Mahat defends Nepal-India joint communiqué

Kathmandu, October 4

Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat today defended the Nepal-India joint statement, stating that every single word and point in it was crafted keeping Nepal’s national interest at the centre.

A 25-point joint-communiqué was issued during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to India in mid-September. A section of the ruling CPN-Maoist Centre and opposition parties including CPN-UML had alleged that some of the points in the statement were against the principle of ‘sovereign equality’ between two countries, and therefore, against the national interest.

Speaking at Reporter’s Club, Mahat alleged that those who had criticised the document were spreading “hollow nationalism’, which, according to him, has only harmed the country’s larger interests.

“Unfortunately, a trend of hollow nationalism was seen after some political parties dissociated themselves from the government,” he said. “Just spreading baseless illusions won’t protect national interest.”

The foreign minister said he himself, as then State-Minister for Foreign Affairs, had expressed Nepal’s support to India, along with Japan, Germany and Brazil, for their pursuit of the United Nations Security Council permanent seats, while addressing the UN General Assembly in 2004.

Referring to the coordinator of Naya Shakti Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai, Mahat said that Bhattarai had put forth a list of 40 demands nine of them were related to India in front of the then Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government in 1996, but later he signed the BIPPA with India while he was prime minister in 2012.

Earlier, the former PM had famously said that he couldn’t sleep for several nights after reading the 25-point statement, following a bilateral meeting between PM Dahal and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi on September 16.

Mahat had accompanied Dahal during the visit.

He also claimed that expressing common views on pressing global issues such as least developed countries, international terrorism etc with India doesn’t mean compromising on sovereignty.

The foreign minister also claimed that the recent three statements issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding SAARC were not contradictory, but supplementary statements.

MoFA had issued three different statements in a week regarding the upcoming SAARC Summit and its postponement. The regional summit scheduled in Islamabad, Pakistan for November 9 to10 has now been called off until further notice.

Mahat said that as the incumbent Chair of the eight-member bloc, Nepal would put efforts to convene the Summit with the participation of all member-states as early as possible.