Looking at Nepal’s six decades of international diplomacy

I am now in my 60s. I was born during the Panchayat period and I am spending the latter half of my life in the republic. It may not be 6 decades long in the life of a country but it is a long period in the life of a person.

I don’t know how much I will suffer for the republic if I suffer from the Panchayat to its end. Just as nature is dynamic, change and development is inevitable, so is life in the country. But when I look at my own life experience and the life of the country, there seems to be less hope for the future and less frustration.

The growth of a malnourished child is less than that of a nourished child, but the growth continues. Similarly, the growth, development and change of the country also happens and should happen. But looking at the country’s diplomatic life over the past six decades, it seems that the natural law of growth and development has been abandoned. It seems that not only malnutrition but also growth has been forgotten.

Looking at the history of the last 250 years of Nepal, the Rana rule was established due to the quarrel of the court after the unification of Prithvinarayan, it ruled for 104 years. The country was just a looting of the Rana family. The country’s property was not taken out till the time of Ranoddeep, but Birshamsher started taking it out by breaking it. This practice continued till the time of Padmashamsher. It is said that when Juddhashamsher was overthrown, he carried his property on an elephant.

Democracy came in 2007 after the fall of the Rana regime, but for 10 years the power politics is as it is now. The country could not pick up any economic momentum. In his nearly two-and-a-half-year tenure, BP seems to have tried to do something, but he was ousted by the ambitious King Mahendra.

Even if he was removed in this way, he did not inherit an economically prosperous Nepal.

Hira Bishwokarma
Hira Vishwakarma

To know how dilapidated Nepal was, one has to quote an old context. In a video posted on social media, an SP of Rai Thar said, “King Mahendra had taken a loan of Rs 6 million from Maniharsha Jyoti of Jyoti Group to run his family and country.”

Therefore, mobilizing the resources required to build a country in such an economic condition was like squeezing a piece of iron to the state operator.

When a country comes into existence and becomes a modern state, it has two goals – to protect the borders of its country and to work in the best interest of the people. It was a big challenge for the Panchayat and King Mahendra to do both. Because we are in the middle of two huge neighboring nations. The two neighboring countries fought wars time and time again, not in a friendly manner.

The political systems of these two countries do not match at all. How difficult is it to keep the two neighboring countries in balance? From democracy in 2007 to the advent of the republic, our southern neighbor has helped us directly or indirectly. We had to pay a heavy price for our political and sovereign power. By 2027, Indian troops were stationed at 27 border points with China.

For the first few years of democracy, representatives from the southern neighborhood sat in our cabinet. Thus, it was not easy to remove the foreign troops from the 27 checkpoints. What tricks were used to get rid of it could become a hot topic in history studies. King Mahendra could not remove Kalapani from the Lipulek checkpoint, and we are still suffering the consequences.

At that time, the Cold War was raging between the United States and Russia. Both sides were very active in spreading their political and ideological influence. At the heart of New Road, the American Library used to publish a magazine called Free World.

Similarly, Putalisadak was the Russian cultural center of the Soviet Union. In his student life, the columnist was involved in political training provided directly by the Soviet ambassador, along with other students. During the training, he spent much of his time abusing China. Despite the Chinese influence among the left, they called the Chinese Cultural Revolution very wrong.

Nepal did not have the money, technology and manpower to develop Nepal. Even a simple bridge should have been built by a foreign donor group.

An example is the bridge connecting Thapathali and Kupandol. It was a time of hostility between the United States and Russia on the one hand, and India and China on the other. However, it is important to understand how these four powers were used in Nepal’s development and what kind of diplomacy was involved.

Yes, we are also close to the South economically, culturally and geographically. And, how did those seven overseas powers, not only their northern neighbors, come to Nepal’s aid?

As far as I know, Hetauda-Kathmandu ropeway, Dhangadhi-Dadeldhura road, Tribhuvan University’s Sinas and Seda buildings, the present Ministry of Health and Agriculture Development Bank have all been built by the United States. Since then, the United States has not invested heavily in Nepal’s infrastructure development.

The then Soviet Union built Dhalkewar section, agricultural tool factory, Birgunj Sugar Factory and Janakpur Cigarette Factory from Pathlaiya on the East-West Highway. Speaking of China, he had provided dozens of assistance including Prithvi Highway, Gorkha-Narayanghat Highway, Kathmandu Ring Road, Hetauda Textile Industry, Kathmandu-Bhaktapur Trolley Bus, Bansbari Leather Industry, Bhrikuti Paper Factory.
India was not far behind.

He has built many sections of Mahendra Highway, Sunauli Pokhara Highway, Tribhuvan Highway and many other industrial areas and Veer Hospital. In the process, the British built Butwal-Narayangadh and Dharan-Dhankuta roads. Japan has also built Kulekhani and Udaipur cement industries. Could it be possible to mobilize so much support in these development works through small diplomacy? That too without taking sides as declared?

Republican diplomacy now seems to have nothing to do with history. The more powerful and developed the northern neighbor, the more the powers in the West are trying to weaken it. Its most sensitive area is Tibet, and Nepal has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to the one-China policy. But, what is the sensitivity to maintain it in practice?

Yes, in recent times, the United States has been the largest recipient of bilateral economic assistance to Nepal, but does that mean we should forget our security sensitivities?

At the height of the Cold War, even in the so-called autocratic regime, diplomacy has been used to build development infrastructure. At present, there are hundreds of scholars in the field of international relations. The Institute for the Study of Foreign Affairs is active. It is not in the interest of the country and the people that one of the seven overseas powers has not been able to conduct the necessary sensitivity in its relations with the nation without conducting successful diplomacy. That needs to be taken seriously by the rulers of the Republic of Nepal.

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