Monday, February 8, 2010

NYT Drops The Ball On Nepal Story

In 2008 NYT reporter Jim Yardley moved from the newspaper's Beijing bureau to become Delhi bureau co-chief. At that time he was praised by the previous bureau chief:

"Jim's work in China has helped set a standard in how to conceptualize, report, and write a narrative-based series. And in the last year, as China became an urgent news story as well as a fertile source of grand themes, Jim worked nearly around the clock, collaborating on groundbreaking stories about the Olympics, the Sichuan earthquake, the uproar over Tibet, the burgeoning food and quality scandals, and much more."

Why, then, did Yardley miss a major point in his recent Nepal story, Nepal Waits as 2 Armies, Former Foes, Become One and fail to provide a balanced view of the events?

Yardley reports that "Within the next four months, Nepal must complete the final and most difficult piece of the 2006 peace agreement that ended the brutal Maoist insurrection by integrating these fighters from the People’s Liberation Army of Nepal into the country’s security forces, including the Nepalese Army," and blames both sides for failing to carry out the military terms of the 2006 agreement: Maoist leaders and Nepalese political parties have alternately bickered and dithered, with Maoists stalling the dismantling of their army while negotiations go on about how to revise the Constitution."

Yardley also reports that Maoist soldiers who have been disqualified from participating in the future joint military will have difficulty going back into the civilian population: "Even though the Maoist soldiers have remained in the cantonments for three years, the terms of the peace deal have tightly restricted access to them by United Nations caseworkers, allowing almost no opportunities to interview or counsel them. Instead, the soldiers have been subjected to regular political education sessions on Maoist dogma, something that may make their re-entry into society even harder."

However he fails to mention that this universal Maoist education in dogma is seen by the government as cause to reject the military integration that the 2006 agreement calls for. Since the military is and will remain under the control of the head of government, the only way the military could be integrated is if the government were under the control of Maoist ideology, which it isn't. Thats why the Maoist Prime Minister resigned his office when the politially diverse majority government refused to admit the Maoists into the military. If this were to happen, a significant number of members of the military, the Maoist faction, would not be answerable to the government, and the purpose of the military would be undermined.

Yardley has written a facile story on the subject. Since he failed to provide some of the significant facts of the story, he has done both his readers and the newspaper he works for a disservice.

--Jerry Politex, Napel Calls

Friday, February 5, 2010

Peace In Nepal Depends Upon Merging Armies

With Nepal facing a May 28 deadline to restructure its government and approve a new constitution, nothing is posing a greater threat to the peace process than the unresolved task of merging the two enemy armies. Maoist leaders and Nepalese political parties have alternately bickered and dithered, with Maoists stalling the dismantling of their army while negotiations go on about how to revise the Constitution.

As a result, Nepal is grasping for a lasting peace, trying to overcome the legacy of a war that has left it more militarized than ever. The 19,602 Maoist soldiers continue to train, even as they remain quarantined in the United Nations camps, or cantonments. The Nepalese Army is twice as large today, with 96,000 soldiers, as it was when the guerrilla war began, and the number of police and paramilitary police officers has steadily risen to roughly 80,000.
“How can you have one country with two armies?” asked Kul Chandra Gautam, a former United Nations diplomat and native Nepali who has consulted with different parties in the peace process. “A country like Nepal does not need 200,000 security personnel. That’s more than all the country’s civil servants combined, minus teachers.”

Nepal cannot begin to rebuild its tattered economy until the military standoff is eased, which first means finding a solution on integration.