Thursday, 6 May, 2021

Naravane’s Visit Boosts Bilateral Understanding

Nepal and India enjoy multidimensional relations. The people from both nations have been sharing common border, culture and social traditions since the time immemorial. Even when there was no existence of nation states in South Asia, the people, traders and leaders from both nations used to visit each other’s territories without any obstacles. The two nations have open, porous border. This is rare in the contemporary world. Even when there is tension at the highest political level, the relations at the people-to-people level continue without any significant disruption. However, the sound bilateral bond, shared by the people from both nations, fails to inspire the political establishment of India occasionally. As a result, its negative ripples hang over the overall ties of the two countries.
Border dispute is one of the contested issues requiring mutual understanding and wisdom from two sides for its lasting solution. In November last year, the Indian government published its political and administrative map that included Nepal’s Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura located in the far-west. The Government of Nepal formally protested the move and sought meaningful diplomatic talks to end the row. In May this year, the bilateral ties were further strained after India opened an 80-km track that passes through Lipulek. In response, Nepal government unveiled its own map by incorporating the encroached places in it. Nepal’s federal parliament amended the constitution to include new map in the national coat of arms. This historic step was greeted with enthusiasm at home but there lies herculean tasks of mending the fences with the southern neighbour in the aftermath of the publication of maps by both sides.
Against this backdrop, the three-day visit of Indian Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane to Nepal is crucial to bring the bilateral ties back on track. This is the highest level visit by any Indian official since the two nations faced stand-off over the new maps. Apparently, it is his customary trip. Naravane came here to receive honorary rank of General of Nepal Army. But his meeting with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his counterpart Purna Chandra Thapa offered a moment to exchange each other’s views and concerns. On Friday, the Indian army chief paid a courtesy call on PM Oli and discussed the issues of bilateral concerns. PM Oli said that Nepal and India had a good friendship and that the issues between the two countries would be resolved through dialogue. “Nepal and India have centuries-old special relationship and that will remain intact forever,” added the PM.
Similarly, Nepal Army chief Thapa and Naravane held discussions on enhancing areas of cooperation between the two armies, including exchange of high level visits and training, within the existing framework of Nepal-India Bilateral Consultative Group’s Meeting on Security Issues, according to the news carried by this daily. The two armies have maintained sound relations which have enabled the two nations to keep communication channel open at the time of political distrust. Nonetheless, PM Oli has rightly underlined the need of dialogue and communication that the two nations should pursue to sort out their problems no matter how challenging they are. In the past too, the two countries underwent serious trade-offs which were amicably sorted out. Again, the higher political leadership should demonstrate conventional prudence and tact to end the long-drawn territorial dispute.