Letter to the Editor: Recalibrate how?The capability of Nepal's foreign policy is being put to a severe test, making us nostalgic of the days when King Mahendra, with little access to China then, had managed to keep the Indian interventionists at bay.
Dinesh Bhattarai's piece (‘Recalibrating Nepal's foreign policy’, September 18) unfortunately ends with just platitudes as the country being in need to think of the big picture and so on. The foreign policy expert that he is touted to be, his article stays clear of the seemingly unmanageable pushes and pulls that Nepal is going through lately. For instance, while the US recently put out a press statement enlisting Nepal as a participant in the unfolding ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’, China using Pushpa Kamal Dahal's seemingly anti-US opportunistic outburst put out its own press release pointedly aimed at the US to convey the message that Nepal firmly ‘disagrees with the so-called Indo-Pacific Strategy’. Then we have our dear neighbour India, whose external affairs minister was recently in Kathmandu and met PM Oli personally. The meeting led to Nepal changing its position on Kashmir now maintaining that it was India’s internal matter. The Indian minister also went on to co-chair, as previously scheduled, the long-awaited Nepal Joint Commission meeting to discuss vital issues such as the chronic problem of the Tarai inundation due to illegal Indian border dams, vacating Nepal's Kalapani region by India, vicious trade deficits with India and so on. But the Indian minister, aided by his Nepal ambassador, Manjeev Singh Puri, managed to effectively scuttle most of these agendas by taking evasive decision such as forming committees. And our own foreign minister, Pradip Gyawali, a party loyalist and foreign policy novice whose stature was undercut by PM Oli himself earlier by meeting the Indian visitor personally, was clearly at a disadvantage to do otherwise. So, all indications, Nepal's foreign policy capability is being put to a severe test, making us nostalgic of the days when King Mahendra, with little access to China then, had managed to keep the Indian interventionists at bay.
Bihari Krishna Shrestha, via email