After escalating bilateral tensions with India for the better part of the last six-seven months, the Nepalese government has finally come to its senses and it looks like the Communist regime of KP Oli has realized its folly by sitting on the lap of vile Chinese masters. The first signal of truce between the two cultural neighbours can be gauged from the fact that Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane will be visiting the Himalayan country in the month of November where he will be conferred the honorary title of ‘General of the Nepal Army’ by Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari in keeping with a 70-year-old tradition under which the Nepal Army chief is also similarly honoured by India
The choice of the Army Chief as the first top Indian official to visit Nepal after months of diplomatic standoff suggests a novel and ‘out-of-the-box’ approach in conduct of foreign affairs by the Narendra Modi government.
Removal of anti-India Ishwar Pokharel
Before Naravane’s visit, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has even reshuffled his cabinet and removed the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel, who is seen as a staunch critic of India, from the Office of the Defense Ministry. PM Oli through the reshuffle has sent a quiet message to India that he is willing to remove the troublemakers that have been batting for Chinese interests.
Reported by TFI, earlier this year, when Indian Army Chief General Naravane had hinted at China’s role in Nepal’s exaggerated reaction to an 80-km road to Lipulekh built for pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, Ishwar Pokharel had sought to provoke Gurkha soldiers who have been an integral part of the Indian Army for decades.
It was the first time that the Nepal government had dragged the Gorkhas into the diplomatic tussles between the two countries. The Gorkhas have had a history of sacrifice and bravery in the Indian Army and the Gorkha regiments draw soldiers mainly from the ethnic Gorkha community of Nepal. A number of Nepali Gorkhas are also recruited by the Indian Army. By inciting Gorkhas in the debate, Pokharel had shown that he was willing to stoop to any low in his hatred for India.
Withdrawing the book showing revised Nepalese Maps
Kathmandu had also given signals of seeking conciliation with India, earlier this month, by withdrawing the release of an inflammatory school book that carried a revised Nepalese map showing some Indian areas in Nepal.
Reported by TFI, Kathmandu’s decision was seen as an official restraint move to avoid angering India further to ensure that relations with New Delhi can be normalised. Notwithstanding what Nepalese officials say, it can be understood that the Oli government was feeling compelled to swing back towards India and shun China. Otherwise, there was no reason to withdraw the inflammatory book which seemed to have the blessings of Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli himself.
Even though the Nepalese government doesn’t admit it, China has been chipping away with a lot of Nepalese territories which has, in turn, provoked protests against Chinese expansionism. There is growing anger within Nepal, with citizens even taking to protesting against the Chinese encroachment of their land. We had earlier also reported how China had eaten up Nepalese land in at least seven districts, even as the country’s Ministry of Agriculture took to revealing how China had begun occupying land in at least 11 places falling under four Nepali districts.
Kathmandu finally drafting a foreign policy
Nepal is finally drafting a new foreign policy which is expected to reflect the changing domestic and international environment in its vicinity. It is hard to comprehend that Nepal had been fiddling between two boats and raking bilateral tensions with India without having a foreign policy paper in its hand. KP Oli so far had been winging the entire issue without any roadmap and therefore it is a relief for New Delhi that sense has prevailed in Kathmandu and it is coming up with a concrete plan of action.
In an interview, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said that his ministry was preparing an integrated document on Nepal’s foreign policy incorporating elements such as national security policy, economic assistance policy and others typically scattered across policy documents.
India—the perennial good neighbour
India has been the good Samaritan in the region and has helped its neighbouring countries to claw out of deep Chinese tentacles. New Delhi has single-handedly helped Sri Lanka crawl out of China’s debt-trap diplomacy and if we go further south, the small island country of Maldives has been given a new lease of life, courtesy New Delhi.
Reported extensively by TFI, India has managed to rescue the Maldives from the Chinese debt trap. In August, India had announced that it would provide half-a-billion dollar funding to the island nation for several Infrastructure projects that will change the face of the archipelago. The 500 million dollars financial package consisted of a grant of 100 million dollars and a new Line of Credit (LOC) of $ 400 million.
Former President Mohammed Nasheed, who is now President Solih’s advisor was visibly elated by the developments and tweeted a heartfelt message to show his gratitude towards India. He also took a sly dig at China which had been bleeding the country dry with shark-loans.
The super low cost development assistance announced by @DrSJaishankar today is exactly what Maldives needs. Genuine help from a friend, to help us build critical infrastructure. Rather than eye-wateringly expensive commercial loans that leaves the nation mired in debt. @PMOIndia
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) August 13, 2020
India helping the Maldives, which had been at its lowest, had sent a message to the entire Indian subcontinent that New Delhi was willing to help any country get out of the menace of Chinese debt-trap. All they needed to do was extend the olive branch, just the way the Maldives under Solih did. And looks like KP Oli has taken a lesson or two from the Maldives. The Nepal example has once again shown that despite China’s Yuan and its salami-slicing tactics, it is India which holds all the aces in the subcontinent.