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Views: External Threat to Security in Nepal

October 15, 2009

Nepal lacks a security doctrine. The absence of a
clear viable national strategy and national
security doctrine has culminated in the current
state of affairs. In addition, international,
continental, regional security environment are
not favorable to Nepal due to terrorism, nuclear
weapons and allied forces activities in many
countries of the world. The peaceful environment
of a nation is based on the sound civil defense,
a modicum of trust among citizens themselves and
with the national institutions of governance. The
sources of threat can be extra systemic
(inter-state tension, cross-border terrorism,
unwanted immigration, foreign pressure, foreign
debt, treaties, ideologies, armed aggression,
climate change, fuel and financial crises,
refugees etc.) or intra-systemic (civil war,
poverty trap, inequality, illiteracy, human
rights, political instability, population,
pollution and exclusion of citizens from
ecological, social, economic and political
resources). One source of threat reinforces the
other systematically. The comparative and
competitive strengths of any nation in material
possessions, such as hydropower, ecological
diversity, tourism, manpower and productive
potential and proper utilization of these
resources can contribute to its viability. This
means the government cannot construct a national
security without understanding the threats to security in several areas.
Meena Vaidya, Phd, Political Science, Central Department, TU
The Telegraph Nepal
October 14, 2009

External Threat

Nepal occupies a central part of Asian
Geopolitics between two advanced technological
super states China in the north and India in the
east, south, west each with over one billion
population, leading infrastructure, software
technology industries, high growth markets and
highest engagement of multilateral institutions.
This potentially makes it a transit corridor for
increased Sino-Indian competition for trade and
commerce. Its geopolitical location constitutes
its strategic geography vital to their security,
stability, progress and peace. An increasingly
open and democratic Nepal in the future is more
likely to be swayed by the ongoing geo-strategic
competition between them and the great powers for
their influence. In this context, understanding
the nation’s geopolitics is crucial to maintain a
balanced foreign and security policy of the
country. History bears testimony to the fact that
Nepal has safeguarded its national sovereignty
and territorial integrity throughout its history.
After the unification of Nepal in 1769 AD,
Nepal’s security was based on a policy of active
defense. The advent of Rana regime in 1846
modified this policy as it maintained special
security relationship with British India and
isolation from the rest of the world. After 1950
the state adopted the policy of diversification
in international relations. National sovereignty
and integrity will not be threatened until and
unless some external powers do not play their
negative role. So, strategic thinking on Nepal’s
national security assumes that, however, the
assessment or reassessment of national interest
is conducted by whatever government in power,
government directly headed by kings or Rana Prime
ministers or different leaders of political
parties, the ultimate goal has been to keep the
foreign policy in balance, safe and vibrant.
(Sushil Raj Pandey. 2009. “National Interest (NI)
and National Security (NS). Theory and Practice
in Nepal. Paper presented at a seminar on
National Interest and National Security of Nepal by Sangam Institute)

The ground reality of Nepal is such that it does
not pose any threat to China nor India, but the
two neighbors pose such a threat to Nepal. The
disintegrating armed outfits are using weapons
made in China and India. The Maoist insurgency
received support and assistance from both China
and India. For a decade long armed conflict, the
Maoist rebels remained under Indian protection
and information in Indian soil. It has been
revealed that the groups demanding autonomous
federal states based on region and caste directly
and indirectly are being supported by Indian
side. Weapons are being supplied from China
without any obstruction, which is weakening
Nepal’s internal peace and security and national
integrity. Nepal government and political leaders
have not drawn the attention of Beijing and New
Delhi on the subject—either due to fear or with
fear of losing the state power. Leaders’ silence is suspicious as ever.

China accuses and suspects that America, India
and European nations are providing energy to
Free-Tibet agitation through Nepal, while India
accused China and Pakistan of posing a danger on
Indian security by making Nepal a base. Nepali
political leaders have never expressed concern
before New Delhi and Beijing of the looming
disintegration, anarchy and civil war. The
political leaders have been assuring New Delhi
and Beijing of security and welfare of both the
nations, while the two neighboring governments
have not satisfied from such assurances. Beijing
and New Delhi want assurances and commitments
from our political leaders to guaranteeing tight
security from Nepal. But they are the one
responsible for playing a decisive role in
Nepal’s politics, economy and security policy.
They see the assurances and commitment of the
Nepali leaders as an invitation for lie.

What we lack at present is consciousness among
political parties for e.g.- we complain about
foreign interference in our internal affairs. But
we do not have any mechanism to counter these
interferences. Neither have we had strategy that
would guide us to deal with these emerging
challenges nor there is coherence and common
voice among political parties. In fact, it is we
not them who are inviting this interference.
Similarly, Nepalese have been raising issues
about border encroachment for the last so many
years but leaders have not been able to develop
any mechanism to counter this unabated
encroachment nor have they seriously taken up
issue at the political level. Foreign policy of
Nepal is conducted on the basis of whims and
vernacular media report that foreign powers have
captured key political figures from all political
parties to serve their interests. (Chandra Dev
Bhatta. 2008. Challenges of State Building in
Nepal Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES), Nepal p.90.)

In such a situation Nepal should be sensitive to
the security concern of its neighbors and ensure
that Nepali territory would not be used for activities against them.
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