The 10-point military agreement that the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government has been secretly pursuing with the United States in the name of the State Partnership Program (SPP) has finally stalled due to widespread protests. The coalition government has tried to cover up its embarrassment by deciding not to move the SPP from the Council of Ministers as it could not contain the extreme protests that erupted as soon as the draft agreement was made public.
In 2015, when Congress President Sushil Koirala was the Prime Minister, and in 2019 when CPN (UML) Chairman KP Oli was the Prime Minister, a proposal was made to form a task force led by Foreign Secretary and after a detailed study, the proposal was postponed. Despite the failure of the effort, a clear mirror of the serious deviation in Nepal’s foreign policy has been made public.
Probably because Nepal has been known as an American thinker from the very beginning, the attempt to provoke Prime Minister Deuba and lead Nepal into a long-term geopolitical conflict has failed this time. To cover the shame, we have not given any documents and no matter how much we try to be obano over the water, it has only made us more naked. No one would believe that such a strong, dedicated, consistent and clandestine document of American interests would be created and distributed to America by someone else.
Repeated pressure on the military leadership, more personal influence, even informally drafting a letter through a military colleague and forcing him to write a letter, and in case of a dispute, it is a different matter to understand that the relationship is strengthened as per your request, otherwise the case itself. The United States has also made a loss.
Probably because the foundations of the current coalition government are opaque and built from scratch, serious deviations in foreign policy are emerging one after another since coming to power. While the issue of dissolution of parliament was pending in the Supreme Court, five former prime ministers had issued a statement pointing out the great danger of foreign interference in influencing it. One of them is now leading the government while the other four are waving their arms around him.
The problem of foreign interference and diplomatic imbalance is not yesterday, it is recurring today after they came to power. However, it is rare for these former prime ministers to express their collective and personal concerns. Instead, they have shocked the world by not even deciding for 24 hours on how to be loved.
Prior to the formation of the present government, one of the leading kingmakers of this alliance, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, had announced in advance that if his government was formed, it would be comfortable for India by naming the country. From the beginning, the government seems to have followed the same policy. Instead of resolving the outstanding issues with India on the basis of mutual benefit in an open, transparent and just manner, issues have been raised on the basis of how to make them happy or not.
When it comes to the relationship between our two neighbors, we need to keep in mind the balance, not only for us, but also for our neighbors. However, the current alliance has shattered the established norms by pursuing a policy of irritating one to please the other.
Just looking at a few examples reveals the mindset of the government:
The government not only surprised many but also embarrassed the country by forming a task force to study the border with China without any context. In the end, the task force neither prepared a useful report nor proved its legitimacy in public. The issue of such extra whips, apart from chilling China’s mind, does not build trust with any country.
During his visit to India, Prime Minister Deuba could not talk about any important issues between Nepal and India. It is useless to say that the relationship is good by keeping the problems under the carpet. Deuba did not utter a word about the irrelevant report of the Enlightened People’s Group (EPG), which was agreed upon between the two prime ministers.
Also, there was no talk about the legitimate role of Nepal in the new map issued by the Parliament of Nepal unanimously amending the constitution. So much so that there was no talk of Indian notes being devalued in Nepali banks due to demonetisation by India.
It is a mistake to think that shaking hands and accepting hospitality without talking about the problems between the two countries will improve relations. It’s just a comfortable mindset to be aware that someone is angry.
Deviation in continuity
Nepal’s three consecutive commitments on foreign policy since the Panchayat period are unwavering:
First, Nepal believes in a non-aligned foreign policy. No power belongs to the faction of nations. Nepal is the founding father of the Non-Aligned Movement, which began yesterday when many countries became bipolar world and split in favor of the United States or the Soviet Union. Nepal has declared its commitment not to side with any power, to pursue an independent foreign policy and to remain neutral.
The proposal put forward by King Birendra during the Panchayat period to declare Nepal a zone of peace was also based on this belief, which could not get support from the neighbors even though it got support from many countries of the world. However, Nepal has been pursuing that policy in any form.
Second, it is Nepal’s declared commitment not to allow Nepali land to be used against any of its neighbors. Since the Panchayat period, Nepal has been adopting a high level of vigilance to prevent any activity from Nepal against China to the north and India to the south and to make Nepal a lunch pad, which is also appropriate from the point of view of Nepal’s national interest.
Third, Nepal has no policy of participating in any military alliance. In terms of cooperation, the Nepal Army has relations with many countries including India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, UK and USA. Partnerships are also held on issues such as training, travel, and weapons. However, in terms of alliance, Nepal has never cooperated with anyone.
It is worth mentioning here that when KP Oli was the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister ordered the withdrawal immediately after learning that the Ministry of Defense and the Nepal Army had sent an advance military team after ensuring the participation of the Nepal Army in the BIMSTEC military parade to be held in Pune, India.
The present government has adhered to these three norms, adversely affecting them. Instead of turning south, the government seems to be turning west in everything. For that, the mobilization of such characters is intense. Even the wrong practice of meeting the Prime Minister’s wife and using it to exert undue influence has begun.
It has not been taken into account whether the neighbors are irritated by any other nation, but the non-aligned foreign policy has tried to force Nepal to become a power by ignoring the benefits it has done us. In addition to this, the work of joining the military alliance has been promoted.
The current alliance is not based on any policy and is not a long-term force. The fact that a decision has been taken without any discussion on such a serious issue and stepping back after knowing about it has raised serious questions about Nepal’s international credibility and has exposed the deviation in our foreign policy.
In a democracy, governments come and go. The Prime Minister / Minister comes and goes. However, the country’s international commitments remain unchanged. Even if the regime is completely changed, it will not be able to deviate from its international commitments and obligations. It has no right to tarnish the international image of the country and plunge the country into long-term conflict.
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