When a person sees their â€˜sense of self â€™ threatened or denied it is likely to produce a strong response. That is why identity is a huge factor inside the Security Sector Reform (SSR) that might not be so apparent at first, but it is a consideration that has to be taken with great care.
The Maoist combatants now hold an identity that is intrinsically tied to the 10 years of armed conflict they not only fought but also endured, and to whom they lost family and loved ones. They have received years of political indoctrination in order to find logic to the fight. These are individuals that deeply believe in the â€˜Maoistâ€™ ideals, and that have taken arms against Nepali citizens and the Army. Their identity is one of a rebel, of a fighter, of a defender. How do you legitimize their struggle without stepping over the needs and identities of other Nepali citizens?
On the other hand we have soldiers of the â€˜defeatedâ€™ Royal Nepali Army, now the Nepali Army, who also fought the war for the protection of the monarchy, of the status quo of certain political leaders, but also fought for the defense and security of their country. They too lost loved ones and are now facing a difficult task: welcoming the enemy into their barracks.
There are many questions that are still to be answered. Those in charge of the process of reconciliation and reintegration within SSR must address these issues in order to preempt a tense situation in the barracks: something that all parties should want to avoid at all costs. How are these two clashing identities planning to live and thrive under the same roof? It is vital that a new identity is created then â€“ one where the voices of both sides can be heard, and where all of them can identify as being on the same side, for the upholding of peace and the protection of the rights of all.
No doubt about it, great challenges lie ahead for all of those involved. But every actor plays a key role now â€“ itâ€™s not only the leaders or the politicians in Kathmandu, itâ€™s every single woman, man, combatant or soldier must help the process of reconciliation and reintegration forward. Seeing themselves as one, as one Nepali people who wish and believe in peace and reconciliation, will facilitate the peace process and the rebuilding of a country ravaged by so many years of tragedy.