Thursday, March 17, 2011

India’s strategic role in Nepal

March 18, 2011 9:34:11 AM

Ashok K Mehta

Madhav Kumar Nepal, when general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) was invited to Delhi in 2007 by the Ministry of External Affairs as part of its outreach diplomacy. He told a Delhi-based newspaper that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had counselled strengthening unity among democratic forces, adding “you have the Maoists on board now, that’s a big advantage”. Mr Nepal, back as Prime Minister, will ask Mr Singh to help get the Maoists to join his Government.

India’s backing for his Government is crucial to its strategy of buying time to tame the Maoists as it made a colossal error of judgement in writing off the Maoists in the elections to the Constituent Assembly in which they won more seats than the Nepali Congress and CPN(UML) put together. Worse, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan said that India was “used to working with the Nepali Congress”. Their electoral performance was the decisive turning point in the peace process.

Emboldened by their success and confident of leading the Government till the new Constitution was drafted, the Maoists bungled when their charismatic leader, Mr Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Prachanda, egged on by party hardliners, dismissed the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Rukmangad Katwal, who was seen to be blocking the Maoist grand plan of dominating all state institutions, including the Army, by resisting the integration of Maoist combatants with the forces, the only organisation not under its domination. President Ram Baran Yadav restoring the COAS was seen by the Maoists as violation of civilian supremacy and reason for Prachanda to resign. In their book, civilian supremacy is tight party control of the Army, the power flowing from the barrel of the gun.

Prachanda’s plans for a ‘new’ Nepal and a socioeconomic revolution went awry when the Maoists crossed the ‘Lakshman Rekha’. How can they change ‘old’ Nepal into ‘new’ Nepal without first changing themselves, is the common refrain. Sacking Gen Katwal, a monumental miscalculation which cost them the Government, was the second turning point of the peace process, ending the period of consensus. Maoist relations with other political parties, the Army and India are the worst ever.

Shock and insecurity at losing power in the name of civilian supremacy has spilled on to the streets and in the Constituent Assembly. Prachanda has vowed that the Maoists will soon return to lead a new national unity Government. It is against this skewed balance of power where the Maoists, the single largest party, are on the streets instead of in the House, that Mr Nepal is in Delhi.

Mr Nepal’s Government requires India’s demonstrable support for its legitimacy and restoring the peace process. In his book, Raj Lives On — India in Nepal, Sanjay Upadhyaya has observed that no one can rule in Nepal without India’s nod and recognising its legitimate security interests. The Maoists apparently don’t think so. They are advocating ‘Looking Beyond India’, accommodating a more assertive China to balance India. Chinese political, military, economic and diplomatic activities and people-to-people contact in Nepal have increased dramatically during the Maoist interregnum.

Through one of their key military leaders, Barsaman Pun (Ananta), the Maoists have indicated that the present standoff can be resolved only on their terms. He says Mr Yadav’s action restoring the sacked Chief of Army Staff is only part of the problem. The Pun panacea prescribes correction of the President’s action through a debate in the House, a new comprehensive peace agreement followed by a Maoist-led national Government.

The longevity of the Nepal Government is irrelevant to the peace process unless there is improvement in the law and order situation, progress in drafting the Constitution and integrating the armies. The new Government has to demonstrate it can govern better than the inexperienced guerrillas-turned-politicians. The Army Integration Special Committee is stuck over the question of its chairmanship — Prachanda, Maoists say, was replaced by Mr Nepal without consulting them. Constitution-drafting is marking time.

The Maoists are sulking and still cannot be trusted over their commitment to rule of law, multi-party democracy and human rights — in short, they have failed to transform from a guerrilla force into a political outfit. They remain on the US Terrorist Exclusion List and according to former US Ambassador Nancy Powell, the Young Communist League has obstructed Constitution-writing. India, the architect of the historic 2005 Delhi Accord which axed monarchy, is following the US way: Judge the Maoists by their deeds and not words.

Maoist-India relations have plummeted with Prachanda accusing India of installing a puppet regime, even plotting with the US to attack China. High-decibel anti-India sentiment draped in nationalism is being whipped up which is nothing new for Delhi.

Charges of Indian interference and anti-Indianism have to be managed, sometimes ignored.

Clearly, things will get worse before they get better. Mr Nepal cannot perform effectively without the Maoists on board the peace process which is linked with the United Nations Mission in Nepal on its fourth extension, overseeing the integration of armies. India has lost ground in Nepal and Sri Lanka by neglect of the neighbourhood. Given Nepal’s location, it is crucial to the security of the strategic Indo-Gangetic plains. Equally, reaching out to the Maoists and reducing the trust deficit are pivotal.

While Mr Nepal can be lavished with all the political confidence, economic goodies and assurances of cooperation, these will not operationalise the peace process. Nepalis feel India has a moral duty to break the political impasse. The Maoists require to be placated over civilian supremacy — though CPN(UML) leader KP Oli says their civilian supremacy is with YCL — integration, including restoring Prachanda’s chairmanship of AISC, and other inducements. New red lines have to be drawn over Chinese penetration into Nepal and activities of the YCL as part of a new Delhi Accord.

The Maoists have outlined two options: A Prachanda-led Government or revolt, and have discounted a third option. But there is one: Maoists joining the current Government. This requires to be worked out.

A high-level India-Maoist back-channel dialogue addressing issues holding up the peace process is urgently needed. Another mechanism is required to fix a disturbed Madhes which has around 109 armed groups, many of which simply comprise criminals. Mr Nepal must go back reassured that India has Nepal’s core interests at heart while facilitating a restart of the peace process.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wikileaks Reveals: U.S. Intrigue Against Maoists & Nepal Peace Process

Posted by Alastair Reith on March 15, 2011

US Ambassador James F. Moriarty

“A Maoist victory would energize leftist insurgencies and threaten stability in the region. It thus behooves us to continue to do everything possible to block such an outcome.”

by Alastair Reith

Diplomatic cables released today show that former US Ambassador James F. Moriarty was actively trying to destabilise Nepal’s peace process in order to prevent a Maoist rise to power. It reveals a bitter man, utterly convinced that the peace process endorsed by the Maoists in 2006 was a temporary ploy to help them advance their revolutionary agenda… and it shows how determined he was to block that process.

This article looks at just one of the cables released today.

On September 22, 2006, the date of this cable, the monarchy had just been toppled in a massive popular uprising, during which the Maoist revolutionaries and the more mainstream and conservative political parties formed an alliance against the dictatorial King and brought him down together. They did not enter this alliance willingly, but when the King banned those mainstream parties and seized absolute power these conservative politicians were forced to turn to the radical communist movement for help.

A deal was struck – the Maoists and the political parties would fight the King together, and after he fell they would form an Interim Government with equal representation for all parties before holding elections for a Constituent Assembly with a mandate to radically transform Nepal. The Maoists agreed to end their armed struggle, signed Peace Accords in November 2006 and put their army on cease fire, and the conservative parties agreed to open the floodgates and begin the restructuring of Nepali society.

At the time of this cable Nepal was locked in a political stalemate and a political vacuum. The King had been defeated on the streets by his own people, and the Maoists were openly walking the streets of Kathmandu for the first time in over a decade. However, it took almost another year of negotiations before an Interim Government could be formed with Maoist participation. We now know at least part of the story behind why this took as long as it did – US imperialism was interfering in Nepal’s political process to try and prevent the Maoists, the most popular political movement in the country, from being included in a government.

U.S. Fear of a Maoist “Path to Power”

Moriarty begins the secret cable by describing the situation as he sees it. He writes;

“It looks like we’re getting to crunch time here in Nepal… the Maoists appear intent on organizing during the month of October massive public demonstrations designed to pressure the GON into putting the Maoists on the path to power. If the government still refuses to cave, the Maoists, according to a number of pretty good sources, seem ready to move in November to a campaign of urban violence, using the demonstrations as cover.”

As the Maoists entered the peace process (and started open political work in Nepal’s urban areas) some leftist forces internationally claimed that by setting aside the armed struggle they were abandoning the goal of revolution. Now we know that the U.S. officials (at least) saw these events through an opposite lens — and feared that a Maoist “path to power” might emerge from the overthrow of the king, the advances to toward democratic political rights and the political mobilization of the people.

In the five years since these cables were written, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M) has remained committed to the peace process it initiated and continued to push for radical change and a people’s constitution using peaceful mobilization of the people. To the frustration of everyone, this process has been locked in a stalemate, where any significant social change and national progress for the people is prevented by the parliamentary parties. And at each point, as the cables note: the Maoists have threatened to move outside the process, to press forward with popular revolutionary demands.

Ambassador Moriarty goes on to analayse the balance of forces;

“The good news is that the Maoists are doing much of this through bluff. They have relatively little popular support, and they have nowhere near the military capability to take on the government’s security services in an open fight.”

This is a somewhat amusing statement to read in retrospect. At the time of the Constituent Assembly elections, the mainstream media and Western governments were all repeating this view over and over again – the Maoists have little popular support, the success of their revolutionary movement has been gained through intimidation and coercion, etc etc. The constant prediction was that the Maoists would come a distant third behind the UML party and the Nepali Congress. As it turns out, these predictions were wrong. The Maoists quickly proved to be the single most popular party in the country to the shock of all reactionary observers, winning a plurality in the popular elections.

At the same time, there is a significant assessment here of relative military capacity: Part of the reason the Maoists decided to participate in the peace process is their difficulty in taking on the Nepal Army “in an open fight” — and their hope to build political support in new ways for future confrontations.

U.S. Intrigue: “What We Need to Do”

The most important part of the cable is without a doubt a section entitled “What We Need to Do”. In this, Ambassador Moriarty outlines a strategy for the USA to prevent the Maoist revolution from succeeding.

The first step in his counter-revolutionary plan is what he calls “brow-beating”.

Moriarty declares;

“Ultimately, decisions made by Nepalis will determine whether this country goes down the path toward becoming a People’s Republic over the next couple of months. That said, we need to increase the possibility that the leaders here will make the right decisions. I’ve been meeting regularly with the Prime Minister, urging him (so far unsuccessfully) to use the police to enforce law and order and bucking him up to stick to his bottom line of not letting gun-toting Maoists into the government (with greater success so far). We’ve also been pushing the other major parties of the Seven Party alliance to support the Prime Minister on arms management and to push him to use the police against Maoist excesses. I’ve also created a firestorm of controversy by visiting a couple of military bases (as well as a lot of civilians) out West and publicly condemning Maoist violence. Leftist MP’s have called for my expulsion, but at least some of the people here are beginning to debate Maoist intentions.”

Here we have proof that the US ambassador was pushing not only for the Maoists to be excluded from government, but also that he was pushing for the police to be mobilised to crack down on the Maoist movement. Such crude intervention in the internal affairs of Nepal is outrageous — and doubly so because it is clearly for the purpose of suppressing the people and their just demands. Behind the scenes, the U.S. was opposing democratic change in Nepal, and wanting to find political forces that could continue the King’s fascistic repression.

The police are hated in Nepali society – systematically corrupt, routinely violent, they stand accused of torture, rape and assassination. In a country where the state completely neglected the people in the rural areas, the local police station was often the only state presence in the area – no hospitals, no schools, just corrupt thugs protecting the landlords and money lenders. During the People’s War of the 1990s one of the first actions taken during a peasant uprising was to attack and destroy the local police station, and by the early 2000s the police had been entirely driven out of huge swathes of the Nepali countryside. To call for them to move against ‘Maoist excesses’ is a call for a continuation of the government’s wartime brutalities.

Continuing in this aggressive theme, Ambassador Moriarty goes on to urge the US government to prepare another massive arms shipment to Nepal. During the period of the People’s War, the US and other Western nations donated weapons to the Royal Nepal Army, even as stories of its brutality leaked out. It shows how the U.S. quickly came to see the Nepal Army as their most reliable instrument and ally in suppressing the revolutionary movement.

Moriarty writes;

“We need to be prepared for the possibility of a Maoist return to violence in November. The key will be to condemn as quickly as possible Maoist violence, while shipping as quickly as possible some 4,500 more weapons that we have in storage for the Nepali Army. Those weapons would have an immediate tactical impact but more importantly would shore up a government that will be under tremendous pressure to capitulate.”

If a violent and repressive force is willing to obey orders, the U.S. is prepared to give them all the guns they need to crush any attempts by their own people to rise up.

The Maoists are not just agrarian reformers

A particularly fascinating section of the cable is one the ambassador entitles “the Diplomatic Game”, in which he details the different approaches taken by the various foreign powers;

“The diplomacy here is getting complicated. The Europeans are all over the map with respect to recent developments. The Danes and Norwegians (who have some clout here because of their aid programs) are convinced that lasting peace is just about ready to break out and push the GON [Government of Nepal] to be as accommodating as possible. The Brits, in contrast, seem convinced that the Maoists will soon be coming into power and are trying to convince themselves that that might not be so bad. The Chinese seem primarily interested in pushing Tibet issues with the weak, frequently ineffectual GON. The local World Bank rep is so fed up with the corruption in the system that he has become a frequent lunch pal of the Maoist supremo. I’m trying to push back here on some of this, but it would help if the Department could have a serious, high-level discussion with the Brits on Nepal. We might also want to look at a demarche to the Europeans and others (reminding them that the Maoists are not just agrarian reformers and seem to want power rather than peace).”

There appear to have been serious divisions between the Americans and their European counterparts both in terms of their analysis of the situation and their proposals on how to deal with it, and it is interesting to note how much more accurate the predictions of the British and the Scandinavians were compared to those of Moriarty and the Americans.

This paragraph clearly reveals that even as the Maoists were engaging with European governments, even as a genuine peace process was beginning to take shape, the American Embassy was doing everything in its power to sabotage the process and find the ways to crush the Maoists and their popular base — even at the cost of reigniting the civil war.

If Nepal’s peace process does fail and some form of conflict or popular revolt does take place in the future, the fault will not lie with the Maoists. They have demonstrated great patience and compromise within this peace process, making great sacrifices – and what we now know is that from the very beginning the USA was trying to derail this.

Hypocrisy lies heaped upon hypocrisy.

The Role of India

This cable, along with the others released today, also sheds light on the role of India in Nepal. Nepal has long been a defacto colony of India, with its politicians, its economy, its military and countless other aspects of its society under near-total Indian domination. A major demand of the Maoist movement is to change this unequal relationship and forge a new one based on equality, Nepali sovereignty and self-determination. The Maoists have long accused India of interfering in Nepal’s political process, and specifically attempting to undermine and sabotage the Maoists. It’s an open secret, but one with very little evidence… until now.

Our site will analyse the other cables soon, which deal in much greater detail with India’s role in stalling the peace process.

For now, we have this excerpt from Moriarty’s cable, in which he reveals the Indian ambassador’s role in preventing the timely formation of an Interim Government and in pushing for a return to police violence;

“From my perspective, we need to do more to keep the Indians in lock-step with us. I coordinate closely with my Indian counterpart here and in private he pushes the exact same message I do: that the police need to enforce law and order and that the GON should not let armed Maoists into an interim government.”

Ambassador Moriarty finishes his cable with a warning. It is, ironically, a statement that this site and the people involved in it fully support and endorse! As popular rebellions and communist insurgencies explode out of an ocean of discontent in South Asia, it is quite understandable that the ruling elites across the world feel concerned and nervous about what a communist revolution in Nepal would lead to. This was weighing on Moriarty’s mind in 2006 as it still surely weighs on the mind of his successor. He declares;

“A Maoist victory would energize leftist insurgencies and threaten stability in the region. It thus behooves us to continue to do everything possible to block such an outcome.”

A Maoist victory would do all of this an more.

In a period of capitalist economic crisis, with falling living standards, rising prices, imperialist war and restriction of civil liberties a reality across the globe, a liberated Nepal entering a process of radical social transformation would be a beacon of hope in the darkness. And in 2011, as the people take to the streets across Africa and the Middle East, all of a sudden the word ‘revolution’ does not seem outdated and idealistic, but modern, concrete, immediate and real. A Maoist victory in Nepal will send shockwaves across the entire globe, and ‘threaten stability’ for the ruling elite in more than just South Asia. However hard the US Embassy tries, it can do nothing to change that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

India strikes again in Nepal, RAW contract killer shoots, injures Yunus Ansari


KATHMANDU, March 10: In a major breach of security at the country´s largest jail, an Indian man entered with a firearm and shot Yunus Ansari, the controversial 41-year-old media magnate who is in jail on fake currency and drugs charges, on Thursday.

Jasjeet Singh, 42, a self-proclaimed contract killer from Lucknow, India, fired twice with his revolver at point blank range on meeting Ansari at the visitor´s lounge of the Central Jail. One bullet hit Ansari.

Ansari was injured in the left arm and is out of danger after undergoing immediate surgery at Norvic Hospital. Dramatic intervention by security guards prevented further injury.

The incident

Jasajeet Singh entered the Central Jail at around 11:30 a.m., purportedly to meet Charles Sobhraj, the notorious criminal who has been confined to the golghar (special cell with muliple restrictions).

As Singh made his way into the visiting lounge, Ansari was just about to part from his brother Amin Ansari and the latter´s wife. Investigative officials said that Singh fired at Ansari on seeing him, all in a flash.

Singh´s first shot missed. As he was aiming the second shot, a security guard, Bir Bahadur, who was standing with Ansari across the iron bar partition of the visiting room promptly pushed Ansari aside to save him while anther cop, Parmod Chaurasiya, struck Singh´s hand to foil him.

"The second bullet could have struck Ansari´s head but for the timely blow to the hand holding the revolver," said officials.

Cops took Singh under control after a brief struggle.
Ansari was rushed to Norvic Hospital at Thapathali where he was operated on for half-an-hour to extract the bullet.

Month-long plan

According to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner´s Office (MPCO), which contacted media a few hours after the incident, Singh had arrived in Kathmandu on February 5 to execute a contract killing for Indian Rs 1.5 million, in a deal with two Indian nationals Suresh Dwivedi and Ramu Dwivedi, both from Lucknow. He had already received half the contract money and was to get the rest on completion of the mission.

The Dwivedi duo had met Singh at Kalanki and lodged him in a rented flat at Bode, Bhaktapur. During the past 35 days, Singh visited the Central Jail regularly to study Ansari´s movements.

Singh has stated during preliminary interrogations that he would meet only Shovraj when he visited the jail.

Singh has claimed to be a professional contract killer and to have shot five individuals in India in the past, killing two and injuring three.

Officials said that Singh hid his revolver in his groin to elude the security check at the jail entrance. The brawny, arrogant-looking gunman had pulled out his revolver through a hole in the pocket of his long jacket.

According to investigating officials, Singh did not show any remorse during interrogations. "He rather looked happy to be made public through media as he thought his own life was now not under threat in custody," officials said.

"I took up this mission because I was told that I would not be killed by police even after being arrested and would be released soon because of Nepal´s poor legal system," officials quoted him as saying.

Probe panels

In the wake of the incident worthy of becoming a prestige issue for the government, Nepal Police has formed two separate panels headed by Additional Inspector General (AIG) Rabindra Pratap Shah and SSP Hemanta Malla, chief of Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCO), respectively.

Meanwhile, Nepal Police has suspended Sub-inspector Laxman Bhandari and two constables--Manoj Karki and Tilak Ram Chaudhary--as immediate departmental action in connection with the incident.

“We are in the initial phase of investigations that show utter negligence on the part of the security officials concerned. This is not a security lapse as such,” said AIG Arjun Jung Shahi, MPCO chief.

Ansari family´s outcry

Salim Miya Ansari, father of Yunus Ansari and a former minister, has publicly alleged that the Indian intelligence organization RAW carried out this attack in a plan to "finish off a promising Muslim youth". He told reporters at the premises of Norvic Hospital that his family had not been allowed to meet Yunus for a month. “We were not even allowed to meet him while a gunman could freely enter and shoot him,” he said.

“Yunus had told me that he was under threat. He informed the authorities, who did not pay any attention,” Salim said and even alleged that Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rajendra Singh Bhandari also assisted RAW in carrying out the attack.

Mystery intensifies

The incident has taken place a year after Ansari told the police in the wake of Jamim Shah´s murder that he would have been murdered instead had he not been arrested on fake currency and drugs charges.

Ansari was arrested on January 2010 for allegedly trading in fake Indian currency notes and brown sugar in collusion with two Pakistani nationals. He has been serving time in judicial custody.

Police sources, meanwhile, said that investigations might bring to light the possible link of this incident to the Jamim Shah murder. Nepal Police has concluded that Bablu Srivastav, an Indian underworld kingpin who has been in a Lunknow jail for a few years, had ordered one Deepak Shahi alias Babbu Chhetri to kill Shah. Shah was shot dead in the capital in broad daylight.

Though Singh has said that he only met Shovraj while spying on Ansari´s movements, some jail sources have informed that he would meet other Indian criminals in the Central jail. But this is not corroborated by investigative officials.