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Our turf, our rules

Our turf, our rules

The European Union Election Observer Mission contends that the constitutional provision for proportional representation in Nepal is flawed, in that the PR quota includes “well represented social groups such as Khas Arya”. Whether the PR system is flawed or not, it is beside the point. Our constitution is not flawless, and it will be amended as and when needed. But what to amend and when should be entirely up to Nepali actors. It is particularly baffling when responsible members of the international community—among them those who first defined the concept of sovereignty for nation-states no less—poke their nose into a purely internal matter for Nepal.

We fully support the prime minister when he says no attempt to disturb social harmony in Nepal will be tolerated. KP Sharma Oli, who now commands absolutely majority in federal as well as all seven provincial assemblies, is arguably the strongest prime minister of democratic Nepal. It is good to see that at least in his early days he is clearly spelling out our national interest, and making it crystal clear that the days when foreigners could openly meddle are over. The foreign ministry, under the competent hands of Pradeep Gyawali, also deserves credit for its swift and unambiguous rebuttal of the provocative observer mission report.

Foreign envoys in Kathmandu traditionally enjoyed outsize clout as our political leaders were always at their beck and call. There is no shortage of leaders in Nepal who have asked resident Indian envoys to place their children in good Indian universities, or those who have finagled cushy trips to China from resident Chinese envoys. Our MPs and ministers, over the years, have also been a little too eager to go on all-expenses junkets to the US or Europe, often by compromising the country’s interest.

It is too early to say whether Oli’s ministers will be any different. But early signs are encouraging. Now that Nepal has a constitution as well as a strong government elected under it, the prime minister also made it clear that political inputs from the outside are needed no more. Of course, if our foreign friends want to help Nepal in its new quest for equitable economic development, or if they are keen to pursue mutually beneficial deals, they are most welcome.

The new rule of engagement for foreign actors could not be simpler: if you want to do business in Nepal, you will have to learn to play by our rules, just like we play by yours when we are on your territory.