Protracted People's War in Nepal : An Analysis from the Perspective of Azar's Theory of Protracted Social Conflict <Research Notes>
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Edward Azar's theory of Protracted Social Conflict (PSC), characteristic of wider work being done in conflict resolution in the 1970s and 1980s, offered a genuinely original interpretation of prevailing patterns of conflict that was clearly at odds with mainstream international approaches at the time. When the attention of almost all of the specialists in international relations and conflict studies was focused on inter-state wars, Azar was one of those few who were focusing on intra-state conflict having communal content. Azar's work was rarely appreciated by the contemporary literatures of his time. However, only a few years after his death in 1991, conflict studies were being focused on internal wars - for which he used the term PSC - the concept that Azar had been advocating since 1970s. Azar's model still retains its relevance today. He identified four clusters responsible for the initiation of PSC, viz, communal identity, needs deprivation, governance and state's role, and international linkages. This paper attempts to analyze the Protracted People's War (PPW) started by Nepal Communist Party - Maoist (hereafter only Maoists) in Nepal that lasted for a decade. Firstly, the failure of government to address the fundamental needs of the people and engaging themselves in power politics resulted into the frustration among the people especially the rural mass that were suffering from acute discrimination and poverty. Secondly, discrimination of the people in terms of caste, ethnicity, and religion and their under-representation in the administrative and political echelon and the national army further added to the dissatisfaction of the people. The Maoists effectively exploited the frustration of the masses with regards to these disparities. Nepal's porous border with India facilitated the movement of Maoists to organize their activities and trainings in the Indian land and co-ordination with similar groups in India.
On the other hand, the provision of arms and ammunition to the ruling government by the international forces especially the US and India aggravated the conflicting situation. These factors explained by Azar's four clusters are significant to explain the violent conflict in Nepal. These factors are necessary but not sufficient to explain the uprising of Maoists and their strategy of the PPW. In addition to these factors explained by Azar's four clusters, exclusion of the Bhattarai-faction of United People's Front of Nepal from the general election in 1994 and political discrimination and suppression by the ruling political party (Nepali Congress) against the Maoists in 1995 also led to the violent conflict in Nepal.
Journal of International Development and Cooperation
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Departmental Bulletin Paper
Departmental Bulletin Papers
Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation