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Editorial: Stick to neutrality

Editorial: Stick to neutrality

The world is currently grappling with multiple crises, ranging from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and tense dynamics between the US and China to escalating tensions in the Middle East, economic recessions, and the pressing issue of climate change. Navigating foreign policy and international relations efficiently during such tumultuous times is challenging for every country.

As major power rivalries escalate, countries in the Global South are facing difficulties staying away from this bloc and alliance politics. Powerful countries are putting pressure on these countries to support them on global issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the crisis in the Middle East. In the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war, a noticeable shift has been seen in the Global South which is trying to adopt a policy of neutrality on various international matters. A common thread among these nations is that they do not want to engage in strategic and military competitions between two countries, but want to maintain equal economic relations with all countries.

Amid these global challenges, leaders from about 120 countries have gathered in Kampala, Uganda, for the 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which kicked off on Monday. There is a high-level participation from Nepal in the summit under the leadership of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Minister for Foreign Affairs NP Saud has already addressed the ministerial conference, highlighting non-alignment as the basis of Nepal's foreign policy. Saud has conveyed a clear message that Nepal maintains an independent and balanced foreign policy and will never join military alliances or security pacts.

The statement of the foreign minister has come at a time when there are intensive discussions on the relevance of the policy of non-alignment in contemporary geopolitics. Such discussions and points of view are misguided because the policy of non-alignment is not merely a movement that began in the 1960s; it is a principle that is still relevant. While interpretations of non-alignment may vary, its essence remains rooted in the refusal to align with one power at the expense of antagonizing others. Nepal's policy of non-alignment has not hindered its ability to forge economic cooperation with all powers.

The policy is still relevant today as powerful nations vie to pull Nepal into their orbits, pressuring it to abandon its neutral stance and support their military and strategic initiatives. Given its geographical, geopolitical, and strategic location, Nepal cannot afford to take sides. Through the policy of non-alignment, Nepal has to give a clear message: it seeks engagement on economic terms while steering clear of military and strategic entanglements. It is willing to consider economic offers devoid of strategic components. As the world grapples with complexity, we urge the government and political parties in Nepal to adhere to the principles of non-alignment.