Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pyar Jung's Jumbo Size Love For The King

Like Ram Baran Yadav said to me on the phone from Delhi many months back: "This is your typical Third World dictator."

Buy a plane, and then go where?

Phone Marathon II
Phone Marathon: Called Up Delhi

Royal 737

Jana Aastha, 28 September

The army has in principle decided to buy a Boeing 737 for the king’s visits abroad to be paid for by the Royal Nepali Army’s Welfare Fund. The need for such an aircraft was raised by C-in-C Pyar Jung Thapa because Royal Nepal Airlines’ 15-year-old 757s could not be guaranteed to be snag-free during preparations for His Majesty’s visit to New York which was scrubbed. The idea is for the army to buy the $45.5-77 million plane and lease it to Royal Nepal Airlines for its regional routes. The 737 could be of the 800 or 900 series and would be equipped for VVIP flights or to carry 177 passengers in the airliner configuration. Royal Nepal Airlines has been planning unsuccessfully to buy 737s and the deal would also give local middlemen some added income.

In The News

  • The Royal Trek Nepali Times .... Gyanendra has stepped up efforts to demonstrate that he enjoys widespread support and respect from Nepalis...... walked through Patan greeting thousands of curious onlookers and school children instructed to stand on the sidewalks as he made his way to inspect the regional office of the Central Zone in Jawalakhel ....... king walked on recently patched potholes, past stumps of trees chopped down after 1 February and under dozens of welcome arches and banners that the local administration compelled local hotels, institutions and schools to put up overnight......... that he is working to restore peace and “meaningful” democracy....... the king wants to be an active monarch and suspect a sinister prelude to further crackdowns...... the Maoists stole his thunder by announcing their three-month unilateral ceasefire, this could be a royal PR offensive.... ever since the ceasefire on 3 September the royal regime has been on the defensive, lashing out with an orchestrated attack on pro-democracy elements in the media, judiciary and civil society. This has sparked rumours that royal hardliners are pushing the king to launch further crackdowns........ has worried even committed monarchists who say the king is painting himself into a corner and pushing the country on an irreversible path to republicanism....... “Too many crazy mistakes have been made. Enough is enough, the king should take five of the cleanest most respected people in the land and give them only one mandate: to talk to the Maoists and the parties and find a solution,” says Padam Thakurati, the Panchayat era editor....... “The king is trapped in a conspiracy,” explains retired Brig-Gen Dipta Prakash Shah, a former nominated member of the Upper House, “to hide one mistake the royal courtiers are making a thousand mistakes…both an active monarchy or military rule are out of the question.”
  • Tulsi Giri Speaks Out ... to find out for himself the condition that you, his subjects, live under..... Girija Prasadji says that the king is like the idol of Pashupatinath. What he doesn’t realise is that hundreds of thousands of devotees seek the blessings of Pashupatinath....... When the 1990 constitution was promulgated it wasn’t because of the People’s Movement, it was because His Majesty himself exercised his right to change the constitution. This is an inalienable right that has been vested on the monarch from time immemorial. No one can take it away and if anyone tries, His Majesty also has the right to protect it.......... Now, they say they want to debate whether the monarchy should be kept or done away with. It’s not so simple, this is a potentially huge leap. Where did these so-called democrats get the right to demand that? ........ The parties have now called for a democratic republic even though they know the people will never accept it........ There are parties, they are allowed to hold meetings and demonstrations....... I told foreigners: parliament was dissolved by the parliamentary parties themselves, years before the king took over. Now the parties want to restore parliament and for that Article 127 needs to be invoked—and when the king used the same article they said he was acting unconstitutionally......... Nepalis have a perception that we can’t live without foreign money, that we can’t control the Maoists without foreign arms. I have told them openly: don’t threaten us. We will survive without your money. We will live without your guns. This country will live independently......... Now, if the parties are not for peace and democracy then I have nothing to say......... Nowhere in the world can newspapers get away with what papers get away with here. One can sue the editor of Kantipur, a cartoonist or a publisher and if you win they may get two years behind bars but they can get out on bail and continue writing whatever they want. This constitution allows such things. How does one deal with this? ......... politicised forces threaten strikes and pen downs? If we try to stop it they will go to the Supreme Court. Another problem. After all, the justices are also human beings they are also affected by what happens outside. Now I hear the Supreme Court wants to dissolve the RCCC........ If they have cast aside the constitution, there is no reason why others should adhere to it. We are battling terrorism, we are fighting anarchy and we have to move ahead by circumventing constitutional provisions.
  • PalPalis Want The Government Also To Agree To A Ceasefire when asked about the ceasefire. “We’re happy”, “it’s good news” or “I can move easily” people say but there is always a but: “But the government should also agree to the ceasefire.” ........ The area has been little disturbed by the conflict because it’s not on a main rebel route. But some months ago some soldiers disguised as Maoists entered one end of the village while two rebels on a motorcycle rode in at the other. After the shooting stopped, one Maoist was dead while the other was wounded and escaped......... “After the ceasefire things like that haven’t happened,” says the headmaster. “People are hoping that if both sides drop their guns there will be peace.” ....... a local NGO worker says things are more relaxed. “I can go anywhere now,” she says, “Before I used to have many problems.” Earlier this year in eastern Palpa about 5,000 Maoists had gathered at a school where she was supposed to train locals. “They interrogated me about our training, why we were doing it, what its benefits would be, who was being paid what. Finally they said OK, you can go ahead,” she recalls. ....... Generally, Maoists act respectfully when they’re on duty, they pay the fare and don’t ask for special treatment, says a young jeep driver on the road from Tansen to Chidipani. As for soldiers: “I have never been harassed by them but I know they have beaten drivers who were forced to give rides to Maoists.”........ The only businesses that are thriving are those linked to the overseas workforce: money transfers and international phone call centres........ The local bank has also left and the police post has relocated..... On one occasion the Red Cross walked for five days to take back prisoners captured by the Maoists. But when the military captures people, half of them don’t come out alive, says one local........ Maoists would occasionally demand food. Soldiers would come after that and say, “if you had not fed them they wouldn’t be here”.
  • Something Is Rotten by CK Lal ...... a mood of anticipation tinged with apprehension about something Big that is about to happen. No one is quite sure what, but it is sure to be significant...... The unilateral ceasefire by the Maoists has caught the state in a bind...... hardcore monarchists are feeling a bit concerned by the proactive rebel ceasefire and pressure from the international community. Regressive elements in the palace may be trying to get the king to hit back decisively....... any such move will be counterproductive....... Prior to February First, we ignored Mohammad Mohsin's prediction of a return to autocracy and look at that happened. Something nasty is cooking once again in the royal political kitchen. The smell is overpowering........ a two-step-back-one-step-forward move ot further consolidate monarchical power? ....... Between Dasain and Tihar, the pendulum of power can swing either way: an even more despotic regime run by the military, or a softer authoritarian version functioning under a multi-party facade........ the parties remain suspicious of their intentions. Civil society is hesitant to give them an unqualified benefit of the doubt. The international community is skeptical. Nobody is taking the Maoist commitment to pluralistic democracy at face value........ the continuation of their non-lethal war through abductions, extortions and indoctrination campaigns. Will they strike back at the state with even more vehemence if the ceasefire isn't transformed into a full-fledged truce? Just look at the past pattern....... what is the alternative vision, slogan, ideology and plan of action to replace this tottering regime? ....... the leaders of political parties ..... their inaction ..... stir an apathetic Nepali public into action ...... Indians fear absolute anarchy in Nepal more than an absolute monarchy and are concentrating their efforts in mainstreaming the Maoists....... civil society is pushing for a government response to the ceasefire and parties say they'll talk to the Maoists. The foreigners say they are stepping up the pressure on the king......
  • The Decisive Indecision Of Our Decision Makers by Kunda Dixit .... the antinationalist private media ..... the ministers are all behind the scenes trying hard to be neither seen nor heard...... that way the ministers can’t make any major mistakes..... decided that under no circumstances is the cabinet to take any decisions about making decisions..... It’s an idiot-proof system of governance because our movers and shakers don’t move at all and very rarely shake...... it was recently discovered that there is a mole in the cabinet who is feeding sensitive information about major ministerial indecisions to the media....... The government hasn’t decided whether it should be the one to decide to respond to the unilateral ceasefire, and if so what that decision should be. “The decision hasn’t been taken on who should decide,” clarified the government spokesman with hesitation...... even the Almighty hasn’t made up his and/or her mind about what to do with Nepal next.
  • His Majesty Should Not Fight The People The war between the state and rebels have escalated after the king’s rule......... The parliamentary parties have intensified their movement on the streets despite facing administrative and legal restrictions and penalties. Literary figures, lawyers, journalists and professionals have joined the anti-king street protest. Politics have come to a standstill.......... the people close to him act superior to the citizens, they act like lords, they conspire and play dirty politics....... The civil service is demoralised, and the introduction of new ordinances, regional and zonal administrations, the monitoring teams have all been causing serious disruptions. Even the controversial appointment or promotion of the chief secretary has been done by the king........ he is doing just the opposite by creating a political vacuum and trying to move ahead by intensifying the war with the political parties......... Civil society has been active and with good reason has launched a moral crusade against the king’s move...... One of the king’s political misfits, Tulsi Giri ...... The question is if the views of the royal appointees also reflect the king’s own views....... it has been running the government with arrogance and vindictiveness........ There is still time for the king to play a positive role...... It is becoming increasingly clear who is against peace. The palace has been opposing peace because it knows that with more peace, the lesser scope will be for dictatorship. It is a well known fact that dictators love crises, problems, poverty, mismanagement and conflict. They know that these are the evils that can help them retain power....... After the unilateral ceasefire, the palace certainly has been on the defensive because it doesn’t wish to see an end to the conflict........ even those who are for peace in the palace have begun to ponder if it is the royalists who have been obstructing peace efforts........ The slogan that there will be no Nepal without a monarchy is outdated feudal talk. What the royalists actually mean by that is that they will wipe out the existence of Nepal if there is no monarchy....... will not only help end conflict but also play an important role in the rehabilitation of conflict-torn countries and disarmament and reintegration of the military wings of conflicting parties......... Kofi Annan has repeatedly said that the Nepali conflict cannot be solved militarily and that the UN offers its offices to help dialogue between the two parties. Given the increased military might of the army and the Maoists and soaring security expenditures, the UN can certainly help in disarmament and demobilisation of both sides. In this context, Prachanda’s point is relevant and there are possibilities of a UN role as elsewhere..... The UN has adequate experience on minimising differences and maximising agreements between warring parties and working on compromise...... The two neighbours have not spoken about the UN’s role so far. Therefore, the UN will need to get the nod from three sides: the Maoists who have already sought such role, the government and Nepal’s two neighbours........ the Secretary General’s special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been holding talks with India, China and the US. He has been trying to receive their cooperation without which it is difficult to see progress towards resolution.

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