership of THE CURRENT Prime Minister regardless of his status- caretaker or not? Will Pushpa Dahal and company argue, in such situation, that we should fight until he is appointed the PM? The other day

Pushpa Dahal demonstrated how low he can go to fulfill his personal wish by holding talks with the Sri Lankan envoy in Kathmandu. This so called nationalistic leader openly discussing the internal politics of our country with a foreign ambassador is a national shame. But then this is not really new because he and many others are doing the same with Indians or Americans as well. Anyway I guess seeing Nepali leaders fighting in the name of participation in the SAARC those stray dogs might be feeling that they are far better than Nepali political leaders.

Much ado about trivial issue

By Ameet Dhakal

The front page picture published in Kantipur, [yesterday] says it all. It’s a picture of a welcome gate in Colombo, Sri Lanka, the venue of the 15th Saarc summit, which has on it photos of the visiting leaders of Saarc countries. One of the photos is that of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. The day the picture was taken in Colombo, Maoists leaders here were meeting Sri Lanka’s envoy in Kathmandu to explore if and how they could stop Koirala from attending the summit. The envoy was understandably nervous. For it would mean postponement of the summit itself.

This afternoon the Maoists and the UML jointly conveyed to Prime Minister Koirala that he should stay back and send President Dr Ram Baran Yadav instead to Colombo. If he doesn’t budge there would be a resolution at the CA barring his visit, they warned.

The Maoist leaders have argued that Koirala as a caretaker prime minister cannot take major decisions at the Summit. That’s why he shouldn’t go to Colombo at all.

How much water does this argument hold? The Saarc summit, after all, is a biannual jamboree of regional leaders that makes for a great photo-op. Its significance, beyond that, is questionable. Look, for example, at the major agenda for the Colombo Summit. The top leaders are scheduled to endorse agreements on the South Asian Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) and the Saarc Development Fund (SDF). SAPTA has been under negotiation and evolution for over a decade. The modalities for SPATA and SDF negotiations are a long and complex. The proposals go through experts’ groups and joint secretary level meetings before they finally makes it to the Standing Committee meetings (at secretary level) and the meetings of the council of ministers (foreign minister level).

Whether Koirala attends the summit now or Puspa Kamal Dahal attends a postponed summit later on, it’s the same agreement, prepared through a protracted process, that one of them is going to sign.

If there is anything that Koirala might do besides signing this prepared deal, it will be to meet briefly with the regional leaders on the sidelines of the summit. What will he say to them? Maybe say some good-byes. Maybe complain to Indian Prime Minister, Dr Man Mohan Singh, that he didn’t receive from India the kind of cooperation that he had wished for at the fag-end of his political career. Maybe.

But his good-bye meetings with regional leaders will have no bearing on the future politics of Nepal.

Why then such a big fuss about Koirala’s Colombo visit, which is, after all, such a trivial issue? The answer: It’s purely personal. It’s the Maoists’ resentment against Koirala, exacerbated by their unsuccessful bid for the presidency and failure to form a government. Koirala may have his own interests, to continue his government or get himself re-elected as prime minister, but the Maoists should also share the blame for the delay in government formation.

If they had not derided the other political parties after the CA election and had sincerely reached out for support, there would already be a Maoist-led government in place by now. And never forget that the Maoists, like everyone else, knew the Saarc Summit dates well in advance.

Trying to stop Koirala would be misplaced priority. Why not try to form a government by Wednesday and dispatch Puspa Kamal Dahal by chartered jet to Sri Lanka?

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