EPG's report makes Nepal-India ties stronger : Dr. Bhesh Bahadur Thapa

Foreign Affairs Expert


Why is the report prepared by the Nepal-India Imminent Persons' Group has not handed over the Prime Ministers of both the countries?

The submission of report has not been delayed because we have recently completed our works. Likewise, there is also busy schedule of both Prime ministers. We cannot submit the report forcefully. The process has started and we will complete work after sometime.

So, when the report will be submitted?

We are ready to handover the report. The process of writing has already finished and printing process started. The report has been prepared, but the schedule for the time to submit is not fixed.

What issues are included in the report prepared by the EPG?

Both Nepalese and Indian sides have reached the conclusion point about the report. It has been formed by joint press statement of Prime Ministers of two countries. As a result of this, we have agreed to not talk about the issues of report unless it is submitted to two Prime Ministers.

After this report is publicized, what dimensions will come in relation to the two countries?

The report was finalized with an aim of reviewing other bases of various treaties of different times and to improve and strengthen the bilateral relations of two countries. We have prepared the report for two years about what we need to add and to review. Therefore, our effort was to make it more prosperous in the relationship between Nepal and India. This report has been included past treaties and agreements, like trade, hydropower and other issues.

Are you confident that the relationship between the two countries should further improve after publicizing the report?

Yes, why not because this is only the main of the report. The basic foundation as per the directive given by the Prime Minister of the two countries and by seeing some of the activities done so far, some topics have changed. Some topics are older in the report and some have been added. Based on the relationship, it has become a lot of fluctuations within the 70 years since 1950. The main objective is to improve the relationship and resolve the solution in the divided issues.

What problem was faced when preparing this report?

Some things have become so unusual and very old. Crime activity has increased at border, trade deficit has also increased. There are other different problems. By analyzing and discussing on these matters, our desire was how to strengthen the relationship.

How can it be optimistic that the two governments would implement this report?

The Prime Minister of two countries had started this process. They read the report and move forward how to implement it, how to modify the current understanding. So it depends on the head of the governments. Our task was just to give suggestions. We belief the suggestion was result-oriented.

It means the report is only the suggestions given to the head of governments?

The two governments only implement the report. The process is long, we have just started.

The issue of implementing the identity card in Nepal-India border has also come out, what is the reality?

Let's do not talk whether this report included or not. The report cannot be spoken outside unless the report is publicized.

While preparing the report, we are trying to make a report that could not hurt the sentiment of the openness between India and Nepal. However, the problems shown in that area like criminal activities, trafficking and other activities, is now increasing. The subject should also be addressed because the thing is included, only when it comes out. However, there is no issue related to the obstruction of the two countries.

It was complained EPG could have included people of Tarai-Madhesh, what is your opinion?

EPG does not address this complain. Even they are Nepalese or Indian. The persons were chosen by both the nations. It is not appropriate to look at it narrowly.

How can Nepal benefit from BIMSTEC?

Nepal joined BIMSTEC with a big expectation that this regional group would be able to achieve the miracles that SAARC is unable to achieve due to political differences especially between India and Pakistan.  It was important for Nepal to join BIMSTEC because most of Nepal's trade and transit operated through Bay of Bangal. Nepal also hoped to seek an entry into Southeast Asian countries especially for improving connectivity and opportunities in trade, transit, investment, energy and tourism. As landlocked countries, Nepal and Bhutan can hope to get more access to the oceanic resources and better trade and transit through Bay of Bengal.  But concrete action will be necessary to provide more direct access for landlocked Nepal and Bhutan.

Does SAARC is in shadow due to BIMSTEC?

BIMSTEC and SAARC are not alternatives to each other and have equal importance. Both BIMSTEC and SAARC are important in their own way. As SAARC chair Nepal to make effort to hold the 19th SAARC summit. As SAARC summit was scheduled to be held in Pakistan in 2016 but it has organized yet mainly due to tensed relations between two rival countries India and Pakistan. It is not easy to hold SAARC summit even Nepal's only readiness unless India wants. Nepal has a leading role for establishing and expanding SAARC.

Even, as chair of SAARC, Nepal is not able to do anything in the dispute between India and Pakistan. So, the alternative of SAARC is not BIMSTEC because we need both SAARC and BIMSTEC. If Pakistan's newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan tries to take concrete initiatives to improve relations with India then the situation could improve. Otherwise, either SAARC cannot be active in status quo neither Pakistan could be included in BIMSTRC.

Published Date : 3 September, 2018 Monday. 

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