Oli government never informed nations about new map, says SaudBoth Oli and his foreign minister Gyawali assert that they had notified foreign countries about the map.
Did the KP Sharma Oli government lie to the nation when it claimed it had informed the international community about the new map passed by Nepal’s parliament in 2020?
Most likely, if the foreign minister’s reply to a parliamentary committee on Thursday is true.
After unveiling a new demarcation of Nepal in May 2020, the Oli administration told the media that it had communicated to foreign countries about the new map and requested them to use it for official purposes.
Pradeep Gyawali, who was the foreign minister when Nepal issued the new map by incorporating Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura, told the Post last week that diplomatic correspondence was made to neighbouring and other countries about Nepal’s adoption of the new map.
The map issue resurfaced last month after China released its “standard map”, which also shows territories bordering China. In doing so, the northern neighbour used Nepal’s old map. The map made public by China’s Ministry of Natural Resources on August 28 drew ire in Nepal, prompting criticism of Beijing.
The questions asked include why China declined to use the new map of Nepal and whether the then Oli government had written to Beijing and members of the international community, urging them to use the new map, which was endorsed by Parliament unanimously on June 13, 2020.
“No such record of communication to China was found,” Foreign Minister NP Saud told the International Relations and Tourism Committee of the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Saud said that officials at his ministry had searched for records but no proof of the correspondence claimed by the CPN-UML leaders Oli and Gyawali was found.
“I received no such correspondence from the South Asia and North East division of the ministry. I will be happy if there is any information about such correspondence,” the foreign minister said.
After the Supreme Court ordered Oli’s replacement by Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister in July 2021, there have been two governments. Saud is a minister in the coalition government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The parliamentary committee had called Minister Saud to learn from him whether other countries had been informed about the new map issued during Oli’s tenure as prime minister.
The claim of then foreign minister Gyawali that correspondence had been made was also raised in the parliamentary committee.
CPN (Unified Socialist) chief and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal questioned whether ex-minister Gyawali had informed China verbally or in writing about the map showing Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura as parts of Nepal.
A national map is a sensitive matter, said Nepal. “Truth about the row over the new map should be made public.”
“The sitting foreign minister and the former one have conflicting views on informing China. Did the foreign minister [Gyawali] do it in personal capacity or did he correspond officially?” Nepal, the ex-PM, asked. “If correspondence was made, foreign ministry officials must have been involved in the process.”
Nobody should be exempted from the responsibility of informing the international relations community about such official correspondence, said Nepal. “It is not only a matter of map, but of international relations, which is sensitive in nature. This kind of diplomatic lethargy should not be repeated.”
Saud claimed that such a letter did not reach the international community. “All I can say is we have not made such correspondence. Here I want to assure [this committee] that the Oli government had not written to diplomatic missions about Nepal unveiling the new map or requested them to use it for their official purposes,” said Saud.
Ek Nath Dhakal of the UML said that Nepal should present its new map to the United Nations secretary general in the presence of officials from India and China. “The prime minister is visiting New York to attend the UN General Assembly. When the prime minister takes along a gift for the UN secretary general, it should be the new Nepal map this time,” Dhakal told the parliamentary international relations committee on Thursday.