By Bhawani Acharya
The rumor is rife that Nepal has surrendered to India shifting its longstanding position of neutrality and claim of non-aligned, sovereign policy. This policy was well reflected in Foreign Minister’s public pronouncement of support for peaceful resolution of disputes through negotiations and hope for peace and stability which has been Nepal’s longstanding pillar of foreign policy, more so as the chair of SAARC in recent years.
The rumor is based on Delhi based ANI report that in conversation with the News Agency on the sidelines of the Indian Ocean Conference Foreign Minister Gyawali said that abrogation of Article 370 was India’s internal affair. According to the same report Gyawali expressed his interest and concern about the safety of Nepalis living in Kashmir. It may be recalled that in his 26 August interview published in The Himalayan Times, he had underlined that Nepal wanted to focus on its own issues and not get involved in others’ issues in which it was not directly involved adding that “I hope the Indians understand it. He had also referred to his earlier statement stressing peaceful resolution of disputes as Nepal’s stance on the issue.
That should Nepal’s firm inclination through pubic pronouncements, to follow a policy of neutrality and non-involvement; both mean not taking sides with India or with Pakistan but to focus on its own development.
One, foreign policies are not shaped or determined by reports of one to one conversations between foreign ministers and a reporter of a news agency. It would be ridiculous to assume so. If it were so the foreign policies of countries would be shaped by news reporters and not their governments. Is this news report an attempt to put Nepal’s clear stated policy behind the smoke screen of foreign minister’s one to one conversation with a reporter?
Further the news report repeats Nepal’s earlier stance stating the as the chair of SAARC, Nepal urges all member states (India and Pakistan) to settle their disputes through negotiations. The statement ends with a sentence of literary beauty, ‘hoping for a ray of hope’ which can reduce the tension and then start the negotiations to establish peace and stability in the region.”
In the presence of a publicly taken and repeated stance by the government it would be wrong to blame the government for departing from its longstanding and much cherished policy of non-alignment. Such a policy is anyway needed by Nepal for being able to focus on its own issues and developments. Instead it needs to be commended for being able to steer a course for itself that can help the nation focus on its own issues, which by no means are less. A similar policy has been adopted by most major powers in the world including the United States and the United Kingdom.