Saturday, February 12, 2005

Nepal Threatens to Buy Weapons from Pakistan, China if India Stops Supply

+ Experts say the “multi-pronged strategy” being considered in New Delhi is likely to boomerang as Nepal has invoked a 40-year old Treaty between the two countries. If this 1965 Treaty was violated, Nepal could buy arms from Pakistan or China. The Royal Nepal Army Chief urged India not to suspend military aid on Tuesday when he met the Indian ambassador to Nepal, Shiv Shanker Mukherjee in Kathmandu, and reminded him of the conditions of the 1965 Treaty. +

Nepal Threatens to Buy Weapons from Pakistan, China if India Stops Supply
Arun Rajnath

NEW DELHI, February 12: The Nepalese Monarch has indirectly threatened India he would buy weapons from Pakistan or China in case the Congress Government stopped military assistance to the Monarchy, official sources here have confirmed.

“The threat conveyed by the Royal Nepal Army Chief, Pyar Jung Thapa, has thrown the Manmohan Singh Government into a spin as key cabinet ministers are reportedly divided on how to handle the developing crisis on its northern border,” sources close to the PMO revealed.

Experts say the “multi-pronged strategy” being considered in New Delhi is likely to boomerang as Nepal has invoked a 40-year old Treaty between the two countries. If this 1965 Treaty was violated, Nepal could buy arms from Pakistan or China.

The Royal Nepal Army Chief urged India not to suspend military aid on Tuesday when he met the Indian ambassador to Nepal, Shiv Shanker Mukherjee in Kathmandu, and reminded him of the conditions of the 1965 Treaty.

Some of the leaders of the ruling coalition and cabinet ministers are of the view that India must lend full support to Nepal for restoration of peace and tranquility, jeopardized by the Maoists.

On the other hand, Left leaders and some other ministers are of the view that India should play a vital role for early restoration of democracy in Nepal by helping unite the opposition forces.

Informed sources told the South Asia Tribune Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee want to continue military and other strategic aid to Nepal to crush the Maoists. They contend that Maoists have close links with Indian Naxalites and both these forces have already made safe corridors from Nepal to Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

Foreign Minister K. Natwar Singh and Left leaders are of the view that India should exert more pressure on the King to restore democracy by holding early elections in Nepal. Left leaders are in constant touch with the underground leaders who have already moved to India to avoid arrest. Left forces are trying to unite the opposition parties, including Maoists, to wage a struggle against the monarchy.

Sources say that Natwar Singh wants to go for more diplomatic mobilization to garner international support against the clampdown in Nepal. He contends that popular opinion in Nepal is against the King and if India supports him, covertly or overtly, the Maoist-friendly forces in India would escalate their struggle in India that may result in mass migration from Nepal. Thus the situation could further deteriorate.

Meanwhile political leaders of Nepal have urged India for its active intervention for early restoration of democracy as the repression of the Royal Nepal Army has increased in the country. These Nepalese leaders have urged India to stop military aid to the monarchy. Nepalis are migrating to India in a large scale. Some more underground leaders have also crossed over recently to avoid persecution.

These underground Nepali leaders may soon meet the Indian authorities in the capital as they are in constant touch with the leaders of the ruling coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), to chalk out their future strategy.

Sujata Koirala, leader of the Nepali Congress and close relative of the former Prime Minister, GP Koirala told the South Asia Tribune from Kathmandu on telephone: “India did not do enough to promote democracy in Nepal. They should not have allowed it to be disturbed so easily. I think there is complete lack of foresight in India.”

“Now the time has come, and India should actively intervene into the affairs of Nepal, besides extending moral, political and diplomatic support to us to fight back the monarchy which is gradually turning into anarchy,” she added.

When asked what type of ‘intervention’ she or her party was seeking from India, Ms. Koirala said: “We want to get rid off the 200 years of monarchy now. India may suspend military aid to Nepal to fight out the Maoists, but they have already supplied arms and ammunitions in plenty, and the hoodlums of the RNA are pointing those guns at the common man. India should supply no more arms to the Government.”

“We want to form a common platform with all political parties, including Maoists, and India can help us achieve this goal. They can mould Maoists through their own channels. I know that many leaders have already crossed over to India for their safety and to garner full support of the Indian Government,” she replied.

Reports say Nepalis are becoming desperate in areas bordering India as all supplies from India have temporarily been cut off due to threat of Maoist forces. Sporadic incidents of loot have also occurred in some villages. No government efforts have yet been made to control the situation.

These reports say the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) is being re-deployed in the Maoist-infested regions. The army personnel are fortifying their positions, especially, in the mid-Nepal, an area close to Bihar. Maoists are also gearing up to face all kinds of eventuality in the wake of fresh onslaught on them.

Sources at the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) told the South Asia Tribune that Nepali civilians living on the Indo-Nepal border have become desperate due to shortages of food. They are not getting essential commodities, including even a common commodity such as salt. 60,000 sacks of salt are lying at the Maharjganj godown in Uttar Pradesh. Check posts of the either side have been partially closed, and nobody can enter India or Nepal easily.

People are illegally migrating to India because the border is porous, and villages on either side can be accessed easily by avoiding check posts and guards of the Indian Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and RNA.

In Uttar Pradesh, the districts, namely, Bahraich, Siddhartha Nagar, Gorakhpur, Lakhimpur Kheeri, Maharajganj are very close to the Nepali districts of Sukhet, Humala, Lanke, Bardiya, Rolya, Simikot Mugu, Pyuthan and Salpan. This border is about 550 kilometers long where the SSB has about 90 check posts.

Reports from border areas say truckers from India have refused to supply essential commodities to Nepal, as they fear threat of Maoists and possible armed struggle between the Maoists and RNA. At least one truck carrying wheat and milk powder, which entered through Maharajganj check post, was looted near Rolya.

Similarly in Uttaranchal, Pithoragarh, Banbasa, Champawat, Dehradoon, Tanakpur border districts, where the terrain is hostile, largescale migration has been reported.

Some 2,000 Nepalis living in the border areas have crossed over to the Indian state of Uttaranchal so far. They are being looked after by their relatives on this side and villagers. Due to closure of the Mahendranagar-Kathmandu Highway, Nepali civilians are facing problems, as there is no food supply.

Deepak Bhatt, President, All India Nepal Free Students Union, affiliated to the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (UML) told the South Asia Tribune: “King Gyanendra must see the reality how the poor villagers are facing the problems. Border is like a way of life for the villagers as they earn from Indian truckers and passengers of buses. Right from selling small goods to sophisticated items, they depend on Indians who come to buy things.”

Manohar Kant Dhayani, President, Uttaranchal BJP has confirmed that Nepalis are migrating in a large number to Uttaranchal. He said, “Our border is more porous in comparison to Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. If the condition in Nepal worsens, it would create great problem for the hilly people. The Uttaranchal Government is not prepared to cope with it.”

But Nepal’s Ambassador to India, Karandhok Adhikari does not look anxious about the migration of the Nepali people. In a brief telephonic conversation with the South Asia Tribune, he said, “Nepali people always migrate to India. We are not anxious about it as they would come back. The main question is how to strengthen the relations of the two countries. It is in the interest of the two countries that our relations remain calm and peaceful.”

Meanwhile, former Education Minister Dilendra Bahadur and a Member of Parliament Vinay Dhwaj Chand, leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal, Hari Giri, Diwaker Bhatt and Shyam Roka have crossed over to India. Two Maoist leaders, namely, Ishwari Khareli and Balram Adhikari have also secretly come to Delhi.

They have met the leaders of the Left parties. They want to meet the Indian authorities, and if possible, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister K. Natwar Singh.

Talking to the South Asia Tribune, Dilendra Bahadur said: “The King is extremely unpopular. This is a desperate move to save the monarchy. The King may be living in fool's paradise that he has the answers to all the problems. Little does he realize that he is the problem.”

“Of course, we have come here for our safety. But we do wish to talk with the Indian authorities including the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister with the help of our Indian comrades. We have many over ground organizations in India working for the cause. We want to remain in the background for a while.”

He said: “Initially we were wrong about the Maoists, but King’s action has justified the position of Maoists. We want them to join the mainstream politics for the removal of monarchy.”