The debate on the fate of Maoist Army has intensified with Prachanda’s declaration of “integrating” the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) guerillas into the National Army within three months. The Nepali Congress Chief G P Koirala warned of strong protests against the idea of integrating a “politically indoctrinated guerillas” into the National Army. The Terai parties like MJF & TMDP also have strongly objected to the “wholesale” integration of the Maoist guerillas into the Army. Similarly, Nepal Army Chief Rukmangad Katwal has reiterated the Army’s policy of accepting only those “deemed fit through free competition.” The Maoist hardliners insist on bulk integration of PLA into the Nepal Army to form a new National Army.
Amidst conflicting opinions, United Nations’ Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) Chief Ian Martin , without mentioning the word “integration” has expressed his doubt over Prachanda’s three-month time frame. Martin hinted at the complexity of the issue saying that it’d be “extraordinarily fast for everything to be completed within a period of three months”.
Tackling the issue of “integration” or “rehabilitation” of around 20,000 UNMIN certified Maoist combatants would be the most daunting task for the political leaders after the peaceful abolition of monarchy and promulgation of republic in Nepal early this year. However, some Nepal Army officers claim that “integration” of the guerillas would not be of much concern provided the politicians refrained from attaching their personal egotism with the issue and begin vigorous but informal track-three consultations among the stakeholders.
Meanwhile, PM Prachanda has clarified that he too was not in favor of bulk integration of PLA into the Nepal Army. The Maoists hardliners better take into account of the Terai groups who demand bulk introduction of the Madhesis in distinct units within the National Army. The bulk integration of Maoist guerillas into the Nepal Army would automatically justify the Madhesi demand of similar nature.