Nepal: Renewed Focus On Indo-Nepal Relations

Following two high profile visits from New Delhi-Foreign Minister S.M Krishna and Army Chief Deepak Kapoor, the India Nepal relation is being discussed with renewed vigor in both Indian and Nepali blogs.

Pragoti, a left leaning Indian blog, talks about “the right scientific vision for Indo-Nepal relations”, asserting that bilateral relations could improve if India strives for a progressive foreign policy.

“As long as the Nepali Maoists continue to rely on the Nepali people to democratically stake their claim to power and also to implement their stated programme, the Indian ruling establishment can not offer the logic that the Nepali Maoists are in cahoots with the insurgent Indian Maoists. And as long as there is enough pressure on the Indian ruling establishment by progressive, left and democratic forces to address the grievances and concerns, the prospects of a progressive foreign policy are very much alive. That would require that the democratic-minded people in the country should be strengthened in their fight against the violent and murderous insurgency spearheaded by the Indian Maoists in places like West Bengal, ….”

India's suspicions regarding the Maoist aside, another issue that has been casting negative shadows over Indo-Nepal relations is the border issue. Allegations have been leveled against India for encroaching Nepali land. United we blog for democratic Nepal features an interview with Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, the former Director General of Survey Department (Nepal) on the very issue, where he presents some specifics regarding dispute:

“The pillars, which were erected as per the Survey Map of British India, were not found in their location. For example, pillar no 708 at Kauwakhera of Lalboji VDC of Kailali district was found to be 30 metres inside Nepal. But both the local residents and the visiting CA committee concluded that this could have happened because of the change of course of the Mohana river. Secondly, we found some subsidiary (minor) pillars missing. For example, new pillars numbered 407/1, 2 and 3 between Bhajani and Lalbhoji VDC of Kailali district were not found. In other cases, the minor pillars have been broken. Similarly, the 182 maps show half-km no-man’s land on either side of the border. But no-man’s land was not found in places like the Pyaranala area of the Parasan VDC in Kanchanpur district. At some places the Indian side had encroached upon Nepali territories. In other places, Nepal had encroached upon the border. ….”

Mr. Shrestha says that in some cases Nepal has also encroached upon Indian land, but so far that side of the dispute has not received much attention. Maoists are leading the charge against India on the border issue, they are also calling for renegotiation of 1950 Friendship Treaty between the two countries.

Maoist leader Prachanda, Image via Wikipedia

Maoist leader Prachanda

In 2008, an interview with Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) was published in The Hindu, where the treaty was discussed. Bloggers at Chennai-Based Chinese National Newspaper (CBCNN) Blog analyzed the interview and commented on Prachand'a assertions that India has nothing to fear from growing Nepal-China friendship:

“The idea that Chinese penetration of Nepal ought not to be of much concern because China does not need that country to create problems for India is laughable. Political and military strategists look at advantage, not bare necessity – China does not need Burma either but it has nevertheless established military bases in that country and is said to be actively monitoring Indian Naval activities from there. The U.S. sought transit facilities from Turkey to launch its invasion into Iraq again not because it was required – they achieved their objectives without it anyway – but because it would shorten the campaign and would have potentially made it easier. The same is equally true in case of Chinese interest in Nepal – it would be the height of folly for India to plan its own strategy based on whether China needs Nepali support to confront India.”

It is obvious that political turmoil in Nepal is affecting its relationship with India. At present, various political parties are using disputes with India to further their agenda; hopefully once the rough waters smooth, Indo-Nepal relations will be guided by mutual interest and trust.

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