Nepali Times
"In Nepal empty stomach is devil's workshop"

During the interview, the Prime Minister fielded questions from a wide range of people from Nepal and abroad who sent in their questions either by phone or email. There was a simultaneous online live chat going on in Times transcribed the interview for readers who missed the show

Riz Khan: Let me start by asking you. There is so much already on the UN\'s plate. What can Nepal hope to get out of this summit? What do you hope to achieve for your country?
My dear friend, this summit, I feel that United Nations should have a new vision for the future and also because the scientific and technological advancement and economic liberalisation throughout the world...

RK: But, sir, I was going to ask you this is an opportunity for you to meet some of the key leaders that may be hard to get hold of sometimes. What sideline meetings can you have: What can you achieve on the side perhaps that the main meeting won\'t...
I will focus on poverty alleviation because there are the wide gapping between haves and have-nots. The gap between the haves and have-nots have widened very much. In future, that will create security concerns to United Nations. That gap should be narrowed down by United Nations.

Sushil Bhattarai, Vietnam (email questions: It seems you are guided by "kitchen" members of your cabinet, it seems you want to run politics as a family business. Can you clarify?
My dear friend, I\'m not that kind of man who is influenced by the family members. I might hold opinion about Nepal, how to develop it. So, it is all nonsense to say that I am being surrounded by courtiers and my family members. It is wrong to see like that.

RK: What about issues of... I mean, you are accused of things like nepotism, corruption and so on. What are you doing to combat corruption in Nepal?
Well, when I took over power, three priorities I had made. Law and order situation was maintained, second to eradicate corruption and third good governance. I m working on that line. And the corruption is an invisible enemy. It\'s very difficult to root out corruption. But I\'m still trying my beast to root out corruption. That\'s my first priority is to root out corruption. Then alone political stability will be maintained in Nepal.

Caller from India: Mr Prime Minister, I\'d like to ask you... your government has been claiming that it is strictly against ISI and having any bases of ISI in Nepal But evidences which have been claimed by the Indian authority that ISI has a strong base in Nepal and IC 814 hijacking to Kandahar was also performed from Kathmandu. So, what do you think ISI will be having its effect on India and Nepal relations?
Well, my dear friend, India government should pinpoint where ISI is. And another thing, I cannot throw stones in the darkness. So I\'ve told India\'s Prime Minister Mr Vajpayee about it. Pinpoint where ISI is then we will be able to control this. Otherwise, it is just like throwing stone in the darkness.

Priya Pande, Kathmandu (email question}: What have you done to alleviate the Maoist insurgency, as thousands have died in clashes. You created a task force. But what else?
To contain terrorist activities is multi-pronged strategy, one (unclear) through political consensus and second package programme, we are introducing economic programme to those areas through all party meeting and third, administrative labour. Fourthly I have been calling them for talks to come to the table for talks and for negotiations also. So. these (unclear) against terrorist activities.

John Fox (email question): You face a Maoist insurgency, troubles with Bhutan refugees, and boundary disputes with India. How are you able to tackle these issues all at once and get global action on them?
Well, as regards Bhutanese refugees, I have talked to the Bhutanese Prime Minister right now and I want to sort this matter bilaterally. But I think that without the good offices of India the problem will not be solved. During my visit to India I talked to the Prime Minister of India Mr Atal Behari Vaipaveeji about this. This time Mr Vajpayee is positive to resolve this problem.

RK: Prime Minister, let me ask you. Of course, Nepal doesn\'t make it to headlines all the time but news of attacks on tourists and the tourist industry may be affected... Let me ask you, how you might [unclear) confidence (unclear) of tourists in Nepal. In also bringing outside investment, especially when you have news of these Maoist rebels rising up spreading throughout the kingdom?
Well, we are very much concerned about Maoist terrorist activity. As regards the security and order for the tourists (unclear) we are proceeding towards that direction. We want that tourists should come to Nepal and see (unclear)

Ramesh (caller from India): I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether the government in Nepal would survive?
Whether the government will survive? What do you mean by deaf friend?

Ramtesh: It means that there is a lot of friction between the earlier prime minister and the prime minister...
My dear friend, Ramesh, you don\'t know anything about the functions of the party. In democratic party, this kind of things happen, but it will not, the party will not break, it will not, this government will not fall...

RK: If there was some sort of political stability, what sort of support do you have, how much stability do you feel your country has politically?
Political stability, well, as regards Maoist terrorist activities, it has destabilised the country. But we are also taking very hard decisions about that. There will be political stability. Now as regards democracy, there is consensus between ail the parties that democracy should be stable in Nepal. So, I\'m getting all support from all parties to bring stability in the country. And I think in future there will be clear political stability in the country very soon.

RK (referring to web chat): The economy is in trouble, population growth is still a problem, and agriculture production is dwindling. Please comment.
Well, economic, because our economy is not that sound. But recently we are managing; to make our economy sound. And also as regards to agriculture we have focused (unclear). I feel that there is a proverb in English \'Empty mind is devil\'s workshop\'. But in Nepal empty stomach is devil\'s workshop. Empty stomach does not listen to reason, so first of all the priority should go to the stomach. That\'s why we are giving first priority to improve our agriculture. And this year we are progressing very fast. In two or three years we will be selt-sustained in agriculture.

RK: Now as you concentrate on agriculture Prime Minister, this limits the progress you could make in areas like the information technology and the IT sector...
...this time I visited Andhra Pradesh just to see the Information Technology and India has agreed to give support to Information Technology in Nepal. I don\'t know about technical subjects but I want that this technology should be introduced in Nepal. So India is prepared to do that. I am very glad that India has given support for the information technology.

Surendra P Pradhanang, Nepal (email question): Do you think Nepal should be allowed to trade with Bangladesh via Indian land, without any restrictions (given that Nepal is landlocked)?
The tragedy is that Nepal is a land locked country. But Nepal is also peace-loving country as well. It has fauna, high-mountains, Himalayas and there are lots of fauna and flora why tourists are attracted to come to Nepal. But because the landlocked country, that is the tragedy. With all the facilities that is the tragedy of landlocked country. But as regards Bangladesh, India has recently given us some points for entry to Bangladesh. That has also given some support to Nepal\'s economy.

Khawer Tabbani, Karachi (email question): Do you see Nepal playing any role in easing tensions between Pakistan and India?
Well, Nepal is a very small country, and there is a proverb in Hindi that: choti muh badi baat. If Nepal can speak and try to do something the big country may.. will not appreciate it. But as for me, because I want that Pakistan and India should come to an understanding so that the whole South Asia should remain in peace. And mostly Nepal wants, being a peace-loving country, we want that there should be understanding between India and Pakistan.

Now this time I\'m talking to Mr Prime Minister of India here in the United Nations. I will talk to him as regards the SAARC summit. And what I want that the SAARC summit, the process should be started through the technical meetings and also ministerial meetings. That will pave the way for SAARC summit in Kathmandu.

RK: How much of an impact, Prime Minister, is the issue of refugees having in Nepal. You have a large number of Bhutanese refugees that you have to attend to...
One hundred million Bhutanese refugees... one hundred thousand Bhutanese refugees. And they are very restive. I\'ve talked to the Bhutanese Prime Minister this time also. Once they join hands with the terrorists, it will be a great headache to India, and Nepal and Bhutan as well. So, this problem should be settled by all the three parties together.

RK: Sir, just to end, there is the upcoming event. Your opposition and the Maoist insurgents are looking to host a nationwide strike. What do you expect to happen at the end of September, I think the 21st, when they\'re calling for basically a nationwide stoppage?
You know this kind of a hartal and strike goes on in Nepal. When the opposition becomes unreasonable, then this type of a strike and other things goes on. But, this doesn\'t matter to me. And the government will go ahead with its programme, economic and other programmes.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)