‘Nepal and India should reorient their policies towards each other’

Nepal should adopt a broad policy to see India so as to execute the suggestions of EPG

Kathmandu, January 29

Professor Shreedhar K Khatri has emphasized that both Nepal and India have to come up with a new comprehensive policy towards each other to revive their bilateral relations, which has come to its nadir following the promulgation of Nepal’s new constitution in September.

Giving a lecture on ‘Man on Move: Modi and South Asia’, organised by Masters’ Programme for International Relations and Diplomacy, Tribhuvan University in the Valley today, Khatri pointed out that Nepal should also come up with a comprehensive foreign policy, which can be taken up by every successive governments in years and decades to come.

He hoped that the recently set up Eminent Persons Group would come up with a joint forward-looking policy on bilateral relations, which would address both sides’ genuine issues in a respectable manner.

Saying Nepal’s policy towards India so far has been either based on doctrines of political parties or its leaders, he underscored that until or unless we have a comprehensive policy to see India, it would be difficult to execute the suggestions of the EPG.

“It is not the ideology, but the national interests guide the foreign policy,” he said, referring India and Pakistan’s closeness with the USSR and USA respectively during the Cold War.

He reasoned that there was no guarantee of the government upholding its predecessor’s policy if we lack a comprehensive policy with clear objectives.

According to him, Nepal-India relations witnessed highs and lows within a short span of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s less than two years in power.

The relations were euphoric when PM Modi visited Nepal in August 2014 and announced $1 billion assistance, addressed Nepal’s Parliament and responded right after the April 2015 earthquake.

And, the relations came to its lowest ebb when India chose a “wrong step of blockade” to express her discontent over Nepal’s new constitution in September last year.

“India chose a wrong issue of the constitution to impose a blockade in Nepal,” he said. Earlier blockades were imposed on issues of security or trade and transit.

Professor Khatri, a scholar on South Asia and foreign policy, said Nepali leaders took a “sound decision” of not accepting India’s dictates of postponing the issuance of the statute at the last minute.

But, he criticised Nepal’s absolute failure in crafting a clear and comprehensive foreign policy, which would be forward-looking and can be taken up by every successive government, irrespective of their political ideologies and allegiance.

He said India’s Nepal policy also lacks clarity. “Who forms India’s policy towards us?” he inquired. “Whether is it PMO, South Block, Defence Department, Intelligence agencies or who? Not clear.”