Kathmandu, September 11
Federal lawmakers today asked the government for diplomatic passport, a high privilege travel document, for their use.
Thematic discussion on Passport bill is taking place in the parliamentary International Affairs committee. Most of the lawmakers shouted at the government which didn’t provide them diplomatic passport.
They said they were treated like second class citizens. Lawmakers also said that not providing diplomatic passport to elected leaders meant the government was humiliating federal lawmakers.
Lawmakers said if any lawmakers misused the diplomatic passport, they should be punished, but they should be privileged to hold diplomatic passport.
Lawmakers Amresh Kumar Singh, Bharat Shah, Deepak Prakash Bhatta, Sarita Giri, Puspa Bhusal, Dibya Mani Rajbhandari, Narad Muni Rana, Prem Prakash Dulal and Dilendra Prasad Badu criticised the bill drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There is a provision for issuing diplomatic passport to lawmakers attending government programme abroad, but they cannot be issued diplomatic passport for personal visit. Singh said lawmakers are not government’s person, they are independent, they can also visit foreign countries themselves. He added, “Here in Nepal, people know you are lawmakers. If the lawmakers visit other countries, how can they know us? So, the diplomatic passport is essential for lawmakers.”
Sarita Giri said the state was keeping lawmakers in a prison. “If someone misuses the passport, punish them, but you can’t deny lawmakers the diplomatic passport,” she said. But Lawmaker Prem Suwal criticised his all colleagues saying diplomatic passport was not necessary for lawmakers like him.
“If there is a government programme, the lawmakers will receive diplomatic passport from the government. After returning, they should hand over the passport,” Suwal said. “But for personal programme, it is not right to use diplomatic passport. If you are going for personal visit no one will come to receive you in any country. So, where is the need of diplomatic passport.” He said lawmakers should be like a common people and take the regular passport.
Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shankar Das Bairagi said the government has been providing diplomatic passport for lawmakers attending government programmes. “But if we provide diplomatic passport to lawmakers on a regular basis, we all knew some embassies in Nepal don’t give visa even against diplomatic passport. It is humiliating,” he said, adding, we have to understand the situation.
A version of this article appears in print on September 12, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.