Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa said Nepal’s consistent effort is to maintain cooperative and friendly relations with its two friendly neighbours — India and China. His comments came at a time when the bilateral ties with India is dipping.
In a briefing to the Kathmandu-based diplomatic community after recent political developments that almost toppled the K.P. Oli-led government, the government tried to clear doubts about the new Constitution, future position of the government, and how it is negotiating with agitating Madhes-based parties, among others.
“In our external relations, we pursue the policy of friendship with all,” said Thapa at the event, where Oli was alo present.
“Both our neighbours are making tremendous progress in economic growth, infrastructure development, science and technology and in transforming life standards of their people,” Thapa said at the briefing, adding “We are inspired by their progress.”
“Situated between them, our legitimate desire is to benefit from their prosperity and this pragmatism is guiding our deep and comprehensive engagement with them.”
Over two dozen Kathmandu based ambassadors and heads of the diplomatic missions were present in the meeting.
The pro-establishment faction in Nepal blamed India for the recent upheaval in Nepal by allegedly propping up the Nepali Congress and UCPN (Moaist) to bring down the Oli government. In response to this alleged move, the Oli-led government cancelled the visit of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and recalled its ambassador from New Delhi.
Recalling the recent visits of Prime Minister Oli to India and China and agreements signed during the visits, Thapa said: “We do not compare our relations with one country with that of the other. Bases and factors determining friendship and cooperation are different for each country and each bilateral relation is unique.”
Thapa said that during his visit in different countries as foreign minister, he had felt that there is still misperception and misunderstanding about the constitution of Nepal. “There is a perception that the constitution is not complete, inclusive and broad-based. The fact of the matter is that critics have either not studied the constitution fully or they do not want to assess its content fairly and objectively.”
Thapa added, “We have not claimed that our constitution is hundred percent perfect. Nowhere in the world such perfection is possible.”
“But to judge by any fair standard, it encompasses the main features of a democratic and inclusive polity. The Constitution guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms to all citizens without any discrimination. State policies are aimed at uplifting the overall status of all section of society,” he added.
“In terms of process, it was broad-based, consultative and participative and in terms of content, it is comprehensive, inclusive and substantive, Thapa claimed and, in terms of orientation, it is forward-looking, progressive and dynamic.
“Then, how can we still say that this constitution is not inclusive and broad-based,” Thapa wondered.
He said the constitution can be amended and the government is ready to resolve all issues through dialogue.
The Madhesis, who live in the Terai region bordering India, say the Nepal constitution, formed last September, discriminates against them. They had held a months-long protest blockade to demand changes to the constitution.