The latest visit undertaken by Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has gone a long way in “breaking the ice” in the Nepal-India relationship after a brief period of speculations of sorts had shown up in recent weeks leading to the visit. It is a trail blazer in its own right now.
The visit has belied all speculations to the contrary by throwing up concrete outcome which will keep on guiding Nepal-India relationship, pivoting on the excellent rapport now in place at the diplomatic level.
Nepal-India ties have once again stabilized, with Menon going back at the end of a two-day visit fully confident that the peace process and the concerted bid to have a constitution at the earliest remain least affected while parties work for common objectives going back to the 12 point deal.
There should not be any confusion surrounding the visit since it was undertaken at a time when something, somewhere had gone astray demanding fresh attention from both sides. Menon, a diplomat of the highest cadre, has talked up the issues involved with remarkable results. Coming around to the Indian concerns about the peace process and the related issue of drafting and promulgating a new constitution it should be kept in mind that the twin issues have been at the top of the agenda and hence the repeated visits from the Indian side to Nepal on this side of the 12-point deal.
The fact that Menon had all this at the back of the mind during the visit has become evident from the way he has taken up the
issues with everyone from Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to GP Koirala to Prachanda. Predictably enough, Menon reinforced the view that the Indian side was concerned and so wanted the success of the peace process the logical conclusion of which would go a long way in consolidating democracy.
If there is any vested interest which must be guiding the Indian ruling establishment it is none other than the fears that any failure in the Nepalese peace process and democratization could not be inspirational for the Indian side since Nepal is a close neighbor.
The Indian side is keen to see political parties working in close rapport with each other which is evident from the way Menon went on meet Prachanda impressing upon him the need
to give continuity to the
politics of consensus. That Prachanda has been reported to have said that his party will not join the government at least until the next
three months suggests that politics of consensus is
still not yet history. In much the same way as Menon
emphasised the need to stick to politics of consensus, he also had lengthy talks with NC leader GP Koirala urging him to keep on playing a sheet anchor role ahead. He reminded Koirala about the role he has played in the past to bring about remarkable results.
Menon also emphasized that the Indian side was always available to help Nepal along the democratic path given the efforts come from Nepalese leaders themselves. Significant in this connection is what has come from Koirala while talking with Menon to the effect that he was keen to have Prachanda playing a key role by joining the all-party mechanism which will guide the political process along. Menon went back having played the role of a moderator among the top leaders.The visit can be said to have two dimensions. While the first dimension was the need to boost the rather flagging Nepalese peace process following
the way the UCPN-Maoist was spurned out of power and helm of affairs, the second dimension was the Indian concerns emanating from anti-Indian activities in Nepal.
While the concerns related to peace process are relatively new and go back to merely three years now, the concerns related to anti-Indian activities in Nepal have been of timeless nature. With the border being open between the two countries, it is natural for the Indian side to ensure that Nepalese territory in not used by elements which are opposed to the Indian interests.
It is as natural as life and death for the Indian side to make sure that any government which comes to power takes pain to ensure that nothing anti-Indian transpires in Nepalese territory. This stand is justified in
the wake of the consistent claims that Nepal is indeed a playground of international and regionalist forces keeping tab on each others’ activities. While nothing
related to signing the extradition treaty has come out this time, it is for this very reason that the Indian side has been explaining the need to have such a treaty
so that Nepal-India relationship acquire a truly friendly dimension.
Finally, an agenda which was very much announced during the visit was that related to border encroachment reported from Dang and neighbouring districts. This has been now addressed fittingly with Menon and Prime Minister Nepal agreeing to set up a task force which will put in a desired mechanism which will in turn communicate at various levels. That just about sums up the latest bid to not only further consolidate the ties between the two countries but also goes on to impart a fresh breather to the peace process and related agenda.