Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Foreign hand

Nepal has turned into a playground for foreign powers. The biggest question facing Nepalis today is where this foreign interference will take the country and its people's sovereignty. The recent visit of KV Rajan, former Indian ambassador to Nepal, raises an interesting point of inquiry. It was during his visit that Surya Bahadur Thapa emerged as a candidate for premiership, despite the recommendation of the five political parties. Of course, this succeeded in making our political future even more uncertain. The nomination, however, did highlight one thing clearly: India intends to turn Nepal into another Sikkim. Surya Bahadur Thapa is a puppet.

Immediately after sacking Sher Bahadur Deuba, King Gyanendra made a tour to India on the pretext of a pilgrimage. While the parties launched their agitation against the king's October Fourth move, former prime minister Thapa trotted off to lobby with the South Block. A royal audience followed his return, and immediately after that Lokendra Bahadur Chand tendered his resignation-seemingly out of the blue. In quick succession the RPP demanded an all-party government and the Maoists sat for a second round of peace talks.

Both took place due to pressure from India and the United States. On 2 June, the British special envoy Jeffrey James arrived in Nepal on an official visit, and there are rumours of Indian defence minister George Fernandes gracing us with his presence shortly. The Americans, who view Nepal through New Delhi's lenses, have vowed not to interfere in Indian interests. India shows overwhelming interest in Nepali politics, perhaps even more than to their own regional elections.

While it is true that we cannot change the mindset of our neighbours, we can however, reach a consensus on our foreign policy to protect national interest. When our parties are on the offensive they oppose foreign interference, talk about sovereignty and national integrity. But in the race for power these same leaders will not hesitate to ally themselves to India, neglecting all talk of nationalism. We must ensure that nobody-from the parties to the palace-will curry favour from Delhi and Washington just for power.

The US seeks to exert its influence over Nepal without alarming India. They are looking for avenues that serve Indian interests while securing a niche for themselves. India's interest in Nepal is limited to our natural resources and accessibility, but the US needs us to monitor China's economic and military fronts. Perhaps they hope to do this through a military base here. To meet their ends, these two giants are employing all the means at their disposal, even interfering in political matters that do not concern them. This should worry every patriotic Nepali. Without independence and sovereignty we cannot have democracy and development. The biggest need of the hour is solidarity against foreign interference.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)