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South Asia Peace Initiative

Forum in Nepal on Transformational Leadership

Kathmandu, Nepal - In a cordial atmosphere of honest dialogue, the 10th South Asia Peace Initiative (SAPI) brought together political leaders from seven parties to discuss issues of common concern under the theme of “Promoting Human Security Through Transformational Leadership: Common Challenges of South Asia." In the audience of more than 120 guests, eight nationalities were represented.

Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, the Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation-Nepal, welcomed the guests to the UPF Peace Embassy for the April 28 consultation and reminded the attendees that the South Asia Peace Initiative “was designed to allow South Asian nations to work together to address their common problems and challenges.” Delegates were challenged to focus their discussions on ways to develop the nation and to create peace and harmony.

Special Guest, Dr. Chung Sik Yong the Regional Chair of UPF-Asia, said this program was “absolutely essential.” He noted the United Nations’ definition of human security, which includes seven components: economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security, and political security, then added, “Unfortunately, all of these are external in nature.”

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Therefore, one more dimension to security needed to be included. Dr. Yong explained, “We need spiritual security or true love security.” Quoting from the recently published autobiography of the UPF founder, Father Sun Myung Moon, he said, “Just as love is not for our own sake, so too happiness and peace are not for ourselves,” then added, "Neither is security for ourselves alone."

Ironically, he expounded, when we think of the security of others before we think of our own security, then true security for both can be achieved. This, however, requires a transformation in the thinking of leaders from selfishness to unselfishness.

Dr. Robert Kittel, the Director of Education for UPF-Asia, then gave a brief summary of the previous nine South Asia Peace Initiative programs. His conclusion, which no one doubted, “UPF-Nepal is the most active NGO locally and internationally that supports Nepal’s peace process!”

He then went on to offer insights into the current impasse in Nepal’s peace process. Outlining the advantages and disadvantages of both the democratic and communist systems of government he asked pointed, “Why seek consensus between two governmental structures that have serious flaws in them?” Dr. Kittel continued,

“The family is the first and most influential institution of society; it is our first school, our first economic institution, and our first government. The family it is where our most basic human values are learned, experienced, and inculcated. The family is a model of good governance that is scalable and replicable.”*

Amb. K.V. Rajan, member of the Indian Security Council and former President of Indian Diplomats Association, began by reminding the audience that the crisis facing everyone is multi-faceted and global—it is not confined to any single nation.

The tragedy in Japan demonstrates that “modern science and technology are helpless against the fury of nature,” he said, noting, “The planet earth does not care about economic growth or development—it demands respect.”

He advised the lawmakers and members of civil society that nationalism may not always mean what is in the best interest of a nation. Pointing to Gandhi he emphasized, “We must reject unbridled consumerism … and go back to our cultural roots of being simple and austere…. Growth with greed cannot secure a peaceful world order and should be taken as a given.”

Quoting a documentary film by the Dalai Lama Foundation, Amb. Rajan said each of us should become a “quantum activist.” By this he meant that, “We must try to understand the common consciousness that binds us and, essentially, live for the sake of each other.”

Hon. Hirdayash Tripathee, Vice-President of the Tarai Madesh Loktantrik Party, said that all political parties need to unite, “even if it meant compromising their own ideas and ideologies.”

He expressed appreciation for the U-CPN (Maoist) party's recent decision to put the peace process and writing the constituents as priorities over their social revolution, lamenting the fact that this choice might have had more impact if done a year ago. He called on the Maoist lawmakers present to “take risks and be courageous for peace process.”

Concluding his comments he requested that UPF-Nepal bring its teachings universal values and ethics into the education curriculum.

Hon. Upendra Yadav, President of the Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum, began by thanking UPF, saying that it “played a vital role to establish peace in Nepal and the region.” He then went on to cite an extensive list of “common problems” including poverty, education, climate change, human rights, and security.

Expressing a sense of ownership he highlighted that, “We have to solve [these problems] with a common agenda, a common effort and for the common good.” Hon. Yadav reiterated that, “There was no alternative to democracy,” and elected lawmakers must address the aspirations and mandates of the people.

Mr. Ram Karki, Leader U-CPN (Maoist) party, told the gathered guests that the objective of Marxism was to “empower the entire humanity.” He said communism in Nepal does not justify violence but has reacted to violence, particularly the monopoly of violence.

Mr. Karki called for a “new political culture” where the Maoists and the Nepali Congress (the two largest parties in Nepal) join hands to form the next government. In this way he said they would be “forced to sit together, be bound together and could bring the peace process to a comparative conclusion.”

Hon. Krishna Gopal Shrestha, from the CPN-UML party and a former Local Development Minister, expressed “highest honor” to Father Moon and the organizers. He identified the most serious common challenge of South Asian nations as terrorism.

In terms of leadership transformation, he said the biggest problem was “lack of trust.” The lack of transparency in the current government was, in his mind, “an obstacle for peace process” because it hindered the integrity of the “decision-making process.”

Bringing his remarks to an end, Hon. Shrestha called on all parties to build consensus by “thinking about nation above their own political party.”

Hon. Shovakar Parajuli, Leader of the Nepali Congress Party and Member of the Constituent Assembly, likewise labeled terrorism as one of the most crucial challenges in South Asia. Turing to Nepal’s current budget crisis he warned leaders that “the budget is not for leaders or bureaucrats; it should be for sake of people and nation.”

He also noted the declining family values in Nepal and called for people to overcome caste, race, and religious differences. Hon. Parajuli, the last speaker, brought the formal presentations to a close by saying that “freedom, unity, and equality are possible only if all political parties respect each other and participate as equals in decisions of national interest.”

The Vote of Thanks was given by Mr. Narayan Sharma Gajurel, Vice President of UPF-Nepal, who thanked the speakers and the audience for attending the program. He noted that the atmosphere was amiable and frank. In closing he invited everyone to share the tea and snacks.

* To read the text of Robert Kittel's presentation, click here.

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