Nepal And Neighbours

Madhavji Shrestha

Global South is termed as the successor to the Third World and Global North is described as the inheritor of the First World, whereas the so-called Second World has vanished in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War. This new divide of Global South and Global North is the product of the western intellectual exercise and discourse with no formal acceptance by other experts than the western experts themselves. Whatever concept or thinking experts may introduce, the nomenclature of the Third World is no more in use; even if it is in use at all, it is least referred to.

Approximately two-and-half-a- decades ago, the Third World was identified with the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) that witnessed its heydays in the latter half of the past century. But with the collapse of the then Soviet Union, the Cold War saw its death and the re-alignment and new alignment among nations have sprung up in various regions of the world. Formerly great exponents of NAM have started the process of multi-alignment depending on their national and strategic interests, especially regarding their security and economic interests. The result is the NAM has lost its glare and become feeble, albeit it still being in existence. Its appeal and attraction has perceptibly gone down and failed to draw the attention of the political leaderships of the so-called leading proponents of non-aligned nations. However, since past few years, the global tendency looks like the returning to the new phase of the Cold War with the ratcheting- up of tension between the west and the east over the Crimean crisis, West Asian turbulence, South China sea question etc. The world seems passing through the unpredictable situations.
When we come down to the recently simmering situations in South and North Asian regions, we are not in a position to breathe peacefully, nor does there seem the possibility of cooling down of those situations in their inter-relationships. As days passed by, waves of disturbance are surfacing in the regions. Recent events have shown discomforting scenarios in the Indo-Pakistani and Indo-Chinese relations. Nepal is a neighbour of both India and China. So then Nepal could not remain in a state of comfort as if there are no troubling days ahead. The Nepali society understands well that the country has not created any issue or problem that has brought in disturbing environ between neighbours
But the truth is that as far as Nepal remains peaceful and stable politically and economically, it would be a great asset to both neighbours, because the long-running borders with both south and north are safe and secure with a guarantee for security to both big neighbours. They should rather feel and take for granted that they do not have to maintain regular security watches over the borders stretching 1,880 kilometre with India on three sides and 1,439.18 kilometres with China on its northern border. Both neighbours could stay convinced of the sustained security from Nepal. Naturally, they have to incur much lesser defense expenditures as compared to so far disputed borders between them, extending about 3,500 kilometres from the east to the west. A peaceful, stable and friendly Nepal is, doubtless, a great advantage for their security concerns with no need to worry about the concomitant activities related with their defense management.
The two months old tri-junction border dispute at Doklam between the two neighbours has aroused a fear psychosis in Nepal, and this dispute has invited debates and discussions in the political and diplomatic circles of Nepal. The Nepali media has featured their opinion and views on this trilateral trouble. Until now, a cautious approach with the attitude of “wait and watch” towards the problem is seen in Nepal. As far as the government of Nepal is concerned, a policy of neutrality has been announced with no tilting towards either side. However, the visits by high level political and diplomatic leaderships from both sides might have played some role to convince the Nepali leadership of their own stances regarding the dispute. Their diplomatic efforts might have beckoned Nepal with diplomatic finesse and nicety to pull towards their respective stances. Such things often happen during the queasy situations like the one that is occurring now between the two.
A high degree of discretion is, indeed, called for from the foreign policy handlers of Nepal. The writer of this article believes that the ongoing tri-junction trouble will peter out in the months to come. Although the media war by both sides are flaring up, the likelihood of the real confrontation is least sensed. India and China had signed agreements on the maintenance of tranquility and peace on the borders and confidence building measures and like understandings. No big confrontations have taken place since the escalated confrontation in 1962 although some troubles like the current one had happened earlier as well. There is also the possibility of Prime Minister Modi of India to visit Beijing in this September to participate in the BRICS Summit.
Both neighbours have their own open and hidden concerns and sensitivities. Even in the normal times India remains highly sensitive about the stealthy intrusions of terrorists into India through Nepal. They are aware of the hijacking of the big Indian aircraft from the Kathmandu airport in December 1999. India has often pressed Nepal to not let the Nepali soil to be abused for such nefarious activities.
Similarly, China demands from the Nepali authorities the strict vigilance over the border for not letting saboteurs to disturb the normal situation in the Tibetan Autonomous Region as it is taken as a sensitive region of China.
Both neighbours have their respective demands that the Nepali leadership listen to and pursue what they have asked for. Demands from both neighbours are logically appropriate in view of their needs to protect their respective national interests. Viewing such demands very seriously Nepal also needs to stick up to the demand that under no circumstantial eventuality, they both should intend to use Nepali territory in the pretext of protecting their national interests. Defending of Nepal’s own national interests comes as most sacrosanct duty, which must be respected by both neighbours with highest consideration. The need of guarantee for non-interference by both is sine quo non for our own dignity and honour as a sovereign nation. If we respect their sensitivities, must they respect our own core national interests? Mutuality of respect is linchpin of the neighbourly relations.

Indo- Chinese relations have been going through a roughshod road for the last six decades, which may take a much longer time to improve their relations and build trust and confidence with each other. Hence, the relevance and posture of non-aligned foreign policy vis-à-vis India and China need to be held in highest esteem and pursued to the hilt of its purpose. No dereliction from the earlier accepted traction of non-alignment. Given the complex circumstances, it is advisable to brace for the pursuing of pro-active non-aligned policy to do some helpful contributions for improving Indo-Chinese relations.
Of course, positive neutrality needs to be embraced to enhance understanding between them. Many glaring examples of contributions for good neighbourly relations could be found in the neutral policy as pursued by Switzerland since long. Because of its long accepted norms and values, smaller countries like Austria and Ireland of Europe and Costa Rica of South America have been adopting neutral policy even after the demise of the Cold War. So then why should not Nepal cherish to embrace the realistic ideals neutral foreign policy?

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