To letThe government must immediately fill all the empty ambassadorial positions
Two of Nepal’s most important diplomatic outposts have lain vacant for months now. The United Nations embassy in New York, which looks after Nepal’s engagements with the UN and its specialised agencies—has been headless for four months. The embassy in New Delhi, whose political importance cannot be overstated, has been conspicuously missing a representative for over a year. Further, Nepal’s embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, two countries that receive thousands of Nepali migrants every year, are also without ambassadors. Six more missions will be without their chiefs in a month and a half.
This is an appalling state of affairs for Nepal’s diplomacy. Without ambassadors, diplomatic missions are unable to properly coordinate matters of vital importance between the home country and the country they are posted in. The Oli-government’s delay in filling these positions, especially vitally important ones like New Delhi, New York and Malaysia, raises questions about how committed the administration is to staffing the government. Given the length of time that these missions have lain without a chief, it appears that an understaffed bureaucracy is going to be a feature of the Oli administration.
The delay in appointing ambassadors to foreign countries is doing real damage to the country’s foreign policy. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli paid a state visit to India in May without posting an ambassador to the Barakhamba mission while Nepal had no top diplomat in New Delhi to oversee bilateral affairs when Indian PM Narendra Modi visited Kathmandu twice this year. Sources close to Prime Minister Oli maintain that the search for the right appointee is ongoing, but the ruling parties have yet to agree on a candidate. The failure to find the right person, compounded by a lack of consensus among the top leaders of the ruling party, is the primary reason attributed for this delay. Yet, it is difficult to say if the vacuum at the embassies is because of a procedural hurdle or because of the government’s lackluster attitude.
An efficient diplomatic machinery apprises policymakers about changes happening globally, possible geo-political advances, and even domestic tensions. Lack of ambassadors impedes the work of embassies on the ground. In addition, this absence creates uncertainty, makes strategic planning difficult, and erodes our credibility in the world. It also gives the impression that we do not take our relationship with these countries seriously. Overtime, all this will have a serious bearing on our ability to cooperate with other governments.
Nepal’s diplomatic operations are idling. Our diplomacy has been passive when right now, it is the only thing that can put us on the map. Such an astonishingly careless way to treat the appointment of ambassadors is condemnable. Appointments to New Delhi, New York and Malaysia especially must be made at the earliest, given their political, economic and strategic importance. Eventually, all the other vacant positions must be filled in, sooner rather than later.