The United Nations undersecretary general was generally underwhelmed during his three-day visit to Nepal—he called criticisms of the mission in Nepal (UNMIN) “cheap shots”, “boring” and “absurd.”
He had also accused the political parties of criticizing UNMIN to cover up their own failures. The government, after a cabinet meeting, announced that Pascoe’s remarks “violated diplomatic norms.” All of which brought Nepal to its lowest point in the three and a half-year peace process.
The UN Security Council extended UNMIN’s mandate for a fifth time on January 21, per the request of Nepal’s government. But this was before Nepal’s ministers strongly criticized UNMIN’s refusal to provide data of the Maoist combatants inside the cantonments.
There are seven major cantonments—or, UN-monitored camps—and a few Maoists have fled. The government is asking for the exact number of militants inside the cantonments. However, UNMIN has said this number is confidential.
UNMIN was established in response to a request by the then Seven-Party Alliance Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) requested United Nations’ assistance in creating a free and fair election and to facilitate the entire peace process.
The team sent in 2006 were seasoned from tricky places like Bosnia (ed. note: we met a few at the bar in the Hotel Sneha in the southern town of Nepalgunj).
The extension of UNMIN’s term could only be possible if Nepal government asks for it. The present government is less likely to do so because senior ministers have publicly said that UNMIN”s role has been unsupportive. However, the Maoists want UNMIN to remain until the successful completion of Nepal’s peace process.