4. Army Integration: History
There has been intense discussion on integration of PLA members into national army in Nepal. The Army’s integration is the more complex phenomenon in post-conflict like Nepal through peaceful political negotiation. Argument and counterargument has appeared on army integration in the political scenario in Nepal and that has surfaced, unfolding several complexities in the process.
However, integration of the Nepal Army and Maoists Army into the National Army is not a firsthand experience in Nepalese history.
On April 10, 1951, ten thousand Janamukti Sena (People’s Liberation Army) – the former combatants of the Nepali Congress – were unanimously converted into Rakshyadal (Defense Force) recognizing them as a Para-Military Force (similar to Armed Police Force) of the nation by the then coalition Government led by Mohan Shumshar Janga Bahadur Rana. The Rakshyadal was headed by the then Nation Army colonel Nod Bikram Shah who again integrated some other army personnel into that force. The intention behind the integration was to bring them under the conventional army. Considering the role of the Janamukti Sena in 1950 movement, Matrika Prasad Koirala united them again in the name of Rakshyadal and Gyan Bahadur Subba Yakthumba (appointed earlier the Badahakim – Chief Officer for Ilam, Eastern Nepal) was made its commander23. The government reintegrated some personnel of Rakshyadal into the Nepal Police and Subba was made DIG and later IGP during the Prime Ministership of Matrika Prasad Koirala. D.B. Lama – one of the members of Janamukti Sena, became the IGP during the last phase of the Panchayat era. The remaining Rakshyadal force was finally transformed into Home Guard Brigade (HGB) and then Bardabahadur Batallion in 1960.
5. Army Integration: Current Debates
The current debate on the integration of the PLA into the National Army has given birth to various schools of thoughts which can be categorized into three; complete, none, and partial25 on the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoists armies into the national army. The first notion here is forwarded by the Maoists; the largest party after the CA election 2006. They urge for the integration of the “Peoples Liberation Army”, converting both Nepal Army (formally the Royal Nepal Army) and the Maoists Army into a National Army. The second school of thought is led by the Nepali Congress, the oldest political party and one of the most influential parties in CPA. It seems reluctant to integrate fully, because of the political indoctrination of the PLA. Furthermore, the Nepali Congress party has been reluctant to accept any sort of security reform despite ostensibly agreeing to it in the previous CPA.26 The Nepali Congress has become skeptical, opining that to integrate the Maoist-affiliated People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal army is to politicize it and it is only a Maoist tactic to include their indoctrinated Maoists combatants; which will ultimately harm the professionalism of the national army and politicize it. In spite of denying integration of PLA into Nepal Army, Nepali congress has agreed to the democratization of the Nepal Army. Several rightist political parties such as Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal) advocate a position on integration similar
to that of the Nepali Congress.
Some regional parties such as Madesh Janadhikar Forum (MJF) and Tarai- Madhes Loktantric Party (TMLP) have continually stated that there should be no integration into the army but only integration in society and management of the Maoist army. The Third school of thought is led by the United Marxist Leninist (UML).27 It splits the difference between the other two. It has denounced both extreme views and put forward its concept of partial PLA integration into the National Army.
In addition to the above, the regional parties demand that at least 10,000 Madhesis should be deployed to the national force so as to give it a national shape and make it inclusive28.
Integration of the Maoist Army into the Nepal Army (NA) is one of the foremost challenges of the peace process of Nepal. Except from the political disagreement; there are other genuine technical (academic) problems of integration of these armies into the Nepal Army, in the sense that armies require professional standards such as minimum academic qualifications. The Nepal Army continuously expresses views that the lack of conventional training of Maoist armies would have a grave effect on its professional standards. Opposing its statement, Nanda Kishor Pun (alias Pasang), chief of the Maoist army, said, “We may fail if we are examined by the Nepal army in terms of the existing standard of traditional norms; and they may fail if we examine them.”
The Maoists argue that soldiers should possess military skills rather than academic qualifications, and are claiming equal positions in all rank and files of the NA. The Maoists’ insistence on military skills and not education as the criterion is likely to create problems, especially when it comes to promotions. This will be especially problematic while integrating mid level officers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Treating academically under-qualified ‘commanders’ of the PLA on par with well-trained officers of the NA could create resentment among existing NA officers. Since the NA and PLA have different doctrines, organizational structures, and widely divergent political backgrounds, integration is likely to be a tortuous process.
The integration process is made further problematic by the interests of international power centers. Nepal has a strategic location, suited between the giant nations China and India, and other powerful nations’ interests also play a crucial role in the integration process. The integration is also seen as major challenge to Political consensus, as none of the political parties, except the Maoists has favored the full integration of the PLA into the National Army.