Nepali Congress resolution that failure to fulfill fundamentals of peace within August 28 would force it to press for not extending the CA-term and going to people for fresh mandate has also made the ruling parties conscious of timely performance of the three monthly -assignment.
What are the leading Nepali politicos doing these days? Are they presiding over the demise of the process that led to a number of important democratic achievements over the time after People's Movement II? Or are they effortful in correcting their mistakes that resulted in their failure to institutionalize peace and script the republican constitution in three years?
These are the questions being seriously raised in public at the moment particularly after the June 19-deadline of crucial importance was missed. Had there been a sense of political accountability, Pushpa Kamal Dahal of ruling UCPN-Maoist, Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal of CPN (UML) and opposition party leader Sushil Koirala would have explained the flop to the people. Their latest posture, however, shows: they do not mind it that seriously. The leaders sound in their usual rhetoric rather insensitive to the chain effect of the missed deadline on the process of peace and constitution.
The Special Committee, it might be recalled, had worked out, with political parties' approval, a schedule that sought to finalize the modality of integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants (a must for peace and constitution) by that day. Viewed in the backdrop of five-point deal that was instrumental in extending the tenure of the Constituent Assembly for three months, the inability to produce the modality as per schedule could be taken as an indicator of lack of political will to institutionalize peace. It signals in advance: the May 28- August 28, 2011 period will also be as unproductive as the earlier one year extension-period.
Since the issue of modality is attached to the logical end of peace process, all the nuts and bolts of internal and external linkages between them should be addressed. Pressing among them are factors such as submission of weapons to government, offering all combatants dignified options to remain in security job under a proper integration-scheme, or go back to civilian life with financial package, or pick up a rehabilitation-plan. Working out the exact number of those who are willing to continue in security sector is very difficult because Maoists and other parties have contrasting opinion on it. Moreover, the issue of making the integration compatible to Nepal Army standards is more challenging. Regrouping them as per their free choice is also equally important. In missing the first deadline, the parties concerned have evaded all these issues.
Reading the mood and expression of top Nepali politicians from the view-point of their stand on peace process today is very puzzling. They usually have three dimensions meant for varied audiences in the country, in the political parties and in foreign countries. All would sound democratic, accommodative and peace-centric. All would show they are busy participating in schemes for institutionalizing peace. But in reality they are getting more non-cooperative towards the fundamental issue that is the key to peace – the modality for tackling the issue of Maoist combatants.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Prachanda, the leader of the largest single party – UCPN-Maoist - in the Constituent Assembly says, in a parliamentary tone, the fundamentals for peace process will be completed before August 28 as per the five-point deal. He takes some practical steps towards it; duly sends out Maoist security guards from his premises. But then a strategy gets developed in his party through senior vice-chairman Mohan Baidya's faction that turns down the top leader's liberal approach and continues to retain Maoist guards defying the party -line. Maoists defend the contradiction through the doctrine of in-party democracy. But they show no sensitivity to the way the prospects of peace are being crushed because of their evading the modality–issue.
Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal is also nurturing mutually contradictory strategies in the approach to peace -efforts. He practically signs willingness to resign in the five –point agreement and presents himself as a good facilitator. But a bit later he refuses to quit and obstructs the peace process producing a number of excuses and interpretations of the deal. Neither is he making any effort for facilitating the emergence of national consensus government as pledged in the agreement. His party CPN (UML) appears more vocal than pressing for peace. Its leadership in government since May 23, 2009, first under Madhav Kumar Nepal and later, continuity of the same under JNK since February 3, appears simply dreary and directionless from the view point of progress towards peace.
Opposition party Nepali Congress feels it does not have any mechanism to compel the ruling parties implement the five point deal in practice and expedite the modality-building process. The party's resolution that failure to fulfill fundamentals of peace within August 28 would force it to press for not extending the CA-term and going to people for fresh mandate has also made the ruling parties conscious of timely performance of the three monthly -assignment. The NC- warning appears to have prompted the ruling parties to buy time to retain power for fishing in the troubled waters of vacuum that might emerge after the expiry of CA tenure.
Madheshi parties and others represented in the CA appear, in their own way, busy being onlookers of the three party drama of dialogue on peace process and evasion of the issue of modality of integration and rehabilitation of combatants. They also appear troubled, like the big three, by internal party matters relating to leadership, organization and agenda. Although they have numerical importance in the parliament, they have not been able to transfer it in the dialogue on the modality. They have to satisfy themselves with their formality-presence and formality –reference in most matters about it.
The behaviour of politicos in the first three weeks of the Three Month extended term of CA suggests that they talk, but do not mean, finishing the fundamentals for peace process. The posture of engagement in the job of modality that they are demonstrating at present indicates they are just buying time for working out party strategy to cope with the Post-CA politics. They will be able to do that. But the question is: will that tactic give them face –saving device as they go on reporting to Nepalis, the main architect of the Constituent Assembly?