Tuesday, February 08, 2005

India plans to suspend military aid to Nepal

+ In the meeting, it was agreed that as the future strategy India should adopt a “multi-pronged pro-active engagement.” This would include four key tracks including stopping all Indian military assistance to Nepal, launch a major diplomatic offensive to mobilize world opinion for restoration of democracy, establish contact with the Maoist forces in Nepal through its own channels and bring the Indian Naxalites on the negotiation table. +

India plans to suspend military aid to Nepal

NEW DELHI (India): India on Sunday decided to suspend all military assistance to Nepal following the King’s Coup but at a top level strategy meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rejected suggestions of any direct Indian military intervention to restore democracy.

“At this juncture, military assistance to Nepal could worsen the situation. And this we do not want,” Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said after the meeting.

But the rare meeting presided over by the Prime Minister at his office on a Sunday evolved a “multi-pronged pro-active policy of engagement” in Nepal, officials said.

Suggestions of some kind of “limited military intervention” were discussed at the meeting but PM Singh rejected them, sources said.

Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Advisor MK Narayanan, Director of the Intelligence Bureau ESL Narsimhan, Director of the Research & Analysis Wing [RAW] PK Hormese Tharakan and Chief of the Indian Army General JJ Singh participated were present besides senior officials of the four ministries.

In the meeting, it was agreed that as the future strategy India should adopt a “multi-pronged pro-active engagement.” This would include four key tracks including stopping all Indian military assistance to Nepal, launch a major diplomatic offensive to mobilize world opinion for restoration of democracy, establish contact with the Maoist forces in Nepal through its own channels and bring the Indian Naxalites on the negotiation table.

Officials said as part of the new strategy, India will suspend military aid to fight Maoists forces that control 75 per cent of districts of Nepal and run parallel governments there.

Exodus from Nepal

The Indians fear an exodus from Nepal into its territory if King Gyanendra starts an onslaught on the Maoists. Previously, the Deuba government was working as a ‘buffer’ between the Monarchy and Maoists, but now the King has assumed this responsibility that would aggravate the situation because Maoists are not ready to hold talks with him, officials say.

Strategists believe that in the given situation, if India extends military assistance against the Maoists, it would mean an endorsement of the abrogation of democracy in Nepal. On the other hand, the Indian Naxalites would further be alienated, and they could assist the Nepalese Maoists.

The Singh government is trying to bring the Indian Naxalites on the negotiation table, and it does not want to jeopardize its efforts.

The situation has further aggravated after the arrest of four former ministers of the deposed Deuba government.

But two underground-pro-Democracy-Left leaders of Nepal, namely, Dhan Bahadur Thapa and Bandhu Singh Nepali have already met the leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). This meeting was held in the capital on Sunday morning.

On the diplomatic front India may will go for a major diplomatic mobilization and New Delhi is already in constant touch with Washington and London.

Perspective

It is noteworthy that in 2002, Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had requested President George Bush for support to fight the Maoist insurgents. The US had pledged $20 million to this cause. India believes that the Bush administration would look into the matter with great concern.

Indian Foreign Office has already contacted the US diplomatic mission in India and Foreign Minister Natwar Singh will soon talk to the new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Plank of new Strategy

As another plank of its new strategy, India will establish contact with the Maoist forces in Nepal through its own channels. Sources said the Government still believes there can be a soft landing for the Maoists within the ambit of multiparty democracy and constitutional monarchy.

“This could be done to bring the Maoists in the over ground political mainstream,” an official said.?