Kathmandu: At a time when the role of Nepal Army (NA), the only state institution that is perceived to be apolitical, is being questioned, the former top-level security officials have heavily criticized NA leadership for failing to maintain civil-military relations and for writing a request letter to the National Guard of the US to participate in the State Partnership Program (SPP), which has become debatable in Nepal after a document purported to be the agreement proposed to Nepal by the US side became public on June 14.
The US side has claimed that the said document is fake.
Speaking at a program organized in the capital on Friday, the former security officials as well as the experts criticized Nepal Army for failing to maintain military diplomacy as well as relations with the civilians.
Nepal Army failed on civil relations on three major occasions in the past, said Prem Singh Basnyat, historian and former Brigadier General of Nepal Army. “First was in 1990, then in 2006 and then in 2015,” he said. “Nepal Army has not been able to take a stand when the political leadership has openly taken moves that could potentially undermine the core national interests of Nepal,” he said. He was speaking on the topic “Civil-Military Relations in the Context of State Partnership Program (SSP).”
He raised the concern that the Army and the National Security Council have maintained silence when it comes to providing just advice in the process of concluding treaties and agreements that affect national security and interests.
While acknowledging that Nepal needs the development assistance from the countries like the US, Basnyat, who is also the author of several books on Nepal’s military and political history, said that the institution such as Nepal Army, National Security Council and Ministry of Defense need to be really careful when the political leadership is pushing for any pact that could push the country to the trap of military alliance.
“It is in this context that Nepalis have questioned the intention of the then Nepal Army Chief Rajendra Chhetri to write a letter to the US Embassy in Kathmandu requesting for partnership with the SSP,” he said. “There has been no clarification from his side.”
According to him, the incidents surrounding the State Partnership Program (SPP) have damaged the reputation and trustworthiness of Nepal Army. “The army also tried to hide its involvement and published contradictory statements on the matter,” he said.
He came heavily against the political leadership and Nepal Army for failing to see what is in Nepal’s interests and what is not. “It’s no use crying foul against the US leadership, they do what they see is best for their own national interests. Why can’t our leaders, our generals and our experts see what best serves Nepal’s national interests and what does not?” He questioned.
Former military and civil service officials who participated in the program raised the need for Nepal to be really careful about safeguarding its national interests as geopolitical competition has started to spread ripple effects far and wide, including in Nepal.
The program was organized by the Concerned Group of National Issues (CGNI), a loose forum of like-minded experts and intellectuals, in the capital on Friday.