Wednesday, February 09, 2005

ANALYSIS:Indian dilemma over military assistance to Nepal

+ The initial thinking here after the king's shock takeover was to "allow him to cook in his own soup," but saner counsel urged caution. "Someone else could step in," the source said, implying China, the only major nation not to condemn the king's action, terming it as an "internal affair" of Nepal. But others say that China is unlikely to get involved in the kingdom because the growing ties with India is too important to be sacrificed to win some brownie points with Kathmandu.+

09/02/2005

Indian dilemma over military assistance to Nepal

Policy makers in India are in a quandary over continued military assistance to Nepal in the wake of a desperate plea by Kathmandu not to suspend arms supplies.

New Delhi has the difficult task of deciding between continuing the supplies that would strengthen the king, or denying him help in retaliation for trampling the nascent democracy in the kingdom, ignoring its advice.

But it's not so simple, says those involved in formulating the government's response to Kathmandu's request because both options are wrought with imponderables.

If, on the one hand, it accedes to the request made by Gen Pyar Jung Thapa, chief of the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA), at a meeting with Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee in Kathmandu, it would be seen as siding with the king against the democratic forces in the country.

On the other, if it denies help to the King, it may well lead to the Maoist rebels tightening their grip on the country.

Nepal's request for continued military assistance should be seen in the context of the compulsions the king will face, particularly if the Maoists refuse to respond to his invitation for talks.

"He will have to show the people that he is better than the politicians and can deliver where they failed. But time is not on his side," a source familiar with official thinking.

There is some regret here that New Delhi did not listen to the words of advice by Nepalese political parties, which had cautioned time and again against the arms supplies it had been giving to Kathmandu to deal with the growing Maoist threat.

"They (political parties) said after getting what he wants the king will sideline the parties and become an executive king. We did not heed the warning," the source told the agency.

The initial thinking here after the king's shock takeover was to "allow him to cook in his own soup," but saner counsel urged caution. "Someone else could step in," the source said, implying China, the only major nation not to condemn the king's action, terming it as an "internal affair" of Nepal.

But others say that China is unlikely to get involved in the kingdom because the growing ties with India is too important to be sacrificed to win some brownie points with Kathmandu.

They noted that even when India imposed an economic blockade on Nepal in the late 80s, China had chosen not to get involved.

"Since then, India-China relations have vastly improved and it is unlikely Beijing will do anything to reverse that," the source said.

The king seems to have thought out his diplomatic options well before taking the plunge on February 1, when he dismissed the prime minister and declared emergency, putting the clock of democracy by several years.