Kathmandu: Bimala Rai Paudyal has been appointed as the minister of foreign affairs of the country–becoming the third women minister to serve in the highly important and sensitive ministry portfolio. In Nepal, foreign ministry has mostly been led by men. Only two women leaders have served as the heads of foreign ministry in Nepal–Sahana Pradhan in 2007 and Sujata Koirala in 2009.
Bimala Rai Paudyal, who is a member of the National Assembly from the CPN-UM–took the oath of office from the president on Tuesday.
A PhD in Development Studies from Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands, Paudyal holds MA in Economics and Management of Rural Development and a Post Graduate Diploma in Development Administration from Manchester University, UK. She has also served as a member of the National Planning Commission in the past.
Nepal’s foreign ministers often find themselves caught in the challenge of maintaining balanced relations with India, China and the US. Of late, these powerful countries appear to be competing to increase their influence in Nepal. Given the US-China rivalry, maintaining non-aligned foreign policy has become a challenging issue for Nepal.
Paudyal, however, has assured that Nepal will stick to the policy of non-alignment in its foreign policy conduct with neighbors and friendly countries.
Soon after assuming office on Tuesday, Paudyal said that Nepal will stand firm in its policy of non-alignment. “Ours is a non-aligned foreign policy. Parties may differ on its interpretation but our foreign policy will remain non-aligned. We will make it a common policy,” Paudyal said. “We will implement this policy and in case of any gaps, we will consult with all and amend it. But policy should not change with a change of guard in the ministry and I will not do that.”
Paudyal has set three priorities to take head on. According to her, she will work to address the problems service seekers face while acquiring passports, establish coordination with the foreign missions in Nepal for development cooperation, and enhance the services of Nepali missions based in foreign countries. “It will be my priority to work with foreign missions in Nepal for development cooperation and to reap maximum benefits for Nepal’s national interests,” she said.