Kathmandu, June 16
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today said the issue of revision of Nepal-India-UK Tripartite Agreement on Gurkha recruitment that he raised during talks with British PM Theresa May was not included in the joint communiqué because the British side did not accept the proposal.
Oli made the statement at a press conference organised at Tribhuvan International Airport upon arrival from his three-country Europe visit today. Oli visited Switzerland, the United Kingdom and France from June 8 to 15.
During his talks with British PM May, Oli had proposed that the TPA signed in 1947 had now become old, and that a new agreement between Nepal and the UK should be signed encompassing recruitment, retirement, and post-retirement situation of Gurkhas, in line with the changed context.
The TPA was signed after India became independent from the UK in 1947 and the two governments decided to split Gurkha regiments between the British and Indian armies.
“The TPA has now become very old, and it cannot guide and control our present needs,” he said at the press conference, adding, “So it is obvious, not impulsive, that we seek a revision. It is not that the agreement should always remain tripartite, we can also go for bilateral agreement.”
Stating that TPA revision was an issue raised by the Nepali side, PM Oli said it was not included in the joint communiqué because the British side did not accept it. “It is obvious that a joint communiqué only includes issues that are easily acceptable to both sides,” he said.
The joint communiqué released at the end of Oli’s UK visit reads that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal acknowledged the long and distinguished service of Gurkhas in the British Army. The two sides recognised Gurkhas as a vital link in strengthening bilateral relations. Going forward, both sides agreed to continue discussion on Gurkha matters.
PM Oli has raised the issue at a time when former British Gurkhas have been staging protests in both Nepal and the UK demanding pay, pension, and other facilities equal to British nationals.
The Gurkha veterans have demanded that besides providing equal pension, the British government should compensate the entire amount that former and serving Gurkhas did not receive over the years due to discrimination against them in terms of pay, pension and other facilities.
They said they would continue their agitation unless the government made concrete efforts towards addressing their demands by forming a high-level dialogue team in line with the ‘Report of the technical committee on Gurkha veterans’.
The tripartite committee’s report, which documents the discrimination faced by British Gurkhas over the years, was submitted to both the governments on 22 March, 2018.
Moreover, the Parliamentary International Relations Committee, in the second week of March, had directed a high-level talks team of the government to hold dialogue with the British government in line with the report.
Until the Nepal government, keeping Gurkha veterans in the loop, formally writes to the British government seeking formation of the high-level talks team, the struggle will continue, Krishna Bahadur Rai, coordinator of Gurkha Satyagraha United Struggle Committee, told The Himalayan Times last Wednesday.
The former Gurkhas have served July 1 as ultimatum for formation of the talks teams, warning of a decisive protest if the two governments failed to form the talks teams.
The Gurkhas say they are open to a negotiated settlement, but the talks team should be formed to hold negotiations.
A version of this article appears in print on June 17, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.