Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Extradition Embolism & Maoist Motives

Deferring to Maoist wishes, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula has called off his visit to India.
All those non-Nepali-speaking Muslims we are told the country is rife with may now loosen up a bit.
The absence of the government’s point man on the peace process on the eve of the rescheduled “summit” with the rebels would have undermined the state’s commitment. Rushing to New Delhi to sign a controversial extradition treaty would have been a bald-faced display of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) government’s real priorities.
Maoist leader Prachanda has burnished his credentials as a pragmatist, although it’s highly doubtful that this was his primary purpose. Self-preservation sounds better as a motive.
Two senior Maoist leaders – C.P. Gajurel and Mohan Baidya -- remain imprisoned in India. Countless others remain incarcerated, some for crossing into India for medical treatment after being injured in clashes with the Nepalese security forces.
The SPA government may have withdrawn the terrorist tag and red-corner notices on the rebel leaders. The Indian government is not bound by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s version of national reconciliation. Especially not after Nepalese Maoists, despite their peace protestations within the country, joined regional allies in vowing to create a “flaming field” across South Asia.
Gajurel and Baidya are being held for alleged offenses on Indian soil. The more obscure Maoist functionaries may be extraditable, but, then, why would the Koirala government want them?
Prachanda, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Krishna Bahadur Mahara and the rest of the leadership can slip into India at will. New Delhi can feign ignorance, as it always has, citing the cross-border fraternity of these adherents of the Great Helmsman.
Even if New Delhi seized senior Nepalese rebels and foisted them on Kathmandu, they would get a free crash course in transnational jurisprudence as well as a free ride to freedom back home.
What must be bothering Prachanda and his cronies are the India-specific alleged offenses they might have committed during the past decade. Training Indian allies to break jails in Bihar and almost kill a former chief minister in Andhra Pradesh? Selling arms seized from the Nepalese military and police to an assortment of militants in India? Exporting Yarchagumba to third countries with scant regard to Nepal’s landlocked status and its international obligations to the transit country?
Since Dr. Bhattarai has formally thanked India for its role in forging the Maoists’ 12-point accord with the SPA last November, the rebel leadership has probably reconciled itself to the eventual conclusion of that stringent extradition accord. Maybe the Maoists just want to make sure they get into the government as an indemnity against extradition. Or, better still, maybe Mahara aspires to sign the accord as Nepal’s home minister.