Nepali Times Asian Paints
Headline
Incommunicado


RAJENDRA DAHAL


The government and the Maoists are busy accusing each other of not being serious about peace. They are both right. Each is using talk of a truce for tactical gain.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's terms of reference from the king four months ago was to bring Maoists in for negotiations. He is also under pressure from his UML partners to do just that.

The UML is even more desperate. If it can't get a ceasefire and talks with the Maoists, Madhab Nepal will be hounded by his cadre to recall his party's nominees from the government. Nepal raised his unilateral ceasefire demand during the High Level Peace Committee on Wednesday for precisely this reason. But even if it doesn't work, he will at least have been seen as having done something.

The Maoists are talking tough. Being insurgents, and not accountable to anyone, they can afford to do this. But they, too, need a truce to regroup, reorganise, rearm and chalk out a new strategy after their plenum, which decided to treat the Indian government as a future enemy.

So despite all the rhetoric and posturing, both sides desperately need a breather. They both want a truce, although not necessarily negotiations right away.

The government spokesman, Mohamad Mohsin, shot down Nepal's unilateral truce proposals. That proves a ceasefire isn't something the government can decide on its own-the Unified Command also has a say.

But even though the Maoists know about the pressures on the government and the UML for a truce, it's not easy for the insurgents to go back on their previous refusal to talk to the king's 'servants'. They are now trapped by their own rhetoric.

The Maoists may use a Dasain and Tihar ceasefire to force the government to respond. If that happens, it will have done the UML a great favour. The government, too, will get a timely reprieve through no effort on its part.

The people\'s desire for peace is overwhelming. And both sides need to at least pay lip service to it, especially in the run-up to Dasain. The government can't be proactive because it knows its limitations vis-?-vis the security forces only too well. The Maoists don't want to be seen to be bending over backwards, so they are shooting rhetorical questions that have no answers.

Both parties want to talk, but they do not know how to begin. So instead of talking to each other, they are talking at each other.


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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