Foreign Policy Search For Principled Stance

Madhavji Shrestha

Conspicuously noticeable is the global scenario that will never remain the same as it were few decades ago. Also noted is the fact that the strongest of the international community ever tries to mould and manage the international system to its advantage and benefit at the maxim. And the weaker are left to swim in the irresistible flow of the high water.

Global situation
At the moment the global situation is being much influenced under the sway of nationalism and protectionism with economic and security interests placed at their zenith. This is what has been emerging as a result of the adopted policy and political development happening in the West, especially in the US and Western Europe. Unquestionably, this kaleidoscopic pattern of international development has its bearings everywhere in the world.
Instantly, when we come across our region, we have in our south a popularly elected Hindu nationalist government at the helm and in the north a government led by the communist party with a socialistic system with Chinese characteristics as its professed political polity. In our own land we have a government led by the communist party with a two-thirds majority at its dispensation. Southern neighbour India has its neighbourhood first policy as its plank of foreign policy. Northern neighbour China has adopted its own neighbourhood diplomacy and neighbourhood policy. Doubtless, we have had yet to fully understand their policies vis-à-vis Nepal as to what their implications will accrue to the Nepali people.
Clearly eyeing towards the most recent global and regional scenarios what fundamental templates Nepal needs to embrace as its foreign policy plank. Experts feel and plead that there is a compelling need to adopt a foreign policy based on the principled stance. This means the Nepali foreign policy makers must thread the needle to ensure the protection and promotion Nepal’s core national interests of its independence, sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity with the steady socio-economic development carried out non-interrupted. No sincere citizen would question this fundamental concern. The principled stance is truly based on the raison d’être of national interest.
Pertinent it would be to quote the 19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerstone who exclaimed and declared “nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests”. Positions of nations may appear and disappear, but the interests will remain the same in so far as nation-states stay there. Interests of nation-states is the true umbilical cord that supports and sustains the life of a nation, hence, its safeguarding is the foremost duty of every citizen, wherefrom no one can escape.
Understandably to formulate and maintain a well-founded foreign policy based on the principled stance is embedded on the following underpinnings that need to be internalised and unfailingly embraced as an integral part of the implementing process of the foreign policy posture.
First and foremost stands the geographic determinism which pushes Nepal to walk a well-conceived trajectory in its conduct of foreign policy towards its two big neighbours. This has come down to the present day since Nepal came into a national existence two and a half centuries ago. Adoption of a cooperative foreign policy with the nature and dimension of extending hands of understanding and cooperation with both would be pragmatically advisable.
This policy nudges Nepal to cooperate with India and China in the areas of respective interests like maintaining of liberal and multi-dimensional system in the world, which is now much under the threat of sidelining and abandonment by the big powers of the West. This posture of cooperative foreign policy should also extend far and wide to all those nations, which are likely to be at disadvantage and loss if the current status of liberalism and multi-nationalism goes off under the unavoidable pressure from their antagonists.
Second, today the much discussed balance of power theory does not work, and then the question of balance of relations could hardly matter on the question of bilateral and multilateral relations among nation-states. What is essentially required is correctly weighing and meticulously vetting of national interests of nation-states that will enable each nation-state to formulate neighbourhood policy empirically arrived at from the basics related with the balance of interests with each member of the international system. The foreign policy purely and pragmatically based on the balance of interests will certainly be applicable with regards to Nepal’s neighbourhood relations with India and China.
Nepal’s long-adopted policy of non-alignment is not now much on the usual pronouncement and behaviour. Some of its big initiators and propagators have already gone off from its usual track. They have, instead, become multi-aligned now. Non-alignment is not yet entirely discarded by all and everyone either. Given the prevailing situation in our region, it will be better to adopt a policy of positive neutrality rather than almost obsolete non-aligned policy.
The positive neutrality will be far more preferable because this encourages Nepal to adopt the policy of playing some sort of positive role if any conflict or confrontation occurs among nations and between neighbours. The policy of strict neutrality is indeed a policy of passivity but the concept of positive neutrality helps Nepal give some relief in the conflict if there happens any. The posture of positive neutrality demands great understanding and high diplomatic acumen and dexterity. This new practicum is definitely on the rise to contribute to the peace and justice much desired for the presently chaotic world.
Doubtless, coherence in steering foreign policy based on principled stance assumes greater significance in winning trust of neighbours and international community. This will also bestow confidence on the policy executors. On the contrary, incoherent and inconsistent foreign policy will consequentially invite distrust and suspicion from others, causing harms to the nation.

Planning
Therefore, strategic planning needs to be put in place for any trajectory to tread on by striving hard for achievement. For all that to materialise, Nepal should strongly inspire diplomats and statesman with incisive mind and diplomatic skills who could translate ideas into actions to the best of their capability. Treading toward the right direction with a set of planned action is much more appreciable than merely talking with fanfare. This will bring into reality as to what has been conceived and projected.

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