So the chairman of Nepal's Maoist radicals brags that he and his fellow-travellers tricked United Nations officials and admits that the 2006 peace deal was a sham - and gets caught on videotape doing it. The video of the recently resigned Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, was shot in January 2008 and just surfaced.
Revealingly, he instructs his fellow communists not to be fooled by the compromises struck with Nepal's democratic government. Seizing total power, he makes clear, remains the communist goal.
The latest crisis in Nepal is a useful case study in communist duplicity and instructive for those who believe that the path to peace with guerillas is cutting deals with them. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) joined Nepal's government after a decade-long insurgency that left more than 12,000 dead. Under terms of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Maoists agreed, among other things, to cut the size of their force in half, place their weapons under U.N. supervision and participate peacefully in the political process. In the 2008 elections, the Maoists emerged as the largest party in parliament with 30 percent of the vote, and Prachanda was named prime minister.
But the communists didn't consider the war really ended. The Maoists steadily maneuvered to increase their power with a view toward implementing their revolutionary agenda.
The latest step was an attempt to remove Nepal Army chief Gen. Rookmangud Katawal, who had resisted Maoist demands to integrate their guerrilla army into the national force. He maintained that the "former" guerrillas are brainwashed fanatics seeking to seize control of the army. He's got a point.
Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav blocked Prachanda's move to sack Gen. Katawal. Prachandra resigned in protest. Nepal's supreme court now has the case.
Prachanda says it is a question of civilian control of the military. That's rich. Meanwhile communist thugs are taking to the streets in coordinated demonstrations calling for further intervention from the U.N.
The video of a relaxed Prachanda addressing his party faithful exposed the Maoists' cynical manipulation of the political system. In true communist spirit, Prachanda said that the compromises struck with the government were only tactical expediencies, and that the "bidroha," or rebellion, was still on. He joked about how they duped the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) into thinking they had 35,000 fighters when in fact they only had 7,000 to 8,000, which allowed them to swell their ranks to 20,000 while claiming to be demilitarizing. And he confirmed Gen. Katawal's suspicions by saying it would take only a small number of his guerrillas to establish "complete Maoist control" of the Nepal Army.
He added that they had not turned over their weapons as required and that relief money earmarked for the victims of the civil war would be diverted to party coffers. "You and I know the truth," he slyly told his comrades, "but why should we tell it to others?"
In an unguarded moment, Prachanda revealed he is still a terrorist at heart and those who make deals with him are dupes. "Why would we abide by [the peace deal] after we win?" he said on the tape. "Why would we follow it when we have the upper hand?"
The situation in Nepal and Pakistan's Swat Valley illustrate the risks in bargaining with extremists, who do not change their goals, only their methods. The lesson is important when contrasted to Sri Lanka and Colombia, where we have seen the value of taking the fight to insurgents. U.S. deal makers should understand that there is more than one way to lose a guerrilla war. Sometimes it happens with the stroke of a pen.
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