Piles of agreements have yet another addition. Last week, an action plan pertaining the discharge and rehabilitation of the disqualified Maoist combatants was signed among the Government, CPN Maoists and the United nations agencies. It goes without saying that the agreement on this action plan has raised hopes to move the peace process forward as the signatory parties believe, but everything lies in the prudent implementation of the action plan. On the ground of past agreements not being implemented, it’s natural to deem with this action plan too, that time and again the same thing could repeat. The ‘lip’ commitment to implement the past agreements and the failure in due time , has been an old cliché in Nepali politics.
Though this action plan has been perceived as an important element which could possibly embolden the stalled peace process, I personally don’t see anything new with this action plan. This plan very much akin to the government’s aborted plan in discharging and rehabilitating the disqualified combatants, differ only in few matter. The latest plan includes the United Nations as an active party in discharging and rehabilitating the combatants vis-à-vis the government’s aborted plan. This is not the first time, GoN is forced to abort its plans even though they have been supported by different UN agencies like United Nations Mission in Nepal[ UNMIN], UNICEF, UNDP et al and also the Maoists. So, despite of being a positive step, the politics behind the scene of this agreement has been a must to be delved. Many questions have been vehemently arisen and they seek to be assuaged with urgency.
1. Whilst the government’s plan to discharge and rehabilitation of disqualified combatants was running, why is the need to induct a new one ?
2. As the new plan consists more than 90 percent elements of the government’s plan, why don’t the parties related to the agreement tried to persuade the Maoists’ to help the ongoing plan despite of giving birth to the new agreement ?
3. While UN agencies were actively involved with the government’s plan already, why UN seek an active role in bringing the conflicting parties to sign a new action plan rather than convincing both parties to move forward with the previous plan ?
4. If the plan has gone successfully as anticipated before, disqualified combatants would have already been discharged on second week of December. On this ground, who shall be responsible for the further delay in discharging as the new action plan has set 40 days deadline to release the combatants from the camps ?
The new action plan has also not addressed the issues which Maoists explained as the major reasons behind, not helping the government’s plan. Maoists have demanded the financial packages and they were discontented with model of questionnaire formulated to ask the combatants about their interests. Neither of these issues are addressed in this new action plan. So, the Maoists who explained the new action plan as an unprecedented one, don’t have strong logic of showing indifference to the government’s plan and justify the new plan. The new action plan unveiled has only the education support, micro and small enterprise development support [ but not financial ,that would be purely technical as well as business training] ,vocational trainings and health services training. Major suspicion lies here. Even though their demands are not met, why did Maoists lobby for new agreement if there are no fundamental differences between the previous and the new plans ?
Firstly, they wanted UN play an active role in this so that it would be more ‘reliable’ process. Secondly, Maoists who repeatedly threatened to discharge the combatants on their own defying the government’s ongoing plan, didn’t want to take the any type of ‘gratuity’ from the ‘puppet’ government against which they are agitating. Lastly, Maoists wanted them to lift their name as soon as possible from the list of armed groups which used children during the wars which is clearly the violation of international and domestic laws as well as the 1612 Resolution adopted by the Security Council. According to the UNICEF, among the disqualified 4 thousands combatants, still there are 15 to 20 who are under 16, 500 are under 18 and rest are above 18 now. This figure articulates that a few recruits in Maoist army used to be from the age group below the teenage also. This clearly exemplifies the grave violations of children rights during the insurgency.
Anyway, despite of different motives behind, as a new action plan has already come into existence, it’s duty of all the related actors to make it a success rather than only criticizing it. As the action plan saw the Chairman of CPN Maoist, Special Representative of Secretary General, Peace Minster and UNMIN chief as its witnesses, it has definitely raised hopes in implementation. The action plan has somehow addressed the apprehension of disqualified combatants who have spent three years in the cantonments but failed to address the concerns and suspicions that the disqualified combatants after released from the cantonments could be involved in violent activities alike those which are frequently carried out by Maoists’ youth wing Young Communist League [YCL].