Ministry of Labour Needs To Be Involved in Reintegration of Former Combatants
By Krishnahari Pushkar
The reintegration issue of ex-Maoist combatants has become one of the most confrontational issues of the ongoing Nepal peace process.
The ongoing Nepalese Peace Process (PP) has been virtually shelved. The basic deadline for constitution building has been ended with no result. The Peace Process is simply being destroyed due to the consensual derivatives between the Maoists and Nepal Government on reintegration issues.
Both parties have agreed to integrate the former Maoist guerrillas into the Nepalese security system but have always been undecided about the number of guerrillas. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is supposed to provide technical support in the peace process; however the role of UNMIN has not been very useful in this regard.
Surprisingly, the Internal and external stakeholders of the Nepalese Peace Process have remained silent on the turmoil. For this reason, the bilateral-multilateral confrontation on reintegration affairs has become one of the major hurdles in achieving sustainable peace through an agreed-upon comprehensive peace accord.
Both parties are sticking to the stance to forcefully push the ex-combatants into security forces ignoring the choice, voice and rights of the ex-Maoist guerrillas. Despite the huge scope, and the role and sources of the ministry, it is being completely undermined by so called peace leaders and their teams handling the issues.
According to the Government of Nepal's Work Division Regulation 2064, the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management has important and relevant responsibilities that include internal and external labour and employment affairs, social safety nets and security, vocational trainings, HRD/man power development and etc. Thus the assigned responsibilities and authority of the Ministry could be incredibly helpful to manage or reintegrate thousands of intended people or ex-Maoist combatants through direct/indirect, internal and external mechanisms of the ministry.
Frankly, the ministry is quite able to provide opportunities for internal and external employment, skill oriented vocational trainings, and many other courses and opportunities for reintegration and rehabilitation of former guerrillas.
Although, the role and potential resources of the Ministry has been forgotten while discussing the reintegration and rehabilitation issue of ex-combatants; it has been never been discussed or put forward by the Ministry itself/ the government nor by the Maoist party.
According to a survey report, the majority of cantonment-based Maoist guerrillas are considering their choices to go for other alternatives rather to enter into army. Also, both parties have realized that accommodating all (approximately 19,000) former guerrillas in the army is not possible, they all are still insisting and only sticking with employing them in the army sector.
It is not just a matter of realization of facts but also beyond the national need and capacity. It has been also observed that there are hundreds of ex-Maoist combatants who are not eligible (old, children, disabled, ill-sick etc.) to meet the minimum eligibility and condition to enter in national security system, so again, there are good alternatives to assigning the job to the labour ministry.
The top brass of government, ruling political parties, Maoists, and the technical committee, have all stopped moving forward on reintegration issues--including the previously constituted high-level political mechanism (HLPM).
Still dismissing the truth, both conflicting parties are digging ways either to integrate them into the army or in other national security systems leaving the other better options of rehabilitation and reintegration through the Ministry of Labour.
In accordance with eligibility and the rights, voices and choices of the former Maoist Guerrillas, the Ministry may create many options and modules of reintegration and rehabilitation, such as:
A.Choices to go in foreign employment in more than one hundred thirty destinations, under more than two hundred varieties of technical and non technical jobs.
B.Choices to settle into domestic employment. The ministry can easily help to develop preferential employment packages for the ex-combatants by developing strategic policy, programs and functional coordination of industrialists, private sector and trade union institutions.
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