Nepal king bares his heart to Time

BY Sudeshna Sarkar| IN Media Practice | 20/04/2005
The state-run Rising Nepal daily focused on the king`s contention that the coup was conducted to bring peace in a country racked by a nine-year-old insurgency, and that it was supported by the masses.
Indo-Asian News Service
Sudeshna Sarkar


Kathmandu, April 19 (IANS) "I feel it must be my destiny. So be it," Nepal`s King Gyanendra, inclined to keep the media at bay in his own kingdom, says as he bares his heart to Time magazine in his first interview since the royal coup on Feb 1. The lengthy interview by the 58-year-old monarch, whose dynasty has been ruling Nepal for over 200 years, accompanies the cover story on Nepal`s situation in the latest issue of the magazine. It hit the headlines in the Nepalese media Tuesday with all the dailies as well as web sites carrying it prominently, but each highlighting a different aspect.

"Democracy is here to stay", said the lead story in the state-run Rising Nepal daily that focused on the king`s contention that the coup was conducted to bring peace in a country racked by a nine-year-old insurgency and was supported by the masses.
Asked by Time`s Alex Perry if he understood the scepticism when he talked democracy but his methods were anti-democratic - like imposing emergency, clamping censorship on the media and detaining political leaders and human rights activists - the king said scepticism, for him, was "slow suicide".

"It`s reacting with half knowledge," the monarch retorted. "We can go on arguing about methods (and) asking was it necessary to go so far. But less might have yielded no results. I think the Nepalis understand that it`s a question of the survival of the nation. We cannot afford this conflict anymore.... Undisciplined freedom has nearly brought about the end of democracy," he told Time, referring to the continuous opposition by Nepal`s political parties to the three successive prime ministers nominated by him since 2002.

"Why is it, when we talk of freedom, that everyone forgets their duty to the nation?... I think any sane person would be frustrated [with the parties]. "What`s peace for? Stability. And what will peace give you? An opportunity to hold elections. What are they for? So the democratic parties are in place again. I am giving you a road map."

The Kathmandu Post daily chose to highlight the king`s foreign policy. "I am disappointed with the international community," the Post`s top story said. "...What was the objective of Feb. 1?" he shot back. "To fight for democracy against terrorism. Our friends must tell us whether this is incorrect, or help us in this cause... I am saddened by the few of our friends that have chosen to curb much-needed assistance. Many Nepalese are identifying who their real friends are in this time of need. They (international donors) feel much of the assistance will be used against democratic forces. That`s a lopsided opinion..."

Asked if he was seeking help from China and Pakistan, who have supported the coup, calling it an internal matter of Nepal, the king said it was a misconception.  "These options are always there; as of now, it`s not true. We hope saner heads will prevail where we have already received vital assistance."

On a question whether he was planning an offensive against the communist insurgents, the king, whose nearly three month rule has seen increased aggression against the underground guerrillas, said it was unwise only to attack. "There are many other things that also have to be implemented, like winning the hearts and minds of the people. You have to have the population with you in this situation," he said.

But he was firm that the Maoists had lost all moral authority. "Their actions speak for them," he said. "If you don`t like some idea, these things can be thrashed out peacefully. But this is a language they don`t understand. (They think) everything comes from the barrel of a gun. The people are rising up and have given a clear message to the terrorists that they are unwelcome and that they will no longer tolerate their attacks, their extortion and their kidnapping."

The king also defended the army against mounting allegations of human rights allegations, illegal detentions and extra-judicial killings. "I am not saying there have not been accidents," he said. "But where the guilty have been found, action has been taken... Think of Guantanamo, Iraq. We don`t have bad stories like that... Are these stories being raised now because the Royal Nepalese Army is being successful?"

Asked if he had not taken an enormous risk and staked both his crown and monarchy with the takeover, his answer was a firm no: "In many cases in our history, monarchy has always sided with the people and risked itself with them. But that`s not considered a risk. That`s considered conduct by, for and with the aspirations and will of the people."

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