Amid tricky geopolitics, Nepal should navigate carefully, say experts

NL Today

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Kathmandu: As geopolitical engagement—particularly from the world’s two rival powers, the US and China—is increasing in Nepal, experts and intellectuals have advised the policy makers, government actors and politicians to be clear about Nepal’s needs and priorities and deal with the competing powers in bilateral negotiations for Nepal’s development based on the same. 

Such views were expressed on Wednesday in a program organized by Center for Social Inclusion and Federalism (CESIF) on the topic Geopolitics and Foreign Engagements in Nepal. The program aimed to build consensus on the strategies Nepal should adopt to maintain balanced relationships with its bilateral partners, according to the organizer. 

The seminar brought key stakeholders together to discuss the prospects and challenges of increasing geopolitical competition of global powers in Nepal. The seminar also discussed Nepal’s foreign policy and diplomatic practice to deal with the geopolitical actors in Nepal.

Speaking in the program, Dr Swarnim Wagle, economist and former vice-chair of National Planning Commission, said Nepali leaders should be prepared on Nepali perspective and should present it in the international forum with efficient bureaucracy. “The state craft cannot be successful on the extra ability of a few individuals. Our leaders need to capitalize on the soft corner and goodwill for Nepal,” he said. Another speaker Dr Achyut Wagle, Registrar at Kathmandu University, called for broadening our perspectives. “While talking about the US, India and China, we should understand more emerging equations including QUAD, European and other emerging powers and initiatives. We need to broaden perspectives,” he said.

The experts also discussed Nepal-China ties in the context of recent geopolitical developments, China’s national and foreign policy, China’s Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, and patterns of infrastructure financing in Nepal.

Dr Nischal Nath Pandey, foreign policy expert, outlined the problems Nepal is facing in times of such a serious geopolitical situation. “While we are moving towards the most crucial election in our history, we have become a boxing ring of major powers in the South Asian region. To make the matter worse, we are witnessing the decay of institutional order in Nepal,” he said.  

Avasna Pandey, another expert and columnist, said Nepal should be able to respond appropriately to China’s assertive and proactive diplomacy. “China has adopted assertive and proactive foreign policy, the impact of which Nepal is also witnessing,” she said.On the occasion, CESIF also launched its two-research series entitled Nepal-India Cross Border Relation in the Contemporary Context and Foreign Engagements in Nepal and Cross-Border Relation with China, the books based on a yearlong research study conducted by the organization.