Nepal | February 17, 2019

Nepali Army chief holds first press meeting in a decade

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, October 11

Chief of Army Staff Purna Chandra Thapa today said that the Nepali Army was keeping a close eye on sporadic anti-constitutional activities of separatist forces in the country.

Although Thapa did not name the ‘forces’, he said the NA was capable of thwarting any security challenge that they posed to the country.

He made these remarks during a press meet held at the NA headquarters. This is the first press conference held by the army chief in almost a decade. Generally, the head of Nepali Army does not share its plans and policies with journalists.

Thapa appeared quite frank and discussed a range of issues from army’s mandate and restructuring of the institution to rumours of corruption in the NA. He, however, did not talk about the issues in detail.

“The Nepali Army works as per the mandate given by the constitution and respects the civilian government,” Thapa said and added, “We do not want to cross that line. And going beyond that line will be detrimental to our institution as well as the country.”

The NA consists of 96,000 personnel. Many have lately started questioning the relevance of such a big workforce, since the country is not at war or facing armed conflict.

“We get this question a lot,” Thapa said, adding, “We are ready to restructure the institution.” He also informed that the NA was preparing Vision 2030, indicating the document would touch upon the issue of restructuring the institution.

The NA, according to Thapa, plays different roles during peaceful times, conflict and war. “There is peace in the country at the moment and we are willing to support the government in development of physical infrastructure,” he said.

As the NA is showing enthusiasm to build big-ticket infrastructure projects, talks about corruption starting to take roots in one of Nepal’s oldest institutions have also started doing the rounds.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption,” Thapa stated, adding, “The Military Special Court will look into these issues.”

Thapa, however, acknowledged that the ‘military court was not working as actively as it should have been’. “We are aware of this and are formulating plans to make it more powerful to protect the NA’s image,” Thapa added.

He also said Nepal Army was keen on assisting the government in border security, a task that is currently being performed by the Armed Police Force. “But whatever we do, we don’t like being micromanaged,” Thapa said, without elaborating.

A version of this article appears in print on October 12, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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