Diplomatic Malaise

By Abhitav Karna

Nepal has been unable to speed up the process of supplying daily essential goods for over two months. A nation where we have an entire ministry set up for mere imports, this is a complete failure of governance. A solid proof of the diplomatic malaise is the absence of ministers and diplomats with a willpower.

Nepal should take the initiative to give impetus to SAARC expansion. It should also lead by reviving the dormant sub-regional cooperation process and by mobilizing support from the smaller members to stand against scenarios such as the current one by the Indian establishment in Nepal.

It is disappointing that none of the advocates of Human rights, EU, UN, have uttered a word against the “blockade” by the neighboring elephant. United convention on law of sea, Transit treaty, Right to Sea at this point seem like a jumble of words, puzzles, a byproduct of “Art of Writing School Essays” with no real world application.

We have failed to incorporate international principles in our bilateral trade and transit treaties as basic norms and chose vague legal texts as “contracting parties shall endeavor….” Vague terms in treaties allow parties to form lame excuses such as security concerns and create unofficial blockades such as the current one.

Its high time China be given a membership in SAARC. The nearest definite conclusion that one can envisage, at this point in time, is that there may be a role for China in the distant future through some form of trans- Himalayan sub-regional cooperation.  China could possibly benefit by harnessing water resources of the Brahmaputra river basin and in developing tourism along the medieval silk route. If China cannot become a part of SAARC then it would have to take the bilateral way by developing closer investment relations with each SAARC country and in doing so, match the Indian bilateral concessions to each of them in the area of trade.

In the wake of the doldrums that the SAARC is at, it might benefit to rethink SAARC’s future with new dimensions. We could go big and imagine one grand axis as comprising the western seaboard linking Maldives-Bombay-Karachi- Iran-Gulf region and other grand axis comprising the eastern seaboard linking the south Asian Growth Quadrangle to Myanmar-Thailand-Indo-China. The third axis could be comprising the southern seaboard linking Visakapatnam-Chennai- Colombo region to Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia-Australasia. The northern region could comprise the grand landmass of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region stretching from Delhi-Islamabad-Kashmir-Kabul to link up with Central Asia.

The SAARC’s Charter reads, “To Promoting peace, stability, and amity and progress in region …respect for principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs of other states.” This is equivalent to Rajnikant and CID jokes on Facebook as we know that the words are there for sole entertainment and feel good but they are not true in anyway. I wish the Indian PM Modi understood the true meaning of cooperation in the SAARC Charter and as the biggest member nation adhered to Economic and Finance Cooperation, Custom Cooperation, etc.

Our foreign minister went all the way to Delhi to achieve nothing. This is truly embarrassing for a foreign minister who has no diplomatic skills and hence leads inconclusive talk shows in Delhi. What also bothers me is that we have a Nepali national holding an important Under-secretary position at the UN who looks after issues of least developed landlocked states. Alas! He must be busy with other more pressing matters.