Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nepal: Deepening crisis

Nepal: Deepening crisis

Kathmandu: Many would not believe that the political parties and the Maoists led government are just combating a proxy war, as it is by all means, as regards the sacking of the Nepal Army Chief Rukmangad Katwal and some friends near and far or even in the neighborhood are encouraging the two sides to pounce upon each other.

The fact is that the issue of sacking of Army Chief is not at all a fight in between the Nepalese and for the Nepalese but instead some countries that have a strong bet in this country, in the name of democracy or otherwise, are making the Nepalese to fight with each other.

Perhaps, analysts presume, by this time the academicians and the intellectuals may have understood as to what the analysts here want to hint at.

The National Army was primarily considered by the Maoists as an enemy of the highest order because of the presence of this mainstream army, the Maoists while in the Rolpa jungles more so in New Delhi could not capture the State then ruled by the monarch.

When the Maoists came to power through the means of ballots, the ex-rebels concluded that till this National Army remained under the grip of Rokmangad Katwal they can neither capture the State nor take the country as per their dogmatic whim which is the declaration of the country from a republican order to a People’s Republic.

The war thus in between the National Army-read Katwal-and the Maoists took a different shape and turn when the ex-rebels legitimately assumed power last August 2008.

The biggest hurdle was Katwal who knew in advance that the Maoists possess ulterior motives and that their intent was not genuine as regards the institutionalization of the democratic order and thus he became the real target.

But should that mean Katwal is a democrat of the highest order as many interpret?

Interestingly, when the King was being sidelined, not even a single word of sympathy came from any quarters, both domestic and international, but when the Army Chief is being sacked (not yet sacked at time of writing but the likelihood remains) by the government, it appears that the whole world, save China in the North, is siding with and having words of sympathies with the incumbent Army Chief? After all what makes him so my dear for the international community? Also to be noted is the “love and honor” being exhibited by domestic political parties in Katwal’s favor the reasons of which must be investigated? Clearly, the Maoists in power must dig the truth.

The international community was so horrified that the Kathmandu based residential Ambassadors went en masse to see the Prime Minister on April 23, 2009 morning and sought the latter’s inner views as regards the sacking saga.

On April 20, 2009, the Maoists led government sought some clarifications from the Army Chief and allowed him only twenty four hours time to respond and to make his position clear.

On April 21, 2009, the Army Chief responded on time but remained adamant wherein he strongly claimed that he did not make any crime that demanded penal actions as interpreted by the ruling elites in Singh Durbar. It was tentatively a rough and tough response from Army Chief which clearly indicated that by that time he have had already garnered enough support, both domestic and international and above all that from the Indian establishment-the fate writer of Nepal and the winner.

The government was astonished upon reading the response provided by Katwal and in order to save face it constructed a pretty new scheme under which it was mentioned that the response of the Army Chief was being distributed among the coalition partners for their in-depth study and that only after such a study the process of sacking or not will be initiated. It was just a time buying exercise.

Though the ministers in government had been ventilating their views that since the response were not up to the mark and thus the Army Chief will be sacked in a day or two.

Interestingly, when the residential envoys met the Prime Minister and expressed their reservations as regards the Army Chief sacking issue, Prachanda began talking here and there that foreign meddling was at its zenith.

Enters the Indian Ambassador Sood in the scene.

Ambassador Sood on April 23, 2009, met the Nepal PM twice at his official residence and that too uninvited, a regular phenomenon for the Indian clerks posted here, wherein he is presumed to have “threatened” the Nepal PM that if the latter exceeded his stipulated limits as Prime Minister of Nepal, the Indian establishment will make redundant the most infamous 12 point New Delhi engineered agreement that was signed in New Delhi on November 22, 2009.

In fact if the Indian establishment pulls out its recognition from the 12 point agreement then the entire Nepali politics will catapult automatically simply because the said agreement was signed in the presence of some key South Block officials who wanted to teach a lesson to the nepali monarch then for his excessive leaning towards China-the real bete noir of India.

The no recognition of the 12 point agreement would mean the revival of the now sidelined monarchy.

Comrade Prachanda remained undeterred and a some what irritated and pretty annoyed Indian Ambassador Sood rushed to the Kathmandu airport on April 23, 2009, to brief his masters and the movers and shakers of Nepali politics who reside in New Delhi.

In the mean time, the UML leader Mr. Jhal Nath Khanal who had already returned Kathmandu cutting short his China trip received a threat loaded phone call from the incumbent Indian Foreign Secretary Shiva Shanker Menon who “ordered” Khanal not to tease the National Army Chief any more or else Nepali politics will be made upside down.

Khanal, though close to China have had to tone down his voice to the extent that he now says that “on such a grave issue, the political parties must be taken into confidence”.

In fact, Khanal from his inner heart wants the removal of Katwal and prefers to see his long time class friend Kul Bahadur Khadka in Katwal’s Chair.

Khadka and Khanal studied Intermediate of Science at the Amrit Science College in the early seventies.

While the Army-Government standoff was still on, a sort of panic gripped Kathmandu and the rumors spread like wild fire that the Army might stage a “soft coup d’etat” much similar to what was described as a Bangladeshi model and later fix the Maoists.

However, that was not forthcoming but the likelihood remains intact.

By then Indian Ambassador had already returned from Delhi (Sood came Kathmandu on 25, 2009) equipped with the needed and the required instructions for Nepal PM Dahal.

Sood on Sunday, April 26, 2009, rushed to see Nepal PM Dahal almost in a dress that one normally wears in his or her private chamber, and “told” Prachanda all what he was instructed to tell by his New Delhi masters.

“He told what he had to, we listened to his remarks but we are here to make decisions on our own and will not be influenced by any remarks that goes contra to our line of considerations”, said Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai who was also in the meet when Sood was talking to Nepal PM Dahal.

Later in the afternoon, April 26, 2009, the Nepal Prime Minister made it clear to the President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav that “My government has already decided to sack Army Chief Katwal come what may”.

Dr. Yadav suggested PM Dahal to take into confidence all the political parties prior to taking such a grave decision.

The Maoists supremo remains undeterred as of now.

Reliable sources housed in the Maoist quarters have said this paper that Prime Minister Dahal is under tremendous pressure from the party’s rank and file and encouraging Dahal to sack Katwal or quit from the government.

It is this excessive party pressure that perhaps has forced the Prime Minister Dahal to sack Katwal at the earliest.

Now let’s have a look at the legal side of such a sacking if that happens.

Firstly, the government can sack the Army chief but that has to be formally approved by the President who is the Supreme Commander of the Army as per the constitution now in force.

Secondly, the government as and when sacks the Army chief must get necessary legal sanction from the Supreme Commander that is Dr. Yadav.

Thirdly, the President who is also the Supreme Commander of the Army may tell the government that he be allowed some time to consult the legal practitioners.

The fact is that if the President demands time then the government can’t force him to approve the sacking order in a haste.

Fourthly, the Supreme Commander or say the President of the country may linger the “consultation” period to the extent that by time the President arrives at a decision, the tenure of Katwal in office will have come to an end.

Katwal is retiring this early July. The rule is that prior to the retirement date, one is told to take a month leave and then retire. This means that Katwal may go on leave, as per the practice in the Army, well within sixty days from now or not even that.

Fifthly, if this does happen and the President dilly-dallied the entire approach of the government then unfortunately, the tenure in office of Kul Bahadur Khadka whom the Maoists prefer to see in Katwal’s Chair too would have come to an end.

Khadka too is retiring soon in case he is not posted on time. For Khadka to replace Katwal, the former must be appointed as the next army chief at the earliest.

Sixthly, the time consuming practice by all means will continue to create panic among the population until the case is finalized. The panic is already there.

Seventhly, the situation though appears calm outwardly, the chances of a coup d’etat of any model remains intact.

By and large, the Katwal issue must have become a headache for the Maoists.

Eighthly, for example, if the President is excessively forced or say pressed hard to provide legal sanction to Katwal’s sacking then what is also for sure is that the President deserved the legal rights to suspend this government and declare an emergency.

Thus the population is in between fear and fire. The panic is there. The proxy war is on. Just guess which country is extending its support to the Maoists and which were against the Maoists? This will provide the required answers.

However, what is for sure is that if the Maoists sack the Nepal Army Chief Katwal, the Indian establishment will instantly retaliate. But in what form perhaps former King Gyanendra knows it better.

2009-04-29 06:36:32

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