Almost a year after it took the lead, in collaboration with India, in drafting the recovery road for Nepal that envisaged holding elections to the Constituent Assembly (CA) for the second time to bring democracy back on track, the US State Department almost presents the Himalayan state as a hopeless case.
The “Nepal Human Rights Report”, released by Secretary of State John Kerry, is concerned about the prevailing “corruption at all levels of government and police” and the judiciary’s vulnerability to “political pressure, bribery and intimidation”. The impunity and apathy from the state and media regarding cases of human rights violation, under the active influence of political parties via their trade unions, are listed as the causes of worry for the US.
The EU, on the other hand, has threatened an embargo on Nepalese aircraft in their airspace for safety reasons, citing the high occurrence of accidents in the country. But the warning coincided with the Nepal government’s decision to bring into operation six Chinese aircraft — two as a grant and the rest to be purchased on easy loan terms — instead of going for Airbus or Boeing as in the past. Nepal’s northern neighbour, which resents Nepal “being used as a springboard” by the US, at times using its allies to “encircle China”, has promised all support to realise Nepal’s developmental potential, especially in the field of tourism and water resources.
The US report somehow gives the impression that the delay in statute-drafting is cause for the worries. But it refuses to introspect on the role the US played along with the international community in bringing Nepal’s apex judiciary and the four major parties together to “collaborate” on constituting the chief justice-led electoral government. Despite conducting the election to the CA in November, the independent image of the judiciary has been damaged by its teaming up with powerful political parties. The resultant loss of credibility is the by-product of such collaboration.
It took more than three months for the new CA to get a coalition government in place, without a common minimum programme. The president and the speaker are divided along party lines, since the two major constituents — the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) — have so far failed to settle whether the head of state or the chair of the House will certify legislations and the constitution, if and when the latter comes. The House committee elected to settle this issue has been given its third extension.
A third of the promised one-year time frame for constitution-delivery has already run out, and the government led by Sushil Koirala is facing a hostile House. At a recent public function, Koirala was reported as saying “Tanakpur belongs to India, not Nepal.” In fact, the Tanakpur issue has triggered major controversies in the continued…