Foreign Relations Under Oli
G. P. Acharya
This is not the nation gained by my trifle efforts, this is the garden of all kinds of flowers, and may all be aware of this”, said Prithivi Narayan Shah, the unifier of modern Nepal. All nationals should not forget the gallant roles played by Prithivi Narayan Shah during the unification era. Bhimsen Thapa’s valiant role to protect Nepal’s sovereignty must not be forgotten either. Nationalist leaders Junga Bahadur, Chandra Shamsher, BP Koirala, king Mahendra and Birendra and KP Oli, among others, played their significant role in consolidating Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Nepal is one of the sixteenth nations in the world which has ever never been colonised in the world’s history. Nepal had initiated diplomacy with British and Tibetan Government in the 18th century even before India did exist. Even though Nepal experienced Anglo-Nepal war during 1814-1816 and the Nepal-Tibet war during 1788-1855, the valiant rulers of that era defended the nation’s sovereignty with strong statesmanship. Still, Nepal has been mostly influenced by the geo-political meddling, and faced numerous domestic challenges in various stages of history.
Despondently, common Nepali nationals are highly critical of decision by Province 2 to endorse Police Act for recruiting police personnel on its own. The timorous deed of Province 2 leaders that was followed by treasonous act of some of the so-called campaigner of free Madhesh should be taken very seriously. What if they move to frame foreign, military and citizenship policy Act on their own? This is a clear indication that they are marching ahead towards divisive politics.
Carrying out political restructuring, shaping the national economy, promoting the socio-cultural harmony among the people, healing the wounds of conflict, reconstruction of quake-damaged houses, tracing the line between economic and national security and maintaining the independent international relations are the foremost priorities of the nation today.
To ensure the national security, Nepal needs to eradicate poverty, reduce imports and boost exports, adopt contemporary technology, make optimal utilisation of resources, and become self-reliant in the basic needs. All the stakeholders have to make a cohesive contribution to realise these goals. All the political parties, including the opposition and federal governments have to equally participate in shaping or reshaping the future of the nation.
When PM Oli came to power for the first time, he strongly defended the nation’s sovereignty. None of the international community, except Japan and the US, expressed concern over the sufferings of Nepali people during the five-month-long Indian border blockade back in 2015. The entire nation was traumatised due to the trade embargo in the aftermath of devastating earthquake. Bilateral relations between neighbours passed through ups and downs. Diplomatic relations deteriorated, and Nepal was somehow being isolated in the international arena. At that critical moment of diplomacy, PM Oli executed dynamic and effective diplomacy. He defended the nation with a strong statesmanship. With Oli at the helm of power, the nation has made significant progress on socio-economic fronts. He has been a role model of the Nepali politics as he led the promulgation of Constitution- 2015, and the resounding electoral victor in three-tier of election held last year.
The expectations of Nepalis have soared with the nation ushering in the federal democratic republic. The Nepali nationals have high hopes on PM Oli and want to see that nation achieved stability and prosperity during his premiership. But, practically, no nation has achieved radical transformation after going through harrowing phases as Nepal witnessed. Transformation is an inductive process where every national, civil society, responsible political parties and their leaders have to make a cohesive role.
After signing the historic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Nepal’s geo-strategic significance has been amplified. Nepal is believed to bridge between China and South Asia through the BRI. Recently, Nepal has been granted access to four Chinese seaports for third country trading. President Xi Jinping has shown interest to visit Nepal. India PM Narendra Modi has already visited Nepal four times since becoming the PM. Again, he is planning to visit Janakpur. Delhi and Beijing are successively inviting Nepali delegates from different areas of life. Chinese and Indian leaders and their officials are frequently visiting Nepal. Nepal has successfully hosted the fourth BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu. Every member state of the regional organisation is eyeing Nepal as a mediating force. This indicates the triumph of foreign policy of Nepal. Further, all eyes are on Nepal for the revival of the stalled SAARC process.
The increasing geo-strategic competition between India and China in Nepal signifies the importance of Nepal’s geo-strategic magnitude. India-China competition in diplomacy, economy, trade, energy, investment and railway connectivity in Nepal boosts latter’s diplomatic profile. Nepal’s signing of ten agreements in various sectors during PM Oli’s visit to China in 2016 and consequently being granted access to four Chinese seaports for trading with third country has been a new achievement in Nepal-China strategic relations. China’s trust in Nepal as the guarantor of the security and stability of Tibetan region and a geo-strategic soft partnership in BRI has further increased Nepal’s geo-strategic credence.
Yet, PM Oli has to live up to his nationalistic credentials and has to promote Nepal at the international level with a ‘Foreign Policy by Vision’. He has to show his paragon of policy to address the burning national issues. He has to espouse a cohesive domestic policy and maintain his statesmanship stature once again for the broader national unity to make Nepal Nepal again.