Foreign policy Pragmatism called for
Addiction and indulgenceto the old mindset have to be re-examined to meet new challenges.
The political change in Nepal demands a fresh look at the conduct of foreign policy to float with the recently developing international practices. The change itself should not merely be a matter to be perceived, but it should reflect the reality experienced all around. Changed behavior and attitude must be commensurate.
Alongside the domestic change, the global scenario has also undergone changes from the uni-polar to that of the multi-polar world. Eminent experts on international affairs, including Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, have predicted the evolving world system as a “1+x world” with the United States as the lone super power with a variable number of other major powers coming up on the scene. Coincidently, the domestic change in Nepal, and the change in the international environment calls for us to adopt a new approach in the conduct of foreign policy. By now, re-adjustment to the changing environment is not only a desirable urge but also a compe-lling element. Addiction and indulgence in the old mindset of the by — gone era have to be re-examined to enable Nepal to meet new challenges in the emerging situation.
Surprisingly, Nepal is still exhibiting its lacklustre ability to view the new regional and global horizon in their right perspectives, because the country is now plunged into the political morass with political fragmentation at the apex. Experience urge us to take right actions for the appropriate conduct of foreign policy. Unmistakably, adamant and indifferent work culture will not serve the national interest and people’s boundless aspirations and needs. Today, the magnitude of the people’s awareness, and their concern have a great bearing on the formulation and implementation of relevant domestic policy together with the result-oriented foreign policy. In reality, people’s dominance is on the rise, and Nepal is no exception. Even in the field of foreign policy, the voice of the people have to be given prominence.
The increased public interest in the handling of foreign policy calls for the conduct of public diplomacy to resolve any major problem or issue with any country, which would have bearing on the people.
Public diplomacy is a recently devised tool that feels the pulse of the people on any foreign policy question. Public diplomacy would ensure public support in managing diplomatic concerns. Similarly, efforts should be made by our diplomats abroad to win the “hearts and minds” of foreign people for favorable opinion by reaching out to them through contacts and communications. Personal relations with concerned individuals and groups are far more important than any other effort. Public diplomacy, thus, addresses people both at home and abroad with the appropriate program charted and capability developed by the executers of foreign policy and diplomacy.
Nepal’s diplomacy at the official level is considered inadequate to meet the growing present day needs and challenges. Both the Track I and Track II diplomacy do not seem sufficient for the realization of the national goals. To cope with intractable issues and irritants with other countries efficiently and effectively, the blending of both appears advisable and practical. Nepal, therefore, needs to encourage and prod the one and a half diplomacy- a right mix of the official as well as people’s diplomacy that can ensure public support to the government policy.
As a weak country, especially in the spheres of economy, technology and resources, Nepal can hardly be able to own hard power to impress upon other countries. The tact has yet to be developed. This concern is undeniable. However, given the ongoing situation and the appropriate context developing in the country most recently, Nepal can muster soft power at home. Soft power is nothing but a valuable point of attraction to make good impressions on others. The task ahead seems formidable in an underdeveloped country like Nepal, it is within our reach and ability, provided the Nepali political leadership moves ahead powered by vision, understanding and tolerance. Such steps would enhance Nepal’s image abroad, thereby, contributing to greatly facilitating the right and fruitful conduct of foreign policy, aided by the helpful tool of soft power.
If pursued with consistency and coherence in its dealings with the external world, Nepal can showcase its new ability to update the marshalling of its foreign policy sensibly with the people’s favor and appreciation won for the foreign policy concerns and questions. This may not be an easy task unless the leadership wakes up to the reality of the direction that the foreign policy conduct has to take with inputs from the people themselves.
The bastion of popular support and consent would largely strengthen national and democratic forces to preserve and promote the journey of Nepal in the world perceptibly. Untiringly, Nepal must move to gain substantially on the foreign policy front. For achieving this, appropriate mechanisms and preparedness are highly needed.