Nepal should reshape its foreign policy, say experts

Nepal’s foreign policy should be based on principles of Panchasheel and non-alignment

Kathmandu, October 5

The International Relations and Labour Committee of the Legislature-Parliament today held ‘Special Parliamentary Discussion’ on how Nepal should shape its foreign policy to make it relevant in the global context.

The meeting was attended by former prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi, Nepali Congress leaders Sujata Koirala and Ram Sharan Mahat, CPN-ML General Secretary CP Mainali, Nepal’s Ambassador to the US Arjun Kumar Karki, Nepal’s Ambassador to China Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay, and foreign relations experts, among others.

Committee member Bharat Bahadur Khadka said since the world had undergone drastic changes over the past few decades, it was very important for Nepal to devise a relevant foreign policy. “This meeting dwelt on how Nepal should pursue its foreign policy in the changed global context,” he said.

The meeting especially focused on Nepal’s relations with its immediate neighbours China and India, besides the US and Europe, according Khadka. “We have so far failed to take India and China into confidence, and these two neighbours have always looked at Nepal with some kind of doubt,” he said. “So we discussed what confidence-building measures we could take and overcome these challenges.”

At the meeting, the three ambassadors made presentations on Nepal’s relations with the respective countries, their expectations from Nepal, changes these countries have undergone in terms of foreign policy and technology, converging interests of Nepal and these countries, and how can Nepal benefit.

“The ambassadors categorically pointed out the weaknesses in Nepal’s foreign policy mechanism and recommended ways to address them,” said another member of the committee Shyam Shrestha. “They also made presentations on the opportunities Nepal could tap in the US, China and India.”

Shrestha said the ambassadors also pointed out the need for reshaping Nepal’s foreign policy from an ad-hoc one to a more systematic and pragmatic one. “Our 30-year-old mechanisms in countries like China and the US are not going to help us tap the vast opportunities these countries present to us,” said Shrestha.

The participants of the meeting were unequivocal that Nepal should have a consistent foreign policy and that it should not change with the change of government. They also pointed out the need for Nepal to assure its neighbours and other countries, including the US and Europe, that no activity against them will be held in the Nepali territory, according to Khadka.

All were of the view that Nepal should transform itself vis-a-vis its foreign policy, and there should not be negative attitude whatsoever, and that Nepal’s foreign policy should be based on Panchasheel and the idea of non-alignment.

A sub-panel under the committee led by Khadka will compile a ‘comprehensive’ report based on today’s consultations along with recommendations. The committee plans to endorse the report within the next week and present it to the government with necessary directions.