Nepal’s relation with neighboring countries is positive: Dr Prakash Saran Mahat

Dr Prakash Saran Mahat

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Dr Prakash Saran Mahat has said relation of Nepal to both neighboring countries India and China has been very positive. Dr Mahat made clear that the government of India has a greater role in ending load shedding in Nepal. Here is an excerpt from an interview between senior Journalist Rishi Dhamala and Minister Mahat.

How will the Nepalese politics move forward?

We cannot push nation into conflict. Election and Constitution Amendment are unavoidable and must proceed simultaneously.

In the present political context, Should not Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal suspend the amendment proposal and announce the date of election?

Political leaders must not dawdle on what to prioritize first. Election and Constitution amendment must proceed simultaneously. In order to clear the cloud on current political instability and uncertainty, it is important that the government fix the date of election while advancing the process of constitution amendment at the same time. And, Madhes based parties must learn to develop trust in the government.

It is true that the gap between Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has widened?

It’s not true. We believe in the politics of understanding. The current government was formed on a mutual understanding between CPN Maoist center and Nepali Congress. Now, we have to move forward agreeing on that understanding.

But Prime Minister Dahal and CPN(UML) Chairman KP Oli reached to an agreement at Hattiban meeting. Does it mean PM has become closer to Oli?

Discussion and interactions are a part of politics. But it is necessary that the leaders communicate about discussed matters. Deuba had pre-informed the Prime Minister about his meeting with CPN UMLChairperson Oli and the agendas of the meeting. If political matters are discussed prior to their occurrence, possible threats can be avoided.

The major issue of Nepalese politics is whether to hold election first or amend the constitution. Which do you think can lead Nepal into a state of political stability?

We should not dillydally on what to accomplish first. The amendment process has to be moved forward and directed towards applicable conclusions. Leaders must learn to develop political trust among each other. We have raised the issues of constitution amendment from time and again because it carries the issues and demands of the people of the respective areas. But every demand cannot be met. Parliament is the house of varying opinions and principles. No demand is approved right away. There are provisions in constitution which our party does not agree with too, yet we are moving forward.

Didn’t you give assurance to the international community that the date of election will be fixed soon?

Yes. Now, the constitution amendment process must be forwarded. UML and Madhes based parties should offer their support. Our party has always followed a middle-path approach — not only today but in the time of peace process too. Nepali Congress always works in the way that will benefit nation in the long-term. We are committed to rule of law.

You have been to India for 5 times, are you planning on visiting China too?

Courtesy visit can be paid when required. We want to visit China too. We have visited China when we were invited, and we even have expressed our wish to visit and call for bilateral secretary level meeting. We want to build strong relation based on trust with both China and India.

But there are news that China is not taking interest in Nepal’s government seriously, aren’t there?

I don’t think so. China has provided great support to Nepal’s government. We are aware of the concerns and worries of both our neighboring countries. Nepal government is serious over such matters.

What is the reason that China has never invited Prime Minister and you for any diplomatic visit?

It is not that invitation won’t come. We have sent invitation and we are preparing for that. Connectivity between China and Nepal has to be increased. We have said we should move forward developing understanding.

It’s been six months. Why didn’t you get any invitation?

Common understanding is being developed through continuous communication. Visit to China will certainly be paid in near future.

Can we believe that Nepal has developed a balanced relation between both China and India?

Our relation to China has its own peculiarity and issues. We build our relation focusing on as such. China is ready to open Kodari border. We have also said Rasuwagadi border should be opened as soon as possible. Likewise, we have different issues with India too. Mahakali treaty and trading of electricity are important issues. We will carry out discussion focusing on these subject matters. Both China and India are important to us.

Is it true that the Indian government has an important role in ending load shedding in Nepal?

Certainly! We have imported a huge amount of electricity from India. The Mujafpur-Dhalkebar Transmission line agreement was signed when I was the Energy Minister of Nepal. Today the Mujafpur-Dhalkebar has become an inter country transmission line which has the capacity to import-export 1200 mega watt of electricity. Yes, it is true that the electricity imported from India has a greater role in ending load shedding in Nepal.

KP Sharma Oli has accused the current government to have surrendered in front of India?

It’s not true. We are screening everything. They can gain instantaneous political benefit delivering high sounding speeches form streets and exciting people but it won’t strengthen nationality and national unity. We have strongly raised our issues in diplomatic level. We have communicated with Indian government including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I have always stressed on avoiding suspicious relation between Nepal and India.

Treaties and agreements must be implemented. I believe If we present ourselves strongly and logically we can explain our problems clearly and convince them to fulfill our interest.

We raised the issues of national interest in a concrete way. KP Oli came with high-sounding promises while he was in power and such has been propaganda since 2007 BS.

Once upon a time there was a declaration of tunnel war against India. What didn’t transpire in this country? It did nothing but created environment of distrust and misunderstanding.

But leader of ruling party CPN (Maoist Center) Narayan Kaji Shrestha has accused India of meddling into Nepal’s internal affairs, hasn’t he?

The more we resort to using foul words and chanting slogans on the streets, the rift will widen more. Therefore, the question is did they raise this issue during diplomatic talks? Did they seek diplomatic solution during Delhi visit? What was the stance when the Indian leaders visited Kathmandu? They can’t reveal these things. Just shouting on the streets won’t fulfill our aspirations. They just give lofty public speeches but make secret agreements.

Why have you failed to appoint ambassadors yet?

Yes we agree that appointment of ambassador has been delayed. We have already asked the coalition parties to send us names but they have been dillydallying on that. But we are careful about the impacts of this wavering. Ambassadors will be appointed very soon.