All we have heard so far are promises and more promises: making Nepal “like heaven” in ten years, bullet trains whizzing through tunnels to Kathmandu from south and north, international airports galore.
Meanwhile, the Ring Road in Balkhu is a muddy quagmire where the only Great Leap Forward is what pedestrians have to take to avoid large puddles. After much hullaballoo over cracking down on bus syndicates, an Oli-loyalist minister has sacked the Director General from the Department of Transportation who was trying to get bus route permits out of the clutches of the mafia.
One year after elected mayors and village chiefs took over, and nearly six months after the provinces got their own elected leaders, the devolution process is going nowhere very fast. Kathmandu municipality seems to be comatose, Lalitpur’s mayor is everywhere but nowhere, and in many rural municipalities elected contractors are awarding lucrative infrastructure projects to themselves, and plundering natural resources.
The UML and the CPN-MC came together out of necessity.
The UML was tired of being a junior partner in unstable coalitions because of its fragmented vote bank. The Maoists had disintegrated into little pieces, and Chairman Dahal needed to secure his own political future. He also wanted to wash his hands of the blood he helped spill during the war by leaving no trace of his Maoist party.
The loser in this game will be the survivors and families of victims of war crimes and human rights violations as we report in this issue (page 1,11). Reports that Bal Krishna Dhungel, accused in a war-era murder in Okhaldhunga, is getting a presidential pardon on Republic Day next week presages even more serious attempts to evade truth, justice and reparations. The groundwork has already been laid by weakening the mandates of the Commission on Enforced Disappearances and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The unified party, as well as the opposition NC and the security forces, are united in this attempt to let bygones be bygones. The people’s apathy and their lack of confidence that politicians and warriors will ever face up to their crimes, helps the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, the families of more than 1,400 disappeared Nepalis still do not have closure. Relatives of the dead and wounded are still struggling.
The ghosts of the dead will continue to haunt the NCP as long as it does not confront its violent past, and make amends.