By Pushpa Raj Pradhan
Keeping the Nepal-India international borders open is not only a threat to Nepal but it can be a serious threat to India as well.
It has become normal for foreigners to travel to Kathmandu carrying fake passports. The immigration officers are found not knowing anything when a foreigner enters Kathmandu with fake passport and also returns with the same passport but they are informed about the case only after the passenger is deported from the destination where he is travelling. Due to the setting in the immigration office, non-professionalism among the immigration staffers and also due to lack of fake passport identifying equipments, the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has become a transit for those human traffickers.
The only international airport of the country has become a hub for the gold and drug smugglers. Even after the formation of a probe commission, where is the 33 kg gold smuggled from TIA, this is yet to be known. These are the examples on the vulnerability of the TIA.
When human traffickers, smugglers and criminals are aware about the weakness of the TIA, one cannot say that the international terrorist groups which have targets in India, are not aware about the weak mechanism in the TIA.
When gold and drugs can be smuggled from TIA, cannot it be possible to smuggle arms and explosives by the terrorist groups and supply them to India to carry out terrorist activities in different parts of India?
Time and again, Indians are blaming Nepal for trafficking fake currency to India via Nepali soil.
May be, keeping international borders open could be an example of a very cordial people-to-people relations and also beneficial for those people residing in the border areas, but to a greater extent, criminals and smugglers are enjoying the open border facility.
Instead of blaming Nepal after any terrorist incident takes place, it is better for the Indian authorities to think of security measures to avoid every possibilities of such terrorist activities in Indian soil.
Ultimately, to avoid such a situation in the days to come, border fences have to be constructed and free migration of the people from each country to the other has to be regulated.
Last week, former diplomats, border experts and intellectuals gathered in Kathmandu to discuss the 1950 treaty and challenges and opportunities of the open borders.
Although some former diplomats such as Bijayalal Karna opined that construction of fences in borders will not control smuggling and terrorist activities. Karna suggested to keep international borders opened.
Nevertheless, border expert Buddhinarayan Shrestha remarked that criminals have exploited the open border facility and there is the threat of terrorism due to such a facility.
Any delayed in regulating borders would invite such threats, Shrestha said describing the incident of an Indian aircraft being hijacked from Kathmandu. Shrestha is not alone who wants borders to be regulated.
What about EPG report:
Intellectuals and experts have expressed doubts about the adoption of the EPG report by India. In the EPG report, many issues between the two countries, including the provisions of the 1950 treaty have been included and it is said that it has been prescribed to write another treaty addressing present problems faced by the two countries.
However, even after two months of completion of the final draft of the EPG report, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not received it. There was an understanding for receiving the report by the Indian Prime Minister and also the Nepali Prime Minister at once. As the Indian PM didn’t manage time to receive the report, our PM also has not received the report.
Nepali intellectuals have expressed doubts that the EPG has already become unsuccessful. The Indian government has shown reluctance in implementation of the report, they believe.
During the BIMSTEC summit also, the Nepali side had enquired about the receiving of the EPG report to the Indian side, but the issue was avoided with the Indian side saying that BIMSTEC summit was a multinational summit, where bilateral issues should not be raised.
The BIMSTEC summit was organised in Kathmandu in a very short period of time. The Indian Prime Minister, considering the upcoming general elections in 2019, was in a hurry to organize the BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu by postponing the SAARC summit.
It has become a challenging job for the Indian ruling party BJP to secure victory in the upcoming elections. Indian PM Modi is not in a mood to receive the report earlier than the elections, which may drag him into controversy, say political observers
Accordingly, the Modi government is not going to introduce any new Nepal policy earlier than the elections, say the very political observers. They believe that before the elections, the Modi government will initiate the strategy of winning confidence of the Oli government here.