Nepali Times Asian Paints
Interview
PM's India visit



"We have reports that the Maoists are getting arms from India."

Chakra P. Bastola
Foreign Minister


A make-or-break visit?
I don\'t think that you can draw a clear line there because this is a goodwill visit. We also have issues to discuss which we feel may come in the way of healthy bilateral relations. So we have to sort them out. If there are problems, we have to thrash them out rather than run away from them. For the last four years, almost all the mechanisms set up to deal with Nepal-India issues have not been working. Their foreign secretary visited us after a lapse of four years.

Nepal\'s concerns
On security, it is the Maoist issue. We have reports that the Maoists are getting arms from India and support from the People\'s War Group. That is one of our security concerns. I would also like to remind India that when we ourselves were there in exile the government restricted our movement.

We\'ve had the border talks going on for almost 24 years. A high-level commission has been looking at the issue of inundation. We are prolonging [he problems and I think that is not very healthy.

Boundary list
Kalapani is related to the boundary issue. The contention is that Kalapani belongs to Nepal. The added point is that India has security personnel stationed there. As it is related to the issue of total border delineation and demarcation, we have to resolve this matter soon because Kalapani is also related to the Mahakali Treaty.

We have to settle the border problem because it is a serious and sentimental issue, and also because it has a bearing on many other things also.

The 1950 treaty
There again is a common agenda of the political parties: the 1950 treaty. We have to take it up seriously. If we want a review of it we have to be serious about it. It has become a sort a whipping boy. So let us get into concrete things. The treaty has a provision that each of two countries can give a one-year. Notification and do away with it it We don\'t want it. If we want an alternative treaty, we have to come up with that. Those who say we don\'t want the treaty should come up with suggestions; we ate willing to take them up seriously.

India\'s concerns besides ISI
We have to find out what these are. They seem satisfied with our security arrangements, because during my visit to Delhi or during their visits here I have nor been informed of new concerns.

Priority on hydropower
I think we can divide the whole visit into two. One is hydropower, commerce, trade and economics. The other is the political side. On the political side we don\'t have many insurmountable issues. The water resources issue is going to prove tricky. The Indian side does not want to purchase power in dollars. But this is besides the point because they have been talking about total convertibility and we\'re also talking about the same thing. So buying in this or that currency should not pose a problem.

During my last visit, India suggested that we start a new 300-600 MW run - of - river project and finish it. They-want to go for a project that has the least problems.

Achievements expected
I would say the visit will try to set a direction for the future and delineate parameters for bilateral relations. We have to look at things correctly. Another is confidence building; because even a minimum there can have tremendous impact. We have to be prepared to face all the issues rather than blame one another. If we can lay the foundation for new thinking and new directions, I will consider the visit a breakthrough.

I don\'t still find much problem at the political level. If only the things agreed at that level could percolate down to the bureaucratic level 90 percent of the problems between Nepal and India would be solved

Personal ties
There are few people left of my generation who have personal relations with Indian politicians. I have told them that maybe after us they will be meeting Nepali professionals educated abroad, who wouldn\'t be able to speak and understand Hindi. Familiarity with Hindi is not essential, but I think Hindi is a language that sets the tone at meetings and brings you closer.

"If no suffering is caused on Nepal there will be no need to talk about India\'s high-handedness."

Madhav K. Nepal
General Secretary. CPN (UML)


Issues of immediate concern
The prime minister\'s visit should focus on talking all issues raised to a level where implementation can begin. Adequate homework must be done on some issues that have emerged recently and solutions must be found. Issues likely to emerge in future should also be anticipated and discussed.

Our problem is that we don\'t pay attention until it is too late. The Laxmanpur barrage was being constructed since the mid-1980s but no one seemed to know about it until recently. This means that our system is defective. The bund came to out notice only after it was built. Why not before or during construction?

Another issue is Kalapani. What is surprising is that the same person [Prime Minister Karalla who said he would not visit India until Indian troops are withdrawn from there is now rushing there.

The 1950 treaty
First it has to be reviewed, article-by-article. We need to discuss the articles to find out what is advantageous to Nepal and what is not. Should we not begin the review work on our own first? We have to discuss among ourselves if we need the treaty, and if we do, we need to decide what other points should be included.

There is general consensus that the treaty, as it is, should be done away with. All problems should be discussed and honest efforts should be made to find solutions. There has been some talk about a review but no concrete work has taken place yet.

Status of the treaty
If it is inactive and defunct, it must be declared so. Why carry excess baggage? If we don\'t want it, let\'s provide India the requited one-year advance notice. If we want to keep it as a symbol of friendship, then let\'s update it for another 50 years, but first taking into account new dimensions in the relationship.

Using the India stick politically
The stick is there because of the way Nepal has been treated in the past. The feeling exists that we have not received due benefits, and that we have been cheated.

If there were no issues no one would use the stick. India should try and understand why it is always accused of interfering in Nepal\'s internal politics rather than feels frustrated by the accusations.

How can you not talk about India when afflux bunds come up along the border? Or when the DPR [detailed project report on the Mahakali is delayed? India has imposed a new tax on Nepali exports and the Indian police has looted Nepali migrant workers on their way back home from India.

If no suffering is caused on Nepal there will be no need to talk about India\'s high-handedness. For example, China has not created any problems for Nepal, so relations with it are not discussed.

Government-opposition agreement on India
We have been one on Kalapani. He Koirala also spoke about the 1930 Treaty during the elections. Now the

issue is about implementing the commitments. On Rapti also we have one voice. Let the government come up with a forum to work on basic minimums in dealing with India. It can include leaders of political parties. Issues can be discussed there as they arise.

Indian attitude
There are some new leaders of whom I cannot say much, but I do not see them as major hurdles. I believe if our preparation is good and if the climate Is right, then many issues can be resolved. Even if they are not resolved now, at least they will make things clear. We can begin by agreeing to disagree.

It is all a question of being prepared. For example, I was asked why Nepal had not raised the issue of the afflux bunds when they were being built, what could I say? No one told me of the bunds when they were being built, it was not reported in newspapers, there was no official information.

If we present ourselves reasonably, 1 think high-level Indian officials will also be reasonable. I think the colonial mentality is still present in [heir bureaucracy, and some leaders could also suffer from it. But I think many issues can be resolved if we do our homework well.


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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