Baisakh Ek

Nepali Times issue #191 9-15 April 2004

20 years ago this week as we were celebrating the Nepali New Year 2061, everyone in the country had one wish: for peace to prevail and for the conflict to end. It took two more years for that wish to come true. But in all these years after the war we’ve realised that peace is not the absence of war.

Ordinary Nepalis are still fighting for a just society, they still face class and caste discrimination, they still need to work the system. But above all, it is the lack of governance, accountability and corruption at high places that is forcing thousands of Nepalis to abandon hope and leave.

Excerpt from the editorial published on issue #191 9-15 April 2004:

Peace is in everyone’s lips-from the war victims thronging to greet King Gyanendra during his walkabouts, the wounded policemen who survived the Beni attack and the villagers in the Maoist heartland whom the state regards as rebel sympathisers.

The king, the political parties and the Maoists are engaged in a mortal combat for power. They all say they are doing it for the people, but none of them are listening to what the people have to say: “Put a stop to this madness, figure out a way to share power and improve our lives.” By now the palace should realise that the tide of public opinion is beginning to turn. It needs to be less obsessed with symbolism, and launch a concrete conflict resolution drive.

One new year gesture next week would be for both sides to declare an unconditional and indefinite ceasefire in the new year. The government needs to respond, and a ceasefire would not be seen as a weakness. It not just provide much-needed relief to Nepalis, it would also be a forceful confidence-building gesture for further de-escalation, a return to elections and the constitutional process. What could be a more auspicious time for that than Baisakh Ek?

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