Nepal | May 27, 2020

Mahat’s call for ‘new foreign policy’ gets mixed responses

Lekhanath Pandey
Share Now:
Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat briefs about Nepal's participation in BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit

Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat briefing journalists about Nepal’s participation in the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in Goa of India, in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, on Friday, October 14, 2016. Photo: RSS

Kathmandu, December 31

Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat recently created a stir in diplomatic circles when he said he would form a team to formulate a new comprehensive foreign policy.

He said a timely ‘review’ was needed to match our external policy and conduct in accordance with the changed domestic as well as global contexts.

Mahat recently told The Himalayan Times he wanted to frame a foreign policy paper so that successive governments could uphold it and execute diplomacy accordingly.

His remark sounds encouraging. But his proclamation has roused mixed reactions among foreign policy analysts and practitioners.

Mahat was not the only foreign minister to float such a scheme. Almost every foreign minister since the April uprising of 2006 had announced the need to frame a new foreign policy charter.

Two such documents were drafted in the last decade.

Does foreign policy have to be formulated under every new government?

“No,” said a former foreign secretary. “Foreign policy should be contextual. It’s not like domestic policy which is subject to review after every change of guard.”

Nishchal Nath Pandey, director for Centre for Sough Asian Studies, echoed the same thought. He suggested that the government must cut down on ineffective diplomatic outposts and strengthen vital missions with more financial and human resources.

Right after the second People’s Movement of 2006, the Murari Raj Sharma-led committee submitted a report suggesting some foreign policy changes in the changed context. The report was never executed.

Later in 2011, an inter-party parliamentary taskforce was set up to draft an all-acceptable foreign policy. Unfortunately, the document fell short of being accepted.

“The document couldn’t be owned by and executed because some bizarre and insensitive things were included in it,” a senior MoFA officer said. “The policy paper was drafted more on a whim rather than based on serious consultation and homework among relevant stakeholders.”

Rajan Bhattarai, a CPN-UML lawmaker and member of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations, concluded that despite earlier attempts to formulate an all-acceptable foreign policy document, it never happened.

“What our country needs is an all-acceptable foreign policy charter, which is still lacking,” he told The Himalayan Times. “But the main issue is whether we are ready to draft such a policy.” He suggested that all relevant stakeholders be brought on board and consulted.

Former ambassador and the prime minister’s foreign relations expert Dinesh Bhattarai also said it could be an opportune time to ‘review’ our external policy, particularly in the changed global context that includes a global upsurge of nationalism and protectionism; post-liberalism and geo-political changes.

The global order and geopolitics is changing. It could be an opportune time to review our external policy,” Bhattarai said, but asked, “Do we have adequate human and financial resources to review the existing policy and come up with a better one?”

A version of this article appears in print on January 01, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Budget expectations

The government is all set to announce the budget for next fiscal year on Thursday and people involved in different sectors have various expectations. Amid this, The Himalayan Times spoke to a few tourism entrepreneurs who were not satisfied with the government’s policies and programmes to learn ab Read More...

NRB directs BFIs to categorise banknotes based on quality

Kathmandu, May 25 Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has directed banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to categorise banknotes based on their quality — new, clean and useless. Issuing a nine-point circular on Sunday, the central bank directed BFIs to categorise banknotes accordingly and maintain the Read More...

File photo of the headquarters of the World Health Organisation in Geneva

WHO warns of 'second peak' in areas where COVID-19 declining

GENEVA: Countries where coronavirus infections are declining could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak, the World Health Organization said on Monday. The world is still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, WHO Read More...

House committee directs govt to prioritise expansion of internet service

KATHMANDU: The Development and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives has directed the government to keep the expansion of broadband internet service under high priority during allocation of next fiscal year's budget. Nepal Telecommunications Authority has been operating the broadba Read More...

15 including ward chair arrested in connection with Dalit youth's killing in Rukum

JAJARKOT: Police have arrested Dambar Bahadur Malla, ward chair of Chaurjahari Municipality-8 along with fifteen others in connection with the death of three youths in Rukum West. Three more are still missing while scores were injured in the incident. One of the youths, Nawaraj BK (21) of Bheri M Read More...

Australian PM calls for economic overhaul to fuel post-coronavirus recovery

Truce between employers and workers needed: PM Australia plots economic recovery Australia records just over 7,100 cases of COVID-19 Six cases from ship recently arrived from the UAE recorded SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday called for an ideological truc Read More...

Nepal reports highest single-day spike, Covid-19 spreads to 46 districts

KATHMANDU: Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 90 new cases of coronavirus infection which has taken the Covid-19 case tally to 772 in the country. This is the highest single-day total recorded in Nepal, so far. The new infections were detected through tests carried out at the National Public Read More...

Prime Minister Oli calls an all-party meeting

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has called an all-party meeting today. The meeting has been called to discuss COVID-19 situation in the country, the government's response and the way ahead. PM Oli had addressed the nation yesterday regarding the same. In addition, it has been learnt th Read More...