In­dian Army chief Rawat talks ab­surd, test­ing time for PM Oli be­gins

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - N.P. UPADHYAYA (Tele­graph Nepal ed­i­tor@ tele­graph­

In­dian lead­er­ship re­mains in a shocked state. The shock is only but log­i­cal in that the In­dian regime, the suc­ces­sor of the British In­dia Com­pany, re­ceived two se­vere jolts this time which were at least un­ex­pected to the co­er­cive regime from an “In­de­pen­dent and Sov­er­eign” Nepal. The first diplo­matic shock took a se­ri­ous di­men­sion when the babus re­sid­ing in the for­mer Mughal Sul­tanate were told in no un­cer­tain terms that Nepal as a sov­er­eign na­tion would not be a part of the In­dia de­signed mil­i­tary block called the BIMSTEC joint mil­i­tary drill against pri­mar­ily China and then Pak­istan. BIMSTEC is be­ing mis­used by In­dia as a mil­i­tary block to which the coun­tries en­gaged in the said or­ga­ni­za­tion may not even thought of. In­dia prefers to build a re­gional block that iso­lates China and Pak­istan which is nei­ther de­sir­able nor af­ford­able to the coun­tries who have in­ti­mate ties in­di­vid­u­ally with China and Pak­istan. The SAARC body was killed by In­dia sim­ply be­cause Pak­istan was an ac­tive mem­ber and China was present in the re­gional body as an Ob­server. The pres­ence of China and Pak­istan in the SAARC had made In­dia restive. Nepal PM Oli though has re­it­er­ated that the BIMSTEC can't be a sub­sti­tute to BIMSTEC. But for how long Oli will re­main firm in his dec­la­ra­tion? Frankly speak­ing, no coun­try in the BIMSTEC can on a one to one ba­sis wish to tease both China and Pak­istan for they un­der­stand the con­se­quences in ad­vance. More­over, these coun­tries have of late ad­vanced their coun­try to coun­try re­la­tions with China and Pak­istan both suit­ing to their na­tional in­ter­ests. Ex­cep­tion could be Bangladesh and Bhutan. Even these two coun­tries have ex­pressed their de­sire to part­ner China for their in­ter­nal de­vel­op­ment as China has in the re­cent years emerged as a strong coun­try at par with the United States of Amer­ica whose tail is the present day In­dia. The same In­dia used to be the fine tail of the for­mer Soviet Union if one were to re­call. The BIMSTEC fam­ily (Nepal's in­clu­sion in this con­clave is de­cep­tive in that this coun­try has noth­ing to do with the Bay of Ben­gal save ex­pect­ing the Mon­soon clouds all the way trav­el­ing to Nepal). Nepal PM Oli when sensed the ul­te­rior mo­tive of the vis­it­ing In­dian PM Modi while mak­ing a speech at the BIMSTEC meet wherein he had said that “shortly the coun­tries en­gaged in the BIMSTEC shall meet in In­dia for a joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise”, the PM to­gether with the Nepal's strong na­tion­al­ists be­gan ven­ti­lat­ing their in­ner ideas that re­minded us all that Nepal should re­frain from such mil­i­tary drills as such ex­er­cises de­vi­ated Nepal far from its es­tab­lished and long prac­ticed pol­icy of non align­ment and that it was noth­ing but a de­sign to ma­lign the non aligned cre­den­tials of Nepal, the par­tic­i­pa­tion was thus with­drawn. This came as bolt from the blue to “whom it con­cerned”. The last minute can­cel­la­tion by Nepal may have shocked Delhi but Nepal had no op­tion left to save its non aligned cre­den­tials. In do­ing so at least Nepal was able to tell the world com­mu­nity that the coun­try has been able to main­tain its long held sta­tus of non align­ment. Delhi has rea­sons to weep in that the babus in Delhi had ex­pected Nepal's un­con­di­tional yes to the In­dian de­signs, how­ever, en­tire na­tion­al­ists of the coun­try united and added strength to PM Oli's straight de­nial to the dan­ger­ous scheme de­signed by the for­mer seat of the Mughals. In­ter­est­ingly, what ap­peared in the press af­ter the Nepali de­nial to Delhi that the Nepal Army had on its own de­cided to join this mil­i­tary drill in Pune with­out in­form­ing even the de­fense min­is­ter Mr. Ish­war Pokhrel. The Nepalese for­eign min­istry too did not know of the Nepal's Army's plan to join the Pune drill. How­ever, as things have be­gun trick­ing down sources say that Nepal Army gave words to In­dia only when the de­fense min­is­ter Mr. Pokhrel pro­vided his pos­i­tive nod to the Pune drill. This time the now re­tired Army Chief Ra­jen­dra Chet­tri was in the Chair. For­eign Min­is­ter Gyawali also was in knowl­edge of this In­dian game. Ques­tion is why these two lieu­tenants of PM Oli did not in­form their boss? This is dan­ger­ous. Oli must keep his eyes and ears open….for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. If true then this should mean that PM Oli is be­ing cheated by his own men in the cabi­net. And it is per­haps this is what may have en­cour­aged the In­dian Am­bas­sador Man­jeev Singh Puri to make a sud­den dash to the Army head quar­ters and take to task the new Army Chief Mr. Thapa. For Am­bas­sador Puri, “mi­cro man­aged” Nepal is home away from home. What is more than dis­turb­ing is that the new Army Chief is learnt to have lamented for not hav­ing been able to join the Pune joint mil­i­tary drill. This has come to our no­tice through the so­cial me­dia though the au­then­tic­ity is yet to be es­tab­lished. If true then what could be drawn from Army Chief's lament? Be that as it may, it is PM Oli's prob­lems to keep his house in order and tame his er­ratic boys in a dis­ci­plined state. Given all these diplo­matic up­heavals in place, PM Oli is thus ad­vised to watch the events closely and de­ter­mine as to who were what and work­ing for whom in his Cabi­net? Pen­e­tra­tion of alien sleuths? The sec­ond jolt which added to the first one was re­lated with the tran­sit routes awarded to Nepal by one of the de­clared bête noir of the In­dian regime-China which co­in­cided with the tim­ing of the first jolt. De­nial of the joint mil­i­tary drill could have been di­gested by In­dia; how­ever, the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of the tran­sit routes to Nepal in num­bers is what made the In­dian regime un­easy. Delhi must have been told by lo­cal in­form­ers that Nepal has now opted to sit in the warm laps of the Chi­nese regime once and for all. Prior to ac­cus­ing Nepal, New Delhi should as­sess its own role and be­hav­ior and come to a con­clu­sion as to why Nepal may have pre­ferred this op­tion? When pushed to the wall, Nepal found a good and re­li­able part­ner in China. The 2015 eco­nomic block­ade that it was. Though China has awarded sev­eral tran­sit routes to Nepal, the usual and vo­cal In­dia lobby has be­gun writ­ing all the non­sense and some have even dared to claim that still In­dian routes should be brought into use as against the Chi­nese ones. This is non­sense in that this In­dian lobby doesn't wish to break Nepal's heavy de­pen­dency on In­dia. This is just unimag­in­able but a fact which could well be no­ticed in the so­cial me­dia. In­ter­est­ingly, those who op­pose the Chi­nese routes be­long to the same In­dian brand that have had their tacit con­tri­bu­tion in dam­ag­ing Nepal cam­paign then ini­ti­ated by In­dian for­eign sec­re­tary Shyam Saran as back as in 2005-6. Shyam Saran has ad­mit­ted him­self in a re­cently pub­lished book that he had re­mained in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing about the “In­dia de­sired change” in Nepal by forc­ing King Gya­nen­dra the jun­gles. He even has said as to how he ex­ceeded his bu­reau­cratic lim­its (of a sit­ting for­eign sec­re­tary) by sum­mon­ing a press con­fer­ence and air­ing his per­sonal pre­ferred views on Nepal po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion that dif­fered with his gov­ern­ment's views taken af­ter the first gen­eral ad­dress made by Nepal King invit­ing the ag­i­tat­ing Nepali lead­ers to form a gov­ern­ment of their lik­ing. Mr. Saran through the spe­cial press con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­tated the smooth en­trance of his com­rade in arms that is the Maoists lead­ers who were shel­tered in Delhi and

kept un­der spe­cial care of the In­dian gov­ern­ment. It was this con­fer­ence of Mr. Saran that al­lowed the smooth en­trance of the Delhi re­sid­ing Maoists to not only en­ter Nepal but to grab cov­eted posts both in the gov­ern­ment and in the par­lia­ment formed un­der the in­struc­tions of the In­dian regime. Of the two se­nior Maoists lead­ers, Prachanda and Dr. Bhat­tarai, the lat­ter is in a trip to the United States of Amer­ica. Dr. Bhat­tarai prior to board­ing a plane from Wash­ing­ton D. C to Texas, some lo­cal Nepali youths in the DC area chanted slo­gans that were of not good taste to Dr. Bhat­taraithe sec­ond man in com­mand of the peo­ple's war which was waged against Nepal by be­ing in New Delhi. More or less it was an In­dia spon­sored war against Nepal through the ex­ten­sive use of the Nepali lead­ers them­selves. Un­for­tu­nately those ex­ten­sively used were our own he­roes Com­rade Prachanda and ide­o­logue Dr. BR Bhat­tarai. Com­rade Prachanda is in China tour these days. The abrupt de­nial of Nepal to par­tic­i­pate in the BIMSTEC mil­i­tary drill or­ga­nized in In­dia by PM Modi has made the In­dian lead­er­ship ner­vous in that the lat­ter thinks that Nepal in do­ing so is inch­ing close to China. Or has even in­clined too much to China. This is par­tially cor­rect also. Look what the In­dian Mil­i­tary Chief Rawat says . “Nepal have to be in­clined to In­dia be­cause of ge­og­ra­phy”. He was speak­ing to re­porters in Pune on the side­lines of the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the Bay of Ben­gal Ini­tia­tive for Mul­ti­sec­toral Tech­ni­cal and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion –Field train­ing Mil­i­tary ex­er­cise also known as Milex-18. The In­dian mil­i­tary man has gone se­nile in that he takes Nepal as of the good old days when Nepal have had to live in com­plete iso­la­tion for cer­tain do­mes­tic rea­sons. In­dia should now change its per­spec­tive as re­gards Nepal that the lat­ter is more or less de­pen­dent on In­dia. The fact is that the de­pen­dency is al­beit there but the en­trance of China in Nepali af­fairs or say pol­i­tics has made Nepal al­ready less de­pen­dent on In­dia. China for the knowl­edge of the In­dian mil­i­tary man Bipin Rawat has opened sev­eral tran­sit routes for the use of Nepal which means that Nepal in a few years time shall use the trade and tran­sit routes pro­vided by China as against In­dia's. A UML func­tionary Yo­gesh Bhat­tarai has told Mr. Bipin Rawat that, in his own words, (Mr. Rawat, our in­cli­na­tion to­wards In­dia in the past was a Hi­malayan blun­der and now we stand on our own. How­ever, our in­cli­na­tion to­wards China, as you have taken it, too is a tem­po­rary one for we bet­ter un­der­stand on how to stand on our own and thus you take no pains about us-Nepal”. Mr. Bhat­tarai is sup­pos­edly very close to Nepal PM Oli. This per­haps ex­plains the rest. The old mil­i­tary man lacks knowl­edge of In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and the diplo­matic con­duct be­tween two na­tions. Nepal is a sov­er­eign coun­try with an in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy based on Non align­ment. The BIMSTEC Mil­i­tary drill or­ga­nized cun­ningly by the In­dian PM Modi in Pune was com­pletely an In­dian at­tempt to sound China and Pak­istan that the en­tire BIMSTEC or­ga­ni­za­tion now were in the grip of the In­dian regime and that time per­mit­ting this BLOCK could be well used against those two coun­tries. But the fact is that none of the coun­tries en­gaged in the BIMSTEC con­clave can dare to chal­lenge China or Pak­istan on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis. Gen­eral Rawat's se­nile ex­pres­sions may have some value to baby Bhutan but Nepal re­mains un­de­terred sim­ply be­cause In­dia is a pa­per tiger and at best a co­er­cive regime which has mas­tered the art of im­po­si­tion of Eco­nomic Block­ades on smaller coun­tries who beg to dif­fer with the In­dian com­mands. Hav­ing said this, PM Oli could now be the next tar­get of PM Modi for hav­ing dared to boy­cott the Pune drill. How Oli han­dles the up­com­ing tur­moil though PM Modi and Prachanda com­bined shall have to be watched.

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