It seems that a step has been taken in the right direction with the Special Committee (for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoists combatants) set to go ahead with the task of the selection process for the integration of the former Maoist fighters into the Nepal Army. The decision to resume the task from September 6 indicates that the stakeholders have come to terms with the fact that it should not be delayed further. Herein it may be fitting to mention that the Special Committee, the term of which was only recently extended, has suddenly sprung into action after some time of total inactivity. In fact, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who is the ex-officio chair of the Special Committee, was till recently quite apathetic to the need for speeding up the integration process, but, under pressure, he finally gave in to the demands. That has in a way resurrected the committee through tenure extension. However, there is a lot to be done for the integration task to be completed. Of course, the committee meeting Monday decided to take the birth date mentioned in the citizenship as valid if it contradicts with the UNMIN verified date. That decided upon, the other tasks related to the selection process will have to be taken up with caution.
There are some 3129 former fighters who have opted for integration in the Nepal Army. In fact, the other verified fighters have already chosen voluntary retirement. The integration aspect has been a very contentious issue which the Maoist party itself had left lingering. It is they who should have been more concerned with the fate of their former fighters, but they paid the least attention to an issue on which the completion of the peace process hinges. Even Prime Minister Bhattarai took a long while in calling the meeting of the Special Committee, which shows how indifferent he has been to the plight of the former Maoist combatants languishing in the cantonments. Though overdue, the SC meeting has chalked out the basic action plan. Whether the selection task begins on September 6 or not, it is clear that all the stakeholders should acknowledge the urgency of the task. To have the task completed as soon as possible rests on the sincerity of the stakeholders involved. Stalling the process cannot be of any benefit to anyone.
This particular positive thrust on the integration issue has led to the assurance that the political parties can come to an agreement if they wish to. However, so far the major parties had been trying to avoid each other, and the Maoist-led government too had been indifferent on trying to forge consensus based on the give-and-take formula. This points to the lack of interest of the government for getting the parties to come to consensus that would clear the way for the formation of a national unity government which could call for elections of the type they all agreed. With that the road would be cleared for getting the constitution drafted and promulgated post-parliament or CA election as agreed upon. It is high time that the parties become sincere to the mission of writing the constitution, as they had agreed to resume the stalled selection process for the integration of the Maoist ex-fighters into the Nepal Army.