13-19 February 2015 #745

Unbecoming of a diplomat

Surendra Poudyal 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 foreigners want to cash in on our issues that have created divisions among us,” he said.

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 promote  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,” he said.

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. India’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,” said Gurung. “The West is not happy with the growing India-China relations.”

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.

Read also:

Leave us alone

“We should have probably waited for a less sensitive moment.”

International meddling