A consensus-based foreign policy has been declared as one of the crucial points of the common minimum programme. No further details are elaborated. Sensible Nepali experts wonder how a consensus-based foreign policy could be conducted without including the strategic national interests of Nepal, an all-party political mechanism, and procedural diplomatic trajectory

New dynamics are produced by game changing events of a wider scale across the globe. Members of the international community are forced to adjust and adapt to meeting emerging challenges. Major and powerful countries tend to manage every possible thing to their advantage.

However, poor and weak countries are left behind to swim against the turbulent tides in the high seas.

People tend to compare the outbreak of COVID-19 as the gravitational wave that has greatly impacted the global society. Indeed, the pandemic has pummeled the global order and global economy.

Experts have reckoned three outcomes of the pandemic. They are truncated globalisation; intensification of geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China; and acceleration of the digital revolution.

All these eventual outcomes are coming out true, which the global society is having to face. Additionally, the pandemic has reduced the social cohesiveness to its lowest point both within and outside the borders, the rationale of empathy has touched the bottom, and shared common feelings for humans have lost their intrinsic value.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has induced vaccine nationalism, which has led to vaccine alliances and introduced vaccine diplomacy.

Its natural outcome is an apparent example of the great facility and advantage the advanced and developed countries enjoy, whereas the poor and weak regions of the Afro-Asian continents are being abandoned and made to suffer immensely.

In reality, the larger segment of the global society has, until now, been abandoned to live with a sadder spectrum of life. The pandemic has been haunting humans of the developing and underdeveloped regions of the world as a gigantic ghost that is terrifying.

That has snatched away their peace and tranquility, and, worse still, the weaker segments of society are faced with the imminent threat of hunger.

When knowledgeable people scan the emerging global situation, they find the global picture looking murkier. The international scenario is still shoving through a gloomy stage of the pandemic threat as a consequence of its second and third waves, which are making ugly headway as newer variants surge ahead even in the developed countries, let alone the developing and underdeveloped ones.

The world order of the pre-pandemic years has come down to the doldrums, not manageable by any major powers of any count. It will take years of good endeavour and cooperation among the major powers and big stakeholders to rein in the situation.

But any hopeful signal remains elusive. Such a disturbed global order has apparently led a U.S. political scientist, Patrick Porter, to define the rules-based global order as "wrestling with the fog".

Another expert on global affairs says "while we may be humbled by our own fragility in the face of a pandemic, this crisis has also revealed the weakness of our imagination to transcend the politics of negativity and to expand social cooperation."

If the pandemic has disrupted global networks built over several past decades, the recent trend of microchips and technology overplaying their competitive role appears to be the main reason of conflict and tensions between the major powers. Outright rivalry in place of cooperation has overrun the other essential needs of tackling climate change and alleviating global poverty, in particular in South Asia, trouble-hit West Asia and in the sub-Saharan region as well.

All these do not bode well for the desired peace, stability and steady development across the globe.

Observers reckon that the direction of relationships among the major powers is inflecting towards a more disruptive track as against cooperation for controlling the newer variants of the pandemic hitting the world over. Hence, the current relationships between the United States and China are now being characterised by military competition.

The exchange of hash words and ruckus between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jichieh during their high-level meeting at Anchor, Alaska in the third week of March this year has amply exhibited the discontent state of their relationships.

Subsequent developments have indicated that both sides are taking initiatives for closer cooperation and understanding with like-minded and interest-sharing partners. China strove for military cooperation and military exercises with Russia. Meanwhile, the United States made its diplomatic moves with NATO partners in Europe and the Far East. The United States has agreed to supply military weapons and hardware amounting to US$ 750 million to Taiwan.

The two big economies of the world are bending their diplomatic moves toward the military arena as during the height of the Cold War.

Indeed, global geopolitics is lurking toward a gloomy state. Unless wise statesmanship is exhibited by the two protagonists, the United States and China, the world will be brimming with potential dangers and hazards in an era of global bifurcation.

Nepal's strategic location enjoins its top diplomatic authorities to stay highly alert. Needless to say, its borders with India and China have come up as crucial concerns for both diplomacy and security of the country.

Meanwhile, the coalition government led by PM Sher Bahadur Deuba has announced a common minimum programme.

A consensus-based foreign policy has been declared as one of the crucial points of the programme.

Sensible Nepali experts wonder how a consensus-based foreign policy could be conducted without including the strategic national interests of Nepal, an all-party combined political mechanism, and procedural diplomatic trajectory.

What is more important is to sense the critical juncture and act with insightful process, the only things that will do a great service to the nation.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 16 2021, of The Himalayan Times.