By GP Acharya (KATHMANDU, 27 December 2020) – “This is not the nation gained by my trifle efforts, this is the garden of all kinds of flowers, and may all be aware of this”, said Prithivi Narayan Shah, the unifier of modern Nepal. All nationals should not forget the gallant roles played by Prithivi Narayan Shah during the unification era. Bhimsen Thapa’s valiant role to protect Nepal’s sovereignty must not be forgotten either. Nationalist leaders Junga Bahadur, Chnadra Shamsher, BP Koirala, King Mahendra and Birendra and KP Oli, among others, played their significant role in consolidating Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Paragon of Diplomacy
When PM Oli came to power for the first time, he strongly defended the nation’s sovereignty. None of the international community, except Japan and the US, expressed concern over the sufferings of Nepali people during the five-month-long Indian border blockade back in 2015. The entire nation was traumatized due to the trade embargo in the aftermath of devastating earthquake. Bilateral relations between the neighbors passed through ups and downs. Diplomatic relations deteriorated, and Nepal was somehow being isolated in the international arena. At that critical moment of diplomacy, Oli executed dynamic and effective diplomacy. He defended the nation with a strong statesmanship.
After signing the historic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Nepal’s geo-strategic credence has been amplified. Nepal is believed to bridge between China and South Asia through the BRI. Nepal has been granted access to four Chinese seaports for third country trading. President Xi Jinping visited Nepal and expressed his wishes to cooperate Nepal in connectivity and development. Indian PM Modi visited Nepal four times in his first term. He is likely to visit again in his second term. Chinese and Indian leaders and their officials are frequently visiting Nepal. Nepal successfully hosted the fourth BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu. Nepal’s bilateral relations in the region and beyond had been progressively strengthening.
PM Oli became successful to influence the immediate neighbors. He extended cordial hands towards both the countries to think, invest and collaborate that reflected strong bilateral relations. As a result, Nepal’s neighborhood policy remained balance and consistent. The withdrawal of Indian consular office in Biratnagar without any mêlée with India, and formation of joint committee to minimize the loss from floods reflect a successful handling of bilateral diplomacy.
On the multilateral front, the gallant presence of PM Oli in the 73rd session of United Nations General Assembly had drawn immense praises at home and afar, where he projected nation’s image with a broad vision on Foreign Policy. Instead of pleading for sympathy and grants, he nobly reiterated to address the emerging transnational issues through Global Governance. This shows, Nepal is in a position to strong defend its sovereignty, and is equally standing in international arena through the paragon of Multilateral Diplomacy.
PM Oli, who even dared to call the heads of diplomatic missions based in Kathmandu and briefed about the government’s Foreign Policy priority back in March 27, 2018. The goal was to promote the image of Nepal at the international level. He facilitated the second briefing of heads of diplomatic missions in Feb 1, 2019 where Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali briefed about the progress on peace process. Recently, Nepal projected an integrated foreign policy with a vision of enhancing national interest.
On the Global front, PM Oli was invited to address the annual meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos, from January 22-24, 2019. Oli became the first sitting head of government from Nepal to address the movers and shakers of world politics and economy in such a global forum. PM Oli’s participation in WEF has been a new beginning for Nepal to enhance its co-existence in global economy, trade and diplomacy.
Lately, Nepal-India relations had been lowest in history due to the border issues, but gradually it is coming back into the track. The government led by Oli published India encroached territories including Kalapani, Lipulekh and Lipiyadhura on Nepal’s map, which was then approved by the lower house of the parliament. Meanwhile, Oli has exercised various forms of diplomacy for bilateral negotiations with India. Subsequently, various officials including the foreign secretary of India visited Nepal, and expressed their serious concern to enhance Nepal-India relations. Recently, Chinese minister for defense also visited Nepal.
The increasing geo-strategic competition between India and China in Nepal signifies the importance of Nepal’s geo-strategic magnitude. India-China competition in diplomacy, economy, trade, energy, investment and connectivity in Nepal has boosted nation’s diplomatic profile. Nepal’s signing of ten agreements in various sectors during PM Oli’s visit to China in 2016 and consequently being granted access to four Chinese seaports for trading with third country has been a new achievement in Nepal-China strategic relations. China’s trust in Nepal as the guarantor of the security and a geo-strategic soft partnership in BRI has further increased Nepal’s geo-strategic credence.
With Oli at the helm of power, the nation has made a significant progress on socio-economic fronts. He has been a role model of the Nepali politics as he led the promulgation of Constitution-2015, and the resounding electoral victor of in three-tier of election held then.
The expectations of Nepalis have soared with the nation ushering in the federal democratic republic. The Nepali nationals have high hopes on Oli and want to see that nation achieved stability and prosperity during his premiership. But, practically, no nation has achieved radical transformation after going through harrowing phases as Nepal witnessed. Transformation is an inductive process where every national, civil society, stakeholders within, responsible political parties and their leaders have to make a cohesive role.
Completing the political restructuring, shaping the national economy, promoting the socio-cultural harmony among the nationals, healing the wounds of conflict, completing the reconstruction of quake-damaged structures, tracing the line between economic and national security, protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity and maintaining the flamboyant international relations are the foremost priorities of the nation, today.
Unfortunately, the two-third majority ruling party witnessed biggest threat from within, and there remained continuous conflict over power-sharing. The entire nation has been traumatized, witnessing biggest threat to human security, due to Coronavirus Pandemic. The nation is frequently witnessing threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, while the struggle for power always remained the main functional agenda of the political elites in the midst of biggest threat to national security.
Can Prime Minister alone do everything until all concerned stakeholders and the comrades in the bash do not feel ownership and cooperate with it with a true sense of responsibility? Is it a suitable time and culture to blame the PM, create obstacles for no apparent reasons and induce negative emotions to the general public for the sake of criticizing Oli?
What is the connotation of ‘unison’ when there is always ‘discord’ in every deeds? From the day Oli took oath of office, the critics within started scrolling him blindly down of his vision and deeds rather than supporting morally. As a nationalist leader, Oli has injected visionary dynamism into Nepal and has envisioned several steps ahead than any contemporary leaders can do or did. Oli, however, used his conviction, knowledge and intelligence while making decision in sensitive issues, and took pragmatic steps to preserve the legacy of democratic institution.
By realizing the democratic norms, Oli made an egalitarian move to go the sovereign people instead of taking any autocratic steps. The Nepali nationals have high hopes on Oli regarding nationalism, national wellbeing, economic prosperity, connectivity and foreign policy in the days to come. Yet, Oli has to live up his nationalistic credentials and has to well-marshal the power and intelligence for the greater good of people, society and nation.
(The contents of this piece first appeared in The Rising Nepal and Nepal Foreign Affairs.)
GP Acharya is an analyst and thinker.