On Nepal-US Foreign Ministerial Meeting


Matrika Poudyal

18th December, 2018 suddenly became a historic day for Nepalese diplomacy. This was the day when Nepalese Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met.  This was the top-most diplomatic meeting in Nepal-US relations taking place after a long interlude. So, the volume of expectation from the people is much larger.  The meeting stroke some deals yielding some rays of hope.

They arranged an agreement for broadening more than half a century long bilateral relations and its strategic significance in emerging multi-polar world. The event, in fact, contributed for serving mutual interests depending on various issues that matter at regional as well as global level. 

Minister Gyawali has confirmed that the bilateral meeting emphasized reasonable impact in Nepalese diplomacy. It became, as he further put, the milestone for broadening the sphere of activities regarding mutual strategic benefits.  

On the one hand, he did highlight the motto of current government regarding promotion of peace and prosperity disparately needed for making Nepalese people happy. The detailed socio-political events that the transitional governments carried out in recent past were also included in his briefing note to his US counterpart Pompeo. As a ritual, they also came to agree for exchanging high-level bilateral meetings on behalf of augmenting reciprocal national interests.  

On the other hand, it is also seen as the rare US signal to make Nepal a proxy for containing Chinese interests and boosting Indian image i.e. for US, the former has turned to be an arch-rival in world trade system and the latter is elevated as its essential ally to address Indo-Pacific regional interests.   

The US Department of State has been very busy this year, mostly after former head of CIA Mr. Mike Pompeo took lead of it. No sooner did he take oath of the office than he chartered unprecedented journey of negotiating peace with Cold War arch enemy, the DPRK. He was the only Secretary of State who "charmed" North Korean leader Chairman Un for holding a historical summit with the US President Donald Trump.  The summit took place and certain level of de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula kick started though visible consequences have not been achieved yet.  

Pompeo recently visited Pakistan and held a meeting with newly elected Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan for warming up the already frozen US-Pak ties. He has been consulting regional leaders in Asia-Pacific region. The obvious ground for such meetings is nothing but to encircle Chinese influence and lambast Sinicization of the region.  

Nepal was the only vital buffer state for America during the Cold war. It offered plenty of latitude to carry out "CIA funded activities including the Khampa Rebellion in China" for that then "Nepalese king bartered some national projects of development with US.  

As the world moves closer to multi-polarity, the US finds Nepal the safest zone for playing drama of diplomacy in the heart of Asia. It has turned down some of the best deals it had made among the other global powers and regional alliances: TPP, NAFTA, G7, JCPOA among others. NATO has also been impaired by the dubious role of America in post-2016 era.

America is now isolated power. It lacks reliable allies and sets of strategic partners for executing its global agenda. The closest regional power, EU has been badly insulted by the Trump administration. President Trump and his Whitehouse team have no confidence of the majority American tax-payers. It is weakened further after the Mid-term election making things worse.  The US citizens en masse are curiously witnessing the wanton violation of American values. 

In this light, the meeting of Secretary Pompeo and Minister Gyawali is tactically significant.  The US interests are now enveloped under the issues of enhancing democracy, guaranteeing basic human rights and promoting peace and harmony. Later on, the veil of diplomatic terms and moves may be decoded as the harshest reality.     
Specifically, the most compelling evidence is that the US presents itself on world stage as the only and probably the last surviving global hegemon expending billions of dollars a day. It has strongest military, swiftest administrative machineries and unshakable institutions.  Equipped with such strategic devices, it navigates the global politics, finance and cultural realms in an indomitable manner. It has forged many regional alliances, economic agreements and military pacts worldwide. 

Astonishingly, other global powers cannot afford to underrate the US strategies on all occasions.  In fact, most of the global powers have allied in a way or another with it for keeping their respective international concerns alive. No nation in post-WW II era has openly challenged it for all out war.  

However, it has a vital concern that is global war on terrorism because the terrorists are invisible enemies. They make their sanctuary in least developed countries where extremism gets safe haven for hatching terrorist plots and regulate contrabands—these states harbor terrorists, train the fanatics and finance their operations. They pose a tough threat even for the American army. 

So, US interests in weak and vulnerable states have meaning. It strives for preventing further escalations of disguised foes which live like any ordinary civilians in community life. These states lack institutions for state mechanism.

If US needs Nepal as the strategic partner, it has commit some promises for winning the hearts of already shattered Nepalese people.  

Hence, US efforts should focus on helping to build resilient, rightful, and visible institutions of government. The building institutions as such include laying foundation for empowering ordinary citizens so that they easily grab the opportunities of generating income to make their living in peaceful manner. As long as there is poverty and unemployment, the innocent youths find nothing but to resort to the act of terrorist violence. 
The US assistance to build lawful and democratic institutions has brought about significant changes in life of the people living in violence-prone zones around the world. It should also do the same in Nepal. 

Thus, the sophisticated growth and poverty reduction projects are very crucial.  The US assistance to build lawful and democratic institutions has brought about significant changes in life of the people living in violence-prone zones around the world. It should also do the same in Nepal. 

Identically, security-related institutions like police and military organizations must be enhanced through enough financial assistance in order to protect them from any shabbiness. The security institutions are essential to tackle the security gaps in public life.  If they are kept well-functioning, they in turn work guaranteeing public safety.  

There is always a threat for territorial integrity of Nepal. America may solicit its regional ally India to help promote political instability and regional integrity of Nepal. In history India had played critical roles against the sovereignty and communal harmony of Nepal—unfortunately America never intervenes into Indo-Nepal crunch time to assist embargo-hit Nepal.

Few million dollars US support may assist Nepalese hunger for infra-structural developments for certain while; the crux of the matter is to lift Nepal from the ditch of perennial disasters the neibouring India imposes time and again.
The United States can rescue Nepalese government from being failure without catering ugly consequences. Nepalese people are religious certainly but they are not extremists. They have rich experiences of living in ethnically most amalgamated society-the society comprised of more than hundred linguistic communities, more than sixty different ethnic groups and three different geographical regions.   

Thus, neither the US nor India must worry about the conduct of Nepalese people. They are friendly and accommodative. What they need now is the trustworthy strategic partners for poverty alleviation, physical developments and institutional enhancement.