Rhetoric & Result

Foreign Minister Narayan Kazi’s personal whim seems to be dictating Nepal’s foreign policy

March 9, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -18 Mar. 08- 2013 (Falgun 25, 2069)

Recently, foreign minister Narayan Kazi Shrestha has been making efforts to prove his nationalist credentials by using all options. However, his nationalist slogans have brought some anti-national results. The Foreign Minister tried to gain a mileage by accusing prime minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai as a foreign stooge and criticized BIPPA treaty with India.

However, he surrendered his stand after damaging Nepal’s core interests. His so-called nationalist stand on double lock system compelled Nepal to give up its demand to have access to alternative sea port and some other facilities in India.  

When caretaker government led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is counting its days, deputy prime minister and foreign minister Shrestha came out with an issue to shut down India’s transport liaison office in Biratnagar.

Similarly, his new idea to streamline foreign aid at the local level will definitely spark a new controversy. At a time when the government is yet to allocate enough budget at the local level, Nepal’s development partners remain as the only source to support the development work. Here, the foreign ministry considers India’s current support to local development issues as a threat.  One cannot say for sure right away whether Shrestha’s move may make any difference to India or not, it will definitely discourage Nepal’s western development partners.  

Along with the foreign aid to local bodies, the government has just formed a committee to review overall Foreign Aid Policy of Nepal. The government recently formed a taskforce led by former Chief Secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire to prepare a draft of the new Foreign Aid Policy with the committee comprising members of the finance ministry, foreign ministry and the National Planning Commission.

Amid growing concerns over foreign aid being spent in non-priority areas, the government has stepped up efforts to streamline foreign aid, especially those directly reaching the local level. Officials at the Ministry of Local Development said they have recently forwarded a proposal to the Ministry of Finance on streamlining Indian aid being spent at the local level without prior knowledge of the concerned government bodies.

“Once the proposal gets endorsed, donor agencies will not be allowed to directly channel funds to local projects such as construction and renovation of school buildings and construction of roads and bridges, among other things,” foreign minister Shrestha reportedly told the media.

It is not yet clear where Nepal will go in this recent anti-India rhetoric. It is almost certain that Nepal will have to face more difficult times due to anti-national results of the rhetoric.

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