Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army Manoj Mukund Naravane (File photo)
KATHMANDU: Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) of the Indian Army Manoj Mukund Naravane is arriving on a three-day official visit to Nepal.
Four-star general of the Indian Army, Narvane is coming to Nepal on November 3 to receive the honorary tile of the Nepal Army.
Even though it is a customary practice subsisting between the two countries, Indian Army chief’s official Nepal visit this time is viewed significant against the backdrop of the recent Nepal-India ties.
The Nepal government had planned to honor Naravane with the honorary title eight months ago but it was canceled due to the crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic and the deteriorating relations between the two countries.
Naravane had been criticized both in Nepal and India following his controversial statement on India-encroached Nepali territory Lipu Lekh. He had commented that Nepal was protesting against India at the behest of China at an inaugural ceremony of the newly constructed road in Lipu Lekh.
International relations experts have viewed Naravane’s visit as a diplomatic step towards improving the bilateral ties that has sourced after the Nepal government issued a revised map of Nepal including India-encroached territories – Kalapani, Lipu Lekh and Limpiyadhura.
Retired Lieutenant General of the Nepal Army Nepal Bhushan Chand interprets Naravane’s visit as an ‘icebreaker’ of the already sourced bilateral ties. “This visit will work as an “icebreaker” for the sourced bilateral relationship between Nepal and India,” said Chand.
India had imposed an official blockade on Nepal in defiance of the Constitution of Nepal promulgated in 2015.
Similarly, military affairs expert Dr Deepak Prakash Bhatta said India had been postponing official visits to Nepal. “This visit can be viewed as a significant move against this backdrop,” said Bhatta.
The soured bilateral ties had thawed a little after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli held telephone talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the occasion of India’s Independence Day on August 15.
Likewise, Security and Strategic Affairs Expert Geja Sharma Wagle says Narvane‘s upcoming Nepal visit holds significance. “It can be taken as a gesture to improve the already sourced ties between the two countries.”
President Bidhya Bhandari will confer an honorary title of the Chief of Army Staff of the Nepal Army on Naravane during his Nepal visit.
He will pay visits to Prime Minister KP Oli, his counterpart CoAS Purna Chandra Thapa on the occasion, according to Nepal Army sources. Narvane is also scheduled to visit Muktinath on the occasion.
Naravane is visiting Nepal for the first time following his appointment as the 28th Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army on December 31, 2019.