Nepal Maoists still on Obama government’s terror list

May 1st, 2009 - 2:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 1 (IANS) Though US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a diplomatic sop to Nepal’s Maoist-led government last month by wishing the Himalayan republic a happy new year, Washington is still not ready to believe that the former guerrillas have really laid down their arms.
The earlier government of George W. Bush branded Nepal’s Maoists a terrorist organisation in 2004. Five years and a resounding electoral victory later, the former rebels still remain a terrorist entity in the eyes of the new Obama government.

The Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 released by the US Department of State late Thursday said though the Maoists ended a 10-year insurgency in 2006 and entered the interim government in April 2007, their factions “continued to engage in violence, extortion, and abductions”.

The report came down heavily on the dreaded Maoist youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL), saying it “carried on the Maoist militia’s tactics of abuse, abduction, murder, intimidation, and extortion in cities and villages”.

While Nepal, unlike India or Pakistan, did not experience “significant acts of international terrorism”, the report noted that several incidents of politically-motivated violence occurred across the country and that, in response to continued violence by the YCL, other political parties condoned the use of violence for their youth wings.

Though the Nepal government made some headway in counterterrorism efforts, specifically with the passage of anti-money laundering legislation and the arrest of individuals suspected of terrorist ties, US anti-terrorism assistance was constrained by the presence of the Maoists within the government, the report said.

In sharp contrast to Indian agencies which have claimed that many participants in terror attacks on Indian soil had detoured through Nepal, the report however said that there were no indications that Nepal was a safe haven for other international terrorists though the authorities arrested several individuals with suspected ties to Pakistani terrorist organisations using Nepal to transit between Pakistan and India.

The continued ban on the Maoists as a terror organisation is bound to anger the former guerrillas.

Last year, after he assumed office as Nepal’s first Maoist prime minister, party supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda had lobbied in the US with the Bush administration to take his party off the black list and had seemed optimistic of a positive response.

Washington remains concerned that the Maoist government has failed to bring war criminals to justice, including its own cadres, and address the unrest in the Terai plains that currently lie paralysed under an indefinite closure called by an ethnic community.

The US ambassador to Nepal Nancy Powell was part of the eight-member ambassadorial delegation that met Prachanda last month to express concern at his party’s dogged battle to dismiss the chief of Nepal Army, Gen Rookmangud Katawal, even at the cost of alienating the other major parties and derailing the peace process.

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