Nepal has to stay focused on its national interest: TeplitzLooking back at her three eventful years in Nepal, outgoing US ambassador Alaina Teplitz said her tenure offered her the opportunity to witness some very important changes in the country’s history.
Looking back at her three eventful years in Nepal, outgoing US ambassador Alaina Teplitz said her tenure offered her the opportunity to witness some very important changes in the country’s history.
The five-month long Indian border blockade was a particularly hard period for her as a diplomat. On the one hand, India remains the US major ally; on the other, Nepal was trying to get back on its feet after a 7.8M earthquake, the worst natural disaster in the country’s living memory. “We did try very hard to ameliorate the suffering of the Nepali people,” she said.
Other than Japan, the US was the only other country to make a public statement during the blockade, expressing solidarity to the Nepali population, though it diplomatically kept short of criticising the Indian move. The 2015-16 blockade in fact pushed Nepal politically closer to China and a defiant KP Oli, in his first stint as a prime minister, became a national hero in the eyes of millions of Nepalis, a leader who was willing to stand up to Indian high-handedness.
To sum up Nepal’s predicament as a smaller land-locked country sandwiched between two world powers—India and China—the US Ambassador on Wednesday quoted King Prithvi Narayan Shah: “Nepal is a yam between two giant boulders.” But she also pointed out that new opportunities have opened up for Nepal because of its geography and India and China’s rapid growths. “But it [Nepal] has to stay focused on its own national interest,” she suggested.
Not for the first time, she lauded Nepal’s new constitution as “a milestone” in its political evolution but insisted that marginalized groups and women needed greater space in the country’s development.
“Yes, women have made political gains. Women now have place at the table but they are expected to keep silent. Women are a force and a factor in the country’s development.”
In an exclusive interview with this newspaper weeks after her arrival less than three years ago, she had voiced a strong personal commitment to empowering women in Nepal.
“In the next election, I will like to see some of the deputy mayors (women) as mayoral candidates,” she said, recalling inspiring women leaders she had met during her tenure in Nepal.
“So much has transpired, capping up a new era,” she reminisced in her last interaction in her official capacity as US ambassador to Nepal.
After a senate confirmation shortly, she will start as ambassador to Sri Lanka.