Lokman Singh Karki
In a democracy no one is above the law. This basic fact seems to have been entirely lost on Lokman Singh Karki, the now suspended chief of CIAA, the constitutional anti-corruption watchdog. Karki was unfit to lead such an important state institution, both in terms of his inadequate professional qualifications as well as his dicey personal character. Karki is someone who as the Chief Secretary, and King Gyanendra’s henchman, was implicated by a government-appointed commission of trying to suppress the 2006 Jana Andolan. During his previous tenures in the government also he was associated with a number of dubious dealings. Apparently, Karki’s only qualification that entitled him to lead the CIAA was his close association with a foreign power. Since his appointment, Karki has broken every rule in the book. He has blackmailed political parties to do his bidding. If not, political leaders ran the risk of being framed in trumped-up corruption cases. As CIAA chief Karki endlessly hounded those who had opposed his appointment, including senior civil society leaders. That is not all. He openly meddled in NGOs, going beyond the jurisdiction of CIAA. He also shamelessly backed the medical mafia and interfered in the medical sector, prompting Dr Govinda KC to demand his impeachment.
Now that our MPs have finally summoned the courage to file an impeachment motion in parliament, all the political parties should unconditionally support it and pass it with a two-thirds majority. Again, if the parliament does indeed impeach Karki, it will send a strong message that no one, however powerful, is above the law in Nepal. It will also be a welcome proof that our querulous parliamentarians, much criticized for their self-serving ways, are capable of bipartisanship in public interest. We thus hope that good sense prevails during the sitting of parliament on Sunday and the impeachment motion is given the green light. But that is not enough. Karki has blatantly abused his power as CIAA chief and has been personally involved in many illegal activities. He must thus also be held responsible for his crimes so that a strong precedent is set. The message should be that if someone as powerful as Karki—who due to his strong political connections seemed untouchable at one point—can be made to pay for his crimes no government official, now or in the future, can take the law into their hands without grave consequences.
Karki’s successful impeachment and prosecution will send another important message.
That the affairs of the Nepali state will be settled by Nepalis themselves and any foreign force that tries to micromanage events here will be badly exposed. As we go to press, the success of the impeachment motion depends on Nepali Congress, whose senior leaders are still vacillating. It’s a shame that the party which likes to call itself the torchbearer of democracy in the country should hesitate to bring to book perhaps the biggest threat to Nepali democracy right now. But, then, Congress is not a monolith. Its youth leaders have made it amply clear that they are unanimously in favor of impeaching Karki. Senior Congress leaders, we would like to believe, will understand the public pulse and would not make the suicidal mistake of being seen as openly protecting a criminal-minded autocrat who has virtually run a parallel state over the past three years.