PM’s US Visit And Expectations
Dr. Narad Bharadwaj
Prime Minister KP Oli is in the United States in connection with his participation in the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Though this conference is an annual formality of the UN, it carries special significance for us because of Nepal’s representation at the highest level.
This is the third foreign trip of the Nepali Prime Minister since the left front coalition formed government after scoring a two-third majority in the three tier elections held in December 2017. It is the first representation at the UN by the Prime Minister of the majority left government. In this sense, the current visit of the Prime Minister will have strategic significance in refurbishing the image of Nepal and in garnering international support for the implementation of government’s vision, mission and programmes.
PM KP Oli had visited India and China shortly after the formation of the new government to reassure them of Nepal’s commitment to democratic ideals, principles of foreign policy and to win their support in implementing Nepal’s development infrastructure programmes. As a result, China and India are providing substantial support in materialising development aspirations of the Nepali people. The Prime Minister’s has embarked on his overseas visit when the most contentious issue of implementing the new constitution has been accomplished and the task of building federal structure of the country is also almost over.
The laws to be made in conformity with the federal framework are in the process of enactment or amendment. As the knotty issues of Nepal’s internal politics get un-entangled, the haze of mistrust about Nepal lingering among neighbouring countries is also dissolving gradually. The ongoing foreign trip of the PM has afforded Nepal an opportunity for exchange of views on national and international political situation which can be projected as a continuum of positive development. At present, the world community is watching with interest the method of conflict management and peace building which has been successfully experimented in Nepal. The world has appreciated Nepal’s innovative way of setting a unique example in leading the nation onto the path of peace by managing a deep rooted violent conflict at its own initiative.
The standard set by Nepal in conflict resolution and peace building is unparallel in the history of conflict management and peace building. The experience gained by the Nepali people in this field has become a memorable phenomenon not only in the specific context of Nepal but has also become an original contribution in the global reservoir of knowledge of conflict resolution. If the PM makes use of the UN forum to drive this point home through his keynote presentation, it is likely to be recorded as a glittering milestone in the history of conflict resolution and achieving lasting peace.
However, there is a strong tendency in global politics to look at the unfolding political events in Nepal as part of a geo-strategic realignment of powers. The western capitalist democracies have evinced their tendency to refuse cooperation with Nepal interpreting the rise of Nepal’s left forces as a revival of unitary and dictatorial force. At a time when Nepal needs widest level of cooperation for its social-economic transformation, any attempt to incite distrust and negativity will come as a great setback not only for Nepal but also for all the countries willing to walk down the path of self-reliance, sovereignty, independence and national integrity. Hence, Prime Minister Oli is expected to make use of the opportunity provided to him by the ongoing visit to raise Nepal’s national dignity and brighten its international image.
So far, he is seen to have effectively used the opportunity of meeting with leaders on the sideline of the UN conference. Till now, he has had a meeting with Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau on the sideline of the UN conference resulting in an agreement to create a mechanism for bilateral consultations between the two countries. At the same time, Nepal’s diplomatic visibility has been enhanced by the PM’s presence at the reception hosted on Monday by the US President Donald Trump in honour of visiting dignitaries.
In this context, it should also be noted that some countries of western Europe and Scandinavia do not seem to be happy at the present political development in Nepal. They had put forward proposal for a model of federalism based on ethnic and religious identity at the early period of peace process and during constitution drafting. But the Constituent Assembly rejected that idea and proceeded to proclaim the constitution based on diversity and inclusive participation. These countries have been interpreting this as a step taken to hinder the development of minority people, languages and cultures. This reflects the inability of the leaders of these countries to comprehend the special features of Nepal’s culture and democratic practices. In view of this, it would fall in place if Prime Minister Oli takes diplomatic initiative to help clear the haze of misunderstanding lingering in the minds of leaders of European Union, Britain and Scandinavian countries.
Nepal is pushing forward post-earthquake reconstruction and development infrastructure building on a parallel level. That Nepal needs a huge material and financial resources to accomplish this are a common knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary for Nepal to be able to benefit from an unstinted moral and material support from the western countries. If the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues succeed in clearing the misgivings about Nepal lingering in the minds of European and American leaders, it will help establish the rationale of the visit.
Prime Minister Oli is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on Thursday. He is expected to give an address which will be strong enough to draw the sympathy of the global community towards Nepal’s national interest and priorities. So far, Nepal’s international image has remained unblemished despite disappointments being expressed about the performance of the government at the domestic level. The capacity and efficiency of the Prime Minister to resolve contradictions and dissenting voices has raised his political stature. If he succeeds in using the prevailing positive vibes in a planned way to establish the ownership of the international community over his reform initiatives, he can come back with quite a few notches on his belt.
Nepali Congress’ declared policy is to deprive the present leftist government of international support by characterizing it as a dictatorial and autocratic regime. Prime Minister Oli can take his ongoing foreign trip as an appropriate opportunity to mitigate the damage inflicted by the harmful actions or inaction of our detractors. The western world is also suspicious about Nepal’s endorsement of China’s BRI project. India and the western countries appear reluctant to understand Nepal’s geo-strategic compulsions for being part of the project.
In coming days, the western countries may come forward with a silent policy of non-cooperation to Nepal’s development endeavours. Nepal cannot afford to meet the gestures of non-cooperation with force. The only weapon it has at its disposal is diplomacy. The Prime Minister would therefore do well to put this weapon to an ultimate test during his encounter with a pantheon of global leaders to be assured of its infallibility.