According to a joint statement issued on May 15 in Beijing during Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s visit to China, the two countries have agreed to expand border trade at Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass, a far-western border point of Nepal, which has remained as Nepal’s territory for long.
The 28th point of the statement states that “the two sides recognized that enhancing border areas cooperation through border trade, pilgrimage by people of the two countries and other exchanges can effectively promote mutual trust, and agreed to further broaden this cooperation so as to transform the border into a bridge of cooperation and exchanges. The two sides agreed to hold negotiation on augmenting the list of traded commodities, and expand border trade at Nathu La, Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass and Shipki La.”
During a meeting of the International Relations Committee of the Parliament in the Capital, on Tuesday, lawmakers expressed dismay over the joint statement issued by India and China where Nepal’s territory has been explicitly mentioned without prior consent of the Nepal government.
“As a sovereign nation the Nepal government has to raise this question with China and India government through diplomatic channels regarding its territory. This is embarrassing to us why our neighboring countries took such a decision without taking our consent,” said a lawmaker, Rajan Bhattarai, who represents in the Parliament from the ruling CPN (UML) party. Bhattarai also said that neighboring China and India must respect Nepal’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
On the occasion, border expert Buddhi Narayan Shrestha said that Lipu Lekh-Pass has been Nepal’s territory for ages and it should not be used by India and China for their purpose without taking consent of the Nepal government.
“International border strip maps and historical documents suggest that Lipu-Lekh Pass is a part of Nepal,” he said adding, “Nepal government must take up this issue with the governments of China and India at the soonest.”
During the meeting, Foreign Minister Pandey said that the government has already expressed serious concern over the understanding reached between India and China during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to China on May 14-16 this year.
“Undoubtedly, the Nepal government is clear that the territory belongs to Nepal. We are awaiting answers from both the countries,” he added.
Officiating Foreign Secretary, Shanker Das Bairagi highlighted that amicable solution should be found out among China, India and Nepal regarding the issue.
‘We believe that Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would not be undermined Nepal’s sovereignty by our neighbors,” the foreign minister said.
Lawmakers also opposed the deployment of Indian Border Forces in Nepal’s Kalapani areas, which also includes the Lipu-Lekh.
“Historical facts and evidence suggest that the territory belongs to Nepal, Nepal government should take up the matter with both India and China through diplomatic channels,” expert Shrestha said.
The International Relations Committee directed the government to make diplomatic efforts toward correcting the joint statement signed during Modi’s China visit.
“The joint statement issued by China and India without taking consent of Nepal is against the international diplomatic norms and values. The Nepal government should work toward correcting the previous agreement made between the two neighboring countries at the soonest,” read the decision copy issued by the committee.
Lipulekh has been remaining as disputed Himalayan pass between Nepal, India and China connecting the North Western Cornered Byash Valley of Nepal and Indian State of Uttrakhand with the old trading town of Taklakot in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.