RELEASE OF COLONEL LAMA : Right Diplomacy

Finally, Nepal Army’s quiet moves helped secure the release of colonel Lama

March 9, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -18 Mar. 08- 2013 (Falgun 25, 2069)

After the failure of the political leadership to secure the release of Colonel Lama, Nepal Army’s quiet moves helped in the bail of Colonel Lama. Although Colonel Lama was released on bail, he needs to appear before the British Court as and when necessary.  This is going to be one of the major achievements of Nepal Army chief Gaurav Shumsher Rana during his tenure.

Unlike the political leadership, which made efforts to expose the case, Nepal Army chief Rana followed a quiet diplomacy in dealing with the case. He quietly conveyed to the concerned authorities the organisation’s full adherence to human rights and rule of law.

Although  Colonel Lama’s arrest is reportedly linked to his defiance to pay compensation to a victim as imposed by the district court, this is just one part of the event. Colonel Lama’s arrest is also a part of Nepal’s government apathy towards rule of law, growing incidents of impunity and failure to handle the rights abuse during the period of insurgency. For instance, the government continues to withdraw criminal charges and release those involved in heinous crimes, obstructing the investigative procedures, and allowing persons like Bal Krishna Dhungel, who was facing life term for killing a person, go scotfree. Besides, the failure to bring the acts on Disappearances and on Truth and Reconciliation also compounded with the problem.

The failure to secure release of Colonel Kumar Lama on bail from Britain is a failure of the Maoist-led government to firmly convince the international community that the government is sincere to protect the human rights and deal with the insurgency related rights issues firmly by promulgating the laws.

Although Neal Army’s quiet diplomacy helped to secure the release, the arrest of Colonel Kumar Lama and the refusal of bail by the British lower court earlier indicated that Nepal's security and political leaders will have difficult times ahead.

The coalition government, led by UCPN-Maoist, which did everything to humiliate and tarnish the image of Nepal Army during the insurgency and after joining the peace process, half-heartedly defended the case.

Whether it is in a hurried or calculative move, foreign minister and Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kazi Shrestha lodged the protest against British government summoning its ambassador to Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This move of foreign minister Shrestha shut the doors to quiet diplomacy.

Many saw the UCPN-Maoist led government's move was neither diplomatically correct, nor enough to assure the international community that it would heal the wounds of conflict through the formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Similarly, the response of the two major political parties, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, was also discouraging.

Although political leaders have their own vested interests in power politics, it is high time political parties came to support the Nepal Army, Nepal's oldest institution devoted to guaranteeing security and protecting sovereignty, in its battle.

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