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“Army integration is the issue of the special situation and circumstances”

- Defense Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Magar ‘Baadal’

Defense Minister Rambahadur Thapa 'Badal'. Photos: Smita

Kathmandu, October 31, 2008- Our Kathmandu Representative Smita Magar spoke to Defense Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Magar ‘Baadal’ focusing around the army integration and contemporary issues.

USNepalOnline.Com: What do you feel after being the first Defense Minister of Federal Republican Nepal?

Thapa: Being the first Defense Minister of Republican Nepal I feel that the people have given me the very challenging responsibility.

The main task of this time is to establish the long-term peace in the country. This can be done through army integration and its rehabilitation of it. If we fail to do that then it will affect in all the democratic practices, development and others sector. Therefore, it has given me the immense opportunity to work for establishing the long-term peace in the country while on other hand it is very challenging task as well.

USNepalOnline.Com: What is the major role of Defense minister?

It mainly looks after the national security, protection and development of Nepal Army (NA). Its main role is to watch over national border, external security interferences and also internal security related matters while it also implements army in the time of emergencies may it be social or natural calamities.

Smita with Defense Minister 'Badal'.

USNepalOnline.Com: It has been over 6 months of Constituent Assembly (CA) election. Why new Constitution making process has not been initiated yet?

Thapa: The country is in the transition period, peoples’ wish is that this period would end as soon as possible. However, it is unfortunate to say that the process of Constitution making is taking longer than it already has. The cause of this is due to the contradictions among major political parties.

The lack of political consensus among these major political parties has been slowing down the new constitution process and the people’s desire for long-term peace in the country.

USNepalOnline.Com: How can you assure Nepalese people that the new Constitution will meet its deadline?

It depends upon mainly two things: first, it depends upon the commitment and loyalty of political parties who are in the government and CA. And their political will power to make the Constitution.
Secondly, it depends upon people on how strongly they can play their role in pressurizing government and political leaders. Their unity will also matter in this issue.

We will be able to make new Constitution within its deadline if these two factors play their crucial role effectively.

USNepalOnline.Com: There is much-hyped discussion going on in the country about army integration. What is the government’s official policy about the army integration process?

Thapa: According to the comprehensive peace agreement it is clearly mentioned that there will be integration of both armies meaning Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and Nepal army.

For army integration, the special committee will be formed with the political consensus and army adjustment will happen from the decision of committee. The standards will be set by this committee as per the comprehensive peace agreement. This matter has already come under the governments’ agenda.

USNepalOnline.Com: There is a raising discussion that integration and rehabilitation mentioned in the Comprehensive Peace Accord does not imply the integration between PLA and NA. What is the truth?

Before Constituent Assembly, those political parties who said there should be army integration and peace process should happen are now taking stand on just opposite. Why they changed their views and are saying that army integration should not happen, I do not understand.

Integration does not happen with only one army. This happens between two or more army. This is understood even by very common person as well. Also, the agreement did not only happen between political parties. We agreed on this issue in the arbitration of international arbitrator, the United Nations. International observer also wants army integration to happen according to the agreement.

Saying that there can not be integration between the PLA and NA is a misleading concept. I think political parties who are arguing that army integration should not happen is their way of revenge against the people’s mandate. If this was not then there should not be any disagreement on the matter.

USNepalOnline.Com: When integrating NA and PLA, there are views surfacing that it will lower the quality and global standard of national army. What do you have to say on this matter?

Army integration is the issue of the special situation and circumstances. We can not follow the army recruitment method as per in normal situation in this integration.

However, by saying this I am not implying that unqualified ‘People’s Army’ should also be integrated.

The integration will happen according to the standards set by the special committee on this matter. Through understanding and discussion the solution on the integration can be done.

USNepalOnline.Com: Is there ‘one say’ on army integration in CPN (Maoists)?

CPN (Maoist) is firm on the army integration. In the process of how to do the integration, party is open and ready to discuss and decide with other. Party has the responsibility towards the People’s Army and running away from that responsibility is unthinkable. We can integrate PLA in different sectors of the country such as Nepal Army, Armed Police, Nepal Police and different other sections. There are other alternatives outside the present structure as well such as we can form industrial security force.

USNepalOnline.Com: During army integration process, will PLA be able to have their say on whether they want to join the NA or not?

Obviously, during the integration we should and will consider their desire and choices as well. If anyone who is in People’s Army at present wants to stay outside army then we have to respect his or her decision. Some would prefer to work as the political activists while some may want to join the business, party will respect that.

In my opinion it is a must because we have entered in the democratic values and system so we have to accept and respect their individual rights and choices as well.

USNepalOnline.Com: Do you think it is the right time to discuss about army integration process right now?

The present government of Maoists is the progressive government. Establishment of long-term peace, institutionalized development of the democracy, relief and development, to defend national integrity and sovereignty are the four most important things for the present government. Because of the delay in army integration we are not able to focus in these all important matters.

It was unfortunate for us that CA election happened very late. After that the series of unfortunate event started to take place in the country. The government could not be formed in time. Policy and programs were delayed. Instead of doing the work in speediness everything is being delayed. So, it is my request let us not involve in unnecessary discussion.

USNepalOnline.Com: There is a rumour that Commander of PLA Nanda Kishor Pun ‘Paasang’ is going to China for training, is it true?

There is no truth in the reports that Nanda Kishor Pun (Pasang) going to the Republic of China for special army training. There has not been any form of decision on this matter. As a Defense Minister I have no information on this. This is the conspiracy to disrupt the peace process. There has not been any homework on bringing Maoists leadership in the Nepal army. This is just the rumour spread to create chaos and agitation by opportunists who want to get benefited from the situation.
I am seeing this as the conspiracy to bring the dispute between NA and PLA during integration.

USNepalOnline.Com: Recently many higher army officers were transferred without consulting Ministry of Defence, can they do that?

I do not have any objection on the transfer of the Nepal Army high position holder officers. That is the regular work of the Army Quarter. NA has the authority to perform its regular work. The transfer is approved by the Ministry of Defense. Army has not made decisions by going against Constitution or army rules and regulations. If it does there will be penalty, I am determined on it.

Nepal Army was neither of people nor of the government. It was loyal to the Durbar or Royal family. This is an immense alteration so it will take time. Right now I have not felt that army has gone beyond Ministry of Defense, government and People’s mandate. We are forming new army rules and regulations. This will organize the old army structure in new circumstances.

USNepalOnline.Com: There is an accusation that CPN (Maoist) are trying to politicize the Nepal army?

Thapa: The ongoing discussion over the ‘army politicizing’ is theoretically illogic. It is a must for army to be politicized. They have to be politicized in order to make them loyal and dedicated to the nation and people. Now, politicizing of Nepal army means their democratization and professionalizing them.

However, Party-cizing (Partykaran) the army is erroneous because it means it is loyal to some individual and certain political institution.

USNepalOnline.Com: Now we are going to federal system through New Constitution. What are the major bases of Federalism in context of Nepal?

Thapa: We are considering mainly two basis of federalism in our context: ethnicity and region. But, there can be other basis as well such as class and gender. There is interconnection between ethnicity, gender, region, language, culture and economic viability.

We stand by our decision that on the basis of ethnicity and region the federal autonomous state should be formed. It will develop and restore their language, culture, land, economy and history.

Autonomous state will run on the basis of proportional representation of that states population.

USNepalOnline.Com: If there will be no address on the ongoing demands of ethnic autonomous state with right to self determination what do you think will happen?

Thapa: Definitely, if we fail to address their demand of autonomous state with right to self determination revolt from people is inevitable. Revolution is the outcome of necessity. So, for their identity, dignity and development it is sure that the oppressed and disadvantaged people will revolt. We are committed to address their demand as it is very necessary.

October 31, 2008, Kathmandu
  तपाईंको भनाइ लेखी छाड्‍न र अरुको भनाइ पढ्न यहाँ क्लिक गर्नुहोस्
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