Kathmandu, August 23

By deploying his deputies as special envoys to India and China, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal sent a message that he wants to maintain balanced diplomatic relations with both the neighbours.

The move apparently yielded result, as his emissaries’ came with assurances of continued support and a series of high-level visits from both the countries.

As PM Dahal’s envoy, Deputy PM and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara returned from China with an assurance of state-visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in mid-October.

President Xi is very likely to make a brief stopover in Nepal on his way to Goa, where he will attend a BRICS Summit slated for October 15-16.

Another Deputy PM and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi came back home today with a confirmed date for PM Dahal’s three-day visit to India, beginning September 15.

Upon his arrival at TIA from New Delhi, Nidhi said the two sides had also confirmed that the heads of state of the two countries would visit the other country.

The prime minister’s high-flying diplomatic initiatives, however, might face a debacle, if he hosts the presidents of the neighbouring nations and embark on a visit to India, keeping Nepal’s embassies in Beijing and New Delhi vacant.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Embassy of Nepal in China was being run by the third-most senior official, as the posts of Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission have been lying vacant.

The Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi, the most vital diplomatic outpost, on the other hand, is being run by a charge d’affaires since the recall of Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay by the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli-led government in May.

According to a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the role of ambassadors is critical in arranging visits, preparing agenda, as well as projecting, promoting and protecting national interests while drafting minutes and communiques during visits.

“Even in normal situation, the embassies should not remain headless,” said Rajan Bhattarai, a UML lawmaker and a member of Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations.

Analyst Geja Sharma Wagle said a foreign minister should be appointed and envoys to India and China be named before the forthcoming high-level visits.

“It will be bizarre diplomacy if we don’t name envoys before the upcoming visits of PM Dahal to India and Chinese and Indian presidents’ to Nepal,” he added. Nishchal Nath Pandey, Director of Centre for South Asian Studies, said just filling vacant ambassadorial posts would not make much of a difference.

He said competent envoys who could enhance bilateral relations as well as the country’s international image should be appointed.

The PM’s Press Adviser Govinda Acharya told this daily that efforts were under way to name envoys to all vacant posts in 23 embassies, including India and China as soon as possible.