Nepal: Enter US-China, Exit India!
Kathmandu: Nepal as a nation-state is undergoing through a difficult time perhaps in its entire checquered political history.
Intelligent brains predict that if tactful wisdom does not prevail among the ruling elites on time, the country might become the playing ground for some countries near and far.
Albeit, the country has not yet become so, however, the symptoms have begun surfacing.
Understandably, Nepal is currently in a state of transition and it is said that during such periods’ foreign forces come into play. Though the “sphere of influence” of some countries, save India, has yet to take a formal shape, nevertheless, there are indications that Nepal could well become a “strategically” important and significant country for some foreign “powers” in the days ahead. Indeed, the foreign forces will wish to expand their sphere of influence until Nepal comes out of the transitional period.
To begin with: India-the big brother.
India is such a country which has already concluded that Nepal should remain under its grip and no country on earth should have a say in Nepali affairs other than India. Blessed is India that it has been exploiting political benefits beginning early 1950s from Nepal and thanks to the impotency of successive Nepal’s ruling elites that Indian political influence is all pervasive to the extent that New Delhi decides who should wield power in Nepal. In this way, India would wish that no country sneaks into Nepal under any pretext or the other. If some wished to do so, India’s instant wrath would be there for the one who would wish to come in order to “influence” the Nepali political scene. However, in what form India would exhibit its anger towards that very particular country will have to be watched. The general impression in Nepal is that when India is just in the neighborhood, the country does not need any enemy. The hard reality is that Nepal can’t escape from Indian dictates. A curse for Nepal by all means.
Indian establishment has already become wary of the Chinese declaration that they would construct a road to the Everest from their own side. The Indian establishment is worried by the fact that such a road to Everest might threaten its security. High ranking politicians in India have openly claimed that China wants to erode Indian territories despite the irrefutable fact that the world’s highest peak is located on the Sino-Nepalese border instead of being on the Sino-India border. What all these suggest? The Indians are presumably trembling with fear that such a road to Everest by China will pose a threat to its security. Analysts fail to understand as to how the Chinese road to Everest will have its negative impact on the highly notorious and widely condemned Nehruvian doctrine which held that the entire Northern Himalayan range were the frontiers of India to which it is not. Nepal, to recall, long time back dismissed the Indian absurd claim.
Some Indian media and leaders of a few political parties have whipped up the “security issue” with an ulterior motive aimed at damaging the China’s prestige and popularity in the comity of nations. Analysts would encourage China to go in for such an adventure come what may.
This also means that India would not welcome the presence of China in Nepal to which we will come later.
Then comes, United States of America.
Analysts presume that America too would wish to increase its political influence in Nepal for obvious political reasons. Some even say that for the US, Nepal is strategically the best country in this part of the world from where it can “eye” over the entire of the South Asian region. But how the US will maneuver the entire South Asian region being in Nepal, the analysts have no answer. Others say, had it not been so why the US would construct a huge embassy in Kathmandu. However, they forget to record that the Indian mission here is not only huge but is staffed by one thousand plus clerks. Add to this the men in disguise working for the notorious RAW-the Indian intelligence network in Nepal which fortunately enjoys the tacit support from a section of the Nepali media as well.
To recall, the US and India were in the Nepal “axis” which practically sidelined King Gyanendra from the political scene. Since the axis appears to have lost its relevance, so let’s presume that the said bond in between Delhi and Washington too has become politically redundant.
Now if one were to believe the analysts’ presumption that the US would very much wish to be in Nepal to monitor the entire South Asian region, question then comes automatically that how the countries in the neighborhood would take such an American preference which is yet in its embryonic form?
Undoubtedly, it would be India first in line to object to such an American preference, if any. India would not want its influence diminished or corroded by any third country’s presence in Nepal. Indian establishment would not mind even to tell the Americans not to eye on Nepal for the latter were a preserve of India and India alone.
But the fact is that American influence in this country has gone up in the recent years which have definitely been so at the cost of India and China.
Undeniably, America’s political influence could well be visibly seen in Nepal’s political corridors much to the chagrin of both India and China. However, the fact remains fact. Some even predict that Nancy Powell will work hard to show the US presence in Nepal after Ambassador Moriarty leaves Kathmandu by mid-July.
Third comes the China factor.
China too would now wish to make its presence felt in Nepal which is just but very natural indeed. This desire came to the open in the recent remarks made by the freshly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Nepal. The Chinese envoy even indicated that China would come to the rescue of Nepal if any threat were posed to the host country. He also reminded all and sundry that China would honor the promise made by Marshal Chen Yi as back as in 1961 October. “The statement remains yet valid and that the Chinese policies as regards Nepal have not changed”, is how the Chinese Ambassador explained when asked to comment of the current status of Nepal-China relations. Analysts have been told that the Chinese speak less and work more whereas the Indian propagate more and work less.
A close look at his wordings and the meaning underneath does speak so many things unspoken. Clear indications are that China would henceforth very much have a preference to safe guard its political interests in Nepal. This does also mean that China will not let Nepal to be left to the mercy of India and America-by implication.
China surely would have become more vigilant and alert upon listening to what the US Ambassador designate Nancy Powell said of the Tibet/Tibetans in her statement at the senate committee hearing a fortnight back.
Look what she said, “If confirmed, I will also encourage the government of Nepal to ensure that the rights of all Tibetan refugees, resident in or transiting Nepal, are respected”.
This is not all.
A cause of real concern for China indeed. To recall, China takes the Tibetan refugees as anti-China fugitives and would wish that the Nepal government handed over those refugees in order to send them back to Tibet.
This Nancy statement would further encourage China, presumably, to remain ever vigilant of the possible US moves aimed against Tibet-the China underbelly.
Thus all put together, analysts presume the impending formation of three axes in Nepal that will comprise of one country each axis.
The Indian axis naturally will be taken care of by the Indians. This axis will try to distance the possible influence of China and that of America. The second axis will be that of America which will prefer to expand its political clout in Nepal by any means that does not amount to interference in the Nepali affairs. The US will in all likelihood exceed its diplomatic limits as the Indians do intermittently. However, chances are brighter that the US may seek needed support from India to neutralize the possible Chinese weight. In the recent years admittedly, the Indian hob-nob with the US has undoubtedly increased.
The third axis will comprise of China itself which would prefer to watch the growing American moves and also devise schemes on how to counter such steps.
There is yet another possibility of India and China coming closer to keep the US at a distance. The fact is also that China and India do not have that much animosity as they used to have in the early seventies. Economic diplomacy has replaced verbal war of words in between the two countries with which Nepal shares common borders.
Last but not the least, there is yet another hidden axis which does not come to notice either for lack of adequate knowledge or deliberately.
This axis comprises of the entire European countries in the EU plus some Scandinavian nations which have gone deep into the grass roots of the prevailing Nepali society through the NGOs and INGOs funded by the countries falling in this category. These NGOs and INGOs are more or less like a parallel government in Nepal.
Now it remains to be seen how these axes come into existence and how they maneuver politics in Nepal to safeguard their respective political interests.