The television was tuned to one of the educational channels and I was listening with just one ear. Another story about independent militia.
The Taliban, it explained, had been driven out of mountainous Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. The U.S. wanted the Taliban chased down and killed, but Pakistani president Musharraf stalled. He wanted to incorporate them into the legitimate political process. But soon several hundred mayors of villages in a neighboring region were dead, killed by the Taliban. The attempt to bring the Taliban into the legitimate political process had failed, and Musharraf soon travelled to Washington to sign a weapons deal.
The same story is played out over and over again throughout the world, from Iraq to Lebanon to Somalia. Independent militias roam the streets, controlled by anonymous and unelected financial backers, while legitimate governments are unable to protect ordinary citizens.
Now we have news that the Marxist insurgents in Nepal have laid down their weapons and agreed to join the government. The Nepali government has been dissolved and a temporary 330-seat legislature formed with 83 Maoist rebel members. The insurgents have agreed to lock up their arms in metal containers, but they get to keep the key.
“Now they will have to learn the politics of compromise,” said Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times weekly. “Their biggest challenge will be that they can’t use the threat of violence to get their way in the parliament.”
Is this one of those rare success stories of a violent independent militia contained without military force? Time will tell.