Sunday, May 22, 2011

Directorate should be given military mandate: Pun

Following the recent decision of the UCPN (Maoist) standing committee to accept Nepal Army-proposed modality of integration, the parties are likely to reach consensus on the modality for integration of the Maoist combatants.
However, the Maoists have not accepted the modality in totality, leaving the nitty-gritties of modality open for discussion with other parties. In this context, Republica´s Kiran Chapagain and Kiran Pun talked to Barsha Man Pun, the chief of the party´s army department, on Sunday. Excerpts:

Your party was for a separate mixed force until the standing committee decided to accept NA´s integration modality. Why did the party take such a decision?

It is true that our party was for creating a separate mixed force as such a force would have addressed the sensitivities of the PLA, Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and the Nepal Police. But we decided to accept the NA modality to keep the current politics on track and to find a compromising point on integration modality. We hope that the army-proposed modality will be acceptable to all.

Nepali Congress has argued that your party has not accepted the army-floated modality in totality. How far is that true?

Creating a separate directorate under the Nepal Army to accommodate personnel from the PLA, Armed Police Force, Nepal Police and Nepal Army is acceptable to us. We are open to discussions on other details of the modality.

The army has proposed that such a directorate should have 35 percent personnel each from the NA and the Maoist army, and 15 percent each from the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force. Is this acceptable to your party?

Our party has proposed that there should be 50 percent personnel each from the existing security agencies and the Maoist army. Still this issue is open for discussion. Though we have proposed that 10,000 Maoist combatants should be integrated, the number has not been finalized yet. We are open for discussions with other parties on number, standard norms and rank harmonization.

What is the party´s position on rank harmonization?

We have proposed to other parties that the leadership of the [proposed] directorate should be given to the Maoist combatants and the second and third rank to the NA. As there are over a dozen directorates, we hope we will at least get one leadership position. We further proposed that other posts in the directorate should be distributed equally among the Maoist army and the existing security agencies.

What will be the highest rank of PLA to be integrated?

We will give individual choice to all friends. The same choice will be given to the PLA leadership who are in the party´s central committee and politburo.

The Nepal Army has proposed to give the directorate the mandate of civil protection only. Will it be acceptable to your party?

We are in formal and informal talks with the Nepal Army along with other parties in this regard. Similarly, we are also in touch with other stakeholders. We have proposed that the directorate should also be given the responsibility of border security and handling of natural calamities. The directorate should also have military mandate.

Does it mean that your party is holding talks with NA?

Party leaders are holding talks with all stakeholders, including the Nepal Army, to understand their concerns and sensitivity with regard to integration. However, the parties, government and the Special Committee will have a final say.

What are the concerns and sensitivities of the NA?

Army´s sensitivity means its sensitivity toward the nation and the government. We are trying to understand their concerns. Similarly, we want to ensure that its chain of command is not compromised during integration.

Nepal Army has proposed that Maoist combatants should either be recruited at the private or second lieutenant´s level. What is the party´s position?

Integration does not mean entry or recruitment; it is a management of conflict.

While your party has decided to accept the NA modality, you don´t accept some parts of that modality. How should we understand the party´s decision?

It would have been comfortable for us to create a separate security force for integration. We have not demanded top positions in the army. We have said that we are ready to be accommodated under a directorate of the army.

How is the progress on rehabilitation package?

Combatants who will not be integrated will be given golden hand shake. We have proposed that junior PLA combatants who will opt for voluntary retirement should be given around Rs 700,000 while seniors should be given between Rs 800,000 and one million depending on their ranks. Such an incentive should be given either in the form of cash or Treasury bill.

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