Tuesday, January 31, 2012

State Of Our Peace War

For a people struggling to hope for the best, peace in pieces looks better than nothing. Still, you are forced to wonder: what exactly is it that we have been collectively seeking?
For the mainstream parties, the peace process was something to hit back at the monarchy with. The Maoists rebels, after a decade-long spree of murder and mayhem to impose Year Zero, went along because their principal external patron shared that sentiment, all the while hedging its bets.
Today, the international community is still anxious to see the integration of the state and former rebel armies as the most compelling evidence of peace. But their original resolve has fizzled. This comes at a time when fewer and fewer ex-fighters seem to consider that as a prerequisite to peace.
The human rights wings of the international community want to see that part of their agenda on the front-burner, something their cousins in the non-state sector are far more incendiary in asserting. Words like justice and reconciliation would have retained their sonorous ring if the truth of it all had not kept shifting so swiftly.
Over half a decade later, a chastened but still bickering Nepali Congress wants the Maoists to prove their commitment to the democratic process, despite the fact that the voters validated those credentials by electing them the largest party. True, that mandate was not eternal. But then there is little else to go on.
Even then, the Nepali Congress wears a far more substantive aura than the UML, which does not seem to know what it wants from the ex-rebels. Yet it cannot resist proclaiming that it is the only party that can drive the nation.
The Indians wanted the Maoists sidelined because they had envisaged the ex-rebels merely as something that would propel the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) protests beyond Ratna Park. The SPA’s subsequent performance fell far short of New Delhi’s expectations, while the ex-rebels’ geopolitical drift proved intolerable.
The mainstream parties may have succeeded in pulling the Maoists to their own level of ordinariness. But they did little to foil the ex-rebels’ overtures to Chinese pragmatism. Beijing, which once helped the palace and the parties in their effort to crush the rebels, today wants the Great Helmsman’s local offspring to head a broad patriotic front. In response, New Delhi is fanning the factional battles within the Maoists.
The Americans want the ex-rebels to maintain equidistance between the regional behemoths and have been extending a lateral hand in all directions. The Europeans, Russians, Japanese, Pakistanis, Arabs are all staking their claims in the emerging dynamics.
The international left is more interested in peddling such pet issues as homosexuality and abortion – not to mention that perfect watermelon, environmentalism – as the defining characteristics of Nepal’s newness over
everything else.
The global right is not only resisting with full force, but the evangelical variant also wants to spread the Good News in such a way that there is no Second Going.
And still we are at a loss. What do Nepalis want?