A clip I recently received stated: ‘If ever you feel you are useless, just remember USA took 4 Presidents, lives of thousands of US soldiers, trillions of dollars and 20 years to replace Taliban with Taliban.’
We recollect from the Mahabharat that Dhittarastra’s wife was brought from Kandahar. Even during the British rule, Afghanistan’s national wealth and standard of living was said to be better than India’s. In fact, following the Treaty of Sugauli of 1816 and later in early 20th Century, Nepalis who served in British Gurkhas aided the British in the Afghan wars. The background of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim is the Great Game that Britain and Czarist Russia were playing then to take control of the mineral and also perhaps benefits of the opium trade. However, neither the British nor the Russians could ever subjugate the Afghanis then. Our most recent contact with the Taliban took place when the Indian Airlines Airbus A300 Flight 814 was hijacked on 24 December 1999 and taken to Kandahar! The moral is that Afghanistan is a hard nut to crack!
The story goes that a cricket enthusiast who served in India named his son Michael Colin Cowdrey, or MCC for short, and made the child a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, as he wanted his son to be a famous cricketer when he grew up. Happily this happened. To us in Nepal, MCC now stands for Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US foreign assistance agency that is poised to aid Nepal in the coming years. Following initial steps the agreement is in the doldrums for last four years. Many Nepali politicians have in the meantime opted for or against it. Some have even changed their stances on occasions! Many ordinary Nepalis are at a loss whilst hearing the pros and cons for this aid from the US. It will build transmission lines and improve roads within a decent time frame. Sale of electricity to Bangladesh and India will be facilitated. Generally, local contracts, mired in corruption have led to substandard work and massive delays. The Bauddha and Godaveri roads in the capital are prime examples of locally undertaken work. The recent withdrawal of Americans from Afghanistan, the daily reportage of evacuations and the taking over by Taliban forces in a matter of days as the police and armed forces laid down their arms has created alarm worldwide. These visuals have reinforced a claim that is prevalent in Nepal that what is happening in Afghanistan a preview of what is likely to occur in Nepal if the MCC agreement with a US agency is accepted by us? Whether this occurs or not depends on the action of our current PM who had in fact initiated the whole process. Yes, this will certainly bring Americans in the midst of our Northern and Southern neighbours and increase the likelihood of misunderstandings occurring from time to time.
It must be remembered that SAARC had been established in 1985 in the wake of the 1979 intervention by the USSR in Afghanistan, by the efforts of President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh and King Birendra of Nepal. A recent clip by a former minister Dipak Gyawali which went viral states that it was at the 2005 Dhaka Summit that India proposed the membership of Afghanistan. Then King Gyanendra had queried this on the ground that the US was the occupying the country then and it was at a stage of internal conflict. Another query was whether Afghanistan was a Central or South Asian country. With the insistence of India and the US, Afghanistan became a member in 2007 and subsequently attended SAARC conferences and the last four South Asian Games.
Right now SAARC seems to be in a state of hibernation because of the differences of two major players. The SAARC symbol which depicts six members has to be increased by one and the old flag of the country perhaps replaced by that of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, established on 15th August 2021. This government has not been recognised so far by Nepal. With all these actions in the offing one must keep in mind that it is BIMSTEC, currently in the background which may be preferred by some players to be given the limelight as an alternative in the future.
The recent Tokyo Olympics must be appreciated by the fact Japan took it as an honour and obligation to hold it and did so very well. Though our participants bettered their and national records the fact was that more stress was given to send so called unconcerned officials under false pretences. Our standard will never improve unless stress is given to improve the lot of the sporting individuals instead of the officials. One hopes that encouragement so given will improve the performance of Nepali athletes in the Asian Games of 2022 and the South Asian Games of 2023.
The present government if it to do something for this dismal state of affairs of sports in this country must set about making rules and regulations and also providing facilities to the youth of this country. All universities, major colleges must have their grounds for outdoor sports and facilities for indoor ones. The seven pradesh or provinces must have stadiums and sports facilities too. The government for its part must also help in finishing the construction of the International cricket stadium being built at Bharatpur.
One must remember in the context of all this money – coin or paper money in Nepal are short supply commodities and it is usually the generosity of our foreign friends that has got us this far. The other side of this fact is that in spite of misuse we Nepalis never seem to be able to use the allotted budget. The glaring example is the haste in which allocations are used in the last quarter of the financial year for shoddy work because of the all prevalent kickbacks which must be paid to the masters in the chair.
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd