Nandkishor Pun aka Pasang, Deputy Commander of the PLA, had given a recent interview with Telegraphnepal.com about the ongoing integration process for the PLA in June, 2011. I am sure that all of my readers are aware by now that the UCPN(Maoist) has agreed, in the name of pushing forward the peace process, to disarm the PLA and turn over all weapons to the State (some PLA commanders close to Com. Kiran refused to do so and filed a note of dissent against the policy of the Party leadership). I am just posting that interview just in case people missed it. I also feel like I am having to post it because I am worried that I will never be able to find it again. I really think that someone (not me), needs to take on the important, but mind-numbingly dull, task of finding all of the interviews, articles etc that relate to the Nepalese revolution that have been published from 2006-2011 and producing an edited collection of them. In effect it would be an accompanying volume to “Red Flag Flying on the Rooftop of the Planet: Ten Years of People’s War in Nepal”, edited by A.K. Sengupta (who is currently languishing in an Indian prison), which collected articles, documents and interviews from 1996-2006.
Q1: The Maoist party’s decision to lift the dual security system in order to speed up the peace process is acceptable to the People’s Liberation Army? What is your comment?
Nandkishor: Well, it is our own decision. We proceeded ahead with this idea sensing the mood of the people and the talks that the major parties had amongst each other though nothing as such has been clearly pointed out in the freshly signed five point agreement. We take it as an important step which could open up the gate for peace process to go ahead in a positive manner. This is what we think.
Q2: But isn’t it that some men from your own party have registered their note of dissent?
Nandkishor: It is only but natural that views are brought under discussion. It is good to have debates. But this issue has already been sorted out through the use of ‘people’s centred policy’ and that too in a democratic manner.
Q3: So does this mean that the People’s Liberation Army, PLA, sides with the Chairman Prachanda?
Nandkishor: Honestly speaking, the emergence of the People’s Liberation Army had been right after the Maoist party waged a people’s war. Prachanda used to be the Commander of the People’s Liberation Army. Even when we entered into the peace process, still Prachanda continues to be our supreme commander. Prachanda thus will continue to remain our chief and patron as per the existence of the chain of command until the integration process gets completed. So we still were under his command.
Q4: Do you agree to the demands of the Nepali Congress and other parties who wish the PLA men handing over of their weapons to the State in order to successfully complete the ongoing peace process?
Nandkishor: We have already made several sacrifices. Now I think that there is no space left which could allow us to sacrifice more as demanded by some quarters. The integration process got delayed not because of the Maoists. The political conflict delayed the entire affair. We have been eagerly waiting that peace will prevail in the country after the completion of the peace process. But we are being told to surrender which we will reject tooth and nail.
There is no logic in some typical interpretations which claim that the handing over of the weapons were a must for the early completion of the peace process. This is just a ploy to disarm us which summarily goes against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Such lose statements have lo logic.
The PLA is the harbinger of change. Because of our determination, the country could conduct the Constituent Assembly polls and was eventually declared a republic. Some political quarters wish to cover up our accomplishments and want to see the PLA being completely disarmed. I think this is a ploy not to let the Maoist militias to undergo through integration process. A conspiracy is being hatched to make us “civilians” by detaching from our weapons and existing military structure. Such practices will lead to nowhere. It will not assist the peace process.
Q5: So this means that you are not going to submit the weapons as expected by some political parties? Is it that?
Nandkishor: Not at all. No way that we will hand over our weapons. Because the weapons currently we have in our possession also belongs to the State. So to whom should we submit the weapons? We are undoubtedly under the command of the State because we are already in the peace process. So when we belong to the State then the weapons which are currently in the treasury (KOT) too should have some procedures to ask for the handing over of the weaponry that is with us now. This too has some legal procedures. If I were allowed to talk wrongly then why the previous governments of the day gave us the weapons?
We grabbed those weapons while at war with the then governments as and when the latter waged a war on us under the guise of operations. That time we were fighting with the State for bringing about a substantial change in the system itself. Until and unless we have a new State in existence, we will not hand over those weapons. I would say instead, the PLA too should be offered technologically advanced new weapons at time of undergoing integration. Because we will undergo integration not to have sticks and spades in our hands but we will be there to provide security to the nation which is a fact that must not be forgotten by all and sundry. Yes! We can discuss as to where we could be posted. In military, police, forest, development of infrastructure or along the borders? We can talk over this issue.
Q6: Parties other than the Maoists have said that the Army integration process should be done as per the existing international standard and have also said that only those could be integrated who meet these set standards?
Nandkishor: Which standard should be adopted? What is this international standard? I don’t care of the standard talks. This is definitely a matter of debate. That’s why we have been talking of the formulation of a national security policy which will set the new standards. If you insist on the old set standards then we are not going to accept those. Notably the standards were different in the Rana, Panchayat and even during the past which all have now become obsolete. If anyone wants to take the shape and the size of the PLA chest (Chhati Napney) then that would not be acceptable to us. To be precise, the old principles have legally now become redundant. Since the 1990 constitution itself has gone to the dogs then you can’t take the basis of those standards which were created by the same constitution. That would not be a fair proposition. The minimum standard that may be required to become an army will only be accepted. We can’t compromise more than that.
Q7: What you say of the proposition that a directorate be constituted under the command of the Nepal Army and the integration process initiated?
Nandkishor: We have accepted the proposal that a directorate is formed under the NA command and the two armies are allowed to go through the integration process. We are ready to sacrifice even on these terms if the peace process gets completed. We are in favour of the larger interest of the country.
Q8: Don’t you feel bit ashamed when you now wish to remain under the NA command with which you and your party had waged the people’s war?
Nandkishor: To be candid, we had fought the war with the erstwhile system, and the State. The Nepal Army was under the command of the old regime then. With the declaration of the republican order, the old system has collapsed. The former Royal Nepal Army is just now the Nepal Army. By extension, this does mean that we have emerged victorious. We have won the game. We are not a defeated party because our demands of the CA body and of republican order remain in place now. Since the People’s Liberation Army has already won thus we will have no difficulty in moving ahead but having political consensus. We will have no problem as such. The integration process has become more necessary now in order to democratise the Nepal Army and concurrently to professionalise the PLA men. PLA now demands professionalism. If done so and acted as per what I have just said would hint that for both it were a win-win situation.
Q9: Will you by the way accept an attractive financial proposal, if that approaches you, for the summary dissolution of your PLA?
Nandkishor: This is a subject which can’t even be imagined of. If anyone thinks of the PLA dissolution then he is undermining such a force which brought visible changes in the country. He is mistaken. It also could be said that they have yet to adopt the political changes that were brought in the recent years. Yes! Only those will think of the PLA dissolution who prefer in one way or the other counter revolution to take place. If done so then that may invite fierce protest. We will more forward for the prevalence of peace and draft of the constitution in a planned manner.
Q10: Conflicting ideas prevail inside your own party as regards the integration process and modality. What say you?
Nandkishor: Well this issue has become a matter of issue and conflict not only in my party but in all of the parties. These simply reflect the prevailing differing attitudes of the society. This is the beauty of democracy. We are free to forward our differing views in the party. But what should be important is to think which way should be taken so that peace process gets completed.
Q11: Do you think that the rest of the jobs will be completed in the extended three months period?
Nandkishor: It has to. No alternative left. At any cost, the people must get the preliminary draft of the constitution within these three months. The basics must be completed for the integration of the armies within this period.