Nepal Must Focus On Sound Diplomacy

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There was much hoopla about the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States some days back. Modi, of course, is a charismatic leader and he got a rousing welcome from both the Indian diaspora in America and also from none less than President Joe Biden and his wife. But the credit of the huge respect he received goes also to the fact that India is a very important player politically, economically and also militarily in the South Asian Region. Besides the hard work put in by the able Indian diplomats in boosting the image of India should also not be forgotten.

This author had many friends in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and he found all of them as capable diplomats who could fulfil the interests of their country wherever they were stationed. It was no different in Nepal and very capable hands headed the vital departments in the embassy here. But we cannot say the same thing about our own diplomats, who are appointed through nepotism, party connection and the influence of certain leaders for whatever reasons.

Training in diplomacy 

We are not talking only about the politically appointed head of missions abroad, but also the civil servants in our Foreign Ministry who are not trained well in diplomacy, which could prove vital for the nation while dealing especially with nations which are important for the country. Like in the IFS, our diplomats should also be given a rigorous training so that they can perform better for the nation's interest while dealing with officials, influential media persons and even common people when they are working in foreign lands. Our leaders, officials and diplomats must learn from the huge success of Indian Prime Minister Modi's visit to the United States and the huge international media coverage his visit received.

It is the same case with China. It has a strong base of networking in many countries that expect different kinds of support from it. 

The diplomats, no matter where they are stationed, are also very efficient in furthering the country's policies and they make a difference in their country's stance. It is a positive development that many of our top level leaders are visiting China in recent times and none less than Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda himself has said that he will visit China soon. Learning about the huge strides that China has taken to become an international economic giant is also good, but it is important that our own policy-makers and planners also implement similar steps so that the general populace in the country benefit and have better living standards.

China and India are not only our close neighbours, but also big nations with strong economies, thus we have to learn from these two countries and move ahead both politically and economically. But it seems as if we have not learnt our lessons very well. We can look at not only China and India but also the United States and other developed countries and learn how they put forth the interests of their country in foreign lands. Here we have to admit that the visits to foreign countries by our top level leaders will definitely contribute in putting forward the concerns of Nepal and also its needs. 

Nepal, after all, depends heavily on foreign aid and the imports that it makes from different countries. In fact, much of the government revenue comes from the taxes it raises from the imported goods. Besides it also depends heavily on the remittance sent by Nepali citizens working abroad. 

There are hundreds of thousands of Nepalis working outside the country to contribute to the nation's economy. While the outflow of hundreds of thousands of skilled or unskilled youths may not be desirable, one must accept the fact that these workers are still helping in taking the nation forward. 

The policy-makers must also mull over this exodus of our youths and formulate policies to keep them back by giving them better opportunities here in the country itself. 

There are vast resources in Nepal and there are some sectors which could bring quick economic developments besides providing job opportunities to thousands of people. Take for example the water resources and travel and tourism sectors. But not only for these sectors but also for our citizens who prefer to work abroad, again we need the help of friendly nations all over the world. And thus we need the goodwill which can be generated by our top level leaders while travelling abroad and meeting high level officials and also our good presence in such countries. 

Right individual 

Therefore, high level policy-makers must not forgot that choosing the right individual to be a diplomat and also representing the nation as its envoy in a foreign country is not an easy task. Just appointing some political supporters or some persons through nepotism or favouritism simply will not help the country's interests. The training side is also very important, but in finding a capable person who understands the intricacies of diplomacy is equally important.

Nepal is fortunate that it not only has ample natural resources, but it also enjoys the friendship of hundreds of nations throughout the world. It would not be difficult for it to seek a helping hand or cooperation from all these countries. 

But besides our leaders, the diplomats play a major role in making the presence of Nepal felt and also put forth its friendly foreign policy and its needs to them. That is why like China, India and other developed nations, we need skilled and capable individuals as the nation's representatives abroad and not some cousins or party supporters in the same role. Like said by a wise leader, 'diplomacy is like hot air, but it makes the ride easier’, so better diplomatic relations is vital for Nepal as well.

(The author is former chief editor of this daily.)

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Lok Deep Thapa
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