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Himalaya

Day 56: Kathmandu

Michael Palin - HimalayaThe smallest of the old kingdoms was centred on Bhaktapur, seven miles east of Kathmandu. On our way out there we're waved past a police checkpoint set up since the Maoists recently brought their attacks to Kathmandu itself. They're searching all the buses that run out to the country areas in the east. According to Kunda, journeys that took 12 hours can now take 48.

Kunda's view is that the Maoists recent change of tactics, targeting civilians in the capital, has lost them support.

'It's not that the Maoists are terribly brilliant or strong, just that successive governments have been weak and fractious and corrupt, and they (the Maoists) have tapped into that bedrock of neglect and apathy and frustration in the people. They've grown so fast precisely because everything else has been in such disarray.'

With an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 rebels, with looted arms from the police and the army, how does he see the future?

There can, he is sure, be no military solution. There has to be compromise. The institution of monarchy is quite strong and Nepalis identify their country with it, but the King can no longer be an absolute ruler. He must be firm but fair. (Which seems to suggest he's neither.)
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 56: Kathmandu
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Bhaktapur
  • Book page no: 126

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