Weapons or Wellbeing?

Weapons or Wellbeing?

Asia can boost security through more social spending

Although East Asia is recovering from the economic crisis, which pushed millions of families to the brink of poverty and many over into it, it is still far from clear how the dividends of the upturn will be allocated. Will governments increase funding for the basic social service programs so sorely needed to assist the children and families that have suffered the most from the consequences of the Crisis, and by doing so build on the social and economic successes of recent decades? Or will the beneficiaries be the weapons makers and the military that have laid claim to a large and growing share of government expenditures?

The socio-economic success of many East Asian countries before the Crisis is well known, but that this prosperity brought with it some of the highest levels of military spending in the world is not. Between 1988 and 1998, as global military expenditures fell by 35%, those in East Asia and the Pacific actually increased by 38%. (South Asia increased its military spending by 25%.) The figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute: military expenditures declined worldwide from $1.066 trillion in 1988 to $696 billion in 1998. But in Asia, they climbed from $95 billion to $130 billion.

Japan, China and the Koreas have accounted for the majority of the region’s military spending during the past decade, while the arms race between India and Pakistan has swelled South Asia’s military budgets. Less visibly, military expenditures in ASEAN countries increased by 52% in real terms between 1988 and 1997. This increase, greater in both absolute and percentage terms than that of any other region, occurred as the world as a whole cut military spending by more than one-third.

This high level of military spending was somewhat curtailed by the Crisis, which resulted in overall reductions in government expenditures as well as currency depreciation that made some arms imports prohibitively expensive. Still, the institute noted that even though the strong growth in Asian military expenditures slowed, these “have still not started to decline even in East Asia, which was most affected by the Crisis. While the volume of arms procurement has been scaled down significantly due to the reduced purchasing power of [these governments’] currencies . . . the domestic burden of the military expenditure is not declining.”

The resilience in military expenditures should be a cause for concern to us all since so many human development challenges still need to be addressed in Asia, home to the world’s largest concentrations of poverty, illiteracy and preventable child deaths. As Asian countries earmark new funds for these pressing concerns, there will be strong pressure from other sectors, including the military, for increases. To ensure that a significant share goes to basic social services, the “security” of nations needs to be recognized as more than an ability to defend borders and control internal strife. It also must be seen in terms of guaranteeing “human security” through providing adequate health and education for children and their families, the protection of the environment and continued economic prosperity.

Some Asian countries that have real or perceived security threats may protest that it is difficult to make reductions in military budgets. But it is clear that many of their weapons and strategies designated for “defense” are increasingly irrelevant to the real underlying instabilities and dangers facing their people. Major battles have yet to be waged against deadly foes such as HIV/AIDS and the resurgent threats of old enemies like tuberculosis and malaria. There is also a need for a stronger focus on the dangers that affect people in their everyday lives – hunger, illness, illiteracy, joblessness and crime.

Even a small percentage reduction in the tens of billions of dollars spent yearly on military programs in the region could free the resources needed for this battle. In most countries, ensuring all children improved access to basic services would require millions – not billions – of dollars. Initiatives such as the “20/20 compact,” which calls upon donors and developing countries to ensure that 20% of their development and aid budgets go to social services, could be adequate to meet the basic needs of all children and vulnerable groups.

Every Asian country has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and committed themselves to undertake measures to fulfill the right to survival, protection and development of their children “to the maximum extent of their available resources.” Curtailing growth in military expenditure in favor of funding basic social services would be a practical demonstration of this commitment.

Recently, all the Nobel Peace laureates appealed to U.N. states to promote a culture of non-violence and peace for children in the new millennium. ASEAN, APEC and South Asia’s SAARC were founded to promote peace and prosperity, and their members can best guarantee this by redirecting public funds toward unmet social needs and leading a renewed battle against poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy. Surely, winning this battle would be the most important triumph for any nation, and would help ensure a lasting peace for the region’s children.

(Kul C. Gautam is the Bangkok-based regional director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for East Asia and Pacific)

Source: www.asiaweek.com

UN does not have any magic formula

UN does not have any magic formula

By Kul Chandra Gautam, Assistant Secretary General, UN

There is much poverty, injustice, inequality and feudalism in Nepal. We would all like to see these evils end. But none of these justify the violence and vitriol, murder and mayhem, the destruction of infrastructure and the consequent militarization of our society. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Even noble ends do not justify evil means.

I worry deeply about the long-term consequences of the culture of violence and intimidation that is being glorified in the name of people’s revolution, and the counter measures that it is provoking. Even after the conflict ends and peace is restored, it will take years, perhaps decades, for our nation to heal its wounds. People will not easily forgive and forget the killing of innocents. We will be able to rebuild the infrastructure that has been destroyed, but it will be harder to overcome the hurt, the distrust and resentment that have been instilled in people’s hearts and psyche. History will judge our revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries very harshly indeed.

So we must do everything possible to end this fratricidal conflict in which even the victors will be losers and all Nepalis have become victims. Since we are dealing with an internal ideological conflict among the Nepalis, ideally it should be resolved by the Nepalis themselves. Ultimately the solutions to Nepal’s problems must be found right here in Nepal, not in New York or New Delhi or Norway or anywhere else.

However, if we Nepalis are not able to resolve the conflict by ourselves, for whatever reason, we should not hesitate to call upon our international friends and well-wishers for advice and support. After all, we habitually solicit and accept international assistance for all kinds of internal development issues, including the fight against poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and even to control corruption and promote good governance. How is it that it is okay to accept external military aid for guns, ammunition and combat helicopters in an internal conflict, but it is not okay to accept external assistance for making peace? So long as the external support is not imposed, but voluntarily solicited by Nepal, and accepted by both parties to the conflict, such support should be welcomed by everybody.

I have heard some Nepali leaders say that Nepal’s situation has not become bad enough to warrant any international involvement. Well, my friends, I hope we will have the wisdom to seek international support long before the situation further deteriorates and becomes a real or perceived threat to international peace and security, at which time we may very well have some unsolicited international intervention as has happened in several countries in our own region and beyond in recent decades. I hope Nepal will learn from the experience of many “failed states” and others in conflict that invoke the logic of “it is an internal affair” to avoid friendly external support until it is too late, the situation gets out of control and then some form of external intervention becomes inevitable. Wouldn’t it be better for Nepal to voluntarily seek support for making peace before the country becomes a completely lawless wasteland, rather than face the consequences of a possible unsolicited intervention later? All of this is not to say that international support will necessarily produce peace. There is no magic formula that the international community can bring to peace talks. Ultimately it has to be the Nepalis themselves who must find enough common ground in their conflicting vision of a better Nepal. What the international community can bring is some professionalism, expertise and a dispassionate role of an honest broker, facilitator, guarantor or simply a witness that might be helpful to the Nepali negotiators.

I want to emphasize the importance of “the good offices” function of the Secretary-General. This is especially helpful in sensitive negotiations, where the parties to the conflict wish to engage in discreet dialogue, to explore various options both in terms of processes and substance. The offer of his “good offices” is inherent in the Secretary-General’s role as the world’s premier peacemaker. It does not require any formal UN resolution or official request. All it requires is the willingness of the parties to the conflict to avail of such “good offices” and the goodwill – not a formal agreement – of other key stakeholders. Many parties to the conflict in the world have used the Secretary-General’s “good offices” to come to initial agreements, which are later formalized through peace agreements or through appropriate UN resolutions. Agreeing to the Secretary-General’s good offices does not necessarily imply accepting the UN as a mediator, but only as a facilitator. This role can be as broad or as limited as the parties to the conflict desire, and, obviously, depending also on the availability of resources at the disposal of the Secretary-General.

Although the conflict in Nepal is most painful to us, it is not a high profile or a high priority for the UN yet. So let us not assume that Nepal will easily get high-level attention, if the Nepalis themselves are ambivalent about the UN’s role. We will need to compete for such attention with other crises in the world that command greater media attention and greater strategic interest of the world’s big powers. As part of the Secretary-General’s “good offices” function, a senior official of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, and a good friend of mine, has been visiting Nepal from time to time to assess the situation, and to explore how the UN might be able to help.

As you know, the official position of the Government has consistently been that while they appreciate the UN’s interest and concern, they would prefer to resolve the conflict by negotiations among the Nepali parties without involvement of any third party, including the UN. But should there be a helpful role for the UN in the future, the government has said that it remains open to seeking the UN’s help as needed.

The Maoist leaders have said that they would accept and welcome peace talks under the auspices of the UN though they send mixed messages in terms of preconditions under which they would be willing to enter into negotiations. Leaders of most political parties also seem receptive to UN supported peace talks. Nepal’s civil society, including the large number of Nepalis living and toiling all over the world, whose remittances sustain the livelihood of so many victims of the conflict, also strongly favour UN-brokered peace talks. Some Nepalis and friends of Nepal have expressed an understandable worry that involvement of the UN in negotiations between the recognized Government and a rebel movement might lend undue legitimacy to the latter. Based on the UN’s experience elsewhere, I would say that this worry is unfounded.

Like in Nepal, most conflicts in the world today are internal rather than international. The UN has found many innovative ways to help in such internal conflicts. With the UN playing an impartial role of an honest broker, the issue of recognition, legitimacy and equivalency need not arise. On the other hand, however the peace talks are carried out, Nepal would eventually need to undertake disarmament of combatants, monitoring of elections, and a massive programme of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The UN would be uniquely qualified to assist Nepal in these tasks. In fact, it is hard to imagine that any other country or organization could fulfill this role as well as the UN would.

Even when peace comes to Nepal, it is likely that people who have lost their loved ones and who have suffered from violence will not be able to easily forgive and forget the pain, injustice and indignities they had to endure during the dark days of the insurgency. The desire for revenge and to settle scores will be understandably very strong. Like in other war-torn countries Nepal too might need to set up mechanisms of “Truth and Reconciliation commissions” to help heal the wounds of the conflict.

The support of the United Nations could be especially helpful in setting up such mechanisms as well as to help monitor and prevent further human rights violations, and to foster a climate of respect for human rights and humanitarian principles.

It is sometimes said or implied that our neighbors, especially India, do not wish to see any third party involvement in Nepal’s internal conflict. And the Government is obviously sensitive to this geopolitical consideration. I would however argue that the fact that Nepal is surrounded by two giant neighbors, makes the potential role of a neutral, impartial organization like the United Nations to facilitate the peace process more appropriate, not less so. Both our neighbors have denounced the insurgency in Nepal. Both of them, and all of our other friendly nations, too want to see a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Nepal. India and Nepal have a complex, multi-faceted relationship with many players involved. It is possible that some of them may have some reservations about third party involvement in Nepal’s peace process. However, it is for Nepal to decide what is best for itself, with due sensitivity to its neighbors’ legitimate concerns.

It is perfectly normal and understandable that two good neighbors may not always have identical views or approaches on every issue. In the Indo-Nepal relationship there have been instances in the past when one country’s views and actions were not fully appreciated by the other, at least initially.

However, in due course, these differences of views strongly felt at the time, were resolved and reconciled, as they usually are between two good neighbors. Good friends must be sensitive to each other’s concerns, not subservient to anyone’s wishes. If it is Nepal’s sincere judgment call that UN’s support would be helpful for bringing peace in Nepal, I would venture to suggest that India or China or any of our other friendly countries would not object, but would support it. So let us not use possible objection by our neighbors as an excuse for not seeking UN’s support, if we genuinely believe that such support would be helpful.

There are ways in which the UN’s support can be structured to take account of the legitimate concerns and sensitivities of its member states.

Even as a neutral facilitator, the UN would not be party to any agreement that is contrary to the norms of democracy and human rights. If any of the Nepali parties have the illusion that they can use the umbrella of the United Nations to pursue their political or ideological objectives that are not in keeping with the 21st century norms of democracy and human rights, they will be disappointed. On the other hand, for those who sincerely subscribe to genuine democracy, human rights and peace, a UN supported peace process ought to provide some comfort that these basic principles will not be compromised.

Let me be clear, as I said at the beginning, that the UN does not have any magic formula to bring peace to Nepal. So we should not have any false expectation that the conflict will end quickly if or once the UN is involved. It may well take many years of protracted negotiations and further loss of life and destruction before the parties to the conflict get exhausted or find the wisdom to agree to settle their differences peacefully. But let us hope that there might be faster progress in Nepal.

As I have said before, compared to many other complex political crises in the world in which the UN has played a helpful role, the resolution of Nepal’s political conflict ought not to be so difficult. Fortunately, Nepal’s conflict has no historically deep-rooted racial, ethnic or religious connotations. It does not involve war over drugs, oil, diamonds or other mineral riches. Although, some analysts often advance various conspiracy theories, there are really no colonial, superpower or other external forces trying to fuel or profit from Nepal’s conflict. Nepal’s conflict is a classic struggle for political power, though as in all such conflicts, socio-economic factors are invoked and exploited in support of the protagonists’ cause. With enlightened national leadership and helpful international support, it should not be so difficult to find a common ground among Nepal’s political protagonists. Indeed each of Nepal’s 3 political protagonists, the King, the Maoists and the parliamentary political parties has something good to offer the people of Nepal. As in some progressive European democracies, a truly constitutional monarchy could offer the country a symbol of national unity and stability.

Some aspects of the Maoist agenda for social justice and an egalitarian economic order could help Nepal overcome the long legacy of unjust feudalism. And a modern multi-party democracy characterized by good governance would help usher Nepal to join the mainstream of progressive, 21st century democracies in the world. Unfortunately in Nepal’s recent history, all three of these political protagonists have at times behaved in a manner that has created deep distrust among each other, and alienated the people of Nepal. But there is still a chance for each of these protagonists to redeem themselves by resorting to the best elements of their ideals that could endear them to the Nepali people.

The leaders of the Maoist movement have an especially important opportunity and challenge to make a historic choice at this juncture, which will determine whether they will be seen in the history of Nepal as a progressive force for social change or be condemned as a brutal movement espousing a failed ideology that inflicted unspeakable terror in the land of Lord Buddha.

The Maoists participated in the parliamentary elections of 1991 and did reasonably well. More recently they have shown that they can appeal to a segment of the population that felt disenfranchised and marginalized. By joining the democratic mainstream and abandoning violence, intimidation and extortion as their political instruments, the Maoists can now leverage their success in the battlefield and transform themselves into a mainstream, progressive political party that champions the cause of the poor and the downtrodden. However, the Maoists should not make the mistake of miscalculating the people’s acquiescence out of fear and intimidation as popular support for them. If they truly believe that they have popular support they should welcome the opportunity to demonstrate it through ballots not through, bullets. The Maoists should also realize that if somehow they manage to come to power through a violent revolution, they would turn Nepal into a pariah state, shunned by the international community. As we have seen in many other countries, violent revolutionary movements can occasionally gain power but cannot retain it for long. I trust that Nepal’s Maoists will have the wisdom to learn from history and make the right choices at this critical time.

Finally if the Maoists wish to see UN involvement in the peace process in Nepal, they should demonstrate in action, not just in words, that they comply with the basic principles, norms and Conventions of the United Nations.

Cold-blooded murder and intimidation of journalists, for example, casts serious doubts on their commitment to a democratic state and a pluralistic society. We all hope that peace talks will start soon and a durable cease-fire will accompany such talks.

(Courtesy: Talk program organized by the NCWA last week)

Source:Telegraph Weekly

Will the King listen?

Will the King listen?

By Bhim Rawal
– One cannot definitely predict whether or not Kul Chandra Gautam’s penetrating article on the current political situation of Nepal that appeared in The Kathmandu Post entitled “Is Nepal a failed state?” has been taken seriously by the Narayanhiti Royal Palace and Singha Durbar. Cronies inside the Palace and Singh Durbar might not have required mettle to gauge the essence of the article too. Myopic people also might turn their deaf ears towards harsh realities of life.

However, Gautam’s article has brought several serious dimensions of the prevailing conflict and crisis in Nepal on the surface. No sensible person could ignore the analysis and predictions made by Gautam in his analytical article. In his article, Gautam has not only collated facts of present political situation as a sincere Nepali but he has also profoundly put forth some suggestions on the basis of his experiences earned during his long UN career. Carefully analysing and elaborating the situation existed in the countryside, depicting the behavior of the security forces and the Maoists and the plight of the people, Gautam has drawn an analogy between Nepal and pre-1974 Cambodia.

However, Gautam’s article has brought several serious dimensions of the prevailing conflict and crisis in Nepal on the surface. No sensible person could ignore the analysis and predictions made by Gautam in his analytical article. In his article, Gautam has not only collated facts of present political situation as a sincere Nepali but he has also profoundly put forth some suggestions on the basis of his experiences earned during his long UN career. Carefully analysing and elaborating the situation existed in the countryside, depicting the behavior of the security forces and the Maoists and the plight of the people, Gautam has drawn an analogy between Nepal and pre-1974 Cambodia.

This kind of deteriorated situation of Nepal is termed as “a failed state syndrome”. This term may irk those rulers of Nepal who still either underestimate the present crisis or are captivated by their own arrogance. However, one can never figure out the destination without a framework that defines the present objective realities. As I have studied Cambodia during my one year stay there under the UNTAC (United Nation’s Transitional Authority in Cambodia) operation, I see Gautam’s analogy between present Nepal and pre-1974 Cambodia merit serious attention.

It might be a simplistic approach to bracket specific definition and time for any crisis-ridden country to be declared a failed state. Nevertheless, some indicators associated with the state functioning and results emanating from the deepening conflict reveal the future course. The interrelations of national political actors, state functioning, nature of daily happenings and the growing sufferings of people definitely denote “failed state syndrome”. Though it is a heart-rending term for every patriotic Nepali.

Some additional aspects of the present national crisis are even more ominous. The Nepali society have been heading towards division and mistrust, thereby impregnating disharmony, on line of caste, community, religion, region, language and culture. Such divisive politics has gained momentum after the initiation of the Maoist “People’s War”. Being susceptible to the Maoist propagation, some of the leaders and activists of the mainstream political parties are also prone to politicking on the basis of the above-mentioned narrow interests. It may be very difficult to seek proper remedy of this kind of problem running under current in the Nepali politics. It may have serious and far-reaching implications on the integrity and unity of the country.

No one can deny the fact that the dilemma and double crosses in higher Nepali political echelons, as Gautam has pointed out, are intertwined with constant power bickering. Similarly, the existing crisis of confidence and level of differences between not only the Maoists and the constitutional forces but also among the constitutional forces i.e., the King and the major political parties themselves, have been creating imperatives for “external mediation”.

Such mediation, from the point of neutrality and impartiality, could be practically provided by the United Nations. The UN role can not be seen as a negative outside interference since Nepal is itself a member of the UN system. In fact, the current situation has been gradually providing grounds for undesirable outside intervention. The supply of arms and ammunitions, military equipment and helicopters by India, the US and the UK has already started the process of outside military involvement in Nepal. It might expand more explicitly in future if the present crisis continues unabated.

In this regard, an article by C Raja Mohan entitled “India’s options in Nepal” that appeared in The Hindu on April 14 could be an eye opener. He has suggested that “New Delhi can no longer afford to remain a bystander in Nepal, where the crisis is maturing into a bloody confrontation.” He has emphasised on the necessity of rethinking on the Indian policy towards Nepal as the crisis is deepening. Furthermore, he has also accepted that “ King’s self-defeating policy” has been “threatening the future of both the monarchy and the state itself”. The writer has emphatically advised that the Indian government should be ready for quicker actions even before the impending general elections in India. What kinds of inferences can be drawn from such expressions?

The intervention of an individual country or group of certain countries may not only turn the situation from bad to worse but it may also further gulp national wealth and resources. No one can justify the rationale for a dominant role of an individual power country or group of countries instead of positive role of the neutral world body-the UN- in Nepal when the situation goes beyond the control of national political actors. The role of the UN in Nepal to bring peace and normalcy may not be considered otherwise in any way by both China and India while these countries want to see a stable Nepal and especially India itself has been facing challenges posed by domestic Maoists.

On the aforesaid backdrop, the recommendations made by Gautam for the conflict resolution seem logical and objective. It is true that the time is running out to prevent catastrophic effect of the existing violent conflict and to save people from possible untold sufferings. If the deterioration of the present situation is allowed to continue, Nepal either may have to face direct military intervention of individual power country or group of countries or the UN itself may come over to rescue the country from crisis. Doubtlessly, the government’s delayed tactics will only lead to prolongation of the conflict as Gautam has pointed out. Thus the fears expressed by Gautam are well founded. Gautam’s analysis and apprehensions should also be viewed on the context of public statements recently made by Kofi Annan- UN Secretary General and Lalkrishna Advani- Deputy Prime Minister of India, with regard to the crisis and conflict in Nepal. Moreover, the repeatedly expressed concerns by the USA, UK, European Union and various international human rights organisations also provide much grain to ponder over.

The whole scenario of the past eight years of Nepali politics also should be deeply scrutinised while divulging into the question of conflict resolution. It is a bitter truth that the government of the Nepali Congress, the coalition government led by Nepali Congress and participated in by the National Democratic Party (RPP) and Nepal Sadbhawana Party and the nominated governments under the King’s direct rule have failed to resolve the conflict and to tackle the national crisis. Now the only alternative left is to deal with the Maoists by constituting an all-party government comprised of parliamentary parties.

The formation of an all-party government with all executive powers may be competent both either to initiate dialogue with the Maoists or to consider UN’s role carefully judging time and procedure. If any sort of interference from outside powers and organisation is to check honestly in the national interest the King has to readily accept democratic and constitutional way recognising the sovereignty of the people. National unity and consensus must be given utmost priority in practice. Claimed state capabilities should be substantiated by actions. Notwithstanding, the recent events suggest incapability of the government not only to dealing with the Maoists but also in realising national consensus by forming an all-party government.

(The writer is former minister)

Source: www.kantipuronline.com 

Democracy means trusting people, respecting their views, and honoring their rights

Democracy means trusting people, respecting their views, and honoring their rights

By Kul Chandra Gautam

When UNDP started producing national human development reports, predictably, Nepal produced one of the first and among the best national HDRs.

If we could be half as effective in producing results, as we are in producing reports, the people of this country would indeed be very well served.

Our ability and agility in producing such reports indicates that Nepal has the latent capacity to rise to the occasion to prepare good programme proposals and attract donor interest and support.

I sense an enormous reservoir of goodwill towards Nepal in the international community. But I also sense a certain frustration with the endless political squabbling, rampant corruption and bureaucratic inertia in development administration.

The key obstacle for Nepal’s development is therefore not the lack of resources or solidarity of the international community, but the need to keep our house in order in terms of good governance.

As we make progress in good governance, I have no doubt that adequate resources can be mobilized for essential investment.

Development is a complex business, and I do not want to offer any simplistic solutions or prescriptions for Nepal’s advancement.

Pending the improvement of the security situation, resolution of the political crisis, improvements in good governance, and large-scale investment in physical infrastructure – all of which will take time, I would urge Nepal to concentrate and accelerate its efforts in the immediate future on 2 specific areas of development.

First, invest heavily in basic education.

I was surprised and distressed to learn that according to the analysis contained in the progress report on the MDGs, if current trends continue, Nepal is unlikely to reach the goal of universal access to, and completion of, primary education even by the year 2015.

I would urge that this ought to be one of the goals, which Nepal must aspire to achieve, against all odds.

Basic education, particularly of girls, is unquestionably a key to significant poverty reduction. It gives a young woman a sense of personal empowerment and self-confidence to make decisions that affect her life.

An educated girl tends to marry later, is more likely to space her pregnancies, will seek medical care for her child and herself when needed, will give better childcare and nutrition, and will ensure that her children attend primary school – all important factors in preventing the intergenerational transmission of poverty.

Education is also likely to enhance a woman’s income-generating capacity and will embolden her to claim her rights and those of her children. There simply is no other investment with the broad range of positive multiplier effects as girls’ education.

Chances of big time corruption are infinitely smaller at that level than in large-scale development projects involving contractors and commissions.

In proposing the doubling of such allocation, I would suggest that the additional funds be used to institute a system of incentives for villages to upgrade their infrastructure and basic social services with measurable indicators.

For example, one could institute a system of classification of all VDCs of Nepal into 3 or 4 categories based on some of the measurable indicators of the MDGs duly adapted to Nepal’s reality. These could include percentage of girls enrolled in primary school or female literacy, access to clean drinking water, contraceptive prevalence, infant mortality rate, etc.

Encouraging a healthy competition among neighboring villages and districts to upgrade themselves from one category to the next using such indicators could greatly accelerate the pace of rural and national development. There are some good examples of such programmes in other countries, e.g. in Thailand and Indonesia that Nepal could learn from.

Using direct development grants to all VDCs to encourage them to promote goal-oriented, indicator-based development planning and implementation could be a very special way for Nepal to pursue the Millennium Development Goals.

This would also be a meaningful way in which relevant UN agencies and other donors could support Nepal’s efforts to promote community-based, results-oriented development outcomes.

For far too long, a disproportionate amount of political power, the power of patronage and control of resources has remained in the hands of the elite in Kathmandu, other major towns and district headquarters. Let us be daring enough and trusting enough of our local communities and devolve more power and resources, in a planned manner to these communities.

Let us not be afraid that local communities might make mistakes, might waste some resources. Haven’t we done that, big time, in Kathmandu and the district headquarters?

Democracy means trusting people, respecting their views, and honoring their rights. Let us build a strong democracy in Nepal from the villages upwards, by devolving more rights, responsibility and resources to our local communities.

(The author is a high UN official. During his last visit to Kathmandu, the author made a presentation at a program organized by NCWA. Excerpts only have been printed. Ed.)

Source: Telegraph Weekly

Statement by Dr Francisco Songane in honor of Mr Kul Gautam, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Founding Chair of the Partnership Board

Statement by Dr Francisco Songane in honor of Mr Kul Gautam, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Founding Chair of the Partnership Board

Statement by Dr Francisco Songane
in honor of Mr Kul Gautam, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF
Founding Chair of the Partnership Board
New York, 13 December 2007 

The Partnership is honored to share this remarkable occasion dedicated to Kul Gautam.

Esteemed guests and colleagues,

Many of you are well aware of Kul Gautam’s role and leadership at UNICEF as Deputy Executive Director. In addition to his remarkable contributions to UNICEF, I would like to share a message on his role as the Chair of the Partnership Board, on behalf of more than 200 members of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

The Partnership joins UN agencies, such as UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA; donor and developing countries such as Norway and Nigeria, non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children or Global Health Council; and health care professional organizations such as International Pediatric Association or International Confederation of Midwives.

Kul Gautam has been our founding Chairman of the Partnership Board, which is the governing body of the Partnership, since its establishment in 2005. He provided a true vision, leadership and support throughout these primary two years of the Partnership’s work–in a way our “newborn” phase– which as you know has been the most critical period for future development of the Partnership.

Therefore, on behalf of all members and partners, I would like to say “Thank you” to Mr Kul Gautam for your dedication, determination and premier leadership. We will always look upon you, Kul, as a source of wisdom, and use the magnificent experiences we shared with you as a reference point.

Kul, the UNICEF you led has been a pivotal player in the Partnership. And our collective efforts to achieve improved and integrated continuum of care for mothers, newborns and children are growing stronger and more comprehensive.

The healthier the women and mothers are, safer and brighter will be the future of our newborns and children. Through expanded delivery of access to the continuum of care for maternal, newborn and child health, we can reverse many of the unjust deaths of nearly 10 million children and half a million of mothers happening every year. The consensus is building that the strengthening of the health systems could be gauged by the scale we improve delivery of health care for mothers and children.

Thanks to your tireless work guiding the Partnership and its members, the issues of maternal, newborn and child health are being recognized and discussed at more and more fora among partners. During this outgoing 2007, we witnessed a surge of new innovation and campaigns to recognize the importance of MDGs 4 and 5, and the urgency of support to countries and communities to deliver better maternal, newborn and child health services.

A championing group of donor countries, the UK, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada and others have stepped up to join the “Global Campaign for the health MDGs” revitalizing international support for women, mothers, and their children.

And indeed, the midway to MDGs to be achieved by 2015, is the critical time for all partners and players to jointly re-define our vision and commitment so that we move forward together, towards our common goal — the MDGs 4 and 5, in the context of the fulfillment of our promises to meet all the MDGs.

Now, on a personal note, I would also like to remark on Kul’s incredible contribution to GAVI: that was my first exposure to the great ideas Kul was always able to generate. As a fellow colleague working together in the GAVI Board, I took pride in his extraordinary influence in setting strategic vision for GAVI, in a sense that it is not just a “one-off” effort, but a “long-term global initiative” with successful operations that changed lives of many communities in poor countries now. One vivid example which is a now a matter of celebration is the remarkable reduction measles deaths in Africa in the last years.

Kul said, “to save the lives and improve the health and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable children and women is the worthiest of human purposes.” He made this concept his vision. And today we can provide so many initiatives that he started to make his vision come true. And we can see how his vision touched upon millions of lives. His vision leaves an entire legacy of his contributions to health and development, for generations after to follow.

It is a great honor that we have been a part of your legacy Kul Gautam, and moreover, you are leaving us with more to be done to continue your vision. Thank you again.

माओवादी विजय र नेपालको भविष्य

माओवादी विजय र नेपालको भविष्य

कुलचन्द्र गौतम

संविधानसभाको ऐतिहासिक चुनावमा जनताले यसपटक आमूल परिवर्तनका पक्ष्ँमा मत दिएका छन् । पुराना स्थापित पार्टर्ीीई पाखा लगाएर र माओवादीलाई रोजेर जनताले माओवादीलाई आफू अरूभन्दा राम्रँे छु भनेर प्रमाणित गर्ने अवसर दिएका छन् । त्यसैले माओवादीलाई अरू राजनीतिक दल र राजाको शासनकालमा जनताले पाउन नसकेको सुशासन, विकासका संरचना, आधारभूत सेवा तथा सामाजिक न्याय प्रदान गरेर देखाउने ठूलो ऐतिहासिक अवसर मिलेको छ ।

जनताले जस्तै अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय समुदायले पनि माओवादीलाई आफू राम्रँे छु भनेर देखाउने अवसर दिइरहेको छ । जनताको अभिमतको कदर गर्दै अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय समुदायले नया“ संविधान निर्माण तथा देशको पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास कार्यक्रममा माओवादीस“ग रचनात्मक किसिमले सहकार्य गर्ने प्रतिबद्धता व्यक्त गरेको छ ।

आफ्नो चुनावी घोषणापत्रमा र चुनावपछिका वक्तव्यमा माओवादीले आर्थिक क्रान्ति ल्याउने कामलाई ठूलो प्रँथमिकता दिने वाचा गरेका छन् । गरिबी र बेरोजगारीले पीडित जनतालाई माओवादीको राजनीतिक सिद्धान्त र नाराले भन्दा आर्थिक क्रान्ति गरेर नया“ नेपाल निर्माण गर्ने ढाडसले अधिकांश नेपालीलाई बढी आकषिर्त गरेको स्पष्ट छ ।

द्वन्द्वपछिको संक्रमण भोगेका संसारका विभिन्न देशहरूको अनुभवले के देखाएको छ भने शान्ति र लोकतन्त्रलाई स्थायी बनाउनका लागि महत्त्वाकँंक्षी र प्रस्ट देखिने खालका पुनःनिर्माण र विकास आयोजना तय गरी तिनको कार्यान्वयन गर्नर्ुपर्छ । जसले गर्दा जनतालाई तुरुन्त केही राहत मिलोस्, उनीहरूको जीवनस्तर सप्रियोस्, रोजगारीको सिर्जना गरेर देशका अधर्ैय बेरोजगार युवाहरूमा आशाको लहर पलाओस् ।

नेपालमा पनि भर्खरै निर्वाचित संविधानसभाले नया“ प्रगतिशील संविधानको मस्यौदा तयार गर्नुका साथसाथै माओवादीले नेतृत्व गरेको नया“ सरकारले त्यत्तिकै महत्त्वाकांक्ष्ँी र प्रगतिशील राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजनाको मस्यौदा गर्न थाल्नु निकै बुद्धिमानीपर्ूण्ा कदम हुनेछ ।

संविधानजस्तै राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजनाका मस्यौदा तयार गर्दा पनि सामूहिक छलफल बहुदलीय सहकार्य र सहमतिका आधारमा काम गर्न राम्रो हुनेछ । हुन त यो काम निश्चय पनि सबैभन्दा ठूलो दलको नेतृत्वमा हुनर्ुपर्छ । तर त्यसमा अरू प्रमुख राजनीतिक दलहरूको चुनावी घोषणापत्रमा उल्लेख भएका मुख्य विचारहरू पनि समावेश गर्ने हरप्रयास हुनर्ुपर्छ । नया“ संविधानका लागिजस्तै यो नया“ राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजनाका लागि पनि बृहत् राष्ट्रिय र्समर्थन जुटाउनर्ुपर्छ । जसले गर्दा फेरि आउ“दो चुनावमा जुनसुकै दल सरकारमा आए पनि उक्त योजनाले निरन्तरता पाइरहन सकोस् ।

नया“ निर्वाचित राजनीतिक नेताहरूले सरकारमा कुन शक्तिको बढी प्रभाव हुने र देशको शासन कसरी चलाउने भन्ने कुरामा जति ध्यान दिन्छन्, त्यत्तिकै ध्यान जनताका आधारभूत आवश्यकता पूरा गर्न पनि

दिएका छन् भन्ने कुरा जनतालाई महसुस गराउन र ढाडस दिन सक्नर्ुपर्छ ।

सरकारले संविधान निर्माण स“गस“गै आर्थिक योजना तयार गर्नका लागि पनि उत्तिकै गम्भीर प्रयास गरेको सन्देश जनतामा पुग्यो भने देशमा एउटा आशाको लहर जाग्नेछ । त्यसैले यस्तो आर्थिक योजना संविधान तयार हुने बेलासम्ममा तयार भइसक्नर्ुपर्छ ।

यस्तो नया“ महत्त्वाकांक्ष्ँी राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजनाका मुख्य विशेषता के हुनसक्छन् त – माओवादीको चुनाव घोषणापत्रमा अल्पकाल, मध्यकाल र दर्ीघकालमा के-के काम गर्ने भन्ने केही स्पष्ट विचार समेटिएका छन् । एमालेले भिजन नेपाल नामक २० वर्ष विस्तृत योजना बनाएको छ । कांग्रेस र अरू पार्टर्ीी पनि आर्थिक विकासबारे केही ठोस विचार प्रस्तुत गरेका छन् । राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजना बनाउ“दा यी विभिन्न दलहरूले प्रस्तुत गरेका राम्रा विचारसाथै द्वन्द्वको अवस्था पार गर्नलाग्दा व्यापक अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय र्समर्थन जुटाउन र त्यसबाट राम्रो परिणाम हासिल गर्न सफल भएका देशहरूका अनुभव पनि समेटिनर्ुपर्छ ।

यी सबै कुराका आधारमा नेपालको महत्त्वाकांक्ष्ँी दर्ीघकालीन पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजनामा निम्न दसवटा बु“दा समेटिनर्ुपर्छ भन्ने मलाई लागेको छ-

-१) द्वन्द्वका कारण आन्तरिक रूपमा विस्थापित तथा युद्धपीडितहरूका लागि तुरुन्त राहत, उनीहरूको सम्मानपर्ूण्ा पुनःस्थापन र द्वन्द्वका बेला ध्वस्त भएका विकास संरचनाको पुनःनिर्माण तथा गुणात्मक सुधार ।

-२) शिक्ष्ँा, स्वास्थ्य, पोषण, खानेपानीजस्ता आधारभूत सामाजिक सेवाको व्यापक विस्तार । संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघबाट पारित सहस्रँब्दी विकास लक्ष्यलाई यिनको सफलताको मापदण्डका रूपमा लिनर्ुपर्छ ।

-३) नया“ संघीय राज्यसंरचनाका सर्न्दर्भमा सन्तुलित क्ष्ँेत्रीय विकास तथा सामाजिक र आर्थिक असमानता र असमावेशीकरण घटाउनका लागि निश्चित र लक्ष्यित कार्यक्रम ।

-४) देशकै चेहरा बदलिने खालका यातायात सञ्चार, जलविद्युत र पर्यटनका क्ष्ँेत्रमा केही महत्त्वाकांक्ष्ँी भौतिक संरचनाका नमुना योजना ।

-५) स्वदेश तथा विदेशमा काम गर्ने नेपाली कामदारको कमाउने क्ष्ँमता बढाउन सीप विकास गर्ने तालिम र रोजगारीको सिर्जना गर्ने बृहत् कार्यक्रम

र उनीहरूलाई शोषणबाट बचाउने सुरक्ष्ँाको

विशेष व्यवस्था ।

-६) राष्ट्रनिर्माणमा युवाहरूलाई सम्मिलित बनाउन, उनीहरूको प्रतिभाको विकास गर्न राजनीतिक दलस“ग असम्बन्धित युवा फोरमहरूको स्थापना गर्ने जस्तो कि युवाहरूको स्वास्थ्य विकास र शान्तिपर्ूण्ा प्रतिस्पर्धालाई प्रँेत्साहन गर्न खेलकुदको व्यापक विस्तार ।

-७) सुरक्ष्ँा क्ष्ँेत्रमा मौलिक सुधार र परिवर्तन गर्ने जसले गर्दा अन्त्यमा गएर नेपाली सेनाको संख्या घटाउन सकियोस्, सैनिक खर्चमा कटौती गरी त्यसलाई विकास कार्यक्रममा लगाउन सकियोस्, अनि नेपाली सेना तथा माओवादी लडाकुलाई देश विकास, प्रँकृतिक प्रकोप र विपत्तिबाट पीडित जनतालाई राहत-सहयोग गर्न र विश्व शान्तिसेवामा योगदान गर्ने जस्ता काममा परिचालन गर्न सकियोस् ।

-८) कृषि क्ष्ँेत्रलाई अझ बढी उत्पादक बनाएर देशमा हरित क्रान्ति ल्याउनका लागि वैज्ञानिक भूमिसुधार ।

-९) नेपालको अति समवेदनशील वातावरण प्रँकृतिक सम्पदा र सांस्कृतिक सम्पत्तिको संरक्ष्ँणका लागि जलवायु परिवर्तनजस्ता प्रकोपबाट देशलाई बचाउन विशेष प्रयास ।

-१०) निजी र र्सार्वजनिक क्ष्ँेत्रबीचको साझेदारीका लागि उपयुक्त वातावरणको सिर्जन्ा गर्ने, निजी क्ष्ँेत्रको विकास र गैरआवासी नेपाली र वैदेशिक लगानीलाई आकषिर्त गर्न विशेष प्रँेत्साहन ।

यस्तो महत्त्वाकांक्ष्ँी कार्यक्रमका लागि देशव्यापी र अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय र्समर्थन जुटाउन यो कार्यक्रम तयार गर्ने प्रक्रियालाई सबै दल सम्मिलित एक उच्चस्तरीय राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास परिषदले निर्देशित गर्ने व्यवस्था मिलाउनु उपयुक्त हुनेछ । यस्तो परिषदको नेतृत्व प्रधानमन्त्री आफैंले वा अरू कुनै अत्यन्तै प्रतिष्ठित नेताले गर्नु जरुरी हुनेछ ।

त्यस्तो राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास परिषदलाई सल्लाह दिनका लागि निम्न बमोजिमका दर्ुइवटा सल्लाहकार समूह हुनु उपयुक्त हुन्छ-

-क) एक राष्ट्रिय सरोकारवालाहरूको समूह जसमा निजी क्ष्ँेत्र, नागरिक समाज, बुद्धिजीवी/विशेषज्ञ र देशका उपेक्ष्ँित र उत्पीडित समूहका प्रतिनिधि

हुन्छन् । यस्ता प्रतिनिधिमध्ये केही संविधानसभाका सदस्य पनि हुनसक्छन् ।

-ख) दातृसंस्थाका प्रतिनिधिहरू जस्तो कि राष्ट्रसंघका निकाय विश्व बैंक र एसियाली विकास बैंक,

द्विपक्ष्ँीय सहयोग निकाय र गैरसरकारी संस्था जसले मैत्रीपर्ूण्ा प्रँविधिक सल्लाहकारका रूपमा सहयोग र सुझाव दिन सक्नेछन् ।

राष्ट्रिय पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजना तयार गर्ने काम नेपालीको नेतृत्व र नियन्त्रणमा हुनर्ुपर्छ र नेपालीले यसलाई विदेशीले थोपरेको नभएर आफूले बनाएको ठान्नर्ुपर्छ । तर नेपालका अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय शुभेच्छुकहरूले यो योजना बनाउने काममा आफ्नो पनि साझेदारी भएको महसुस गर्न पाउने अवस्था तयार गर्नु उत्तिकै महत्त्वपर्ूण्ा हुन्छ । आर्थिक रूपान्तरणका लागि धेरै अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय सहयोग चाहिने हुनाले यस्तो योजना बनाउने क्रममा दातृसंस्था र नेपालको विकासका साझेदारस“ग परामर्श गर्ने सही तरिका अपनाउनु उपयुक्त हुनेछ ।

पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजनाका लागि अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय सहयोग र ऐक्यबद्धता जुटाउनका लागि

नेपालले विश्वव्यापी मानवअधिकारका मान्यता, मानवतावादी सिद्धान्तलाई स्वीकार गर्नर्ुपर्छ । यस योजनाले हाल चालू रहेको शान्ति निर्माण प्रक्रियास“ग मिलेर थप ऊर्जा दिनर्ुपर्छ ।

नेपालको पुनःनिर्माण तथा विकास योजना सहस्राब्दी विकास लक्ष्यका जगमा आधारित हुनर्ुपर्छ । यसले जातीय, क्ष्ँेत्रीय तथा लैङ्गकि असमानता घटाउने र देशमा सुुशासनको लहर ल्याउनमा विशेष जोड दिनर्ुपर्छ । यस योजनाले जनताका जरुरी माग आकांक्ष्ँाको मात्र परिपर्ूर्ति गर्ने होइन कि दर्ीघकालसम्म थाम्न सकिने र युक्तिसंगत आर्थिक नीति अपनाएर देश विकासको दह्रो खम्बाको जग बसाल्न कोसिस गर्नर्ुपर्छ ।

नेपालको नया“ लोकतन्त्रको भावनालाई आत्मसात गर्दै यस्तो योजना बनाउ“दा जनताको सहभागिता जुटाउन विभिन्न खालका छलफलका उपाय अपनाउनर्ुपर्छ । काठमाडौं बाहिर समेतका विभिन्न क्ष्ँेत्रमा र्सार्वजनिक सुनुवाइ कार्यक्रम आयोजना गर्नर्ुपर्छ ।

अहिले जताततै चर्काे राजनीतिक आवेश र उत्तेजना फैलिएको वातावरणमा विकास योजना बनाउ“दा सस्तो लोकप्रिय नाराका आधारमा जनतालाई खोक्रो आश्वासन दिने काम गर्नु ठूलो गल्ती हुनेछ । माओवादीले आफ्ना मजदुर युनियन, विद्यार्थी युनियन र वाईसीएलजस्ता संस्थाहरूलाई आर्थिक रूपले दिगो हुन नसक्ने अकुशल नीति अपनाउन सरकार, उद्योगपति र अरू रोजगारदातामाथि अनावश्यक दबाब नदिने वातावरण तयार गर्नर्ुपर्छ । अर्कातिर अरू राजनीतिक

दलले पनि आफ्ना र्समर्थकहरूलाई माओवादीले लिएका युक्तिसंगत नीतिको विरोध गर्न दिनु हु“दैन ।

अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय समुदायले नेपालको विकास प्रक्रियामा सद्भाव र सहयोग गर्न र नया“ सरकार र जनताप्रति ऐक्यबद्धता जनाउने राम्रँे सम्भावना छ । तर हाम्रो नया“ सरकारले अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय समुदायले निर्ःर्सत सहयोग देला भन्ने ठान्नु हु“दैन । माओवादीले के कुरामा विशेष ध्यान दिनर्ुपर्छ भने आफ्ना कार्यकर्तालाई जे भन्दा र गर्दा उनीहरू खुसी हुन्छन्, त्यसो गर्दा आमजनता अथवा अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय समुदाय खुसी नहुन सक्छन् ।

विधिको शासन कत्तिको पालना गरिन्छ, दण्डहीनताको वातावरणलाई कसरी हटाइन्छ, शक्ति सन्तुलनको सिद्धान्तलाई कत्तिको सम्मान गरिन्छ, प्रशासनिक तथा आर्थिक निर्ण्र्ााा अनावश्यक राजनीतिक हस्तक्ष्ँेप हुनबाट कत्तिको जोगाइन्छ भन्ने आधारमा नेपाली जनता र अन्तर्रर्ााट्रय समुदायले माओवादीको भनाइको मात्र होइन, गराइको जा“च गर्नेछन् ।

चुनाव जितेको जोशिलो र उन्मत्त वातावरणमा माओवादीले जनताले आफूलाई केका लागि मत दिएका हुन् भन्ने कुरा सही ढङ्गले बुझ्नर्ुपर्छ । यो जनताले माओवादी राजनीतिक सिद्धान्तलाई र्समर्थन गरेको अवश्य होइन । यस मतलाई हिंसा, धम्की र जबर्जस्ती चन्दा संकलन गर्ने जस्ता प्रवृत्तिलाई जनताले क्ष्ँमा दिएर राजनीतिक हतियारका रूपमा स्वीकार गरेका हुन् भनेर ठान्नु पनि हु“दैन । बरु त्यसको विपरीत जनताले सत्तामा पुगेपछि माओवादीले यस्ता हिंसात्मक उपाय नअपनाउलान् र जनतालाई शान्तिको सास फर्ेन देलान् भनेर उसलाई मत दिएका हुन् भन्ने सबैले बुझ्नर्ुपर्छ ।

महत्त्वाकांक्ष्ँी र युक्तिसंगत आर्थिक एजेन्डालाई र्सवाेपरी महत्त्व दिएर नया“ नेपालको निर्माणलाई प्रँथमिकता दिएका खण्डमा माओवादीले आफ्नो विवादास्पद विगतबाट पन्छिएर आफूलाई सच्चा परिवर्तनकारी प्रगतिशील शक्तिका रूपमा स्थापित गर्न सक्नेछन् । उनीहरूले त्यो गर्नसकेमा माओवादी र दर्ीघकालमा सबै नेपालीको भलो हुनेछ ।

लेखक, संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघका पर्ूवसहायक महासचिव र युनिसेफका उपकार्यकारी निर्देशक हुन् ।

Source: www.kantipuronline.com

Kick-starting Nepal

Kick-starting Nepal

Besides the constitution, let’s also draft a new strategy to rebuild Nepal

The people of Nepal have voted for radical change. By sidelining old established parties, they have given the Maoists the benefit of doubt. The Maoists now have a historic opportunity to show that they can deliver better governance, better infrastructure, better delivery of basic services and greater social justice.

In their election manifesto and post-election statements, the Maoists have pledged an “economic revolution”. For most Nepalis, this probably had greater appeal than the Maoists’ political and ideological offerings.

Peace and democracy can only be sustainable if ambitious and visible reconstruction and development activities are implemented to create jobs and to give hope to restless unemployed youth. As the newly elected assembly begins to draft a progressive new constitution, it would be wise to draft an equally ambitious and progressive National Reconstruction and Development Plan (NRDP).

Just like the constitution, the drafting of the NRDP could also follow a collective, consultative, multi-party approach under the leadership of the largest political party, but drawing on the ideas contained in the manifestos of other key political players.

It would reassure ordinary people if they see that our newly elected politicians care as much about helping to meet their basic needs, as they care about who gets to power. The following 10 key points can be the core of an ambitious long-term reconstruction and development plan for Nepal:

1. Relief and rehabilitation of IDPs and victims of conflict, and rebuilding and upgrading of the destroyed infrastructure, as immediate peace dividend.
2. Massive expansion of basic social services in education, health, nutrition, sanitation, etc to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
3. In the context of the proposed new federal structure of state, promote targeted interventions to ensure better balanced regional development and to reduce ethnic, caste, gender disparities and exclusion.
4. Some major flagship projects of infrastructure development in transport, communication, hydropower and tourism that will help uplift the economy and change the face of Nepal.
5. Employment generation and skill training both for the domestic market and to enhance the earning capacity and well-being of Nepalis working abroad.
6. Strategies to engage young people in nation building, to express their views and voices.
7. Security Sector Reform eventually leading to downsizing of the Nepal Army, reallocation of military budget in favour of development, and deployment of Nepal army and the Maoist combatants for development, disaster relief and peace-keeping purposes.
8. Land reform aimed at making the agriculture sector more productive and efficient.
9. Special efforts to protect Nepal’s fragile environment, including from the impact of climate change.
10. Creating a conducive environment for public-private partnership, encouraging private sector development and foreign investment.

The program needs to be steered by a high level multi-party National Reconstruction and Development Council preferably headed by the Prime Minister. It would be desirable to have two reference groups to advise it: a national stakeholder’s group comprising representatives of the private sector, civil society, academics and scholars as well as donor representatives.

In Nepal’s current hyper-politicised atmosphere, it is important to guard against populism. The Maoists will need to ensure that their radicalised trade unions, student unions, and YCL do not put undue pressure on the government, industries and employers to take decisions that are economically unsustainable and inefficient. The other parties must also restrain themselves from excessive politicisation.

While the international community is likely to show much goodwill and solidarity for Nepal’s development, the new government can’t expect a blank cheque from it. The Maoists will need to be especially mindful that what sells well with their cadres may not necessarily sell well with the Nepali people or the international community.

In the current euphoria of their election victory, the Maoists must correctly understand the nature of the people’s verdict. It was not a popular endorsement of their ideology, nor was it an acceptance of the use of violence, intimidation and extortion as justifiable political tactics. On the contrary, the people have voted for the Maoists, with the hope that putting them in power will make them forsake such tactics, and bring in peace.

Focusing on an ambitious and sensible economic agenda would actually help redeem the Maoists from their controversial past, and establish themselves as a truly progressive force for change. That would be good for the Maoists, and for all Nepalis in the long-term.

(Kul Chandra Gautam is a former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF)
Source: Nepali Times

Turning the Maoist victory into Nepal’s good fortune

Turning the Maoist victory into Nepal’s good fortune

By Kul Chandra Gautam

The people of Nepal have voted for radical change. By sidelining old, established parties, and opting for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the people have given the Maoists the benefit of the doubt. The party now has a historic opportunity to show that it can effectively deliver better governance, infrastructure and basic services, as well as greater social justice, than either the other political parties or the previous royal regimes, which squandered their chances to do so.

Like the people of Nepal, the international community is also giving the Maoists the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, respecting the verdict of the Nepali people, the international community has pledged to work constructively with the Maoists both in formulating a new constitution, and in supporting reconstruction and development efforts.

In their election manifesto and post-election statements, the Maoists have pledged to prioritise the bringing-about of an “economic revolution”. For most Nepalis, the Maoist promise to usher in an economic revolution probably had greater appeal than did their political and ideological offerings. The worldwide experience of countries in post‑conflict transition suggests that, for peace and democracy to be sustainable, ambitious and visible reconstruction and development activities need to be planned and implemented in order to create jobs and give hope to the country’s restless unemployed youth.

In Nepal, too, as the newly elected Constituent Assembly begins to draft a progressive new constitution, it would be wise for the Maoist-led government to begin to draft an equally ambitious and progressive National Reconstruction and Development Plan (NRDP). As with the constitution, it would be best if the drafting of the NRDP followed a collective, consultative, multi-party approach. This would inevitably be under the leadership of the largest political party, the Maoists, but also drawing on the ideas contained in the manifestoes of other key political parties. Also like the new constitution, Nepal should aim to have an NRDP that enjoys broad-based national support, no matter which party comes to power in periodic elections.

Ordinary people of Nepal would be significantly reassured if they see that the newly elected politicians care as much about helping to meet their basic needs as they do about who gains political power and how they run the government. Indeed, it would send a powerful message if the new government of Nepal embarked on a serious parallel exercise of drafting an economic master plan that would be ready at the same time as the new constitution.

Envisioning reconstruction
What might be the key elements of an ambitious new NRDP? The CPN (Maoist) election manifesto already contains some specific ideas over the short, medium and long terms. The CPN (Untied Marxist-Leninist) has likewise developed a very detailed 20-year ‘Vision Nepal’ plan. The Nepali Congress and other parties have also offered some strong ideas. The NRDP should draw on the best of all of these ideas, as well as on the experiences of other post-conflict countries that have been able to mobilise massive amounts of international support – and produce good results.

Drawing on these, there are 10 key elements at the core of an ambitious long-term reconstruction and development plan for Nepal:

  1. Relief and rehabilitation of internally displaced people and victims of conflict, as an immediate‘peace dividend’.
  2. Rebuilding and upgrading of the infrastructure destroyed during the conflict.
  3. Massive expansion of basic social services, with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals as key parameters of success.
  4. Targeted interventions to ensure more-balanced regional development, and to reduce disparities and exclusion.
  5. Some major flagship projects of infrastructure development in transport, communication, hydropower and tourism.
  6. Strategies to engage young people in nation building, and to provide them with forums, not necessarily linked with political parties, for their views and voices to be heard. Massive expansion of sports for development, for example, would be a fun way of engaging the young and the restless.
  7. Security-sector reform, eventually leading to the downsizing of the Nepal Army, reallocation of the military budget in favour of development, and deployment of the Nepal Army and Maoist combatants for development, disaster relief and peace-keeping purposes.
  8. Land reform aimed at making the agriculture sector more productive and efficient.
  9. Special efforts to protect Nepal’s fragile environment, including from the impact of climate change, and to preserve the country’s natural resources and cultural heritage.
  10. Creating a conducive environment for public-private partnership and the encouragement of private-sector development and foreign investment.

To enjoy broad-based support nationally, the planning process for such a programme needs to be steered by a high-level multi-party National Reconstruction and Development Council (NRDC), preferably headed by the prime minister or a senior leader. It would be also desirable to have two reference groups, to advise the National Reconstruction and Development Council. First, a national stakeholders’ committee, comprising representatives of the private sector, civil society, academics/scholars, as well as representatives of key marginalised groups, some of them drawn from among members of the Constituent Assembly. The second group would be made up of representatives of the donor community – UN agencies, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, bilateral organisations and international non-government organisations – which would serve as a sounding board.

While the ownership and leadership of the development of the NRDP must be firmly in the hands of Nepalis, it would be important to ensure that international associates feel a sense of partnership in its development. And, since Nepal is likely to require significant international support for its economic transformation, it would be wise to find ways to consult with donors and development partners in this process.

To enjoy international support and solidarity, Nepal’s reconstruction and development plan must conform to internationally agreed-upon norms of human rights and humanitarian principles, and must be synergistic with the ongoing process of peace-building. Such a reconstruction and development plan must also stand on the solid platform of the Millennium Development Goals, and must embrace gender equality, disparity reduction and good governance as crosscutting themes. It should try to match the people’s aspirations, with sensible economic policies that are both affordable and sustainable over the long haul.

In the true spirit of Nepal’s new democracy, in preparing such a plan the people’s participation should be ensured through a variety of consultative mechanisms. Public hearings should be organised with different constituencies, particularly in areas outside Kathmandu.

Prudent populism
In Nepal’s current hyper-politicised atmosphere, it will be important to guard against development policies being formulated merely on the basis of populist slogans. The Maoists will need to ensure that their radicalised trade unions, student unions, the Young Communist League, etc, do not put undue pressure on the government, industries or employers to take decisions that are economically unsustainable and inefficient. On the other hand, other political parties too will need to restrain their supporters from undermining sensible policies adopted by the Maoists.

While the international community is likely to show much goodwill and solidarity for Nepal’s development, the new government certainly cannot expect a blank cheque from the international donors. The Maoists will need to be especially mindful that what sells well with their cadre may not necessarily sell well with either the Nepali people or the international community. A litmus test will be the degree to which rule of law is followed, checks and balances are honoured, and politics are not allowed to unduly influence administrative and economic decisions.

In the current euphoria of their election victory, the Maoists must correctly understand the nature of the people’s verdict. It is not, by any means, a popular endorsement of their ideology. Nor is it an expression of people’s acceptance of the use of violence, intimidation and extortion as justifiable political tactics. On the contrary, the people have voted for the Maoists with the hope that putting them in power will make them forsake such tactics, and allow the people to breathe in peace.

Focusing on an ambitious and sensible economic agenda would actually help to redeem the Maoists from their controversial past, and to establish them as a truly progressive force for change. That would be good for the Maoists, as well as for all Nepalis in the long term.

Source: www.himalmag.com

Future of NA & integration of Maoist PLA

Future of NA & integration of Maoist PLA

By Kul Chandra Gautam

With historic elections to the Constituent Assembly, abolition of the monarchy, and formation of a new government in the offing, Nepal is now well poised to draft a progressive constitution for a new federal democratic republic.One pending issue yet to be resolved, is security sector reform, including “professionalization and  integration” of the Maoist combatants still in cantonments; “democratization” of the Nepal Army and better representation of  Madhesis and other under-represented groups in Nepal’s security forces, as agreed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and other subsequent agreements. The CPA also speaks about “determination of the right number of the Nepali Army”, generally understood to mean the need to down-size Nepal’s security apparatus.

An early resolution of these issues is vital for bringing to closure Nepal’s peace process, and for lasting peace and tranquility. While these are complex issues which can only be accomplished over a number of years, a phased process of reform must begin right away with measurable steps taken in the short, medium and long-terms.

This article suggests some specific, perhaps non-conventional ideas on the issue of “integration” of the Maoist combatants, and making Nepal’s security forces more inclusive and democratic, as part of a broader, longer-term and comprehensive security sector reform.

While NA has a glorious history of many positive accomplishments for the unity and security of the country, and in international peace-keeping, it has never really been subservient to duly designated civilian authority, nor open to audit and accounting that is subject to parliamentary scrutiny and oversight.

Modern Nepal never had a functioning Ministry of Defense. Many knowledgeable analysts have dubbed Nepal’s Defense Ministry simply as a powerless post-box for the army, with real powers and responsibilities of the ministry vested in and exercised by the Principal Military Secretariat at the Royal Palace until mid-2006.

Since then, many of these powers and responsibilities have effectively shifted to Army Headquarters, headed by the Chief of Army Staff, reporting on a pro-forma basis to the prime minister who also serves as the Defense Minister.

In recent decades, the (Royal) Nepal Army has been accused of being rampant with corruption, especially at higher echelons; unable to provide motivation and boost the morale of the rank and file; misusing the Army Welfare Fund established with hard-earned income of ordinary soldiers serving in peace-keeping operations; unable or unwilling to hold violators of human rights within its ranks accountable, and frequently openly expressing contempt for political parties and civilian leadership.

On the other hand, it has been a mark of NA’s professionalism and sensitivity to the winds of political change that, although accused of being “royalist”, it has not attempted to intervene in Nepal’s dramatic political transition in the past three years, leading to the abolition of monarchy and coming to power of CPN (Maoist) through elections. It is worth noting that in similar circumstances, elsewhere in the world, it is not uncommon to see a restless military staging mutiny, bloodshed and acrimony, if not outright coups d’etat.

Nevertheless, the NA suffers from a negative image which may or may not be fully balanced and fair, but the fact that it has such an image calls for a genuine effort to transform both the perception and reality of NA.

The fact that the Maoist PLA too is accused of many brutalities and is seen as a tool of one political party, only reinforces the need for real modernization, professionalization and democratization of all of Nepal’s security forces.

During the decade of conflict, the ranks of NA more than doubled from some 46,000 to 96,000. With the integration of some of the Maoist combatants, Nepal army will have well over 100,000 personnel. In addition, there is a sizeable police force and armed police force.

As a peace-loving, democratic country, situated between the world’s two most populous countries, Nepal does not need such a large army. The main role of the military in today’s Nepal can only be to help keep internal law and order, provide VIP security, protect sensitive installations and to suppress internal rebellions and terrorism.

Nepal cannot really rely on its army to protect itself from any foreign aggression, as resolution of any conflict with our mighty neighbors is only conceivable through peaceful diplomacy. At best, NA can undertake routine border patrol and provide a temporary deterrence against any foreign invasion, but for that alone there is no need to have 100,000+army, costing over $100 million a year.

Given this reality, Nepal should gradually downsize its army to perhaps half of its current size, or to a level not exceeding around 50,000 soldiers, within 5 to 10 years, and reduce its military expenditures accordingly.

In the new peaceful Nepal, NA should probably be restructured to undertake 4 major  tasks: 1) the traditional military functions of maintaining peace and security, 2) serving in international peace-keeping and peace-building operations, 3) supporting disaster relief and rehabilitation, and 4) providing certain specialized security services, eg VIP security, industrial security, protection of vital installations, etc.

Moreover, NA should be sufficiently versatile to support and undertake certain reconstruction and development activities, whenever there is a slack period when large numbers of soldiers are not busy with other assignments. For this purpose, NA should have a few specialized units, e.g. an army corps of engineers or medical personnel who can be deployed at short notice to development and humanitarian activities.

NA is already involved in all such activities to some extent. What is being proposed here is to make this more formal and systematic, including reallocation of the defense budget to reflect these priorities.

While building specialized contingents in each of the 4 key tasks of NA as outlined above, to ensure a sense of equity, common experience and shared pride, in the course of their career all Nepali soldiers and officers should have an opportunity, and indeed obligation, to rotate and serve in all the 4 key functions, including in peace-keeping operations, which are among the most valued assignments.

Here is a three-pronged proposal for Nepal’s security sector reform, including the professionalization and integration of the Maoist combatants, making the security forces more reflective of the diversity of Nepal’s population, and democratization of NA:

For immediate action

a) Agree on a clear separation of the military and civilian political functions among the CPN-Maoist leadership as they form a new government. All Maoist commanding officers elected to CA and appointed to other civilian political and administrative functions need to immediately relinquish their military functions. Correspondingly, all Maoist military commanding officers in and outside the cantonments should not assume any political functions.

b) Agree that there must not be two separate armies, or two separate chains of command, or the mixing of civilian and military functions in a democratically elected government. Accordingly, under the overall guidance of the multi-party special committee formed in accordance with the recently amended Article 146 of the Interim Constitution, entrust the temporary management of all cantonments to a cabinet level committee with technical support from senior UNMIN military advisors/specialists. Consideration might also be given to enlist the support of retired Nepali army officers who have had relevant experience in UN Peace-keeping operations in similar situations in other countries.

c) Immediately discharge all verified under-age combatants from all cantonments to a temporary holding centre, to be managed by a respected senior, non-political civilian administrator to be assisted by UNICEF and other recognized national and international child-welfare organizations.

d) Establish a high level National Security Council that enjoys the respect and trust of all Nepalis to provide guidance for long-term security sector reform and short-term transitional arrangements, including the integration of Maoist combatants.

e) Begin the process of transforming and upgrading a proper Ministry of Defense staffed with competent, non-controversial senior officials, with some knowledge and expertise of military and strategic affairs, and a respected civilian leader as minister.

 Short-term action (3 to 6 months)

a) Under the overall guidance of the special committee formed under Article 146 of the Interim Constitution, and supervision of the National Security Council, establish a working group of experts to agree on the required minimum qualifications and criteria for recruitment into the various branches of Nepal’s security services. This working group will determine the eligibility of the Maoist combatants, as well as all future recruits from various previously under-represented communities to join different branches of Nepal’s security services. (Care should be taken in this context to exclude PLA combatants known to have committed serious human rights violations – just as action needs to be taken against (R) NA officers with a record of similar abuses).

b) With a view to significant downsizing of NA over the coming decade, develop a programme of voluntary early retirement from NA, and a severance package of financial incentives (say between 1 to 3 lakh rupees, depending on length of service) for the army personnel as well as for those Maoist combatants found ineligible or unqualified to join the security services, and for those who volunteer to take this option.

c) It is proposed that this facility for early retirement and financial compensation be made available for up to 10,000 soldiers and combatants every year for the next 5 years, with priority given in early years to the Maoist combatants.  Such a package would cost about NRs  2 billion or US$30 million per year which could be financed partly through Nepal’s defense budget and partly through international assistance by interested donors.

d) Among Maoist combatants who are eligible and opt for recruitment into NA, organize a special professional training for up to 2000 women combatants, with a view to deploying them on a preferential basis as part of Nepal’s peace-keeping troops with the United Nations. As per Security Council resolution 1325, the UN is actively encouraging the deployment of more women officers in its peace-keeping missions. Nepal could make a very valuable and mutually beneficial contribution to world peace by having a dedicated contingent of women soldiers and officers by making NA a more inclusive, gender-balanced and gender-sensitive institution.

e) For the remaining women combatants (perhaps up to another 2000), arrange for them to be trained as community health workers, pre-school or primary school teachers, or women development officers – with guaranteed employment – based on their qualifications and interest.

f) Among the remaining Maoist combatants who meet the minimum required qualifications for various security services, and who opt to join NA, arrange for the recruitment and special professional training, on a preferential basis, of heretofore under-represented communities (e.g. Madheshis, Dalits, etc.) who should be given special training that combines some basic military/police skills as well as specialized modules dealing with all the four key tasks of Nepal’s security forces, including peace-keeping, community development and disaster relief and rehabilitation.

g) Following initial basic professional training of the Maoist combatants, e.g. of six months, they should be joined by existing NA soldiers for  joint training in various specialized modules so that they all develop mutual understanding, respect, a sense of camaraderie and belonging to one national army.

h) For a small number of  high ranking Maoist officers, who have not joined the political process or appointed to other civilian jobs, and who have basic officer-level qualifications, arrange for a high level specialized officers’ training partly in Nepal and partly at an institution abroad like the Sandhurst academy in the UK. Part of this training should also be joint with other NA officers to ensure a sense of camaraderie and bonding as officers of a non-political professional army.

i) Negotiate with friendly countries and donor institutions to provide financial, technical and training support for the above program.

Longer-term action plan

In light of the need to gradually downsize NA, a policy decision should be taken not to automatically fill posts, including at the senior officer levels, which become vacant through normal attrition, retirement or voluntary early retirement.

Instead, for the next 3 to 5 years, a special policy should be adopted to fill up to 25 percent of such “vacant” posts through an affirmative action plan of special recruitment that specifically seeks out qualified recruits from among heretofore under-represented segments of Nepal’s population, including women, Madheshis and Dalits, in NA.

“Democratization” of NA as called for in CPA, should include at least 3 components: 1) gradually changing the composition of NA, including at the senior officer level, to make it more inclusive of the diversity of Nepal’s population, 2)  provide intensive training for all levels of NA, including at the officer level, on respect for human rights, humanitarian laws, gender and cultural sensitivity, and zero tolerance of impunity, and 3) ensure a strong culture of compliance with these democratic norms, not only in theory but in practice, through a rigorous system of internal monitoring and external civilian oversight.

Recognizing that military service, both in Nepal and in the Gurkha troops abroad, is an important source of employment and income for many impoverished families in Nepal, great care should be taken to ensure that alternative jobs are created, skill training is provided, arrangements are made for loans and financing for starting small enterprises and businesses by former soldiers, including the Maoist ex-combatants, as part of long term down-sizing of NA and demilitarization of Nepali society.

Such employment creation programs for ex-soldiers and combatants might include micro-credit and micro-finance schemes to start small enterprises, businesses and cooperatives. One could even envisage a special scheme for foreign employment for demobilized soldiers and ex-combatants, as several countries are known to be very receptive to employing retired soldiers with good professional training, skills and military discipline in certain occupations.

As Nepal is going to need several thousand additional primary school teachers and health workers in the coming years, demobilized soldiers and ex-combatants, especially women, should be given preferential training and placement opportunities in such civilian occupations. Even the private sector might be approached to help underwrite some of this retooling and to offer job opportunities for qualified demobilized soldiers and ex-combatants.

One of the saddest things introduced by the Maoists in their school curricula in areas under their control was militaristic education starting at a very young age in primary schools. In a subject called “military science” children were taught skills in making and using guns, explosives, grenades and booby traps; serving as sentries and informers, and glorifying revolutionary violence.

In the New Nepal, we must teach our children education for peace and non-violence. All militaristic training and indoctrination, including the Maoist proposal for compulsory military training for all adults, with regular refresher training, must be discarded as vestiges of a bygone era.

Finally, resources freed up from military expenses through the proposed security sector reform should be reallocated for poverty alleviation and human development, thus offering a genuine “peace dividend” for the people of Nepal, and making human security and prosperity the true basis of our national security in the 21st century.

Source: Kantipuronline

सेनाको भविष्य र लडाकू समायोजन

सेनाको भविष्य र लडाकू समायोजन

कुलचन्द्र गौतम
नेपाल संविधानसभाको ऐतिहासिक निर्वाचन र राजतन्त्रको उन्मूलनपछि नयाँ सरकार गठन गरेर संघीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्रको प्रगतिशील संविधान मस्यौदा गर्न तयार भएको छ। यस दिशामा अहिलेसम्म समाधान गर्न बाँकी एउटा मुख्य विषय सुरक्षा क्षेत्रको सुधार हो, जसअन्तर्गत बृहत् शान्ति सम्झ्ौता र त्यसपछिका सहमतिमा उल्लिखित हालसम्म क्यान्टोन्मेन्टमा रहेका मावादी लडाकूहरूको व्यवसायीकरण र समायोजन, नेपाली सेनाको लोकतन्त्रीकरण तथा मधेशी र कम प्रतिनिधित्व भएका अन्य समुदायको प्रतिनिधित्वमा वृद्धि, नेपाली सेनाको उपयुक्त सङ्ख्या निर्धारण जस्ता विभिन्न कामहरू पर्दछन्। शान्ति प्रक्रियालाई तार्किक निष्कर्षमा पुर्‍याउन र देशमा दिगो शान्ति एवं अमनचैन कायम गर्न अत्यन्त जरुरी यी विषयलाई पूर्ण टुङ्गो लगाउन त धेरै वर्ष लाग्न सक्छ, तर चरणवद्ध किसिमले प्रक्रियाको थालनी तुरुन्तै गर्नुपर्दछ।

नेपाली सेनाले देशको राष्ट्रिय एकता र सुरक्षा तथा अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय शान्ति स्थापनामा धेरै उपलब्धि हासिल गरेको गौरवमय इतिहास छ। तरपनि यो संस्था जननिर्वाचित राजनीतिक नेतृत्वप्रति पूर्ण उत्तरदायी वा जवाफदेही नभएको सुनिन्छ। विधायिका संसदमा यसको सुनुवाई र समीक्षा हुनसक्ने खालको लेखापरीक्षण गर्ने व्यवस्था पनि संस्थागत नभएको बुझिएको छ।

नेपालमा कहिल्यै पनि साँच्चि नै सक्षम र क्रियाशील रक्षा मन्त्रालय भएन। धेरै विद्वान्-विश्लेषकहरूले रक्षा मन्त्रालयलाई सेनाको एक शक्तिविहीन पोष्टबक्सका रूपमा चित्रित गरेका छन्। २०६३ सालको जनआन्दोलनअघिसम्म राजदरबारको प्रमुख सैनिक सचिवालयले नै वास्तविक रक्षा मन्त्रालयको जस्तो काम गर्थ्याे भनिन्छ। २०६३ यता राजदरबारको प्रमुख सचिवालयमा निहित धेरै शक्ति र दायित्व प्रधान सेनापतिको नेतृत्वमा रहेको सैनिक मुख्यालयमा सारियो। त्यसपछि प्रधान सेनापतिले रक्षामन्त्री समेत रहेका प्रधानमन्त्रीलाई रिपोर्ट बुझ्ाउने गरे तापनि सैनिक मुख्यालयमा रक्षा मन्त्रालयको कुनै प्रभावकारी निगरानी नभएको बुझिन्छ।

बितेका दशकहरूमा, (शाही) नेपाली सेनामा विशेषगरी माथिल्लो तहका अधिकृतहरूबाट व्यापक भ्रष्टाचार भएको, सामान्य सिपाही-जवानहरूको मनोबल बढाउन र उनीहरूलाई प्रोत्साहन गर्न नसकेको, सैनिक कल्याण कोषको दुरुपयोग भएको, मानवअधिकार उल्लङ्घनलाई जवाफदेही बनाउन नसकेको र राजनीतिक दल तथा राजनीतिक नेतृत्वप्रति लाञ्छना व्यक्त गरेको आरोप लगाइएको पनि सुनिन्छ। अर्कातिर, नेपाली सेनाले देशमा भएको मौलिक राजनीतिक परिवर्तनलाई सम्मान र संयमका साथ आत्मसात् गरी आफ्नो उच्च व्यावसायिकता र संवेदनशीलताको उदाहरण पनि दिएको छ।

राजावादीको आरोप लागेपनि विगत तीन वर्षको राजनीतिक सङ्क्रमणकाल सहजै पार गरेको नेपाली सेनाले निर्वाचनबाट मावादीले शक्ति हात पार्ने अवस्था आउँदा र राजतन्त्रको अन्त्य हुँदा पनि कुनै हस्तक्षेप गरेन। संसारका कतिपय मुलुकमा यस्तो परिस्थितिमा बेचैन सेनाले तत्कालै सत्ता कब्जा वा विद्रोह गर्ने, रक्तपात मच्चाउने र तनाव फैलाउने गरेका छन्, तर नेपालको सेना जनआन्दोलनपछि गठित संवैधानिक अन्तरिम सरकारप्रति वफादार रहेको कुरा उल्लेखनीय र प्रशंसनीय छ। तैपनि, पहिले शाही सेनाको रूपमा काम गरिआएको नेपाली सेनाको छवि त्यति स्वच्छ छैन। उता, मावादी सेनामाथि पनि धेरै अमानवीय क्रूरताको आरोप लागेको छ र उसलाई एउटा राजनीतिक दलको साधनका रूपमा हेरिएको छ। यसकारणले पनि नेपालको सम्पूर्ण सुरक्षा क्षेत्रको आधुनिकीकरण, व्यवसायीकरण र प्रजातन्त्रीकरण आवश्यक भएको हो।

द्वन्द्वका बेलामा नेपाली सेनाको सङ्ख्या ४६ हजारबाट ९६ हजार पुर्‍याइयो। केही मावादी लडाकूलाई समायोजन गर्दा यो सङ्ख्या अब एक लाख नाघ्न सक्नेछ। यसबाहेक प्रहरी र सशस्त्र प्रहरीको सङ्ख्या पनि उल्लेखनीय छ। सबैभन्दा धेरै जनसङ्ख्या र ठूला सैनिक भएका संसारका दुई वटा देशका बीचमा रहेको, शान्तिप्रिय र प्रजातान्त्रिक देश नेपालका लागि यति ठूलो सेना चाहिँदैन। वर्तमान नेपालमा सेनाको मुख्य भूमिका आन्तरिक शान्तिसुरक्षा कायम राख्नु, संवेदनशील भौतिक संरचनाको सुरक्षा गर्नु, आन्तरिक विद्रोह र आतङ्कको दमन गर्नु र विशिष्ट व्यक्तिहरूलाई सुरक्षा प्रदान गर्नु हो। नेपालको भूराजनीतिक स्थिति हेर्दा विदेशी आक्रमणबाट बच्नका लागि नेपाल आफ्नो सेनामा मात्र त्यति भर पर्न सक्दैन। ठूला छिमेकी राष्ट्रसँग झ्गडा, विवाद भएमा समाधान गर्ने एकमात्र उपाय शान्तिपूर्ण कूटनीति नै हो।

नेपाली सेनाले आफ्नो सीमाको साधारण सुरक्षा गर्न र कुनै वैदेशिक आक्रमणलाई तत्कालका लागि रोक्न सक्ला, तर यति कामका लागि एक लाखभन्दा बढी सेना राख्नु र नेपाल जस्तो गरिब देशलाई वार्षिक रु.६-७ अर्ब बराबरको भार बोकाउनु आवश्यक छैन। यो वास्तविकतालाई ध्यानमा राखेर नेपालले आगामी पाँच देखि १० वर्षमा आफ्नो सेनालाई करिब ५० हजारको हाराहारीमा राखी सैनिक खर्चमा पनि कटौती गर्नु बुद्धिमानी हुनेछ।

शान्तिपूर्ण नयाँ नेपालमा नेपाली सेनालाई चार वटा मुख्य काम गर्ने गरी पुनर्संरचना गर्नु उपयुक्त देखिन्छ। ती काम हुन्ः देशको शान्तिसुरक्षा; अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय शान्ति सेनामा सेवा; विशिष्ट व्यक्ति, उद्योग, भौतिक संरचना आदिको सुरक्षा; र प्राकृतिक प्रकोप एवं दुर्घटनाका बेला राहत र पुनर्स्थापनामा सहयोग। यीबाहेक, निश्चित खालका पुनर्निर्माण र विकासका गतिविधिमा पनि लगाउन सकिने गरी सेनालाई बहुउपयोगी बनाउनुपर्छ। यसका लागि नेपाली सेनामा केही विशेष इकाइहरू स्थापित गर्नुपर्छ। उदाहरणका लागि, अपझर््ट आइपर्ने मानवीय सेवा वा विकासका काममा तत्काल परिचालन गर्न सकिने इन्जिनियर वा डाक्टरको डफ्फा।

नेपाली सेना अहिले पनि केही हदसम्म यस्ता गतिविधिमा संलग्न छ। तर यसलाई अझ् बढी व्यवस्थित गर्नु र यसको प्राथमिकतालाई आत्मसात् गरी रक्षा बजेटको बाँडफाँड गर्नु उपयुक्त हुनेछ। नेपाली सेनाले आफ्नो पंक्तिमा आपसी समताको भावना, साझ्ा अनुभव र समान गर्व गर्ने वातावरण बनाउन सैनिक सेवामा सबैभन्दा आकर्षक मानिने शान्ति सेनामा सेवालगायतका उपर्युक्त चारैवटा काममा सबैलाई पालैपालो खटिने अवसर र जिम्मेवारी प्रदान गर्नुपर्छ।

बृहत् शान्ति सम्झ्ौताको धारा ४.४ मा मावादी सेनाका लडाकूहरूको रेखदेख, समायोजन र पुनर्स्थापना निम्ति अन्तरिम मन्त्रिपरिषद्ले विशेष कमिटी बनाएर काम गर्ने उल्लेख छ। तर यस प्रयोजनका लागि गठन भएको कमिटिको बैठक विरलै बसेको र समायोजन र पुनर्स्थापनाका विषयमा खासै कुनै छलफल र ठोस प्रगति नभएको सर्वविदितै छ। मावादी क्यान्टोन्मेन्टमा रहेका र अनमिनले प्रमाणित गरेका बालबालिकालाई तुरुन्त उद्धार तथा तिनीहरूको पुनर्स्थापनाका लागि आवश्यक यथोचित सहयोग गर्ने भनी बृहत् शान्ति सम्झ्ौतामा उल्लेख भएपनि यस सम्बन्धमा एकदमै ढिलासुस्ती भएको छ। फेब्रुअरी २००८ मा सरकार र मधेशी दलबीच भएको सम्झ्ौता बमोजिम नेपाली सेनामा मधेशीको समूहगत भर्तीका लागि आवश्यक कार्यविधि तयार गर्ने सम्बन्धमा पनि ठोस प्रगति भएको छैन।

यी कुराले संविधान निर्माण प्रक्रिया र समग्र शान्ति प्रक्रियामा गतिरोध पैदा नगरुन् भनी व्यावहारिक प्रस्ताव तयार गर्नु जरुरी छ। मावादी लडाकूको समायोजन र व्यवसायीकरण, सुरक्षा फौजमा नेपाली विविधताको प्रतिनिधित्व र नेपाली सेनाको लोकतन्त्रीकरणका लागि तत्कालीन, अल्पकालीन र दीर्घकालीन योजनाका केही प्रस्ताव यहाँ प्रस्तुत छन्।

तत्कालिक काम

• मावादीले सरकार गठन गर्दा आफ्ना नेताहरूका सैनिक र राजनीतिक कर्तव्य स्पष्ट छुट्याउने। प्रजातान्त्रिक सरकारमा राजनीतिक र सैन्य जिम्मेवारी मिसाउनुहुँदैन। संविधानसभामा निर्वाचित र अन्य राजनीतिक तथा प्रशासनिक काममा नियुक्त मावादी सैन्य अधिकृतले आफ्ना सैनिक जिम्मेवारी छाड्नुपर्छ। क्यान्टोन्मेन्ट तथा बाहिरका सैनिक अधिकृतले राजनीतिक जिम्मेवारी सम्हाल्नु हुँदैन।
• एउटा राज्यमा दुईवटा सेना अथवा चेन अफ कमान्डको स्थिति अन्त्य गर्ने। अन्तरिम संविधानको धारा १४६ मा हालै भएको संशोधन बमोजिम गठन हुने बहुदलीय विशेष कमिटीको निर्देशनमा मन्त्रिपरिषद स्तरीय समितिलाई क्यान्टोन्मेन्ट व्यवस्थापनको तात्कालिक जिम्मेवारी दिनुपर्छ, जसले अनमिनका बरिष्ठ सैन्य सल्लाहकार तथा विशेषज्ञको प्राविधिक सहायतामा यो काम गर्नेछ। यस कामका लागि राष्ट्रसंघीय शान्ति सेना अन्तर्गत अरू देशमा गएर सैन्य व्यवस्थापनको काम गरिसकेका नेपालका अनुभवी र योग्य भूतपूर्व सैनिक अधिकृतको सहयोग लिन पनि सकिनेछ।
• उमेर नपुगेका लडाकूहरूलाई क्यान्टोन्मेन्टबाट हटाएर अन्यत्र पुनर्स्थापित गर्न कुनै सम्मानित वरिष्ठ, गैरराजनीतिक नागरिक प्रशासकको व्यवस्थापनमा अस्थायी शिविरमा राख्ने। यस काममा युनिसेफ र अन्य राष्ट्रिय-अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय बाल कल्याण संस्थाले मद्दत गर्न सक्नेछन्।
• सुरक्षा क्षेत्रको दीर्घकालीन सुधार र मावादी लडाकूको समायोजनलगायतका सङ्क्रमणकालीन व्यवस्थापनमा नीतिनिर्देशन दिन सबै नेपालीको सम्मान र विश्वास प्राप्त गर्नसक्ने एक उच्चस्तरीय राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षा परिषद स्थापना गर्ने।
• रक्षा मन्त्रालयलाई प्रभावकारी र सक्षम मन्त्रालयमा रुपान्तरण गर्ने प्रक्रियाको थालनी गर्ने। मन्त्रालयमा कुनै सम्मानित राजनीतिक नेतालाई मन्त्री बनाएर सैन्य र रणनीतिक मामलामा थोरबहुत ज्ञान तथा विशेषता भएका दक्ष एवं अविवादित वरिष्ठ अधिकारी-कर्मचारीहरू नियुक्त गर्ने।

अल्पकालीन कार्ययोजना (३-६ महिना)
• अन्तरिम संविधानको धारा १४६ अन्तर्गत गठित विशेष समितिको उच्चस्तरीय निर्देशन र राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षा परिषदको सुपरीवेक्षणमा नेपालको सुरक्षा सेवाका विभिन्न निकायमा भर्ती हुने मानिसहरूको न्यूनतम योग्यता र छनोटका आधार तय गर्न विशेषज्ञहरूको एउटा कार्यसमूह स्थापना गर्ने। नेपालको सुरक्षा सेवामा मावादी लडाकू र कम प्रतिनिधित्व भएका समुदायको भर्नासम्बन्धी योग्यता पनि यही समूहले निर्धारण गर्नेछ।
• सेनाको सङ्ख्या घटाउने उद्देश्यले नेपाली सेनाबाट सेवाकाल पूरा हुनु अगावै स्वेच्छिक अवकाशको कार्यक्रम तयार गर्ने र त्यसमा सेवा अवधि हेरी रु.१ लाखदेखि ३ लाखको आकर्षक आर्थिक प्रोत्साहन दिने व्यवस्था गर्ने। सुरक्षा सेवामा भर्ती हुन अयोग्य वा योग्य ठहरिएर पनि भर्ती हुन नचाहने मावादी लडाकूका लागि पनि यस्तै सहुलियतको व्यवस्था गर्ने।
• हरेक वर्ष करिब १० हजार सिपाही र लडाकूहरूलाई आगामी पाँच वर्षसम्मका लागि सेवा अवधि पूरा हुनुअगावै स्वेच्छिक अवकाश र क्षतिपूर्तिको सुविधा उपलब्ध गराउने। यसो गर्दा शुरुका वर्षमा मावादी लडाकूलाई अवकाश लिन प्राथमिकता दिने। यसका लागि प्रतिवर्ष चाहिने करिब रु.२ अर्ब नेपालको रक्षा बजेट र इच्छुक दाताहरूले दिने अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय सहायताबाट व्यहोर्ने व्यवस्था मिलाउन सकिनेछ।
• नेपाली सेनामा भर्ना हुन योग्य र इच्छुक दुई हजार जति महिला लडाकूलाई राष्ट्रसंघको शान्ति सेनामा जाने नेपाली टोलीमा समावेश गर्न प्राथमिकता दिने हिसाबले विशेष व्यावसायिक तालिम प्रदान गर्ने। सुरक्षा परिषदको निर्णय नं. १३२५ बमोजिम राष्ट्रसंघले आफ्नो शान्ति स्थापना गर्ने दलमा महिला अधिकारी खटाउने कामलाई बढावा दिएको छ। नेपालले पनि महिला सिपाही एवं अधिकारीहरूका डफ्फा शान्ति सेनामा पठाएर सेनालाई बढी समावेशी, लैङ्गिक दृष्टिले सन्तुलित र लैङ्गिक भेदभावप्रति संवेदनशील संस्था बनाउन सक्छ।
• अरू दुई हजार जति महिला लडाकूलाई उनीहरूको योग्यता र रुचिका आधारमा सामुदायिक स्वास्थ्य कार्यकर्ता, शिक्षक वा महिला विकास अधिकारीको काम गर्न सक्ने बनाउन तालिमको व्यवस्था गर्ने।
• विभिन्न सुरक्षा सेवामा भर्ती हुन योग्यता पुगेका र चाहने मावादी लडाकूहरूलाई देशको आवश्यकता अनुसार नेपाली सेना, प्रहरी आदि निकायमा भर्ती गर्दा अहिलेसम्म कम प्रतिनिधित्व भएका मधेशी, दलित आदि समुदायलाई प्राथमिकता दिने। उनीहरूलाई आधारभूत सैनिक तथा प्रहरी तालिमका साथै शान्ति सेना, सामुदायिक विकास, राहत र पुनर्स्थापना लगायतका नेपाली सुरक्षा निकायका प्रस्तावित मुख्य कामसम्बन्धी तालिमको व्यवस्था गर्ने।
• आधारभूत तालिम लिएका मावादी लडाकूलाई नेपाली सेनाका वर्तमान सिपाहीसँग मिसाएर संयुक्त रूपमा विशेष तालिम दिने, जसले गर्दा उनीहरूबीच आपसी समझ्दारी, आदर र आत्मीयता तथा राष्ट्रिय सेनाको भावनाको विकास होस्।
ङ्ग राजनीति वा अरू प्रशासनिक काममा नलागेका र सैन्य अधिकृत तहको योग्यता पुगेका केही थोरै मावादी सैन्य अधिकृतलाई आंशिक रूपमा नेपालमा र आंशिक रुपमा बेलायतको स्यान्डहर्स्ट ऐकेडेमीजस्ता विदेशी तालिम केन्द्रमा उच्चस्तरीय विशेष अधिकृत तालिमको व्यवस्था गर्ने। यस्तो तालिमको केही अंश नेपाली सेनाका अन्य अधिकृतका साथमा पनि गराउन सकिन्छ, जसले गर्दा उनीहरू सबैमा एक गैरराजनीतिक व्यावसायिक सेनाको अधिकृतका जस्तोे आत्मीयताको भावना र सुसम्बन्ध विकास हुनसकोस्।
• माथि उल्लिखित कार्यक्रमका लागि आवश्यक आर्थिक, प्राविधिक र तालिम सहयोग जुटाउन विभिन्न मित्रराष्ट्र र दातृसंस्थासँग छलफल र सम्झ्ौता गर्ने।

दीर्घकालीन कार्ययोजना
• नेपाली सेनाको सङ्ख्या क्रमशः घटाउँदै लैजानुपर्ने आवश्यकतामा ध्यान दिँदै नियमित रूपले अनिवार्य अवकाश वा स्वेच्छिक अवकाशमार्फत खाली हुने वरिष्ठलगायतका कुनै पनि पद स्वतः पुनः पूर्ति नगर्ने नीतिगत निर्णय लिने।
• यसरी खाली हुनेमध्ये २५ प्रतिशत जति पदमा आगामी तीनदेखि पाँच वर्षका लागि हालसम्म कम प्रतिनिधित्व भएका महिला, मधेशी र दलित समुदायका योग्य व्यक्तिलाई भर्ना गर्ने विशेष व्यवस्था गर्ने।
• नेपाली सेनाको प्रजातन्त्रीकरण प्रक्रियामा नेपाली सेनालाई नेपाली जनताको विविधताले भरिएको समावेशी संस्था बनाउनका लागि यसका सबै तहको संरचनालाई आवश्यकता अनुसार क्रमशः परिवर्तन गर्ने, सबै तहका सैनिकहरूलाई मानवअधिकार, मानवीय कानून, लैङ्गिक र सांस्कृतिक संवेदनशीलता र दण्डहीनता उन्मूलन विषयमा तालिम दिने, र आन्तरिक अनुगमन र बाह्य गैरसैनिक निगरानीमार्फत यी लोकतान्त्रिक प्रचलनलाई सिद्धान्तमा मात्र होइन व्यवहारमा पनि लागू गर्ने कुरा सुनिश्चित गर्ने।
• अवकाश पाउने सैनिकका लागि वैकल्पिक रोजगारी सिर्जना गर्ने, आवश्यक तालिम दिने र भूतपूर्व सिपाही एवं मावादी लडाकूहरूलाई साना उद्यम-व्यापार सञ्चालन गर्न आवश्यक ऋण तथा लगानीको व्यवस्था गर्नेतर्फ ध्यान दिने।
• सुरक्षासम्बन्धी निश्चित पेशामा राम्रो व्यावसायिक तालिम, सीप र सैनिक अनुशासन भएका पूर्व सैनिकहरूको माग भएको देशमा सेवानिवृत्त सिपाही, प्रहरी र पूर्व लडाकूहरूका लागि वैदेशिक रोजगारीको योजना तयार गर्ने।
• अवकाश पाएका सैनिक र विशेष सीप भएका भूतपूर्व लडाकूहरूलाई काम दिन देशको निजी क्षेत्रको मद्दत लिने प्रयास गर्ने।
• आगामी वर्षहरूमा नेपालमा हजारौँ थप प्राथमिक शिक्षक र स्वास्थ्य कार्यकर्ता चाहिने हुनाले अवकाश पाएका सिपाही र पूर्व लडाकू तथा तीमध्ये पनि विशेष गरी महिलालाई यस्ता गैरसैनिक जिम्मेवारी लिन सक्ने बनाउन तालिम र जागिरको अवसर दिने।

प्रस्तावित सुरक्षा क्षेत्रको सुधार प्रक्रियाको पूर्ण कार्यान्वयनका लागि केही समय लाग्न सक्छ, तर अझ्ै क्यान्टोन्मेन्टमा भएका बालबालिकाको निरस्त्रीकरण र पुनर्स्थापनाको काममा भने कत्ति पनि ढिलाइ हुनुहुँदैन। यो बाल अधिकारको सवाल हो। यसमा राजनीतिक वादविवाद गर्नुहुँदैन र कुनै राजनीतिक सम्झौताका लागि पर्खनु पनि पर्दैन।

मावादीले युद्धकालमा आफ्नो कब्जामा रहेका क्षेत्रका स्कूलको पाठ्यक्रममा समावेश गरेको सबैभन्दा दुःखलाग्दो एउटा कुरा प्राथमिक स्कूलमा पढ्ने बालबालिकालाई सानो उमेरदेखि नै सैनिक शिक्षाको थालनी गराउनु हो। सैन्य विज्ञान नाम दिइएको यस विषयमा केटाकेटीलाई बन्दूक, विस्फोटक पदार्थ, ग्रिनेड र बुबीट्राप बनाउन, उपयोग गर्न, सेन्ट्री-सुराकीका रूपमा काम गर्न र क्रान्तिकारी हिंसाको गुणगान गाउन सिकाइन्थ्यो।

नयाँ नेपालमा हामीले बालबालिकालाई शान्ति र अहिंसाको पाठ पढाउनुपर्छ। उमेर पुगेका सबै नागरिकलाई अनिवार्य सैनिक तालिम दिनेे मावादीको प्रस्तावलाई पनि बितेको युगको अवाञ्छनीय अवशेष ठानी त्याग गर्नु उचित हुनेछ। बरु त्यसको विकल्पमा १९ देखि २२ वर्षका युवाहरूलाई सैनिक तालिम लगायत अरू गैरसैनिक सामुदायिक विकासका कार्यक्रममा समावेश गरेर राष्ट्रिय सेवाको अवसर प्रदान गर्नु उपयुक्त हुनेछ। यसले गर्दा राष्ट्रिय सैन्य सेवाप्रति पनि युवाहरूमा सकारात्मक उत्साह बढ्न सक्छ।

बालबालिका र नागरिकको रक्षा गर्न अनि नेपाललाई द्वन्द्वपछि हुनसक्ने अराजकता र आपराधिक गतिविधिबाट जोगाउन हतियार व्यवस्थापन कार्यक्रम अन्तर्गत विस्फोटक पदार्थलाई निष्त्रि्कय पार्ने, विस्फोटक पदार्थबारे शिक्षा दिने र साना हतियारको विस्तारलाई रोक्ने सशक्त कार्यक्रम चलाउनुपर्छ।

तराईका हतियारधारी समूह र विभिन्न राजनीतिक दलमा आबद्ध मिलिसिया सङ्गठनहरूले फैलाएका अराजकता, धाकधम्की र हिंसाले साना हातहतियारमा कडा नियन्त्रण गर्न अति आवश्यक भएको सन्देश दिएका छन्। यस्ता हातहतियारको नियन्त्रण नभएमा नेपालको लोकतन्त्रको भविष्य नै खतरामा पर्नेछ। किनभने असुरक्षा र दण्डहीनताको वातावरणमा लोकतन्त्र कहिल्यै फस्टाउन सक्दैन ।

अन्त्यमा, प्रस्तावित सुरक्षा क्षेत्रको सुधारबाट बचत हुने सैनिक खर्चलाई नेपालले गरिबी निवारण र मानव विकासका क्षेत्रमा लगाउनु पर्छ। यसो गरेर नेपालले जनतालाई शान्तिको फल वितरण गर्नुका साथै मानव सुरक्षा र समृद्धिलाई एक्काइसौँ शताब्दीको राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षाको आधार बनाउनुपर्छ ।

(गौतम राष्ट्रसंघका पूर्व सहायक महासचिव तथा युनिसेफका पूर्व नायब कार्यकारी निर्देशक हुन्।)

स्रोत: हिमाल खबर पत्रिका