Foreign policy : Nepal’s changed national interest

Pragmatically, the seven-party government of Nepal needs to examine with a fresh insight the current conduct of its foreign policy in the context of a transformed Nepal. Very sensitively, it has to look into the fast developing situation around Nepal and in the world as well. For a decade or so, the foreign policy of Nepal has remained either passive or reactive in nature, at the most. It made only minimal responses to the development that took place in this region and in the international sphere.

True, the long pursued policy of non-alignment has served Nepal, especially during the Cold War days and the rivalry that existed between our two big neighbours until some decades ago. Now the world scenario and the Sino-Indian relationship have been visibly undergoing transformation, much to the satisfaction of the region. People around the world are now experiencing a steady erosion of the 19th century concept of sovereignty of nation-states. The world is more depoliticised than two decades earlier. Rapid development of technology has pushed the world to a new frontier, bringing a steady eclipse of parochialism and narrower sense of nationalism.

A politically transformed Nepal needs to give much attention to new horizons emerging in the international arena. The past one and a half decades have seen a gradual transformation of the tectonic plate of the inter-state relationship among nations. Most nations embraced a paradigm shift. This technology-driven world is now experiencing a steady rise of consensual partnership and contractual connectivity in international dealings. Today, observers are witnessing the components of economics and trade playing an assertive role and pushing the elements of politics and security to the sidelines.

The decisive victory of democratic forces over the royal regime has generated a greater degree of euphoria among the people. Hence, the environment seems conducive to start presenting this country as a corporate Nepal alongside political Nepal to the world at large for greater socio-economic benefits. For this, the foreign ministry in closer cooperation with the concerned agencies and organisations must gear up to move ahead to get the country beneficially involved and entrenched in the ongoing globalisation process. These agencies are important pillars to sprawl the webs of economic interest. Nepal’s involvement with other interested countries can make deeper inroads into this trend-setting process, if carried with deeper knowledge and commitment. Nepal should create a niche for itself by giving a serious thought to these emerging challenges.

Nepal could not utilise the myriad opportunities stemming from globalisation in the recent past. Some serious lacunae that the least developed countries are made to feel are the governance gap and rule gap in this trend-setting process that encompasses the entire world. Consequently, weaker countries are the sufferers, which are highly marginalised. Thus Nepal must make its voice heard in the appropriate world fora like the conferences and meetings of Non-aligned movement and other bodies. Very glaringly, these world fora are eminently suitable places to initiate ground works for the preparation of guiding principles so as to give opportunities to the least developed countries in the ongoing socio-economic globalisation phenomena. No initiative means opportunity lost.

Nepal’s position in the international community must remain secure as its pride and prestige is not a matter of debate and discussion anywhere. However, its national interests may fluctuate and float along the trend of the contemporary period. At this moment of far-reaching political changes, the government in closer consultation with all socio-political organisations with national standing must chart the national interests of the contemporary Nepal to guide its foreign policy with greater success. Strategic planning with its long, short and immediate interests should be worked out without delay to steer Nepal’s independent journey in the world. Nothing should be spared to move ahead with this most needed preparation. Views and opinions of the Maoists as fellow travellers of political destination need to be sought and accommodated. Tradition bound mindset will hardly serve our national interest. Open-mind with broader vision and experience is needed to contribute to the building of a full-fledged democratic Nepal.

To achieve a greater height on the foreign policy front, the present coalition government must show its dexterity to continually demonstrate to the world the ability and capacity of the Nepali populace. First and foremost should be the people’s proven will and determination to foster democracy and their societal discipline, amicable behaviour, receptive attitude and so on and so forth. All these human qualities of the Nepalis indicate the fascinating points of attraction to draw the wider attention of the world community.

Shrestha is ex-foreign ministry official