General Katwal Adressing a Program by Maoist Insurgency Victims
Nepal Army and Defense Ministry still seem to be at loggerheads over their status in the state hierarchy. As if making a national issue out of their personal grudges was not enough, Defense Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal and NA Chief Rookmangud Katwal are now inviting their respective foreign bosses for intervention. Apparently, Badal and Katwal are at loggerheads over whether the NA should continue with fresh inductions to fulfill the vacant posts in the army. While Badal accuses the Army of trying to control a democratically elected government by refusing its directives, Katwal sounds defiance against the Maoists tactic of keeping the National Army under the Party’s control.
However, if you’d listened to Prachanda’s yelling, ‘Ko Ho Tyo Katwal, Ko Ho Tyo?’(How dare Katwal say that?), you know that the issue revolves more around the person Katwal than the organization of Army itself. Katwal finds the Maoists ungrateful toward the NA in general and Katwal in particular for the Army’s positive role in the peaceful promulgation of republican agenda. On the other hand, the Maoists find Katwal a major impediment against their application of ‘discontinuity from the tradition’ agenda in the Nepal Army.
Katwal is certainly making speeches and gestures that may be called politically motivated. He seems to be preparing a political space for himself after he gets a natural retirement from his present profession within a year. Katwal’s democratic principles of working under a civilian control contradicts his refusal to obey the Defense Ministry’s directive to stop fresh recruitments. The Maoist led government may have made a mistake by initially giving a go ahead nod for the recruitment, and later ordering for a Stop under the pressure from the Maoist Army. However, the NA high command should not forget that the UNMIN, which is the only valid referee at present and may be in future conflicts in Nepal, also opposes fresh inductions.
Hence, if Katwal makes his organization to go against civilian directives, then the UN should also reconsider its preference for Nepal Army personnel in UN’s peace keeping missions.
The Maoists too must stop pretending that they have won a war against the Nepal Army. Whether the Maoist high command or their cadres like it or not, the Nepal Army is the only legitimate army of this country. Not only the mighty Maoists, but even a few individuals can create a havoc of 9/11 proportions – but you can not establish a one party rule in the modern multicultural world. And given the kaleidoscopic heterogeneity resulting from the diverse ethnic and linguistic variation of the country, establishing a communist or any other one party rule in Nepal is impossible.
Since, not only the opposition Nepali Congress, but even coalition partners like UML and MJF support Gen. Katwal, the Maoists alone can not make any what Prachanda prefers calling “logical conclusion” out of present impasse.
Personally, after learning of Badal making secret requests to Chinese officials, and watching Katwal laughing with India Ambassador Sood inside India Embassy, several questions crop into my mind:
Who is that Katwal?
Who is that Badal?
Who is that Prachanda?
Who is that Girija?
Who is that Makune?
In a response to the writ petition filed by INHURED International against the process of new recruitment drive unleashed by the NA, a single bench of the SC headed by Justice Anup Raj Sharma ordered immediate halt to the new induction till Feb 28.
UPDATE on March 5: While the two judges bang their heads over Nepal Army recruitment, the Maoist Army PLA also starts recruitment procedures. The United Nations’ Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) says the fresh recruitment drive of the Maoist affiliated People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
UPDATE on March 13:
The Supreme Court in its final verdict ordered both the NA and PLA not to conduct new recruitment. It however, upheld the recruitment of some 3000 personnel in NA, stating that the recruitment procedure, which completed before the writ against recruitment was registered, could not be invalidated.
Upadate on April 23, 2009
Prachanda supported a decision by the defence ministry two days ago to seek clarification from General Katawal over allegations that he ignored government orders on recruitment and the sacking of eight senior army generals.
Katawal provided an explanation within the 24-hour deadline given to him by the government. The controversy has split political parties, including those in government, and is threatening to derail the peace process.Nepal president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav formally wrote to Prime Minister Prachanda not to seek the army chief ’s resignation as it would create further trouble. Katawal is to retire in a few months.
Former Army officers and security experts in an interaction program warned of unexpected catastrophe if Katwal were sacked. Security Expert Karna Bahadur Thapa Thapa said “It is the time to work for national interest rather than creating problems.”
UPDATE On April 24:
Contrary to Maoists’ claim of “civilian control” over the Army, the motive behind their plan of sacking General Katawal appears entirely of party interersts. The Maoist also seemed to be working on the plan of Deputy General of Nepal Army Kul Bahadur Khadka. Kadka had submitted a plan to the Maoists months in advance and they liked it. According to the plan, all 19,000 Maoist combatants would be integrated in the Army; PLA commander Nanda Kishor Pun “Pasang” would be made Major General and many others would get brigadier positions.
Click here to read a detailed scoop on how General Katwal had also planned for a “soft coup” and a Bangladesh-inspired President’s Rule backed by India Government.
UPDATE on April 30:
The Katawal Case took another dramatic turn yesterday. While the ruling Maoists, UML and the opposition NC have begun consultations to forge a consensus, Top three Nepal Army Generals on Wednesday refuted the media reports that there is a rift in the army top brass.
The Chief Rookmangud Katawal appeared with his deputies Lt. General Kul Bahadur Khadka who is second-in-line and Lt. General Chhatraman Gurung who is third-in-line and all of them collectively expressed their commitment to the democratic process and the Chain-of-Command in the Army affairs.
UPDATE on May 03: PM Prachanda’s side of the cabinet today sacked Rookmangad Katawal from the post of Chief of Army Staff and appointed second-in-command Kul Bahadur Khadka as the acting CoAS. However, the ministers from CPN (UML), CPN(Samykta) and Sadbhawana have boycotted the meeting after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal tabled a proposal to sack CoAS Katawal. The decision would only come into effect after the President accepts the government decision, which is unlikely given the political developments that have taken place in the recent days. The most likely scenario would be that the Maoists would leave the government and opt for the opposition role as the UML and the NC have begun consultation on forming a new government.
UPDATE on May 4: Amidst the controversy over the constitutional rights of the president, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, in the capacity of commander-in-chief of the Nepali Army has annulled PM Prachanda’s sacking of CoAS Kathuwal, and has written to the army headquarters instructing Katawal to stay in position. PM Prachanda and his party have termed the President’s interference as “unconstitutional”. Prachanda is to address the nation on the issue at 3 pm today.
PRACHANDA RESIGNS: UPDATE ON MAY 04, 16: 10 Nepal Time: Accusing the foreign forces for interfering in Nepal’s internal matters and making the President a parallel power center unconstitutionally, PM Prachanda resigned from his post in his address to the nation today.