Your search keywords:

Jaishankar’s Nepal visit: Agenda and priorities

Jaishankar’s Nepal visit: Agenda and priorities

As the English New Year 2024 commences, Nepal is set to host India’s Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar, for a ministerial joint commission meeting on Jan 4-5. This visit, which follows Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s official visit to India from May 31 to June 2 this year, holds significance on both political and economic fronts. 

At the PM-level meeting, Nepal and India expressed commitment to implementing bilateral agreements signed earlier. In a departure from the past, Prime Minister Dahal refrained from addressing certain important agendas that his predecessors had been raising consistently, including the Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty 1950 and the EPG report. 

This article aims to highlight the significance of Jaishankar’s visit and emphasizes the tone required for advancing bilateral relations in a mutually beneficial and dignified manner.

Review of past pacts

Jaishankar has transitioned from a technocrat-diplomat to a politician and is recognized as a trusted aide to Prime Minister Modi. He has been remarkably successful in shaping India’s future, making India both heard and seen as a global power. With a keen focus on this goal, he shoulders a huge responsibility in upholding India’s relations with global powers and neighboring countries, prioritizing New Delhi’s needs and interests.

His visit to Kathmandu presents an opportunity for Nepal to garner his support in nurturing the relationship between the two countries. Nepal should use this occasion to openly discuss concerns and priorities with the Indian government. This offers a chance for a more meaningful and constructive dialogue, benefiting both nations and their peoples. For this, Nepal also needs rapprochement; Nepal should strive to lead the bilateral meeting toward a positive direction by focusing more on development and economic support rather than engaging on contentious issues.  

It’s crucial for both sides to prioritize implementation of past agreements instead of reaching new deals. It’s imperative for Nepal and India to refrain from signing new agreements or memoranda of understanding, as both nations have already established a comprehensive array of agreements covering various sectors. ‘Customary’ visits of Nepali Prime Ministers to India right after assuming the high office focus more often than not on addressing pending agendas and concerns. A crucial step for both nations is to meticulously review past agreements, assess the progress achieved and focus on effective implementation. 

One significant agreement expected to be signed during the Indian high official’s visit concerns the import of 10,000 MW from Nepal within the next 10 years. Both Prime Ministers have formally agreed upon this, and the signing of this agreement could mark a pivotal achievement for Nepal, which generates surplus hydropower during the rainy season. While increasing domestic consumption is important, Nepal’s current surplus positions it to capitalize on exporting hydroelectricity and ensuring economic gains.

It’s also important for both sides to engage in discussions on the Pancheshwar project, West Seti project, air routes and cultural aspects.

A development focus 

As previously mentioned, the Modi government has showcased India’s burgeoning global prowess. Prime Minister Modi stands among the world’s leaders, sought after for enhancing international relations. Minister Jaishankar embodies the mastermind behind India’s recently heightened global recognition and stance.

As Nepal continues its thrust toward advancing its development agenda, Kathmandu can concentrate more on seeking development assistance and grants. Nepal should prioritize and categorize pending issues on the basis of urgency, urging the Indian side to align efforts with these mutually chosen agendas.

Unresolved border issues require a diplomatic way out. Such issues might take years to resolve, just like border disputes between India and China. Despite their complexity, diplomatic channels remain crucial for seeking a lasting solution.

Nepal should assure full security for India’s investment projects within its borders, particularly joint investment hydro projects. 

While it’s crucial for Nepal to address such issues and maintain institutional memory, it’s equally important not to let them constantly strain relations and overshadow broader positive aspects of their ties. Border disputes shouldn’t dictate a perpetual state of animosity, neglecting other constructive dimensions of bilateral relationship.