Nepali Times
The great game

International geopolitics seem to always repeat themselves as a farce. Slaughters are justified in the name of empires, proxy wars raged during the Cold War and the competition for natural resources made perfectly sane democracies do insane things.

In the subcontinent, geopolitics seem to mimic geology. The Indian landmass split off from Gondwanaland and collided head-on with the Eurasian plate some 60 million years ago. Nepal is located in the debris field of that tectonic upheaval. Geopolitically, also, Nepal lies in the colliding spheres of influence of two of the world's emerging powers: China and India.

Prithbi Narayan Shah described Nepal as a yam between two boulders, Pushpa Kamal Dahal modified that during the war and described us as more like a dynamite stick between two stones. Either way, it's inevitable that we'll get squeezed as these titanic nations jostle for leadership as economic and political powerhouses of the future. Nepal's foreign policy strategy should be to minimise the danger of getting pulverised, to take economic advantage of our location, and not to play these two giants against each other.

Our message to the mandarins in Beijing and Delhi should be: look here, we don't have oil, we are not all that strategic and we are ungovernable. Just leave us alone, Nepal is not worth fighting over.

The sub-text in the resignation of the Maoist-led government in May was India's paranoia about Chinese infiltration into the Nepal Army through a Maoist defence minister. And China was paranoid about a democratic government being unable or unwilling to control pro-Tibet activities in Nepal.

We don't want to get into this, we have enough problems of our own. If the Americans and Europeans want to fight the Chinese over Tibet, they should do it in Beijing, not in Kathmandu.

And that brings us to our own fecklessness. At no point in our history has the Nepali nation state been as weak as it is now. This is why there is so much interference in our internal affairs. This is nothing new, of course, Lainchour was the centre of Nepali politics since British India days.

But forget about India interfering in Nepal, for the last 200 years we have gone south to ask them to interfere with us. So, the problem is not that India is playing one political faction in Kathmandu off against the other, it is that we are all so busy stabbing each other in the back.

The sooner the Maoists assuage the Indians by renouncing violence, disbanding the YCL and behaving like a "normal" political party, the better it will be for all of us. The longer this political uncertainty lasts, the more intensely outsiders will meddle in our affairs.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)