SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The six days between October 6 and 11 saw the highest number of deaths in fighting between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since the two sides signed a ceasefire in February 2002. More than 400 combatants from both sides could have died in fighting in northern Jaffna and eastern Mankerni, if numbers quoted by the Government and the Tigers are tallied.
Ironically, as fighting erupted first at Mankerni, early in the morning of October 6, Norwegian peace facilitators were winding up what appeared, till then, to be a successful mission to renew peace negotiations. After meeting separately with Jon Hanssen Bauer, the special Norwegian Peace Envoy, both sides agreed to talks in Geneva on October 28 and 29. But the announcement was quickly relegated to a footnote, when full frontal clashes erupted.
The rekindling of negotiations had done nothing to ease the tensions that had gripped the country since August 11, when the fighting had started in earnest. The Army confirmed that it had lost 129 soldiers in engagements along the northern forward defence lines at Muhamalai, south of Jaffna. The Tigers handed over 74 bodies through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and said that there were another three dozen, highly decomposed, strewn in the area of battle. The Government asserted that, though estimates of Tigers causalities could not be confirmed, radio intercepts suggested they could be as high as 200. LTTE sources, from its political headquarters in Kilinochchi, downplayed their death toll, claiming just 30 fatalities. More than 500 were believed injured in the fighting that erupted when Government troops broke out from the defence lines in Muhamalai and attacked Tiger positions. The Government claimed that troops had retaliated to continuous Tiger artillery and mortar fire, but the Tigers accused the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) of unprovoked forays into their areas. The Tigers had, in fact, issued a warning a day before fighting erupted that, if attacks continued, they would reconsider supporting the truce. “We asked him (the Norwegian ambassador to Colombo, Hans Brattskar), to convey to the Government that one more attack and we will pull out,” Tiger military spokesperson Rasiah Illanthariyan told this writer, soon after talks with Brattskar. The Tigers had issued the same warning in letters to the Norwegians and truce monitors. “The letter came on Saturday night (October 7) and the contents indicate the sentiments,” SLMM Spokesperson Thofnnuir Omarsson stated. The Tigers alleged that the Government was engaged in a buildup along the northern front. Despite the warnings, fighting erupted the day after Brattskar concluded his visit and, almost simultaneously, as Olso announced the dates for new talks.
On the other hand, right through the efforts spearheaded by Norway and supported by USA, Japan, the European Union and India for the resumption of talks, President Mahinda Rajapakse’s Government had stood firm on its decision to retaliate if attacked by the Tigers. Government forces under Army commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who survived a suicide attack in April 2006, had achieved some spectacular successes against the Tigers since August. They pushed the Tigers out of the strategic eastern coastal town of Sampur, overlooking the Trincomalee harbour. The LTTE was previously able to direct artillery fire across the Bay at defence establishments in the harbour and had attacked one troop transporter with 700 men on board when it was returning to Trincomalee from its bases around Sampur. Sampur had been under LTTE control since 1997.
Troops also gained control of the irrigation dam at Mawilaru, south of Sampur, when the Tigers blocked the sluice gates. They were also able to advance the forward defence lines in Jaffna, and the October 11, 2006, setback, when 129 soldiers were killed in a single day of fighting, was the first recent failure.
With movement and access in the areas of the fighting limited, claims of provocations and unwarranted attacks could not be independently verified. No one appears to be quite clear about who started the fighting in Mankerni, on October 6. The Government said that Army camps along the line of control had come under mortar fire in the early hours of the morning, forcing troops to retaliate to smoother LTTE fire. The Tigers claimed that their areas were attacked without any provocation by Government troops, who were guided by members of the breakaway Karuna-led Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP). The TMVP, led by LTTE’s former eastern military leader, Vinyagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Karuna, told this writer that some 300 of their cadres were involved in the attack, but that they did not work with the security forces at any point of time. Pradeep Master, a high ranking TMVP military commander, stated that they had attacked Tiger camps north of Mankerni, at Panichchankerni, from their bases in Welikanda, from the north western side. The LTTE had started firing mortars at the Army camps to divert attention from the attack by the Karuna group, according to Pradeep. Other sources in the east claimed that the Karuna group had first moved along the A15 Highway, followed by Government troops.
The fighting in east left more than 60 dead. The Tigers handed over 11 bodies to the Army through the ICRC, while accepting three among 11 that the Army had recovered. Both sides put the death toll of opponents at above 30. The Karuna group claimed that they had killed 43 Tigers and suffered eight fatalities and 11 injured.
This fighting is nothing new, given what has taken place over the past 10 months, since December 2005. More than 1,000 persons have died in the fighting, including over 400 civilians. Peace talks hit a snag in April 2003, and an earlier effort by the Norwegians to get them going proved futile earlier in this year. The violence has forced more than 200,000 Sri Lankans to flee their homes and another 15,000 to flee to southern India. Further, more than half a million in northern Jaffna have been living on a knife’s edge since mid-August, when the only overland supply route that runs through LTTE-held areas was closed. The ICRC has suspended its escorts to convoys because of the lack of security guarantees, and Jaffna has only been surviving on Government-sponsored ships. Though the situation eased briefly towards late September, the latest fighting at the southern entrance to the Peninsula could once again disrupt supplies.
While the LTTE has repeated its threat to completely pull out of the talks unless the Government stops attacks, the Government appears to be sticking to its earlier position. Illanthariyan said that the Tigers would decide their future action after meeting Hanssen Bauer on October 19, even as the Government declared that the violence was no barrier to the progress of talks. “The Government categorically stated in the conditions to resume talks that the Security Forces retain the right to retaliate if the LTTE continues with their attacks,” an official release stated. Evidently, both sides have decided to exploit the peace process for tactical advantage, even as they seek consolidation through hostilities on the ground. Under the circumstances, prospects of a return even to the unstable peace of the past four years appear to be rapidly receding.
Maosim to Fascism in the Himalayas?
It is an October replete with irony. The most definitive treatment to date on Mao Tse-tung’s final crime against humanity, his “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” is out to solid reviews. Peru, in confirming the life sentence of Marxism’s self-proclaimed “Fourth Sword,” Comrade Guzman, has ensured that the country would not have on its streets a “democratic politician” whose only tangible achievement was to unleash the Maoist nightmare that left 60,000 of his countrymen dead. In Thailand, amidst the buffeting of democracy, the 14 October anniversary passed with hardly a thought. It was on that date, in 1973, that the authoritarian state crumbled, beginning the process through which democracy defeated Maoism. And in Nepal, the Maoists, sensing power just ahead, again issued a slew of statements denying that their Maoism and the catastrophe it has brought to the country has anything to do with the bloody 20th Century crimes of Marxism-Leninism.
What is striking in the Nepali scenario has been the crucial role played by the clueless united front allies of the Maoists, especially groups that bill themselves as ‘civil society’ or even as ‘nonaligned’. They have lent critical strength to what otherwise would be a political movement in much the position as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) prior to its participation in the peace process, when its front, the Sinn Fein, at peak garnered less than a fifth of the electorate.
What remains ill-understood is that the Maoists are not using even the same vocabulary, much less the same game plan, as the present political system. They continue to see themselves as a people’s war on the offensive, and are simply proceeding along an avenue of approach complementary to armed action. Violence and non-violence are but two facets of a unified struggle, very much as, in boxing, feints and movement of the body are as necessary as punches thrown.
‘People’s war’ is a strategy for armed politics. The mistake is to think it is merely ‘war’, by which we normally mean action between armed forces. To the contrary, people’s war is like any parliamentary campaign – except violence is used to make sure the vote comes out in your favour. Significantly, sub-state rebels such as the Maoists claim they are merely doing what the state itself has been doing all along. In Nepal, they claim, there never has been ‘non-violent politics’. Rather, they assert, echoing Lenin, the democratic politics practiced by the ‘old-order’ – ancien regime – is but a façade for an oppression that is carried out using the violence of the state through its armed component, the security forces, as well as the ‘structural violence’ of poverty and injustice.
Thus the Maoists see themselves as engaged in a struggle for liberation, even of ‘self-defense’. Such a struggle proceeds along different but orchestrated lines of operation.. Use of violence, now ‘in support’, is just one line of operation, which comprehends many forms of violence, from assassinations, such as that of Armed Police Force (APF) head, Krishna Mohan Shrestha, in 2003, to main force attacks, the large actions that seek to overrun District capitals. These forms of violence, in turn, were ‘bundled’ into campaigns, such as the campaign of terror that the Maoists used to eliminate all who opposed them in local areas, whether individuals or police. The family of Muktinath Adhikari, for instance, the teacher was hanged for the ‘crimes’ of teaching Sanskrit and failing to give ‘donations’ to the Party in early 2002, has recently surfaced to demand justice.
Yet such terror occurred for a reason: to clear the space for political action, to eliminate competitors. This is why Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML, a parliamentary party,) activists were such particular targets. They advanced a competing programme which had won a majority of seats in Nepal’s 3,913 Village Development Committees (VDCs). They had to be driven out so that the Maoist cadres would have uncontested access to the electorate. Only in this way could the Maoists mobilize a mass base using their own ‘electoral platform’, if we may call it that – they call it their ‘mass line’.
Of course, such methods are anathema to democracy as generally understood, even as certain portions of their (Maoist) party platform are attractive. It is for this reason that the Maoists have sponsored a multitude of front organizations, the wide variety, for instance, of ethnic and community rights organizations. On the surface, they are not Maoist, but in reality they are controlled by the Maoists. The student and labour organizations are especially prominent in this respect. The important thing about fronts is that they can present themselves as independent, even as they are being used to enhance Maoist strength. Lenin called those who unwittingly join such fronts, thinking they are acting on their own, “useful idiots”.
Even as this goes on inside the country, the Maoists work outside. States tend to focus upon the tangible links, such as the Maoist presence in India. Much more important is their information campaign, designed to present their movement as almost benign. As states make mistakes, such as instances of indiscipline by military units, these are exploited to claim that the state itself is the problem, and terror is projected as a natural component of the solution. In the Nepal, the sheer level of terror inflicted by the Maoists has been quite forgotten in the rush to attack the Army, the APF, and the hapless police (who, recall, at one point in the conflict, had actually suffered a majority of all dead when considered as a proportion of the total victims).
For a Maoist movement, the goal is always power. This has been stated quite openly by all major Maoist figures. They must have power, because their ‘end-state’ is to refashion society. They are not seeking reintegration. That would be to accept the structure that exists and to play by the rules of that structure. Quite vocally, they reject the legitimacy of that structure and its rules. That is why they are adamant that there must be a constitutional convention. They see themselves in the driver’s seat. They are like any political machine in a rough neighbourhood – they can ‘deliver’ the vote. It is ‘boss politics’ played by ‘big boy rules’.
In seeking ‘peace’ and proclaiming that they are ‘not for violence’, what the Maoists mean is that they would much rather have the state deliver power to them (the Maoists), rather than make them (the Maoists) fight for it. They are not fools. They are not interested in dying. They are interested in ‘building a new world’. Yet they hold that violence has been the indispensable tool for creating a new correlation of forces, a new electoral map, if you will. That is why they will not give up their weapons (alternatively, they say, all forces must lock up their weapons, but this does not include their local forces, their ‘people’s militia’). They have run the opposing parties out of the neighbourhood, and now they are demanding a vote. They do not see this as hypocrisy – they see it as doing precisely what the state has been doing in years past. But they hold that their motives are superior, because they aim to revolutionize society, to make Nepal a ‘true’ or ‘authentic’ democracy, because they are carrying out the will of history and ‘of the people’.
Have they worked out the details of what this new democracy will look like? No, aside from vague notions of ‘sectoral’ representation. They have stated, as the Maoist chief, Pushpa Kamal Dahal @ ‘Prachanda’ recently did, that they oppose ‘parliamentary republicanism’, by which they mean democracy as Nepal has, but with the Parliament sovereign. But they have not laid out what their ‘real democracy’ alternative will be. That is the beauty of being the political challenger. Today’s realities are opposed with tomorrow’s promises. This is what politicians always do, even those who run ‘on my record’. The danger of left-wing ideologues, such as the Maoists, is that their worldview dramatically constrains their spectrum of possibilities.
They tend to think of fantasies, such as ‘self-reliance’ and ‘independence’, as ends that can be achieved if only ‘will’ is harnessed. It was just such fantasies, implemented through violence, that gave us the astonishing crimes of the past century – crimes, it must be noted, the Maoists deny occurred. Yet there is no doubt what went on under Lenin, Stalin, and Mao (photos of all these individuals are used as veritable deities by the Maoists), any more than there is any question as to what occurred under Hitler or Pol Pot. What they shared was a startlingly similar worldview.
The Nepalese Maoists’ way of dealing with this is, first, to deny reality (just as the leader of Iran seeks to deny the Holocaust); second, to claim that Nepal will be different (which is easily claimed, since there is a shocking lack of knowledge in Nepal of what has gone on globally in similar situations); and, finally, when all else fails, to claim that the critic has no right to speak. None of three ways, it bears reiterating, addresses the issue: the Maoists really have no answers to the challenges facing Nepal. They simply claim that they will do better than the bumbling (and bloody, they claim) incompetents who have preceded them.
The Maoists have used the monarchy as their foil. If the ‘feudal monarchy’ is swept away, they endlessly repeat, all will be well. In this, they certainly have been assisted by the tragic circumstances which placed the incumbent, King Gyanendra, on the throne. Similarly, they have been assisted by his errors in maneuvering through the maze of Nepali politics. However, having forced the monarch to a position most claim he should occupy, that of a ceremonial monarch in a parliamentary democracy, the Maoists are still left with the fundamental issue: what to do about Nepal? They see structural issues that can be addressed by ‘will’. Most of us see a population that has exceeded the carrying capacity of the land.
Though marginal in an objective sense, Nepal and its troubles have implications for the region and beyond. The decimation of a democracy, the turning over of a people to the same tired solutions that have led to tragedy after tragedy, is of concern enough. Just as serious are the regional implications of allowing an armed, radical movement to force its way to power through terror.
India is the ultimate arbiter in Nepali affairs for reasons of geostrategic interest and Nepal’s geo-fiscal realities. From Nepal’s standpoint, this has not always worked out well. From India’s standpoint, it has worked out reasonably enough. Nepal has steered clear of engaging in behaviour that threatens India’s interests, and Nepalis have proved a valuable component of the Indian labour pool (including militarily, where Nepalis apparently comprise one-eighth of the manpower of India’s infantry battalions). India’s interest in the current situation is in having a stable neighbour, especially one that does not contribute to India’s own growing Maoist problem. To achieve this goal, New Delhi desires in Nepal a functioning democracy committed to addressing the needs of its people. Balancing elements of this general prescription has long been the challenge of Indian regional foreign policy and has led to some real flies-in-the-ointment at times.
Irony again surfaces, because it is India (not the Maoists) that has seen its policy of the past decade go awry. Hence it finds itself in bed with Maoist insurgents and in search of a ‘soft landing’. New Delhi’s strategy is to get one by facilitating in Nepal the creation of a ‘West Bengal’ or a ‘Kerala’ – States where the tamed Indian Left rules, where it continues with its nasty verbiage and bizarre worldview, but where it must respond to the realities of power and hence stays within the lanes on the national political highway. What New Delhi has overlooked is that such realities occur in India only because of the capacity of the national state to force compliance. Subtract the Indian military, paramilitary, and police forces from the equation, and India would be an anarchy. Not surprisingly, that is the very term being used by many to describe the situation in Nepal.
As has been discussed previously by any number of sources, it is difficult to tell precisely where “our Indian friends,” as Prachanda has taken to calling them, currently fit in. A number of elements figure in New Delhi’s calculations. First, as the hegemonic power in an unstable subcontinent, India seeks the restoration of order. Disorder produces refugees, unleashes intra-Indian passions, transfers elements of the conflict to Indian soil, and sucks New Delhi into foreign policy nastiness. Second, having opted for order, India has played a hand well known to its smaller neighbours: intervention. The only question has been how to intervene.
Here, there are several schools of thought. My past work in Sri Lanka has led to my being less than charitable as to Indian official motives. In the Sri Lankan case, New Delhi was into everything from supporting terrorism to running covert ops in a friendly, neighbouring democracy. Only when the Frankenstein it helped to create, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), turned on its former benefactor did logic and morality reassert themselves in New Delhi. In Nepal, it is perhaps too early to speak in such terms. What we know at the moment is that the weak position of the coalition government in New Delhi, combined with its normal ‘Great Game’ psychology and the eagerness of certain Indian personalities, especially on the Left, to expand their own role and spheres of involvement, led to a policy shift that supported the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists (SPAM). It seems equally clear that India, as it did previously in Sri Lanka, went into the present endeavor quite misinformed by its alleged experts, not to mention its intelligence organs, and that it is quite ignorant as to the actual nature of the Maoists – no matter the efforts of those same personalities just mentioned to claim how wise, thoughtful, and caring Prachanda and other members of the Maoists leadership are.
In once again misreading the situation in a neighbouring state, India was initially and virtually pushed by the nationalism of the King. Whatever else he is, the monarch is a Nepali who does not think it is for India to dictate Nepali realities. Ironically, this is a position also held by the Maoists. They have simply realized, of late, that it is a position best relegated to the shadows. Better to rail against the old bugaboos of Indian politics, especially in unison with those who think the Cold War is still going on: ‘America and world imperialism’.
As the US Ambassador to Nepal, James F. Moriarty, has made quite clear – and the cases of Hamas and Hezbollah illustrate well – there are consequences connected with actions that seek to talk peaceful politics but engage in behaviour labeled terrorist by virtually the entire world. It is noteworthy that, in their quest to carve out an identity as ‘independent’ actors, the Maoists claim to see exemplars in very unsavory types – Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. One can understand why these odious regimes are ‘picked’ – on the surface, they stand for a divorce from the present world-order, which Maoist dogma holds responsible, in league with the Nepali local representatives of ‘world-capitalism’ (that is, anyone who owns anything and makes a decent living), for the lack of development that is the country’s present-day reality. In fact, Cuba and North Korea have long been economic basket-cases noted for their political repression, while Venezuela and Iran are political basket-cases determined to remain as such by exploiting a single resource, oil, something Nepal certainly does not have. Cases such as Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia also offer a certain fascination for the Maoists, since these states claim to be ‘socialist’. Each, though, has particulars not relevant to Nepal. Indeed, the most apt comparison for Nepal would seem to be to the Albania of the Cold War, when its lack of resources and close affinity with Maoist ideology reduced it to a complete backwater.
What now looms for India in Nepal is what Israel has faced with Hamas and Hezbollah. Hamas and Hezbollah, for example, thought they could be both in government and carry our terrorist actions. Their fellow citizens have paid a terrible price for such folly. Hamas is particularly tragic, because the Palestinians thought they could elect a group that both wanted to defy world norms and be supported by its money. The similarity to the Nepali case is compelling. Hamas and Hezbollah, one could argue, have behaved as the Nepali Maoists seem determined to behave: to participate in ‘the system’ only to use it for their own ends. Those ‘ends’, obviously, have now made life even worse for the Palestinian and Lebanese populations.
In the Nepal case, it was disappointing and tragic that the SPA and the Palace could not have a meeting of minds. Parliamentary democracy should have been the ultimate bulwark against the Maoist challenge, but the very nature of Nepali parliamentary democracy, with its corruption and ineptitude, led to its marginalization. The increasingly bitter split between the SPA and the King became all but inevitable in such circumstances, but personalities also played a central role, as they do in all that occurs in Nepal. It was the nastiness between Congress personalities, for instance, that incapacitated Government at the precise moment when focus and response were most needed against the insurgent challenge. India has sought to alter this reality long after the fact, by coming down squarely on the side of ‘democracy’. Yet, as was the case in Sri Lanka, New Delhi’s political class seems to have seriously miscalculated.
Though certain Indian commentators hold there are no connections between the Indian and Nepali Maoists, this has never been the case. Indeed, the two sides have openly discussed their linkages, and individuals from the two movements were apprehended or killed in operations “on the wrong side of the border.” Only with a move to exploit the nonviolent line of operation did the Nepali Maoists stop claiming to be integrally linked not only with South Asian Maoism, through the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), but also with global Maoist forces through the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). Of course, these were never ‘command’ relationships, only liaison and, in the case of the Indian groups, some presence. It is naïve to claim the radical wing of a radical Maoist movement will simply salute and call it a day, even if the leadership decides reigning in the combatants is the best tactical course of action. Further, it is inevitable that any Maoist Government would encourage the usual flocking of Left Wing groupies that we see – and have seen – in every other case of a radical Government. Indeed, there already are here in Nepal the usual international activists supplying information to the Nepali left-wing press and even to the Maoists themselves.
There is, however, some hope for the Nepalese future. What is now happening politically should have been the earlier response to the Maoists, with the security forces providing the shield. Though a plan had, in fact, been drawn up, it was mechanical, devoid of substance, precisely because the mobilization that occurred in April 2006 was not used by Nepali democracy as its weapon. That is the irony of Nepali parliamentary democracy – it proved incapable of using mobilization of democratic capacity to defend itself. It did not do what the Thai, the Filipinos, the Peruvians, and the Sri Lankans (twice, against the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, JVP) did to defeat their Maoists. They brought reform to imperfect systems and made them better. They are still imperfect, as are all systems. But they are not man-eating systems as desired by the Left Wing, of which the Maoists are the premier representatives.
It should be obvious that the claim that there is ‘no military solution’ to insurgency is simply a canard. One hears it endlessly in Nepal, most often from ‘the foreigners who would be gods’, as one acquaintance aptly put it. Armed capacity enables the campaign of reform, just as armed capacity is what enables the challenge to the old-order. In circumstances such as Nepal, no army can be committed simply to defend the status quo. It must be committed to defend transformation. That transformation, though, must look rather more like what can be seen in India and a lot less like that was witnessed in Mao’s China.
If Nepal wishes to move forward, it has all the pieces right before it on the table. This has been said before. What separates the sides is the Maoist notion that revolutionary transformation will now be delivered by surrender when force of arms could not take it. ‘The people have spoken’, goes their claim. In reality, the people have spoken, but they have not at all supported what the Maoists have in mind, precisely because the Maoists have worked so hard not to let their vision and plans get out into the open. What Nepal needs now, more than ever, is equitable representation and good governance. What the Maoists keep demanding is retribution and marginalization of all who do not see a solution in their terms. There seems to be the idea that one can simply one day announce a decision has been reached, which will include a declaration that, in effect, a significant slice of the Nepalese old-order should present itself at the chopping block. To say that will not ‘just happen’ is not to be a pessimist or even a realist, but only to reiterate a point made previously in this publication: hope is not a method.
For reconciliation, all elements of society need to be engaged. At the moment, the Maoists and some misguided elements of SPA are proceeding in much the same fashion as did the Government of Sri Lanka, when it marginalized its Tamil population. Half of all Nepalis, in recent polls, said they would be content with a ceremonial monarchy; the security forces number more than 160,000 individuals in intact units. Yet there has been little effort to involve the forces represented by these statistics. For Nepal to move forward, to use a constitutional assembly as a basis for more equitable new arrangements, is a laudable goal. To think a socialist reshuffling of Nepal’s demographic and physical pieces will produce a panacea is a pipe dream. On the contrary, in advancing their ‘triumph of the will’ solution, the Maoists seem quite unaware that they have fixed upon, as course of action, the very title of Hitler’s most powerful fascist propaganda film.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 9-15, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Summit talks adjourned indefinitely after failure to reach agreement: Summit talks between the seven-party alliance (SPA) Government and the Maoists were adjourned on October 15, 2006, for an indefinite period after they failed to reach an agreement. Though a major breakthrough was expected, leaders of the SPA and Maoists met only for about 15 minutes and adjourned the talks till "homework" on the details is completed. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala announced the adjournment after he held a joint consultation with Maoist Chairman Prachanda, the former Prime Minister, Sher Bhadur Deuba, and CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal. Sources indicated that the insurgents and the SPA could not agree on monarchy and the arms management issues. The Hindu, October 16, 2006.
Government and Maoists agree to hold Constituent Assembly polls in June 2007: The seven-party alliance (SPA) Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-Maoist) agreed on October 10, 2006, to hold an election to the Constituent Assembly by the second week of June 2007. The date for the election would be announced by the interim Government which will have representation of the Maoists. After two days of parleys between the SPA and Maoists, the leaders also agreed to appoint a Chief Election Commissioner and commissioners of the Election Commission to begin preparations for the assembly election. The Himalayan Times, October 11, 2006.
Pakistan playing down Taliban threat, says Afghan Foreign Minister: The Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta on October 15, 2006, accused Pakistan of trying to play down the threat of ‘international terrorism’ by labeling the Taliban uprising in Afghanistan an ethnic issue. “The Pakistan president wants to play down the issue of international terrorism ... to an ethnic issue in Afghanistan — that’s not true,” said Spanta, in response to a claim by President Pervez Musharraf that the Taliban had roots among Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes. “The terrorism which is religious extremism is a global network operating against Afghanistan and other democratic states from Russia to India to America with the support of a country,” Spanta told a press conference in Kabul. Dawn, October 16, 2006.
Army confirms death of 129 soldiers and 196 LTTE cadres in Jaffna clashes: The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) confirmed on October 13, 2006, that it lost 129 soldiers in fighting with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) along the Forward Defence Lines in the Kilani and Muhamalai sectors of Jaffna peninsula on October 11. It also confirmed that the outfit buried 196 of its cadres in the uncleared areas (area not under Government control) of Sunokkai, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Omanthai and Mullaithivu. 283 soldiers and 312 LTTE cadres were inured in the confrontation. The SLA also informed that the outfit handed over 74 dead bodies of the soldiers to the Red Cross. While the LTTE claimed that the battle was the result of the military attempts to "invade" its territory, the Army termed it a "defensive response to provocative actions" by the outfit. Daily News, October 14, 2006.