Nepalís Lopsided Foreign Policy

Keshav Raj Jha,

Former Nepalís Ambassador to France and UNESCO

It is widely being felt that the very image of Nepal’s Foreign Policy is waning of late. The delay in the completion of the peace process and the situation wherein the CA body’s tenure is being extended on a regular basis has at best been forcing the international friendly community to lose their confidence in the Nepali politics as it is being handled.

I have been closely monitoring the Nepali situation as a career diplomat having served the Foreign Ministry for all along thirty three years. As I see to it, such complications had never observed in the past.

The Prime Minister recently said that Nepal prefers to act like a bridge in between India and China. In which context he made such a remark remains yet to be adequately elaborated. If he has talked this keeping economic point of view in his mind then it could be a different matter, however, the existing situation has been that neither China nor India takes the Nepali political forces at its face value. In addition, what must not be forgotten is that both China and India share borders with each other thus question could be asked as to what sort of bridge the Prime Minister has been talking of demands logical clarifications?

It appears that Nepal’s foreign policy is very much like playing China against India and Vice versa as was being practiced by late King Mahendra. It is being felt so. Playing cards one neighbor against the other.

Chairman Prachanda of the Maoists had once beamingly threatened that Nepal no longer was a Yam between two boulders but dynamite. But later when he became the country’s Prime Minister, he left for Beijing Olympics and immediately upon return from China said that his official visit will definitely begin with India visit. This does tell that their foreign policy conducts remain in a lopsided state. There is the absence of a sort of continuity as such which is a vital element in the foreign policy conduct between the friendly nations. The international community remains in a puzzled state in ascertaining as to what was the National Foreign Policy of Nepal?

I see that the Nepali foreign Ministry itself is in need of a grand face-lift.

Why to appoint those as Nepal’s Ambassadors abroad who do not have the knowledge of diplomatic conducts? I would suggest career diplomats should be accorded highest priority while appointing Ambassadors abroad.

I have been told that the extra qualification of Mr. Ram Karki who is being sent to India as Nepal’s Ambassador is that Mr. Karki reportedly has good rapprochement with the Indian workers. Is he being sent to India to wage a fierce demonstration of the Indian workers while being in New Delhi?

On the other, again I have been informed that a medical practitioner is being sent to China as Nepal’s Ambassador.

The kind of prestige we have had of the Nepalese foreign ministry during our stint (decades back), it is missing now which is what pains me a lot.

With each political changes in the country, we should have formulated a cohesive and effective foreign policy but that is nowhere to be seen today. This so happened just after the 1990 political change which remains the same even in this republican order. Nothing substantial, as was expected of our foreign policy fine tuned with the changes, which in essence should have been, I presume it to be so, due to the prevalence of appalling politics.

Those who were in the driving seat of the State affairs neither felt it necessary to seek valuable inputs from the experts of diplomacy who were capable enough to provide their expertise gained through past experiences nor the advices whatever they received from the knowledgeable quarters were brought into implementation.

A country is taken as a strong one either with the possession of its weapons or those who can boldly present their voices in a meaningful manner. We must be able to present our views and concerns in a very effectual manner. We won the elections at the UN Security Council and the UNESCO in the past simply because we convinced the friendly countries with the presentation of our logical concerns and the abilities that we had.

Nepal’s overall image today has been that of a country which keeps on asking for supports from the international community with no accountability in telling the donors of the very use of the received donations. The donors even are kept in the dark as to whether their assistances have approached the real targeted projects?

Nepal is to host the next SAARC Summit in Kathmandu. For making the SAARC a vibrant regional organization, Nepal must begin planning in advance on how to make it a real working organization to which it is not today. The SAARC body itself needs some timely reforms. Its main job now, as I see to it, just compiling voluminous documents whose implementation part remains ever missing from the very inception of this regional body.

Nepal had a grand prestige among the comity of nations because of our peace keeping forces. However, with the Haiti Cholera episode, our prestige took a dangerous slide. In addition, the Sudan, Darfur APC scam too has caused immense damage to Nepal’s prestige in the international community.

We may not have enough money for lobbying yet we can effectively manage this if we begin talking sense and convince our friends in the international community.

The Prime Minister suddenly talked in favor of Palestine at the UN General Assembly. Now it is being widely perceived that with his Palestine preference, countries like United States and some others have taken his statement in a bad taste to the extent that one US senator bluntly told that if Nepal failed in supporting the Tibetan refugees, the US support may be withdrawn once and for all.

As one of the oldest member of the UN body, Nepal can play a crucial role in reforming the structure of the UN body also. Things have changed since the Second World War and thus vibrant countries like India, Brazil, South Africa, Japan and Germany should also have a logical say in the seats of the Security Council. The present structure of the Security Council too needs a phenomenal change. We can play a role in this issue which eventually will elevate our ranks internationally.

Foreign policy is also taken as the extension of a country’s domestic conditions. If so then it becomes our bounden duty to reform our domestic affairs. One can’t talk of other countries when one’s own house is not in order. Thus it would be in the fitness of things and desirable as well that all of the political parties converge and make out a clear vision as regards Nepal’s foreign policy which will also act as a tool to improve Nepal’s image in the international community. A clear chart has got to be drafted which later could be defined and also adopted as the country’s main policy formulation. Today everything is in a mess. One is free to talk anything under the sun. The country’s foreign policy can’t be run in such a whimsical manner. If the conduct of foreign policy remains the same as it stands today then I am very much confident that we as a nation-state will go down even low. That’s why immediate measures should be taken immediately to correct the existing aberrations. Else, we will be limited to a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

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