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An Expectation for 2006 is Peace?

Kamala Sarup, Kathmandu, Nepal, January 4, 2006

Nepalese soldiers and police officers watch over traffic in Kathmandu earlier this week. Nepal's Maoist rebels officially ended a four-month unilateral truce despite pleas from political parties and the United Nations, saying army attacks had forced them back on the offensive. (Photo: Devendra M. Singh / AFP-Getty Images)

The year 2005 passed with war, earthquake, hurricane, terrorism, rainfall, sexual abuse, forced displacement, extreme economic deprivation, global warming and many other difficulties for human beings all over the world, including those in Nepal. 2006 and 2007 might not be quite so rosy. The disasters of 2005 were warnings. Warnings that, by and large, have been completely ignored. One is natural disasters; the other, the great trials of war. When things get out of balance, the universe has a way of balancing them despite the wishes and desires of the rich and powerful. Needless to say, these things affect all the rest of us more.

The conflicts in Nepal, northern Uganda, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Sudan, and the Congo are examples of forced displacement and have been cited as examples of complex situations that include terrorism. The United Nations and other international organizations were unable to undertake adequate humanitarian and peace programs because no coherent and systematic attempts to end the conflicts have been made.

So, we don't see anything good coming from Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan or Nepal. Antiwar advocates are clamoring for an end to the war in Iraq involvement in 2006 because of the resilience of the insurgents. Because of the many ethnic and religious animosities in many countries, including Nepal, people don't see how they can survive.

It is true, Iran and Syria continue to "compromise." Iraq successfully passed a new constitution in December, but a mini civil war broke out afterwards between Shia and Sunni interests. Nepal has also emphasized the need for lasting peace in order to boost the country's economic activities.

Israel and the Palestinians continue to make good progress. Israel successfully negotiated a modus vivendi with Hamas but not, unfortunately, with Hezbollah. That will continue to be the card vis-à-vis the Syria, Iran and Lebanon issues. If Lebanon steps up, this can be solved quite neatly. Turkey continues in its perfect positioning. The 2006 Mexican presidential election and Nepal's general election will be the most interesting elections.

We are at present facing an unprecedented crisis due to terrorism. As a result, all sectors of the world have been seriously affected in 2005. Thus, it is absolutely necessary to establish peace in the world including in Nepal in order to create an atmosphere conducive to greater investment flow in 2006.

But, terrorism is still the preeminent threat and wild card in 2006. More resources will have to be committed in terms of personnel, technologies and on-the-ground intelligence to counteract this amorphous new threat. Europe and Australia look to be the most likely targets. The Northern Route (Nepal-India border) appears well monitored, but the devastating Pakistan earthquake, unfortunately, has created a rather large new "tribal area" due to the difficulty of effectively getting aid and supplies there. The Midwest (America's heartland), Africa, Europe and the Baltics, China, India and Russia, including Nepal, are the most vulnerable target areas.

So, if we want to bring peace in war-affected countries in 2006, then we must present the alternative in great detail, assuming we are dealing with large groups of people, not very small communities, so that we can be assured that it will work and not fall into chaos. It is true, peace organizations by themselves cannot eliminate misery but they can reduce it on the average and not just shift it around from one person to another.

The people of Nepal simply cannot afford another uprising, terrorism or any other tension in 2006. Real and sustainable peace must be approached holistically. This year's budget must be spent on peace reconciliations because political stability and peace encourage people to engage in non-violent activities.

There are many outcomes. If we think that by just being peaceful, no matter what the circumstance, everything will turn out ok, then we are ok. If we think that when an aggressor attacks, all we have to do to avoid injury or death is extend our hand in friendship or kneel and pray, then we are facing reality.

Therefore, people have to perform small and big tasks in many different fields on peace reconciliations. We have seen often in history where leaders have not thought out the details and ended up with a situation worse than before the change. The only way to eliminate war and terrorism is to beat on the politicians who have to decide on what to keep and what to discard.

Will we be able to live in peace in 2006? The answer will depend on the coming days.

2006 and Nepal

Nepal, a country uniquely situated in the Himalayas, is in the process of becoming a modern nation. Conversely, many of the most developed nations are retreating from the 20th century model of the rational state into a more emotional and religious and even magical state system.

What does this mean? For Nepal, it means that there are many excellent historical examples to follow as it deals with this process. And it also means that many developed nations will be watching Nepal to gather some its spiritual wisdom as they deal with the process of clarifying their own belief systems.

Nepal has two unique examples next door – China and India. What can Nepal learn from these two giants?

There is an almost magical, inspirational quality to both of these mythic figures. How many billions of human beings have already drawn the strength to go on from their example? How many billions more will continue to be inspired by their efforts to remake the two largest nations on earth into their respective visions? Mighty they were and mighty they remain.

Nepal, in her spiritual wisdom, has a variety of visions and dreams to choose from, and that is to her great benefit. Indeed, Nepal can choose from these three great examples in deciding what course is best for its future.

Nepal, of course, is influenced by the world. And it, in turn, influences the world in many subtle ways. For Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom in the modern world. Nepal is also the birthplace of Guatama Buddha, known as Shakyamuni to many. Thus, two of the world's greatest religions can lay claim to a place deep in Nepal's heart and spiritual bosom.

Asians and a few Westerners know well what Nepal means to the world. That these Westerners are predominantly the fierce falcons who climb the world's tallest mountains is perhaps not a coincidence, for they see things few other humans actually get a chance to see.

As we stand on the precipice of a New Year, we wave goodbye to the old 2005, a year of incredibly momentous change for the world and Nepal. And we all can hope and pray that 2006 will bring peace, prosperity and continued progress on the long march of human endeavor that we call life.

And may Nepal, as well, find her way to her own unique destiny.

Kamala Sarup is editor of Peace Media, online at www.peacejournalism.com.

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