The problem that Nepal has faced is similar to the one that India did when soldiers and officers of Indian National Army (INA) returned home a few months before independence. They were expected to be absorbed in the Indian army. Some 20,000 of them taken prisoners by Tokyo responded to Subhas Chandra Bose's call to form an army to wage war, alongside the Japanese, for India's freedom. On the other hand was the regular Indian army under the British command that had fought against Japan. The British were dead against absorbing the INA into the army. So was the Indian military top brass. They told the government that the integration of INA into their ranks would tell upon the morale of the army. The INA had lived with the feelings of nationalism and had revered national leaders. When Jawaharlal Nehru went to Singapore, some months earlier the INA, even though depleted in strength by then, wanted to honour him. But Lord Mountbatten, in command of South Asian forces, persuaded Nehru not to accept the INA invitation in view of Britain's objections. The INA was disappointed. All the soldiers and officers were arrested on return to India. Shahnawaz Khan, Prem Sehgal and G S Dhillon, the first a Muslim, the second a Hindu and the third a Sikh, when put on trial, conveyed the sentiment of pluralism which Bose had been able to inculcate in the INA force. People in India were happy because this togetherness came in the midst of the demand for Pakistan on the basis of a Two Nation Theory. When the Muslim League joined the Congress to demand the release of INA men, the British, pushing for the country's partition, got seriously worried. They set the three officers and the INA soldiers free. Yet the problem of INA was far from settled. The British rulers had to reckon with it. So wide was the support of the INA that the British approached leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League to suggest a way out, other than absorption in the regular army. The then India's Commander-in-Chief, General Francis Tuker, has reminisced in his book, While Memory Serves, that the INA affair threatened "to tumble down the whole edifice of the Indian Army." Both the Congress and the Muslim League paid only cursory attention to the future of INA. They considered it a "minor problem" when they were settling the question of the country's partition. They left the matter to the British to sort out the manner they deemed it fit. The Indian army did not take back even one INA personnel on the plea that it would demoralise the serving soldiers. When both the parties did not want to displease the British on the INA count, there could be no place for it in the country's armed forces. The same problem has confronted Nepal. Commander-in-Chief General Rookmangud Katawal, has opposed the proposal to merge Mao militants with the regular army. Katwal believes that the force should be apolitical. He is not sure whether Maoist militants who have been brainwashed can become the type of soldiers he commands. The case of INA is different from that of Maoists in one way. The latter have fought a class war and won. They are like the Chinese soldiers who have battled for the country's independence and have become another tier in the power structure at Beijing. The Nepalese army is apolitical like India's. By absorbing Mao militants, Nepal may face a problem because they would be in touch with their old comrades, overtly or covertly. Ideology may rule instead of military strategy. Kathmandu should, however, realise that as a demobilised force, Maoist militants can pose a big threat to the country. Perhaps, their recruitment to the local police is the best way out. In the midst of quarrel over the absorption of militants, the gravity of the question of the army chief not obeying the orders of an elected prime minister has not been assessed properly. This is not good for democracy. The commander-in-chief consulting other generals after receiving the dismissal order and saying 'no' is like creating another chamber of power. How can the army be above an elected government? A prime minister becomes a mere figurehead if he cannot remove a military commander. The writer is a former member of the Indian Parliament and senior journalist