They call it a failing state

The Economist calls for intervention before complete failure

Like a severely disturbed individual, a failed state is a danger not just to itself but to those around it and beyond.

…there is no chance that the government can defeat the rebels; there is, however, a small but growing possibility that the rebels could defeat the government.

If this were purely an internal matter, the world could afford to look shamefacedly away. But it isn’t. Nepal’s Maoists have formed links with India’s own Maoist insurgents, who go by the local name of Naxalites, and, says India, with some of the vicious groups fighting secessionist wars in its north-east.

There is also the possibility, which cannot be discounted, that India will be tempted to intervene in Nepal. That would cause intense disquiet in China, Nepal’s other big neighbour.

Nepal might seem too remote a place for anything much to be done. But there are a few possibilities. India and America, the Nepalese government’s main supporters, urgently need to tell it that its brutal methods, far from defeating the Maoists, are increasing support for them. The deep division between the king and the political parties means that this is a three-way fight, not just a two-way one. The king needs to be induced to return the country to proper constitutional monarchy. UN mediation has not been attempted, but should be. India is wary, for a bad reason: fear of setting a precedent for Kashmir. Yet in the end, a peacekeeping operation may well be needed. It would be wise to start thinking about one now, rather than waiting for Nepal’s complete collapse. [The Economist(sub) | Related article (free)]

It does not take much to take the wind out of the Maoists’ (already flagging) sail — usurp their agenda, especially the one calling for a new constituent assembly. Even in the absence of the Maoist threat, King Gyanendra has sufficiently distorted Nepal’s politics that a return to the 1990-system is next to impossible. Clearly, Nepal needs reconciliation, but the Maoists are the worst possible agents to provide it.

The constituent assembly can then decide whether Nepal becomes a republic, or ends up with a Japanese-style constitutional monarchy. India should intervene to bring about this outcome by bearing down on the king and his prime minister. Should the Maoists continue their armed struggle even after this, India would have no alternative left but to intervene militarily. In that case it must take up the responsibility, preferably but not necessarily with the sanction of the UN Security Council.

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