It took king Mahendra to remind his people and foreign friends in the Sixties that Nepal’s external relations were with the British in India and that the India-China obsession of the Fifties somehow sidelined this reality. King Gyanendra in his latest public statement in the form of a foreword to a compilation of his statements since the change of the past decade has made only one mention of ‘foreign’ in his assessment of the situation then and now. Both are in stark contrast to current trends when any cursory assessment of Nepali politics voiced in the many media cannot but dabble into foreign intents and foreign machinations and escape the gist of things which is mainly that it is Nepal, Nepali actors and Nepali politics and politicians we are analyzing and not foreigners. This curious dabbling into foreign politics and the very many mouthing on policies of other countries masks an essential truth which is that we are escaping from the fact that our capabilities to govern ourselves are eroding rapidly. It is a political diversion no doubt but it essentially prevents us from analyzing ourselves and our role in the malaise. What is more damaging perhaps is the damage this does to our traditional foreign policy which can only thrive on goodwill and amity with all.
The West, particularly, has had to shoulder much of the blame in our current analytical parlance. King Mahendra’s reminder would suit us well here. After all British colonialism was halted in Nepal and the British too had had to develop a separate modus operandi on hose to deal with the country. From queen Victoria hosting Jung Bahadur to the durbar in Delhi giving separate status to Chandra Shumsher in Nepal to Bahadur Shumsher’s opening of the embassy in London to exchanging formal diplomatic missions with that country uplifting the ‘legation’ here too an embassy, our ties with the West are certainly substantial. Current Indo-Chinese obsessions tend both to undermine and actually villainize the west dumping on them our current woes are not mere escapism. It jeopardizes our traditional relations with them simply to mask our inability to deal with them. An organized Christian church is a veritable lobby in the West and it is our business how to deal with such organizations in Nepal. It is also our business to prescribe what role the West play in Nepal, if we cannot, something must be wrong with us and not them.
The curious dabbling of playing this or that card against which other is doing harm to the decades of efforts to allow actors across seven seas to maintain an interest in this landlocked country. This can kill the interest ultimately as demonstrated in the fact that the British embassy here no longer distributes visas to Nepal, it is their Delhi embassy that does it despite the presence of an embassy here. The distancing was begun a while back of course and it is Nepali politics that allowed it. Both India and China would nourish a Western retrenchment in Nepal in the absence of our inability to define the presence politically. Indeed, the West must also realize that their dabbling in Nepali politics to the point of competing with the neighborhood will not serve them ultimately but it is the Nepali politicians that must impress this. Yes, there is this Western assertion in Nepali governance that is doing the damage. But is it designed to kill?