When my friend Siresongs was in Nepal, I used to get first hand information on Nepal. Now I had to rely on the TV channels and news paper. There was recently two items in Newspaper that caught my eye. First was the decline of an offer for Talks from the Maoists and second was the purchase of lethal ammunitions from China. So is the King really on to something? Declining the peace offer (or attempts to make peace) from the Maoists looks like a brave attempt on the face of it but it has a lot of underlying statements. Reading together the purchase of armaments from China, signals a notable shift of equations with India, Nepal’s traditional ally. If the king had accepted the offer, he would have to revert to democratic means and less military means. As with every dictatorship, military is his first and last straw. Fear is the weapon. Suppression is the way. So anything that remotely resembles democracy, the King will weaken his grip on the Himalayan kingdom. And this would give the ideal opportunity to the political fraternity. Once a people backed rising started, his military might may not be able to contain it. So this may be the reason behind his refusal.
India and US, the traditional arms supplier to the kingdom, has stopped their supplies since the royal coup. India has asserted that it will be a temporary stay, fearing that Pakistan will scoop up the opportunity, and resumed limited supply later but that was not enough to keep China at bay. New Delhi must be ruing the lost goldmine.
Still a large chink of Nepal, Rural areas especially, are controlled by the Maoists. King Gyanendra is losing control everyday steadily. Clamp down on media and arresting leading politicians accelerated his dropping popularity. On international front, pressure is mounting to bring back democracy and law and order. It is to be seen how the wily king cop with the pressure and hold on to power.