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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02KATHMANDU2057
2002-10-30 05:45:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

SA DAS CAMP MEETING WITH NEPAL'S CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF AND NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETARIAT C-TN2-00948

Tags:  PHUM PGOV MARR MASS NP PREL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 KATHMANDU 002057 

SIPDIS

LONDON FOR POL/RIEDEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2012
TAGS: PHUM PGOV MARR MASS NP PRELPHUMP
SUBJECT: SA DAS CAMP MEETING WITH NEPAL'S CHIEF OF ARMY
STAFF AND NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETARIAT C-TN2-00948


Classified By: AMBASSADOR MICHAEL E. MALINOWSKI. REASONS: 1.5 (B and D)



1. (C) Summary. In two separate meetings on October 22 2002,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia, Donald A. Camp,
accompanied by LTC James E Oxley IV, Defense Attache7 and
MAJ
Pete Fowler, Security Assistance Office, met with Royal
Nepalese
Army Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Pyar Jung Thapa and
Major General (MG) Rookmangud Katwal of the National Security
Council Secretariat. COAS Thapa clamed that the army is
doing
well against the Maoists, whose numbers, he asserts, are
shrinking. Lack of adequate financial support and
development
planning from the civilian government, Thapa said, have kept
the
Integrated Security and Development Program (ISDP) from
taking
root in Maoist affected districts. The Indians have helped
in
turning over low-level Maoist cadres but have so far not
succeeded in capturing any of the leaders. MG Katwal told
Camp that domestic political consensus is critical to
defeating the
Maoists, who are adept at exploiting the vacuum left by bad
governance and driving wedges between competing political
interests. While Thapa appears correct that support for the
Maoists is dwindling, the race is on for who or what will
capture popular support. End Summary.



2. (C) In two separate meetings On October 22 2002, South
Asia
Deputy Assistant Secretary Donald A Camp met with Royal
Nepalese Army Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Pyar Jung
Thapa and MG Rookmangud Katwal of the National Security
Council
(NSC) Secretariat.

Meeting with COAS Thapa


--------------------------





3. (C) Maoist Situation: General Thapa admitted that, while
the
Maoists may make some good ideological points, over time they
have proven they cannot deliver. Asserting that the Maoists
do not take care of people, Thapa explained that they have
promised land, jobs and opportunities and brought nothing but
destruction. Maoists steal food from people, force induction
into their ranks, and destroy key infrastructure. According
to
General Thapa, people are fed up. During the first five
years
of the insurgency Maoists had some strength and, being the
clever
and adaptive people they are, chose to go against the police
who have a bad reputation of repression. The Maoists found
some popular support because the people did not like the
police. When the army entered the battle last November, the
Maoists told the people that the army was going to be just
like
the police. While the army did suffer some initial setbacks,
to the Maoist's surprise the army now is doing well. Maoist
numbers are shrinking. Because of army action and a
corresponding loss of support by the people, Maoists are
forced
to attack soft targets. This change is further alienating
the
Maoists from the people. The Chief went on to say that the
Maoists are nothing like the North Vietnamese Army (NVA); it
was clear that the NVA avoided destroying key infrastructure
that would alienate the people.



4. (C) RNA Problems and Strengths: General Thapa thanked the
USG for assisting with M16A2 rifles and highlighted the
importance of the weapons. The RNA's self-loading rifles
(SLR), provided over 30 years ago by India for free, served
the
army well, but today are worn out. Thapa said that soldiers
have no confidence in the SLR, and said that the same weapons
are problems for the Maoists. He illustrated that point by
telling of a captured video of a Maoist leader in an attack
on
an RNA position. The video showed the leader trying to clear
multiple stoppages of several of his captured RNA weapons
before being shot by the defending RNA. The army is also in
need of more defensive equipment like night vision goggles
and attack helicopters. Thapa indicated that another problem
is the
creation of rehabilitation programs. For example, the RNA
has
tried to have NGOs assist with women the RNA has liberated,
but
has not received much help.

On a more positive note, the COAS said that RNA intelligence
is getting much better. The Maoists keep good diaries, which
have been captured after battles. More importantly, the RNA
is gaining momentum because the Nepalese people like to back
winners. When the Maoists looked strong the people
gravitated to them. Today, that has changed. On human
rights, the COAS believed that a few soldiers have committed
violations but that the RNA is taking the right steps to
bring justice and stop future violations (NFI).



5. (C) Nepal's Political Situation: General Thapa assured DAS
Camp that Nepal continues to support the USG war on terrorism
as it did shortly after the 9/11 attacks. He also reiterated
Nepalese appreciation of USG diplomatic support. The COAS
said
that the King remains committed to the multiparty system and
would hold local elections first, before national elections.
(Note: He did not provide a timeline. End Note.)

Should national elections take place first, the winning party
would
try to influence elections at the local level, something the
present government wants to avoid.

General Thapa also highlighted the need for some local
representation at the grass roots level. With the local
bodies dissolved, only administrators, drawn from outside the
local area, are running the local governments.



6. (C) Nepal's Integrated Security and Development Program
(ISDP): General Thapa termed ISDP in Gorkha a success (Note:
Gorkha is the only area still implementing ISDP following the
imposition of the emergency in November 2002. End Note.), but
said there were several problems with resources and basic
good
governance that had to be improved in future ISDP programs.
The biggest problem has been not in the realm of security but
in that of development programming. Development money in
sufficient
amounts never arrived in Gorkha from the central government.
Seventy irrigation projects were never completed, and
additional
road construction, critical to improving living standards for
the people, were not even started.

Those that were started, were never completed. General Thapa
replied that, despite the lack of resources, the Army has
used its resources and what little the government did provide
to restart uncompleted road and other projects. Thapa said
that the Army has been able to do projects for less than half
the cost of the civilian administrators. He was optimistic
that the new government
would remedy the situation but believed that, in the future,
the Army would be more involved in development. DAS Camp
asked
what the potential strain on the army would be when it did
both
development and security.

General Thapa said that the Army would continue to use its
civilian-oriented engineer capability but, for the most part,
would only organize the civilians who do the work. When
asked about future ISDP locations, General Thapa said the
districts of Bardia, Ramechhap, Dang and around the city of
Trisuli.



7. (C) ISDP Strategy re-look: The COAS believed that the ISDP
strategy might have to change from focusing on the worst
areas
that require a huge amount of resources to propping up the
weaker districts, in particular those districts around
Kathmandu. For the worst affected areas in the west, the
Chief
said, building roads to the Maoist heartland was a priority.
General Thapa told of his suggestion that the government
create
a duty free zone in the Dang valley because of the valley's
importance in controlling access into Rolpa and Rukum
districts. General Thapa also said that there was a need to
augment security forces and was considering the use of
village
defense forces. When asked about how he sees such forces
working, the chief said that civilians would assist the
military with gaining better intelligence in order to use
army
forces more effectively. On the issue of arming the defense
forces, the chief only said perhaps they could be armed with
shotguns. (Note: Post has not seen any use of armed militias
supported by the government, and except for General Thapa's
comments, little evidence the army is willing to arm
civilians.
End Note.)



8. (C) Indian Support for Solving the Insurgency: In response
to a question on India's role in assisting Nepal against the
insurgents, General Thapa said they have been helpful. He
said
the Indians have turned over low-level leaders but also
complained that when Nepal asked the Indians to arrest the
top
leaders living in India, the Indians said they needed
specific
data on their whereabouts. The Chief did note a change for
the
better in India's assistance after they realized that the
Nepalese Maoists were involved with India's antigovernment
organizations. He also noted that the King had effectively
pressed for more Indian help during his last trip to India.
Today the Indians have mobilized their special security
police
to the India-Nepal border but, the chief said, the Indians
are
continually upset about what India claims is Nepalese support
for Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate.

Meeting with General Katwal from Nepal's NSC


--------------------------





9. (C) Maoist's situation: MG Katwal said that the Royal
Nepalese Army (RNA) understands that there is a strong link
between human rights and keeping the support of the people
and
believes human rights abusers must be punished. Katwal also
stressed the need for increased international assistance in
logistic support and mobility. (Note: MG Katwal has often
made
the point that the RNA needs a full range of military
assistance from tents to helicopters.) He expressed
appreciation for USG military support and said that the
Nepalese Government needed help in rehabilitating and housing
former Maoists. MG Katwal said that aid is an important
component of any solution to the Maoist problem, but
emphasized
that aid must reach the people now in order to be beneficial.
He also indicated that it would be beneficial if aid were
provided in such a way as to be recognized with the
Government
of Nepal in order to strengthen democracy.

Indian Support for Solving the Insurgency


--------------------------





10. (C) Though he praised US diplomatic efforts towards India
to date, Katwal stressed the need for the USG to keep up the
pressure, stating that the US must make the Indians
understand that our intention is to help the GON bring the
Maoist situation under control. He said India believes the US
is trying to establish a
strategic foothold in Nepal. Katwal cautioned that the
Indians
still want to guard their hegemony in the region.



11. (C) Nepal's Political Situation: On Nepal's current
political situation, Katwal said that the new government must
formulate a national strategy on democracy and create
domestic
consensus against the Maoists. The Maoists, who are quick to
adapt and seize opportunities, are exploiting the vacuum
created by bad governance. They drive wedges between parties
and always go after whatever party is in power. The parties
not in power, because of their own selfish ambition to be in
charge, fail to support the government, which assists the
Maoists. Today the Maoists are attempting to pull the
political parties together against the King, who is the only
unifying force in the country. Parties are threatening to
join
with the Maoists, which in the worst case will lead to the
monarchy fighting the Maoists. Katwal said the government
will
have to negotiate with the Maoists but that should be from a
position of strength. Katwal made the point that Nepal's
democracy needs time to mature but worried that by the time
democracy matures, the Maoists will be on top.

COMMENT


--------------------------





12. (C) While many points covered by both the COAS and MG
Katwal have been heard in the past, what is different now is
that we are hearing some of the same arguments by the King
and
his appointed government. General Thapa is correct that the
Maoists have not delivered; what is also true is that the
government too has not delivered. It appears that many
people
in the countryside are fed up with both the Maoists and the
government. This being said, the race is on for who or what
will capture their support. It is still too early to tell if
the King can act as the catalyst to stem the rot of bad
governance and bring real reforms at the grass roots in order
to make Nepal's democracy prosper.



13. (C) DAS Camp has cleared this report.

MALINOWSKI
MALINOWSKI