Nepal | March 30, 2020

Amending the Constitution: Time to choose

Surendra Bahadur Sijapati

We must create a right trajectory to associate national security directly with our economic security and vice versa. While geopolitical competition and risk of power conflict are looming large on the South Asian horizon, economically vibrant Nepal could achieve many capabilities that are unimaginable presently

constitution-amendment

The issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity is paramount in contemporary public discourse. Nepalese society is indivisible.

Strongly knitted by a unique social fiber, the national bond has grown for centuries. Consequently, “sovereignty” is supreme and “territorial integrity” is unshakable: these are the virtues of every Nepalese citizen.

Following the festive season and couple of high level visits, Nepal is on the verge of the widely discussed “amendment” of the Constitution.

The current constitution, in fact, is a reminder of “how far we have come together” as a nation and “how collectively we will march forward” for stability, security and prosperity of Nepal. It is a document to unite Nepal, not the contrary.

In theory, the constitution represents the collective determination of Nepalese citizens. It validates the existence of a nation in the face of constantly evolving global political landscape. Respecting international rules, norms and popular values, the constitution also underlines peculiar national interests.

A nation must guard those interests in conjunction with territory, resources, population and national self-esteem.

In practice, national interests mostly emerge from geophysical, geopolitical and geostrategic contexts of a nation. It must not be influenced by any other nation or their desire.

In real terms, it is a DNA of a nation. For that reason, constitutions are not similar and national interests differ, from country to country. It is true that without wasting valuable time in fruitless tug of war we should amend the constitution.

But we must respect the spirit of national interest and stand firm against division.

Our friendly neighboring nations have extended encouragement, enthusiasm and concern regarding our constitution. Especially, concern from our neighbors validates the unique regional and global significance of Nepal.

In reality, our immediate neighbors enjoy extremely peaceful international boundaries with Nepal costing them nominal efforts and resources compared to the rest of their remaining boundaries. That amplify outstanding friendly character of Nepal.

Nepalese people in general and the Nepalese security forces in particular deserve credit for their unwavering effort.

Many scholars argue unless contemporary international order changes significantly, Nepal does not have worrisome existential security threat. That does not however guarantee immunity to the whole array of non-conventional threats.

In modern times, soft power influences are comparatively more detrimental than typical conventional threats. Durable stability, security and prosperity of Nepal are not possible unless we alleviate the realm of “soft power” addiction.

In recent times, issues associated with national interest and national security have intimately captivated politicians, the intelligentsia, security organizations and general public. Here, we must create a right trajectory to associate national security directly with our economic security and vice versa.

While geopolitical competition and risk of power conflict is looming large on the South Asian horizon, economically vibrant Nepal could achieve many capabilities that are unimaginable presently.

Arguably, our immediate neighbors are running neck to neck to attain state-of-the-art defence technology to defend their territory on land, on sea, in the sky and now in the space and cyber domain. We need to understand why they are doing so.

Is Nepal well protected in the current milieu? What are “still unknown” but probable threats to Nepal? What are the capabilities necessary for defending Nepal, and how can they be achieved and improved?

Without a national political integration, a nation will not move forward. The aforementioned fundamental issues related to core national interests are dwarfed by other urgent incidents, episodes and encounters.

We have distanced our thought process from national strategic thinking.

We should eliminate glaring fault lines in the diplomatic sphere by making ourselves more clear in the region and globally. As global geopolitics is changing, we must not hold the parochial notion of seeing our neighbors as an elephant in the room against one another.

If we have adopted democratic and republic values, we must stand firm and enable ourselves to reciprocate our neighbors when they require.

In sum, let us not forget that changes wanted by millions of the Nepalese people are yet to knock on the doors of ordinary households, emancipating them from the industry of misery.

Fallacy of lionized leaders and symphony of their toxic leadership practices have held the feet of our nation on the “quagmire of status quo” for long.

Finally, the whole of Nepal is looking at the political leadership at this historic juncture with great hope. Nepalese people know that they have the wings of “true Nepalese judgment”. But the question is “where do they hide it?”

They are expected to safeguard “core national interests” without deviating at any cost. The caveat from people is clear. “Deliver, or else, the next time people will select and elect, more wisely”.

Sijapati is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS), London, and a former soldier of the Nepal Army


A version of this article appears in print on November 15, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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