Its time to renovate our neighbor policy: Prachanda

Puspa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda"

UCPN Maoist Puspa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda has been in the limelight for the recent years for coming up with ideas and strategies. Since the demise of Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala, Prachanda has dominated Nepali politics to the extent that the proposal of forming the incumbent Chief Justice led government was also his. This former rebel leader has been invited Chinese President Xi Jinping officially. Given Jinping’s recent comment to build close relationship with neighboring nations and his invitation to Prachanda has been read significantly by observers. Before heading to Beijing on Sunday, Prachanda spoke to Nepalireporter’s Rishi Dhamala on issues that his visit will be prioritizing. Here are the excerpts:

What is the objective of this visit?

This visit will be different than my previous visits to China. Instead of political affairs, during this visit discussions will center on economic front, areas of China-Nepal cooperation, India-China relationship, and Indo-Nepal cooperation. Along with that economic cooperation for helping Nepal pass through the transition will be another priority area.

Is your visit political or economical?

It is obvious to have China’s cooperation in holding Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and drafting of the new constitution. My agenda’s will concentrate on ensuring Nepal’s economic development. China has positioned itself as the second economic power and as a neighbor its contribution in our development activities and initiatives should be more. Priority areas for this are mega projects like the West Seti Hydropower, Pokhara Airport, and other projects include railway extension till Kathmandu, middle-mountain roadway, Kathmandu Metro Railway, Herbs and Medicene processing, and other afro-related projects which includes China’s advanced hybrid-rice seedling technology.

Whom are you going to hold discussions with?

The scheduled is yet not ascertained. But I am expecting to hold discussions with key Chinese politicians. I will be first addressing a meet of South Asian intellectuals in Chengdu. Than after i will head for Beijing where i will hold discussions with Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping. After discussions I will be visiting special Chinese economic zones and will return home via Hong Kong.

Is this party or a national consensus visit?

I am heading for China as the Coordinator of Interim Electoral Council and thus represent the view of Nepali government and those of the major political parties. This is a official state visit and my efforts will concentrate on making it advantageous for Nepal in the days ahead.

What is the political significance?

It is obvious for our neighbors to have a stable neighborhood. We are preparing to hold fresh CA elections to draft a new constitution. This visit will try to garner support from our neighbor for both of this endeavor which will end our transition and bring stability.

Is India visit also on the cards?

I am in regular consultations with the Indian embassy in Kathmandu. Theoritically I will heading for India on a weeklong visit at the end of this month. However a date for the visit has not been ascertained so far. It might be in the last week of April or first week of May. That visit will also be different in the way that it will also center on eon comic agendas more than political. Both China and India are serious about Nepal’s development and I am looking forward to come up with projects in which both of these neighbors can work together. Such a project will help in creating a mutually beneficial relationship with these nations.

Nepal has so far not succeeded in balancing both nations. What are your plans?

I am planning to create environment in which both nations could work together in Nepal. It is important because conflict between their interests in Nepal is not beneficial for us. tilting towards any one of them at the cost of another cannot work anymore. Its time for us to learn from both of our neighbors to develop a prosperous nation. In the past there was a trend of using one neighbor against another, its time to end that.