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Maoists in Nepal offer to forgive and forget

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 11:12 IST
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Poised to re-enter parliament after a decade of guerrilla warfare, Nepal's Maoists have said they are willing to forgive and forget the foreign governments that cracked down on them as terrorists and have no "working relations" with any terror group abroad.

As the communist rebels get ready to send 73 members to parliament on Monday and soon join the government, their newly appointed international affairs chief Chandra Prakash Gajurel, known as Gaurav during his days underground, has outlined the party's foreign affairs policy, saying it would be based on reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.

Gajurel, who was arrested and jailed in India while trying to fly to Germany and drum up international support for the Maoists' 'People's War', says he has no bitterness towards the Indian government.

"The circumstances were different then," the veteran leader says. "The Indian government had good relations with King Gyanendra then and tried to keep Nepal happy.

But after the king's coup (in 2005), India changed its stand towards the royalist government.

It stopped military assistance to the royal regime and provided space to us on Indian soil to hold the first meeting with Nepali opposition parties and reach an understanding."

When the rebels join the government, they will focus on reviewing Nepal's international treaties, abrogating or revising the ones that are unequal and detrimental to Nepal's interests.

Most of Nepal's foreign pacts are with its southern neighbour and biggest trade partner India.

The controversial Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950, which says Nepal will consult India while buying arms for its own internal security, seems headed for review, if not downright scrapping.

India has said it was open to a review of the pact during Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Kathmandu last month.

Another controversial pact, the Extradition Treaty, will also come under review. The treaty was updated last year and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's government had agreed to sign it.

However, at the last moment, the Koirala government, pressured by the Maoists as well as its own allies, put off the inking of the pact without showing any reason.

Gajurel said the updated treaty would have to be reviewed yet again.

"At that time, our party was considered to be a terrorist organisation and the pact was drafted accordingly," he said. "But now things have changed."

The Maoists will keep their ideological links with other Maoist organisations abroad, like the Revolutionary International Movement and Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia but not any working relations, Gajurel said.

"The ideological relations will continue as long as we are Maoists but it will not hamper state to state relations," Gajurel said.

The Maoists have also decided to forgive and forget the cold shoulder given to them by China and the US.

"In the past, China said we were not Maoists and tarnished the image of their leader Mao Tse Tung by naming ourselves after him," he said.

"China also labelled us anti-government forces.

But we are ready to forgive for the sake of forming a democratic republic in Nepal.

"It is not just our desire but the desire of the people to see a republic in Nepal. We want China too to help us with the process of change."

The Maoists are also extending the same tolerance towards their bete noire, the US.

"The US tried to stop the parties from reaching a pact with us and then tried to prevent us from joining parliament," Gajurel said.

"But once there are 73 Maoist members in parliament, people in the US will start re-thinking."

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