Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

Wikileaks Nepal Document: Imagine no secrets

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 29, 2010

As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, WikiLeaks, which made public hundreds of thousands of US government secrets, will undoubtedly go down as one of the most important events of the decade to have an impact on the conduct of diplomacy; not only by the US, but by all other countries.

The leaks that chronicle various cables sent by US diplomats to their bosses in Washington, DC have also touched Nepal. One of the cables sent to the State Department is said to have mentioned that China was paying the Nepal Police to nab Tibetans supposedly fleeing Chinese rule in Tibet.

(Will the the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority ever care to investigate this grave allegation against one of Nepal’s premier security agencies?

For the allegation is not against individual police officials but against the police institution of the country which should at all times remain corruption-free even if some police personnel from the highest to the lowest ranking are corrupt.

If any security agency – army, police or intelligence – can be bought with money, and foreign money at that, we can well imagine the future fate of our country.

WikiLeaks also indicated that so-called Islamic terrorist outfits had penetrated the Himalayan country (an allegation India has been making for decades, even during Panchayat times when they were less Islamic ‘terrorists’ than Pakistani agents).

The disclosures related to Nepal in WikiLeaks are said to be just the tip of the iceberg. According to reports on different Internet portals, there are over 2,200 leaks concerning Nepal; but only a very few have been publicised. The others will come to light as time passes by.

It would indeed be interesting to observe the varied ways, manners and perceptions with which different US envoys or mission heads have interpreted the events (as well as personalities) in post-1990 Nepal.

WikiLeaks is not a new phenomenon. It started publication on the Net in late 2006, but went offline due to lack of funds.

No one really knows – or tells, even if they do – the real founders of WikiLeaks, but Julian Assange, detained by British police for alleged sexual misdemeanour in Sweden and later freed on bail, has been representing and giving a human (and humane) face to WikiLeaks.

Much of the 250,000 confidential cables are yet to see the light of the Internet, but it has been promised that the entire range of cables dating from the late 1960s to the present would be put online.

The leaks, commonly called cablegate – almost certainly named to sound like the notorious Watergate incident that forced the then President Nixon to resign – could embarrass many governments as indeed many US envoys whose reading of the situation in the assigned country might be to the liking of the Western world but may be far from the truth or the actual sentiments of the people of the country concerned.

WikiLeaks in recent times has been a major phenomenon in diplomatic circles. The Western view (as reflected by the US without whose support Western ideologies and philosophies might suffer a setback) of events across the globe is reflected in WikiLeaks (no wonder that some allege that Julian Assange was detained by British police at the alleged behest of the US).

Depending on the country concerned, there is a lot of wrath and not a little rejoicing secretly. WikiLeaks is bound to reshape the way diplomacy is conducted globally. In the past, there was always the excuse of “national interest” to hide facts from the people.

There were also official secrets acts in a number of countries that prevented leaking of official documents. Such acts and so-called national interest allowed governments to get away with the most hideously subtle crimes and prevented the people from knowing anything about them.

The publication of confidential cables by WikiLeaks is a slap in the face of all those governments that swear by transparency, but do not live by the concept. Transparency while dealing with other governments is something that seems not to be practiced by even the most democratic governments.

The openness that a true democracy presupposes is just not there and is hidden under the guise of national interest and secret.

The openness and transparency that is advocated might not come easily even after the WikiLeaks publications but governments with any kind of vision – even short-sighted vision – would become more alert and more open, consciously or unconsciously, in their dealings.

Those who put people first cannot, in this age, hide facts from the very people who propelled them to power in the hope and belief that they would always be open.

The WikiLeaks cablegate has not been well received by a segment in the US, and an appeal was put forward asking that the website be blocked. The reception in some other countries was not so negative.

Even in a so-called conservative country like the UK, a majority of those polled in a public opinion poll supported cablegate. Many other countries have called for an outright ban on the WikiLeaks portal.

WikiLeaks will, no doubt, by and by divulge just how the US was influenced in its policy towards Nepal over the past six decades. US policy is influenced, apart from intelligence, by its diplomats, and Nepal will not be an exception.

But we would be more interested to observe just how our neighbours viewed the Nepal situation during the past six decades. This will be possible only when WikiLeaks does not confine its leaks to secret cables from the US envoys to Washington but also embraces a broader perspective and finds whistleblowers in New Delhi and Beijing.

They would be doing a singular service not merely to Nepal but to all the small neighbours of the two Asian giants.

We might also have our own version of WikiLeaks undertaken by those who want to root out corruption, eliminate secretive inter-government activities, uphold human rights and ensure transparency.

We will then know for certain just how influential (those of our great leaders who are influenced) these countries were in shaping our present day situation. We might have to wait a long time for this to ever happen, but it will be worth waiting for.

The WikiLeaks cablegate will almost certainly be a forerunner of a new age of openness in diplomacy; this may take a little time, but this is something that is bound to happen in the 21st century.

-The Kathmandu Post/Asia News Network


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