In a welcome move that settles vital issues and clears the way for finalising the integration of the Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army, the three key political parties and the special committee on integration have taken important decisions regarding the technical aspect of the process. The decisions reached on Saturday have charted out essential components as to how the integration will be translated into action. As the plan has been outlined by the major political parties with consensus, a basis has been established to rest assured that the integration process will not be entangled in disputes and differences any more. Saturday’s agreements put to rest the key debates on rank determination, selection criteria of the combatants and the structure of the special directorate of the army where the combatants and army personnel will be working.
As the number of Maoist combatants who opted for integration had exceeded 6,500, the maximum number agreed for the purpose, there is a need to give the combatants one more chance to rethink and go for voluntary retirement. The actual number of combatants to be integrated will be ascertained once this work is complete. This will be followed by the formation of a special directorate. According to the 7-point agreement signed on November 1, the general directorate of the army will have four different units under it. The units are based on the responsibilities the personnel in the directorate will be handed over to discharge. The personnel will be deployed to carry out development activities, industrial security, forest security and disaster management.
Thirty per cent of the personnel in the special directorate will be deployed for national development and forest security each. Similarly, 20 per cent of the personnel will be engaged in industrial security and disaster management works each. It has been agreed that two separate committees will be formed to finalise the selection of the combatants for the integration purpose. The one that will handle the selection of the officer level combatants will be headed by the chief of the Public Service Commission. The other committee for the purpose of selecting non-officer personnel will comprise military and defence ministry officers. Formation of such an expert panel indicates that selection will not be carried out randomly. Qualifications and fitness factors of the combatants will be taken into account.
The special committee on integration will direct the step by step proceedings of the integration process which, of course, will be working under the guidance of the consensus reached among the major political parties. To be fully absorbed and integrated, the Maoist combatants will have to undergo training which will work as a bridge between a party-based fighter and professional national army. Officers or non-officers, the combatants will have to undergo training as per the army standards which include a basic course as well as specific responsibilities. However, as the integration of the combatants has been based on political decisions, there will be some flexibility regarding the army norms. For instance, combatants with minor injuries will also be accepted. Considering the fact that debates may arise during the integration process, a four-member panel has been mooted under the special committee to settle such technical issues.