No question of Nepal joining any international military alliance: Defence Minister

Kathmandu, June 25: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Ishwar Pokharel has said the Nepal Army is mobilized as per the letter and spirit of the constitution.

Responding to queries on various topics related to the Ministry of Defence raised by lawmakers in the discussions on the Appropriation Bill, 2076 in the House of Representatives today, he said Nepal Army was steadfastly committed for defending the country's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, autonomy and national unity.

He said the government has accorded high priority to modernization and strengthening of the Nepal Army. The Army has made a significant contribution in the development construction works as well.

Stating that the government was sensitive towards managing the VIP's movement by taking into account the voice of the general public, the Defence Minister said a new security policy has been approved in keeping with the changed political governance system and works on updating the National Security Policy were in progress.

He shared that the Nepal Army has been conducting bilateral and multilateral military training and exercise with the armed forces of various countries with the objective of expanding military diplomatic relations and of enhancing professional expertise, peace keeping as well as capacity for disaster management.

"These kinds of trainings which have been carried out since the past are purely for the purpose of enhancement of the Army's capacity and strengthening its professionalism," Defence Minister Pokharel asserted.

Maintaining that such military exercises have been done together with the armies of India, China, America, Sri Lanka and Britain in connection to enhancing the professional capacity, collaboration, exchange of knowledge and experience with them, he said no question of Nepal's involvement in any regional or international military alliance arose as it is a member nation of the Non-Aligned Movement since its inception.

"Nepal Army has been playing a leading role in disaster management and response as per the constitutional provisions, and the government has provided it with new equipment and resources for that," the Defence Minister said, adding that resources and the budget has been increased in the context of enhancing the capability of the Nepal Army.

He said the Army has been making special contribution for the external and internal security, for the security of distinguished persons and for international peace keeping.

Stating that the Army Regulations has been amended to render the transfers, promotions and facilities and services within the Army transparent and fair, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Pokharel said a clear policy arrangement has been made to ensure that army personnel of any rank would get the opportunity to participate in the UN peace keeping mission at least for one time while in service.

"The Nepal Army has already contributed by mobilizing in 43 peace keeping missions in various conflict-affected countries in course of peace keeping duty and there is fund of Rs 45 billion in the Army Welfare Fund. The interest accruing from this fund is being used for the welfare of the ex-servicemen or the serving personnel of the Nepal Army," the Defence Minister shared on the occasion.

He informed the parliament that Rs 15 billion has been earmarked in this year's budget for the construction of the Kathmandu-Tarai Madhes Fast Track and the detailed project report of this project which is considered the backbone for the country's development is being studied. The government has a policy of approving the DPR soon and expediting the project construction works.

DPM and Defence Minister Pokharel said the Nepal Army has already completed construction of 27 roads and 30 bridges in various regions including in Karnali so far.

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