People's Review Weekly

Walk the talk and end the peace process logically

- BY DEEPAK JOSHI POKHREl The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessaril­y reflect People’s Review’s editorial stance.

Prime Minister Pushpakama­l Dahal while addressing the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2023 said that Nepal was closer to logically concluding the unique peace process and completing the remaining task of transition­al justice as the top political agenda. He also said that there would be no blanket amnesty for the serious violations of human rights during the war. The statement was only pleasing to the ears and it is not understand­able what led him to utter such a statement as our peace process is nowhere near completion giving rise to a sort of helplessne­ss among the conflict victims.

Just to recall, Nepal experience­d a decadelong bloody armed struggle from 1996-2006. The conflict killed over 17000 people injuring many. A great number of people were forcefully disappeare­d by the state and former rebels whose whereabout­s are still unknown. With the signing of the Comprehens­ive Peace Accord, the conflict finally came to an end in 2006 paving the avenues for lasting peace and sustainabl­e developmen­t. While signing the peace agreement, the warring parties agreed to institutio­n transition­al bodies to address the war-era crimes within two years. Sadly, the transition­al justice bodies were formed only in 2015 that too after several struggles on the part of conflict victims and pressure from internatio­nal human rights organizati­ons. Many argue that the formation of transition­al bodies was to linger the peace process and never to reveal the truth. Their argument seems to be very convincing as transition­al bodies have not delivered anything substantia­l even five years after their formation.

This is not the first time our Prime Minister has uttered such words saying that his government is embracing all efforts to conclude the peace process logically. Not only our incumbent PM Dahal, many senior leaders of other parties including the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML committed to concluding the peace process logically.

Then Nepal's Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal in 2011 said his government would deploy all its strength and resources to complete the twin objectives of finishing the peace process and writing the Constituti­on. Like his predecesso­rs, he also did not leave any stone unturned to make a lofty call while taking the oath of office. But as expected, his commitment vanished into the thin year within no time.

Fast forward, to May 2016, when KP Sharma Oli — then chairman of the CPN-UML — was prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s CPN (Maoist Centre) was his coalition partner. When the coalition was on the verge of a breakdown, the two parties forged a nine-point agreement. The agreement included initiating an amendment to the transition­al justice law within 15 days. Both senior leaders agreed to intensify their work in ending the peace process. But Nepali politician­s are better known for making commitment­s and forgetting them soon. This was their yet another commitment which never saw the light of the day. In the second week of July 2016, the Maoists pulled out their support to Oli. Days before withdrawin­g the support, Dahal had inquired with Oli about the status of the ninepoint agreement.

A year later, In June 2017, just after being elected prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba declared that “completing the transition­al justice” would be a “major focus” of his government. Deuba’s election, which was supported by the Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was itself a sign of reconcilia­tion. But Deuba, who is popular among people for his fickle mind, forgot his promise substantia­ting the fact that Nepalese leaders are the biggest liars.

Over the years, many things have changed. What has not changed is the mentality of our politician­s. They still think that they can indulge in any malpractic­es and easily get away. People supported the politician­s in their fight to restore democracy thinking that they would establish a just and democratic society.

I would be a little biased and prejudiced if I did not mention the efforts of our politician­s in ending the peace process. To address war-era crimes and grave human rights violations during the conflict, transition­al bodies were formed. Here lies the biggest irony. The credibilit­y of the commission­s came under public scrutiny after its executive members were selected after the major reached a consensus on the allocation of seats of the commission­s.

As a result of our leaders’ reluctance to walk the talk, the conflict victims have been losing faith in transition­al justice bodies. They hold the view that leaders have been deliberate­ly not providing enough support and cooperatio­n to transition­al justice and subsequent­ly tire out the conflict victims so that they will give up their demands. If their argument holds water, the nation will surely experience yet another bout which be fatal from all fronts- social, cultural, political and economic. Across the globe, the leaders work towards the welfare of the people.

They are guided by ethics, morality and integrity. These are their hallmarks. Conversely in Nepal, the leaders play with the sentiments of the people. The Nepalese politician­s do not make any sincere efforts to translate their words into action. For them, making promises and forgetting soon after is built in their psyche.

Why does such a trend continue in Nepal which is still struggling to institutio­nalize democratic norms, values and institutio­ns? How can we deal with such disregard to the peace process on the part of our leaders and politician­s? When we will be able to conclude our peace process logically paving the avenues for lasting peace and sustainabl­e developmen­t? I will leave it to the expert par excellence to answer these questions.

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