Amaa Network Consultant Inc.

Vol. 10,  No. 19,   Tuesday,  July  3,  2001

Koirala prepares quit-speech

Wildlife experts seek ban on Shahtoosh

Newcomers inspire hope in Upper House

Cases of public interest and delivery of justice

Opposition to Public Security Regulations

US report questions Pakistan’s survival


NC-UML return to table for talks
Koirala prepares quit-speech

Ruling Nepali Congress and Opposition Party CPN UML had an about turn this week when they re-opened talks obstructed for over eight months to find out solution to the present political crisis.

The key to the change in their hearts is the 14- point proposal made by Prime Minister Koirala at the outset of the 20th session of the parliament. The UML has already given green light for talks on the proposal keeping in view the broad goal of national interest and that of the people.

Analysts point out Koirala’s pledge to sacrifice anything for the higher national interests expressed in his proposal. He had then pointed out that he is not actually fighting for securing his position in the government or ensuring his post. "What I am engaged in is getting the honour due to the high post of the Prime Minister in the multi-party parliamentary system in which the Prime Minister holds the key position."

Interpreting the pledge as preparedness to quit the post, the UML that passed several months in the past urging the Premier to resign decided to respond to the proposal positively. Although the UML leaders are emphasizing the resignation of the PM as prelude to talks, they have decided to return to the table to have negotiation with the government.

Most politicians appreciate the wisdom the two big parties have displayed at present for the sake of the national interest. One highly placed NC source said Koirala has already asked his colleagues to prepare his good-bye speech. While the successor of Koirala is still not in sight yet, the PM has kept the card related to this point to his chest without letting anyone have an surmise of the same. The UML high command believes that the successor will be a comfortable person for the leftists.

Some say the present coming together of the NC and UML is nothing but a rehearsal for an all party government which will ultimately seek to tackle the problems facing the nation. Their talks will gradually fan out and engage all in the political spectrum of the country. The currently underground leftists may also join it, some predict. However, the underground party has not made anything public about this.

The UML has, for consumption of those who consider its latest stand as a sell out to the ruling party, started saying that the PM will resign immediately after the Parliament endorses the Vote on Account Bill. This has been interpreted as the party’s explanation of why it joined the parliament and talks without getting its previous single point agenda- the resignation of the Prime Minsiter- fulfilled.

Having the UML change mind and not disrupt the parliament-session, and getting it back to the negotiation table without having to quit under pressure from the street has by themselves been great achievement for Koirala. His insistence that as an elected Premier of the party having majority in the House of Representatives has also been honoured, although somewhat indirectly, point out seasoned politicians.

The high level understanding among the political parties is actually the need of the hour. In this hour of crisis no politician can afford to differ or remain prejudiced because of petty party politics, opine intellectuals. They have, therefore, welcomed the coming together of the NC and UML. This will certainly result ultimately in the all party government.

The only point not clear is the silence of the Constitution on formation of all party government in times when the parliament has decisive structure of ruling and opposition parties. Will the all party government be constituted after dissolving the parliament? Or will it be formed through understanding with those in the majority party government?


Wildlife experts seek ban on Shahtoosh

Nepal and her neighbours India and China should undertake joint efforts in banning trade of the world’s costliest wool - Shahtoosh.

The view is stressed by wild life experts but no serious efforts have so far been made by the government of the concerned countries.

Shahtoosh wool is so fine that the shawls made of it can be pulled through a finger ring.

An international ban on shahtoosh was imposed in 1995 after environmentalists alleged that the chiru were being hunted into extinction for the soft underbelly hair that is used to make the wool.

In the meanwhile the Wildlife Trust of India called for a common strategy by authorities in India, China and Nepal to fight the lucrative but illegal trade in the world’s most wanted wool. 


Newcomers inspire hope in Upper House

His Majesty the King’s three nominees Dr. Roop Jyoti, Ms.Yangkila Sherpa and Dipta Prakash Shah along with elected Upper House members such as Mahesh Mani Acharya Dixit, Radheshyam Adhikari, Bala Bahadur Rai have inspired confidence and hope among politicians and the general people.

Their personalities guarantee that they would do something substantial for uplifting the image of the 60-member Rastriya Sabha, a permanent parliamentary chamber which refreshes itself once in two years with fresh election for one third of its members.

The June 27 election left the CPN UML in majority seat in the RS as against its second position in the House of Representatives. The total number of seats of UML in RS at present stands at 23 while that of the ruling NC has dropped to 21.

Because of the previous nonperformance of the RS, the House could not be very effective, complain politicians. The fresh men and women this time will make the difference, they hope. The RS being the House of the elites is considered very important but in practice it is taken as secondary to the HOR. The members would work hard to raise the status of the RS in future, said political analysts as they wrapped up the 2001 poll of the House.

The election handed over the UML a prestigious position in one Camera of the parliament. Its victory in all five seats from the development regions accompanied by similar gain in three seats elected by the HOR heralded a new era for it. Moreover, UML’s being instrumental in making one RPP candidate win the poll has earned a friend in RPP.

NC, majority party in the HOR, could get its seven candidates win the seats elected by the House. Ashok Koirala, Akkal Bahadur Bista, Deepak Bahadur Gurung, Bal Bahadur Rai, Radheshyam Adhikari, Ramjivan Singh and the only female candidate Maiya Devi Shrestha have become MPs.

So have UML’s Mahesh Mani Acharya Dixit, Laxmi Das Manandhar, Beduram Bhusal and RPP’s Lok Bahadur Thapa. UML’s Ram Prit Paswan, Lalitkumar Basnet, Shree Maya Thakali, Ranganath Joshi and Urbadutta Panta have also been elected from development regions.


Cases of public interest and delivery of justice

The cases of public interest and delivery of justice constituted the theme of deliberations at a programme held in Kathmandu under the auspices of the Judicial Service Training Centre and Judicial Council Secretariat. Delay in delivery of justice was the main issue that worried many speakers including the Chief Justice. They underlined the need to expedite the process of delivery of justice.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Keshav Prasad Upadhyaya urged judges on the occasion to be more careful in handling the cases of public interest.

"You have to do three things at the same time in such cases: quick delivery of justice, maintaining constitutionality and ensuring legality."

Judges should deliver justice wisely in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution keeping in view the people’s right to justice, he added. Deliver justice quickly to the commoner, the CJ told the participants.

Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal was of the view that in dynamic societies legal principles and definitions change frequently and justice should be done in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. Judicial Council Secretary Kashi Raj Dahal pointed out the need for ensuring quick delivery of justice in the cases of public interest. In absence of such provision, the people will feel deprived of justice, he opined.

Nepal Bar Association President Sindhu Nath Pyakuryal expressed the view that such programmes would contribute to making people conscious about the importance of timely delivery of justice.

The programme brought together a number of important persons such as Minister for Law and Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Mahanta Thakur, 21 justices, and legal professionals.


Opposition to Public Security Regulations

Despite DPM and Home Minister Ram Chandra Paudyal’s brilliant defense of the Public Security Regulations introduced by the government in the aftermath of the Palace Tragedy, politicians and Human Rights group are continuing their protest against the provision arguing "they undermine the civil rights and democratic freedom of the citizens to express their views freely."

Series of protest activities are being undertaken in Kathmandu Valley and outside denouncing the government regulations first announced on June 4. Those who have joined the opposition to the PSR-2001 warn that they would not discontinue their protest. "We are ready to resort to any action against the government on the measure."

A big rally was organised in Kathmandu on Monday to emphasise the point. Organised by 34 political parties, student wings and Human Rights Organisations, the procession indicated public anger against the regulations. The government first wanted to discourage the move, later sought to disrupt it and finally, upon realisation of massive public support behind it, allowed it to be staged.

Some analysts pointed out "the very fact that the groups are using their right to protest and express themselves openly and freely against the government in the streets of the capital city and elsewhere proves the provisions positive and not objectionable. Had it been oppressive, they would not have been allowed to bring out protest processions."

However, a publication prepared by the protest-organisers mentions "the regulations have hurt the rights of thought, including rights of speaking, writing, publishing, gathering peacefully without arms, rallying, demonstrating and even travelling throughout the country."

Former Speaker and a member of the Constitution –Drafting Committee Daman Nath Dhungana opined that the Regulations made an attempt to undermine the gains of the People’s Movement and those of the Constitution.

Chairman of Human Rights Protection Forum Padma Ratna Tuladhar accused the government of having nourished ill intention in introducing the Regulations during such crucial time. "It has insulted the spirit of the Constitution that ensures all Human Rights without fail."

Even politicians close to ruling NC view the regulations as anti-democratic measures. A number of the MPs denounced them at the party meeting the other day. This forced the DPM explain the PSR more elaborately among the people and media. Although the second man in the Cabinet who is regarded as the next PM did his job of explanation well, the argument he forwarded could not make the protestors satisfied.


US report questions Pakistan’s survival

By Amir Mateen

A US study expresses concern about Pakistan’s survival, saying that the current military government may be Pakistan’s last chance to get its economic house in order. The Rand Corp, a Santa Monica-based think-tank with close ties to the Pentagon, questions if Pakistan is heading towards failure as a state. While acknowledging that some positive steps may have been taken by the military government initially, it says the pace of reform seems to have slowed. If the military government fails, separatist and Islamic forces are in the wings, it adds. The US study expresses concern that a failed Pakistan may both invite and compel India to react more forcefully to the next Kargil episode. In a separate chapter devoted exclusively to Pakistan, the study does not rule out the possibility of another Kargil, saying that it could lead India to consider whether a more forceful response might not be advisable to solve the problem once and for all.

The primary author of the report is Zalmay Khalilzad, a Pentagon official during the first Bush administration. Khalilzad joined the National Security Council staff on Monday in a senior position that makes him a top strategist on international security. The report says there may be a major change in opinion in New Delhi, from a relatively relaxed posture towards Pakistan to one that actively questions whether the stability of Pakistan is in India’s interest. This view could be bolstered by a sense that Pakistan may in any case be on its last legs, says the report. In contrast to the situation in Kashmir, Pakistan has been more successful in Afghanistan, where its backing of the Taliban has enabled it to take control of almost the entire country. However, most of Afghanistan’s other neighbours remain suspicious of the Taliban and fearful that its religious extremism will harm their stability; indeed, even Iran is hostile. "Thus, Pakistan’s success in Afghanistan affair has had the effect of furthering its isolation and providing Russia, China, Iran, and the Central Asian states with a motive for uniting in opposition to it," says the report.

The United States has no reliable military access to the India-Pakistan subcontinent, says the report adding the military government of Pakistan "is hardly a reliable partner, and current domestic trends promise to make it even less so." As for India, it says, relations are in a stage of post-Cold War thawing. The report suggests that although the shape of Sino-Indian relations may be the most significant issue influencing the future Asian political-military environment, the current concern in South Asia centres on relations between Pakistan and India, especially as it is manifested in Pakistani support for the Islamic insurgency in Kashmir. The nuclear tests of 1998 appear to have convinced Pakistan that a nuclear stand-off exists between India and Pakistan, thus making the situation safer for lower-level conflict.

For Pakistan, says the report, this type of low-level harassment of India represents its best chance — albeit not a very good one — of gaining control of Kashmir. As long as the indigenous insurgency is not fully suppressed, Pakistan can support it at a low cost to itself while imposing a larger cost on India. While it may seem remote, Pakistan may hope that the victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan can be duplicated in Kashmir. In any case, the struggle in Kashmir provides a rare point of unity for Pakistan, and it employs Islam-inspired guerrilla warriors who might otherwise cause trouble in Pakistan itself – a nation in which Islamic fundamentalism is gaining in political influence. In the past, India has adopted a defensive stance toward this sort of Pakistani harassment. But that may change at some stage, the report adds.