Diplomatic nominations based on political affiliation, says chief secy

Kathmandu, July 25

Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi has blamed the attitude and behaviour of Foreign Ministry officials, envoys, and politicians for the country’s weak diplomacy.

Subedi stressed the need of a thorough review of the relevance of many existing embassies and the criteria for selecting envoys to different countries.

“Questions have been raised on the capability of our embassies abroad,” Subedi told the International Relations and Labour Committee of Parliament on Monday.

Subedi said weak diplomacy has tarnished diplomatic posture and weakened the country’s relations with other countries. “We need an overhaul of our diplomatic outposts and selection of ambassadorial nominees,” he added.

The chief secretary echoed the concerns raised by the intelligentsia and media that the government had opened diplomatic missions haphazardly and over-politicised ambassadorial nominations.

Nepal has a total of 37 embassies and permanent missions, including one that was abruptly opened in Vienna of Australia by the government in April.

As a member of the House panel, former prime minister and CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal was also present.

The meeting was called to discuss how to ensure effective implementation of the decisions of the 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu on November 2014. Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and Labour Secretary Bishnu Lamsal were also attending.

Addressing lawmakers, Chief Secretary Subedi criticised the existing trend of picking envoys on the basis of their political affinity and ignoring their diplomatic capability and other qualifications.

He also stressed the need to form a committee to select envoys by balancing the country’s needs, political values, and diplomatic capabilities.

It has become a customary to nominate half of the ambassadors from among foreign service cadres and the other half from the political quota based on the appointees’ affinity to the ruling parties.

“If we fail to review the existing practice of selecting envoys, our diplomacy will weaken further,” Subedi warned.

Subedi also said that former bureaucrats, academicians, and experts should be appointed as envoys on the basis of their expertise.

Meanwhile, the Committee set up a five-member panel of lawmakers under the coordination of Madhav Kumar Nepal to discuss how to achieve the effective implementation of the SAARC Summit decisions.