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Unbecoming of a diplomat

Monday, February 9th, 2015
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Surendra Poudel in Nagarik, 9 February

As political parties become more polarised, Kathmandu-based ambassadors are busy meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs, violating the Vienna Convention and diplomatic code of conduct.

They are not only just prescribing the political course the country should take, but also meeting a person charged with treason on the pretext of safeguarding human rights.

Why are ambassadors acting like politicians? Why are they giving unsolicited political advice in their host country? Will their political activity help Nepal’s constitution making process?

Nepali officials say political activity by foreigners will increase political instability rather than help Nepal’s peace.

“Nepal is turning into a playground for foreigners,” said Surya Kiran Gurung, former Nepali ambassador to Russia. “They want political instability in Nepal to serve their own interests. It is a result of our own weakness.”

Dinesh Bhattarai, foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, does not completely dismiss the allegation that foreigners may want political instability in Nepal. He believes that unwarranted suggestions by ambassadors at a politically sensitive time may not go down well.

“It would have been better if ambassadors had stayed away from giving unwarranted suggestions at a sensitive time like this,” said Bhattarai.

UCPN (Maoist) Vice Chair Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who has also served as Foreign Affairs Minister, is wary of the heightened activities by Kathmandu-based ambassadors. “It would not be appropriate for ambassadors to meet with a person charged with treason.”

CPN (UML) lawmaker Rajan Bhattarai, who served as a member of his party’s foreign affairs department in the past, believes that one of the reasons behind Nepal’s political instability is foreign interference. “It seems that that foreigners want to cash in on our issues that have created divisions among us,” said he.

Lok Raj Baral, former Nepali ambassador to India, also believes that Nepal’s politicians are themselves responsible for foreign meddling in Nepal’s international affairs. “Foreigners have space to play in Nepal because our leaders tend to support and protect them based on their own convenience,” said Baral.

According to Baral, the Europeans are trying to win over religious (Christian) and ethnic communities by emphasising inclusion. He believes that the EU’s ulterior motive is to spread  Christianity and spearhead anti-communist activities in Nepal.

Gurung believes that the US’ interest in Nepal is to maintain its global power, check and balance China’s influence and free Tibet activities in Nepal. “The US’s real intent is to increase political instability in Nepal and disturb China,” said he.

Gurung believes that the EU is also interested in the issue of Tibetan refugees. Unlike the US and the EU, China wants political stability in Nepal to curb anti-China Tibetan activities.

Before Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister, India’s interest was restricted to keeping all political parties in size and increasing its own bargaining power. China’s motive was guided by fear of Chinese influence in Nepal.

“Earlier, India would protest against China’s investment in Nepal. Now, Modi has himself invited China to invest in India,” says Gurung. “The West is not happy with the growing India-China relation.”

India also has an interest in Nepal’s federalism. It is strongly opposed to many federal provinces in the Tarai. UML lawmaker Bhattarai believes what is most dangerous is India’s opposition to north-south federal provinces linking the Tarai with the Hills.

“The cold war has ended but new world orders have started to emerge, and we need to end political transition at the earliest to stay safe from all this,” said Bhattarai, PM Koirala’s foreign affairs adviser.

Who wants what?

India

Wants to control all political parties, cut them down to size and  prevent any one of them from forming a majority government, and to stop China and the West’s influence from growing.

China

Does not want to allow any anti-China activities in Nepal, against the US and the EU support for Tibetan activities and wants peace and stability in Nepal.

The US

Wants to maintain its global power, check and balance China’s influence, intends to disturb China by fuelling the Tibetan movement.

The EU

Wants to keep a tab on China’s increasing economic power and influence, wants to keep religious and ethnic groups in hold by raising issues of human rights, inclusion and freedom of expression. Intends to spearhead anti-communist activities by spreading Christianity.

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8 Responses to “Unbecoming of a diplomat”

  1. Prajun on Says:

    Its just that these people look down on us, and we are down coz of the leaders and politicians of our country. Our politicians are to be blamed for this. When will our politicians recognize our strength. Day after day they making us weaker and weaker and like a beggar in this world. Politicians have become greedy and also mentally ill. We need politicians that has been exposed internationally, who can feel the real pain of being Nepalese. For instance, I was travelling with my girlfriend to Malaysia for a vacation, as passing through immigration there was a signboard for different passport holders, as my girlfriend was a red passport holder she was allowed to go with a welcome, whereas, me I was holding a green Nepalese passport, I was checked out from top to bottom with rude behavior, I felt so humiliated. This is where the thugs politicians of our country has put us. No matter how talented, smart,intellectual we are, once we leave this country, we are not even treated as animals. We are piece of trash to them, and that’s exactly what these diplomats are doing. Treating us like a trash, that can be kicked, spat on it whatever we call it and these politicians have no idea of this humility. We need new breed of politicians who are able to sense this.

  2. Guest on Says:

    Political parties of Nepal are not sufficient to check foreign interference in our country. As Lok Raj Baral said, they are themselves responsible for inviting foreign interference. Best way to balance/limit foreign meddling in Nepal is for us to re-establish constitutional monarchy. That system was much better for Nepal, especially in terms of managing foreign powers.

  3. MJ on Says:

    This is an absurd article, and is reflective of the usual paranioa and xenophobia peddled by politicians to divert attention from their own shortcomings. Of course diplomats are going to make suggestions according to their own interests, that is what diplomats do – and Nepal is under no obligation to agree – these suggestions are not being ‘forced’ upon them with the threat of sanctions or something. The status quo is however, afraid of the greater empowerment of marginalized groups, which many in the international community have advocated for, which is why they would prefer they keep quiet.

    On another note, diplomats have every right to raise concerns about human rights issues. For example, on issues such as the attempt to deny women citizenship rights, I don’t think the international community is doing enough. The current government is by no means a righteous, democratic government being bullied by imperialist interests – the primary problems lie within the borders of Nepal and its inequitable social and political structures, not from some mysterious interventionist foreign hand.

    Finally, the suggestions that the EU is trying to promote evangelism is hilarious. Do they think this is the 17th century or something! Contemporary EU (or any world government) has absolutely no interest in religious conversion overseas, and is more concerned about trade deals, oil, etc. This suggestion just reflects the limited knowledge of the world amongst the political class.

  4. Parr on Says:

    What are Nepalese politicians scared of? Diplomats doing their job trying to help them move into the 21st century. Nepal committed a HUGE insult to the human right of freedom of speech-when they arrested and held a man without charge and clearly for his words alone. They are desperately clinging on to the threads of power that still exist by ignoring the marginalised groups of Nepal e.g mahdesi. It will eventually catch up on them as these groups become more agitated.

  5. namah on Says:

    Marginalised? WTF is wrong with you. Have you seen the owners of most stores in Kathmandu? Who owns most of the car dealerships, brick kilns, etc. in Nepal? Yes, there are poor, uneducated madhesis, NOT UNLIKE poor, uneducated Newars, Magars, Thapas, Rais, Limbus, etc.

    Please don’t come and tell us about marginalized groups. How about a little introspection of you have done by selling alcohol and drugs to your own aborigines over decades. How you still treat asylum seekers. And how till very recently Indian origin students were victims of hate crimes (while the australian govt looked the other way).

    Nepal was doing fine. There was one sense of Nepalihood until the maoists came along (with moral and perhaps fiscal blessings of EU) and started the classic divide and rule politics.

    The King was a moron and deserved to go, but the maoists are really trying hard to bottom that out.

  6. Parr on Says:

    Namah,

    We are not talking about Kathmandu which is like an ant in a field when you think about the population of Nepal. This is an issue where Madhesi are approx 40% of the population of Nepal, predominantly live in the terai region which produces 80% of nepal’s food and is 50% of its land mass- yet they are still underrepresented with 11% of seats in government.

    The point is this is not simply an ethnic issue but geographical and economic one too- Nepal can not eat nor import goods without Madhesi- they are powerful and realising it. However, the Terai region is suffering for lack of infrastructure (i.e roads, decent schools) and feels they are being forgotten by those in power in Kathmandu. Some of these people look over the border and see much better opportunities.

    If the dominating political parties of Kathmandu don’t make some effort to join forces with or consult with Madhesi organisations and agitators they may be facing a formidable force that will destabilise the country far worse than the Maoists.

    Locking up one of the most prominent Madhesi agitators won’t make the problem disappear, it exacerbates it. This is the point.

    Imagine if petrol was taxed again by Madhesis as it passed through Madhesi autonomous territory before reaching Kathmandu!

  7. Parr on Says:

    Namah,

    Regarding your defensive attack:

    The Australian Aboriginal issue is ongoing but Aborigines were provided with all their rights and more by the 1960s. The issue is quite irrelevant to Nepal (unless you consider the Rautes); Aboriginals never learnt to farm, never accustomed to business and traditional jobs but forgot or no longer wanted to hunt.
    Yes, Australia follows international law and takes care of thousands of asylum seekers, providing them comfortable housing, quality food, clean water, counselling and English classes. This is even provided to those with a criminal and violent background.
    One or two Indians being rolled on a train is not equal to a hate crime, any Australian riding a train late at night with cash in their pocket, also risks being rolled (not as much as in India though). This was investigated and found to be astir up by biased Indian media. Thousands of Indians live peacefully in Australia and are even tolerated whilst they do sometimes struggle to understand the Australian way of respect for public space (no spitting, littering, no pushing or staring or noise pollution).

  8. namah on Says:

    1. http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21644010-prime-minister-dismisses-damning-report-australias-detention-children-seeking-asylum-suffer

    2.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/10335584/Australian-education-minister-admits-Aboriginal-children-treated-like-rubbish.html

    3. ‘one or two’?

    you must be quite happy in your make believe world. good luck and good bye.

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