Monday, May 02, 2005

NEPAL: Inexplicable Volte Face

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It is a measure of the closeness and goodwill that has traditionally existed between the Indian Army and the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) that their Chiefs are Honorary Chiefs of the other Army on a reciprocal basis. However, given reports of the aerial bombings which could be killing innocent civilians, as well as other indiscriminate measures in Nepal, one must wonder if the Chief of the Indian Army would currently wish to be so 'honoured'. A recent chief of the RNA was prone to describing Nepal's relations with India and China as being in the ratio of 60:40. One must also wonder how the royal coup of February 1, carried out obviously with the collaboration of the RNA, came as a complete surprise to India. Further, the argument that the absence of material assistance from India would bring other players into critical prominence is one assiduously fostered by Nepal over the years. In the past, Nepal has cultivated China, and even Pakistan, to promote this illusion in India. But the facts of life and geography point in quite a different direction. As the Minister of External Affairs said in Parliament, India has all the leverages in her unique relationship with Nepal; only, these have not been used so far.

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