Geopolitical sandwichA robust foreign policy is only possible against a backdrop of sound economic fundamentals.
Nepal’s existence has been attributed to its fine balancing act between the two regional powers, India and China. The Himalayan republic has been going through a tremendous political upheaval of late. Change is always tumultuous, and Nepal has been undergoing political change for the last 30 years, from an absolute monarchy to multi-party democracy and now to a federalist structure. But the past few years of experimenting with federalism has, without doubt, come with their share of criticism. While some have outrightly dismissed the new system as being unfeasible, others have taken a more accommodative stance, allowing for time. After all, it has been all but five years since the promulgation of the new constitution.
But the leaders haven’t been seen to operate at the same level of integrity and honesty as expected of them. Instead of focusing on development issues, the politicians have squandered the first five years in squabbling among themselves, fighting over lucrative ministerial berths, and toppling stable governments to accommodate their vested interests. What is becoming clear is that Nepal never lacked a model of governance; what it lacks is selfless visionary leaders that are ready to steer the country through the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century.
Sandwiched between opposing regional powers, the need for Nepal’s leaders to dexterously balance relationships with the rival neighbours will be of utmost importance. And if our leaders are not careful enough, there are other rival powerhouses actively vying to make Nepal an unwitting pawn in the grand game of geopolitical chess. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine should be an eye-opener for the authorities in Nepal, too; the consequences of a miscalculated move in balancing national interest with those dictated by other powers will indisputably be borne by the hapless citizens as we see happening in the former Soviet republic.
Because the rival superpowers would never risk jeopardising their interests and stability, however bitter they appear to be on the surface, sacrificing the pawn has always been seen as demonstrative of astute political acumen, and therefore it is upon us not to become the sacrificial lamb. Leaders need to thoroughly and carefully consider the implication of any agreement, whether the MCC or any other project deals in the pipeline. Isn’t it ironic that a parliament that has been prorogued for usual business is suddenly seen active for the ratification of ‘aid’? And if this precedence continues, we may see all the powers seeking to ratify agreements through the Parliament which could impinge on our sovereignty. The consequences of agreements endorsed without careful consideration will inevitably come back to haunt the state, perhaps in the not-so-distant future.
The need of the hour is to focus our resources on building a robust Nepal. The demonstration of a robust foreign policy is only possible against a backdrop of sound economic fundamentals. There is nothing to boast of unless we uplift the living standards of every citizen, and it definitely cannot come from reliance on aid, grants or donations. Now more than ever, it has become increasingly important for politicians to get their act together and focus on policies that should ensure political and economic stability. The people have long become increasingly tired of their silly antics.