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Last Updated: 10/07/2009
Nepal's Special Security Plan: Political Stunt?
Krishna Hari Pushkar

An independent commentary on recently introduced the Special Security Plan (SSP) of Nepal.

Nepal is a one of the most leading domicile of many ethno-political insurgents. Since longtime, the country has lost its normalcy of law and order, good governance, civil supremacy, and democratic practices due to fast growing ratio of institutional and private criminal and their rebellion activities. Sadly, the country is terrorized and under control of ochlocracy.  Neighboring countries both India and China are fed up, they consider Nepal as a transit hub of ethno-pharisaic terrorist and regressive elements who want their disintegration, and has nabbed the peace and prosperity of their nations. India accuses that Nepal is a center for anti-Indian terrorist and insurgents who use Nepal as it’s’ rehearsal center. Similarly, the China also believes that Nepal has become a nucleus for the anti-China forces, whose aims is to disintegrate China and separate the Tibet from China. Besides, Bhutan also accused Nepal, as a principle sources that generate Bhutan centric insurgents who have spread revolutions for massive sociopolitical change.

Sadly, a recently released index from Foreign Policy depicted Nepal as 25th most likely nation to become a failed state, out of the sixty most vulnerable countries. The group found that conditions in Nepal are more disturbing than in Lebanon, Burkina Faso and Colombia. Nepal has got bed image internationally and internally due to poor security management system, so the M. K. Nepal headed government wants to repair the security sector and willing to achieve its normalcy. People and international community too are keeping continuous pressure to the government to secure duly public lives, liberty, and properties. People want to live in peace, prosperity and harmonious environment.  They are unable to see more violence, criminalities and abuses of human rights. They do not want to be again a victim of warfare and have no more stamina to suffer with crude humanitarian crisis. The public want full assurances of physical and psychological security from government in entire part of the nation; people seek to see quick improvement in existing security mechanism and asking government to come with effective special security plan and strategy.  In this context, the UML led cabinet has recently designed and enforced a government-claimed strategic security plan called Special Security Plan (SSP) which is highly criticized by regional and ethnic political forces. However, the productivity of the SSP is yet to examine.

The government claims that special security plan aimed to improving the deteriorated law and order situation across country. It is said that the main objective of the plan is to control anarchy, promote human rights and end impunity. Basically, the Home Minister describes, the SSP focuses in five areas including controlling the road blockades besides curbing organized and serious types of crime. It will take up special security measures for Kathmandu Valley, tangible improvement in the security situation of the Tarai especially in the eastern and mid-western regions where scores of armed groups have posed a threat to law and order in the southern plains bordering India. It proposes to effectively mobilize the three security agencies - Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department- under a unified command. Moreover, ensuring essential service and nabbing criminals are the core tasks. The plan aims to strictly prohibit the closing of public offices and educational institutions. The plan claims that the government will deploy well-equipped security personnel with adequate arms and coordinate with security staff deployed in various areas of the border. The plan aims to provide security for those targeted by criminals. To take special care of the crime-prone and to massively mobilize security personnel are also strategies under the plan. To increase the productiveness of the plan, the security agencies will manage security forces with weapons to patrol on motorbikes, security picketing twenty four hours, no closure of offices, blockade of roads and traffic, emergency frisking and searches, cordon and search in suspect areas. The special security squad comprises at least twenty Nepal Police and thirty Armed Police Force personnel. The special security team has been given the authority to carry out raids in suspicious places, security checks in different parts of the district with the help of local police and can also hold suspicious persons in their custody for investigation purposes. The team would also arrange security for high-level government officials and political party leaders.

The above described plan is reader friendly and written in systematic order as also experienced during the regime of previous government. However, people do not see any new invention in recently introduced special security plan. There is nothing new.  All the exaggerated provisions are made continuous in law since years, so it is not more than Old wine in new Bottle”. The plan also sounds like the same provision which was introduced during the Gyanendra’s autocratic regime, where the King Gyanendra had imposed the special security plan to control the Maoist activities and democratic movement against his direct executive rule. Moreover, the experts illustrate that it is just a political stunt rather than a no-hit plan that provides an effective and efficient security system as developed security culture has.  The plan is lacking the major characters that are supposed to be deal with the post-conflict situation and even during the ongoing insurgency.

Indeed, the country is passing through the fragile situation, law and order is limited in constabulary only. The criminalities and mutiny have reached at climax, though all governmental efforts of improvement have been found zilch. Since early years, all the government used their political stunt to win the heart and mind of people that, though it is poignant that public are being more victimized and situation is worsening more and more. People do not see any tangible improvement or positive changes, except the mounting news and speeches in Medias. The drawing and design of SSP is faulty and being enforced without needy homework. The SSP suffers with eleventh hour syndrome which is most unfortunate, so how can people expect a successful implementation of SSP.  Actually, the plan has clearly shown that government has not yet understands the true nature of security needs. The Government should understand that security is not only a physical presence and beefed up activities of security personnel, rather it requires true self-build physical and psychological security assurances that people should feel secured in stress-free manner by their hearts and minds.

The security plan cannot be enforced effectively and efficiently till it gets broader public support, legitimacy and peoples’ participation. Further, most important part is enough research based “implementable technical preparation”. It demands essential reform and reengineering in legal, personnel, operational, organizational, physical, functional, resources and administrative areas are also essential before to enforce such plan, however the SSP lacks all these things except the verbal stunt and well written story. There are not yet any substantial changes  and essential step found in restructuring in laws, resources, and technological enhancement related to  local administration, police and security, Intelligence, public service delivery and other related approach of Insurgency management, crime control, market regulation, high way management, drug abuse control, smuggling and boarder security control, kidnapping and robbery control etc.

The Chief Districts Officers led district security committees are the principal mechanism at ground level to enforce the SSP, though the CDOs are popularized like a most superior powerful local authority, without having expertise, resources and controlling power. They are similar like a hand bended Army Fighting in War without Arm and Weapons”.   Also the existing defined security professional of unified command are incapable to deliver the SSP, if they are not empowered and updated properly accordance with the need of the national and strategy of the SSP. The huge lapses in coordination among the security agencies are found a major dearth of SSP. The SSP has assigned crucial role and responsibilities of Regional Administrators and CDOs, but most of the positions are either vacant or operated by juniors that create the issues of poor coordination, order disobeying, seniority complex, inter-intra organizational conflicts, responsibility shifting, and many more problems during implementation of pre to post phase of operation and management of the SSP.

Furthermore, the SSP has no any technical foundation.  It has absence of the proper involvement of security management experts. Most of security related planners and professional are untrained, generalist and suffering with traditional mentalities. The performances of such officials are really questionable. There is no any special mechanism and indicators that could figure out the capabilities of their doings. The existing introduced pathetic ruling cultural concept is like “Our People is good People” not “Good People is Our People”, whether whatever the consequences comes, it does not matter for our policy makers and politicians. Thus the pre to post operations e.g. appointment, transfer and promotion of security related officers are being on the basis of chakri-chaplusi, and bhan-sun, that how government can expects a good productivity from the SSP without hammering the vicious problem of exiting security system.

Most of the security agencies are in crisis of resources, physical facilities and technological access. However the so-called SSP didn’t address the issue in practical matter. Furthermore, the provisions of career development, morale and motivation enhancement of security personnel’s are too low. Grievances, frustration and unwanted pressures, interferences and disturbances are too high in field, but the SSP has not analyzed the issue during the preparation of its concept, which has become now a blunder and felt as limit of the SSP into paper and verbal speech. Writing honestly, people do not feel any changes and improvement in ground level. The liveliest proofs are that even the president, prime minister, senior political leaders and ministers are not being able to walk freely or to attend any public program in free and fair manner. Most of them are getting often disturbed and has to face rebellion reaction, even after the enforcement of the SSP. The plan is not being implemented in Tarai as well as in many ethnic dominated regions including Madhes, Limbuban, Tharuban etc. because it has no any public legitimacy. The program does not govern any schemes for public participation, so it will become totally failure in the ethnic and communal regions. Minor and disadvantages ethnic people have accused that the SSP enforced by elite-ethnic dominated government just because to encounter and suppress to the minor-ethnic activists who are fighting for their ethnic rights, freedoms and inclusive representations against the continuous hegemony.

The free and independent movement and operation of national highway is also a part of the target which seems bit successful because the road blockage, robbery and dacoit’s influence in public transpiration seen somehow controlled after implementation of the SSP, it is because the arm police forces are deployed throughout the highway and also making individual patrolling  guard inside the each public transportation, but the way seems not sustainable since the cost of such stagey is huge which cannot be continuous affordable by our nation. In addition, the market regulation is also a major target of the plan but black marketing, irregular price hiking, and artificial shortage of public goods and services, qualities degrading activities are observed continuous and has seen no any upbeat affect of SSP.  One of the weakest points is coordination among intra and inter-agencies; the SSP does not offer any specific approaches, tools and techniques that help authorities to build intra organizational coordination for synergy effort.

A study found that Nepalese security system cannot be improved without restructuring and democratizing the security mechanism in professional way. Basically, the district level security system is ineffective because they do not have even minimum access and facilities for minimum resources, technologies, trained and skilled personnel’s and strong enough approaches for horizontal and vertical coordination that requires for any well organized security management functions. Besides, public trust over the government and local security mechanism is a most essential phenomenon which can be developed through civic engagement and justifiable inclusive participation approaches.  The success of any security related special plan requires at least minimum common consensus in central as well as in local level among the all stake holders, before to enforce into practice since a nominal dissatisfaction or frustration by a stake holder may cause to failure or infectivity of plan. Particularly, in the SSP case, Regional Administrator and CDO requires more justifiable role, authority and resources  and controlling power over the entire related agencies accordance with the spirit of civil supremacy. The effective management and mutual cooperation of track 1 (governmental agencies), track 2(NGOs CBOs, Civil Society etc) and track 3 actors (respective people, society, ethnic groups, community people) requires to administer properly the SSP. 

The government also needs to work in identifying the special justifiable indicators that can clearly distinct between the political and criminal activities. The local security systems are in saver confusion to know political activities and criminal activities. It is because most of the Nepalese political leaders define the criminal and political activities in their own way.  The funny thing is if “A” group or party halt highways and burn few vehicles that  means  for  the  party or group as democratic practices but if the “B” group or party does the same thing than others including government meant it as terrorist or a part of criminal activities.  So, there is clear distinction required by laws & legitimate consensus to identify that how the security forces need to deal with such activity. The dual standard needs to be end instantly.

The market regulation has become a huge headache for nation, so the government requires immediate action to constitute a powerful joint (Track-1-2 & 3 actors) supervisory mechanism in local, regional and central level that should be handled and operated by a constitutional commission, otherwise the issues of market regulation may limit in political stunt and people will have to victimize continuously.  Additionally, the passiveness, silence and infectivity of central level authorities including the Cabinet, Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance Ministry, and Ministry of Local Administration etc are also added extra burden to defeat the SSP, because they are not serious and sincere even to consider the urgent and sensitive reports and requests that comes day by day through the channel of district security committees. Therefore, the National Security Council or a constitutional committee should play a crucial role to evaluate, monitor and correct the passiveness, silences, ignorance, and ineffectiveness of the respective central agencies. The national as well as local level authorities are suffering with serious “Responsibility Shifting Syndrome”. In Nepalese scenario “Responsibility Shifting a long-rooted amusement found continues in the central level authority who often accused to the local level and vice-versa for any wrong things and doings in security affairs. It is pity to mention that there is no culture of candid accountability bearing in entire governmental agencies and authorities of Nepal. One agency accused to other for deteriorating security situation. All concerned agencies are equally responsible but it is never accepted by any responsible authorities. Therefore, the honest and practical commitment along with well managed timely strategic action in ground level required for successful implementation of the SSP, otherwise it will be proved similar pirates version of the SSP that was also previously experienced during the past regimes.

Mr. Pushkar, who is a former DAAD fellow and studied research master in peace and conflict studies in Germany. In addition, he holds an internationally honored first class master degree in public administration. He has participated in dozens of national and international trainings, seminar, and workshops programs related to peace, security and conflict management in US, Europe and Asian countries. Mr. Pushkar often writes opinion articles, reports, conduct researches and publish commentary notes on the various contemporary issues related to peace, conflict, human rights, diplomacy, security and governance affairs of Nepal. He has been working under the Ministry of Home Affairs/Government of Nepal and well honored as a Peace, Security and Conflict Management Professional, E-mail;