Security Diplomacy a Priority in Nepal-India Relationship « Khabarhub
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Security Diplomacy a Priority in Nepal-India Relationship


04 November 2020  

Time taken to read : 10 Minute


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Nepal-India relationship is coming to a revolving, while the nature of threats is altering with the shift in the balance of power, so the world is witnessing a crisis of trust, problems in multilateralism, cybercriminals, corruption, poverty, terrorism, gender violence and trafficking and environmental degradation leading to disasters.

These are common challenges that need common answers.

The current political empirical evidence is the visit by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Chief of India Samant Goel and the visit of General MM Naravane, COAS Indian Army (IA) is being debated and covered with priority on most of the broadsheets and national TVs.

Varied responses communicating variation of opinion and change in psychology subsist.

FM Jaishankar said in 2016 “Political stability and development in Nepal along with its prosperity is linked to India’s security”

The intent of the visits may be a time to materialize this vision of collaboration for a purposeful partnership. So the visit will be significant if the call sets the sights for the beginning of other bilateral diplomatic mechanisms.

The NA also embark on bilateral exercises in 2017 focusing on terrorism and disaster relief operations with the People’s Liberation Army.

The visit of RAW Chief and the COAS, IA has several implications when political distrust, political maneuvering and diplomacy channels have not been striding as desired.

Though the Chiefs of both Nepal and the Indian armies will be mandated by their respective democratic governments, Nepal-India military diplomacy or security diplomacy is an important part of the relationship.

As people to people, the civilization relationship cannot be questioned so is military to the military relationship though other instruments of power do have their discourse.

The visits signify: 1) the political desire to revisit the cause of distrust; 2) resume traditional practices and expedite other mechanisms; 3) stress that military diplomacy has been the backbone of the relationship; 4) an opportunity for the government and the opposition to bring forward issues that could be brought about for a new course; 5) understanding of India’s security concerns in the changing environment; 6) other powers like China’s growing political influence questioning the traditional regional security understanding.

It is an ascertaining time with “Aged Relationship and a New Environment” in Nepali (Purano Sambandhha ma Naya Awasthha).

This is where security diplomacy comes in that signifies that the Nepal-India Security relationship is of precedence in the Nepal-India relationship.

First, it is important to observe the subject matter from a regional perspective. Here is what can be as “Regional Security Architecture” or RSA an imperative for the 21st-century security model when India, the South Asian rising power is being more implicated with the Indo-Pacific Region with the most recent signing in with Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) meeting that was held on Oct 6 in Tokyo amidst the Pandemic. Nations of South Asia and the world are acquiring space adjusting to the altering geopolitical circumstances with China-US rivalry.

If countries in the South Asian region go against or set varied visions contrasting regional vision RSA vision, the region will embrace further instability, intensification of terrorist activities, and even combat with serious implications and no nations can get away from the regional security catastrophe.

Nepal-China Trans Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, including the Nepal China cross-border railway, gateway to South Asia may be a reality.

In the recent past, some political realm and the perception at large have been influenced and observe things differently now and see Nepal’s security relationship with both her immediate neighbors with identical juxtaposition and also extending beyond its neighbors.

An alternative strategic network with various Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) including Transit Transport and allowing access to the seaports for third-country trade and three trade routes and Belt and Road Initiative has been signed with China.

Nepal-China Trans Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, including the Nepal China cross-border railway, gateway to South Asia may be a reality.

These agreements focus mainly on seven categories, namely strategic communication connectivity with railways and waterways, energy with hydro projects, power trade, infrastructure development, agriculture, political and diplomatic gestures and security concerns as well as Military cooperation with military training, disaster management, medical assistance, equipment for peacemaking operations, the establishment of National Defense University.

This all has regional security repercussions foremost for the Nepalese Army (NA) to meet the constitutional mandate.

The NA also embark on bilateral exercises in 2017 focusing on terrorism and disaster relief operations with the People’s Liberation Army. Military-to-military relationships are on the rise now with Military drills and joint exercises.

Talking of the RSA the first approach can be the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC) Joint Military Exercise announced during the BIMSTEC Summit held in Kathmandu on 30-31 August 2019.

The BIMSTEC military exercise is aimed at common efforts to counter international terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, cross-border organized crime, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, but was consumed in Nepal with uncertainty.

Foreign Minister Gyawali clarified that Nepal would not join any military alliances or be used against friendly nations but would only prepare for natural disaster expressed the sensitivities.

The Ministry of Defense articulated of being unaware of the military exercise when the preparation progressed with communiqué.

The need to revitalize the recognition of Nepal-Indo strategic relationship with an RSA is the need to move into the 21st century for the people of the two countries and the region.

NA did not participate in the BIMSTEC joint military exercise after the government decided to send only observers.

The bilateral structures and organization of security cooperation from local to intergovernmental levels exist.

There are more than 16 bilateral committees and more than 50 sub-committees for securing a cordial environment in several fields including security.

Proceed Forward

Nepal’s national security requires rearranging, revitalizing and reshaping the defense, the Law Enforcement Forces and the intelligence forces.

There are two challenges that NA has when it is transforming into a professional force in these challenges times and could strengthen the RSA where IA could come in: one, design the force considering the geography to defend the nation against external aggression, provide internal security and fulfill its primary responsibility and two, streamline the capabilities for an agile, innovative and adaptive army with mobility, high standard of training and the latest arms and equipment.

When Modi-II government will be focusing and reviewing on the “First Neighbor Policy” as part of the strategic dealings and foreign policy; When Nepal needs to answer good governance through efficient delivery and anti-corruption drive, development of Intelligence capability, strengthen military capabilities the NA and the IA need to work together as well as bolster efforts for regional stability and bilateral economic enhancement, through intergovernmental regional apparatus against the anti-terrorism regional approach, energy security, supply security, disaster management and multilateral strategic connections, transnational crimes, prevention of human trafficking and illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and control of fake currency.

The need to revitalize the recognition of Nepal-Indo strategic relationship with an RSA is the need to move into the 21st century for the people of the two countries and the region.

With regional networking bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral associations, which need to galvanize and act and to solve the trends of misapprehension, a difference of opinion or disagreement, initiating security diplomacy is a reliable mechanism. Creating an environment of diplomatic isolation may revolve into strategic diplomatic error.

Nepal-Indo ties are unique and time-tested because of deep geographical, historical, cultural, and familial linkages, therefore, the leaders should not only focus on changing policies, but should also focus on consolidating Nepalese-Indian military relationship to meet the 21st-century challenges.

To conclude, political and economic institutions, Intergovernmental, International Organizations were set after major wars like the formation of United Nations, International Monetary Fund, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, World Bank have helped in the last 250 years to bring the world together and ensure that relationship has not reached endanger to and bring to the new economic society.

So India and Nepal and the region’s relationship must be strengthened when the world geopolitics is reshaping the Indo-Pacific Region and all the trends of flashpoints are in China’s periphery.

Two, China’s political ambitions and rise are making China more dependent and connected with its periphery nations and Nepal and India are on the table and lastly, India has become more important as well as for India the immediate neighbors in South Asia are even more imperative than before.

Nepal-Indo ties are unique and time-tested because of deep geographical, historical, cultural, and familial linkages, therefore, the leaders should not only focus on changing policies, but should also focus on consolidating Nepalese-Indian military relationship to meet the 21st-century challenges.

NA should learn from IA modernization considering the equity, honoring the past and ensuring the equity of the NA-IA’s future.

(Basnyat is a Nepal Army Major General (Retd.) and a Security Analyst)

Publish Date : 04 November 2020 07:14 AM

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