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Keshar Bahadur Bhandari: National Security Blueprint of Nepal

Nepal should take initiatives like ‘Track One and a Half Diplomacy’ and ‘Track II Diplomacy’ followed by ‘Track I initiative’ in sideline meetings in opportune time. - Editor

Keshar Bahadur Bhandari: National Security Blueprint of Nepal

Brigadier General (Rtd) Keshar Bahadur Bhandari, PhD, is a defense and security analyst. He is credited for drafting the first national security policy document of Nepal. He also served as a military advisor to the UN mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His recent book ‘National Security and the State–A Focus on Nepal’ was  published in 2022. 

Given the existing multifaceted national security scenario, one can assess that Nepal is at a crossroads; if not salvaged on time, the nation is likely to face challenges to its very existence. These multidimensional challenges could come in many forms and from different fronts. Bhandari presents a 10-point insider regarding national security. 



The glaring incompetence in the management of state affairs has led to a serious deficit in good governance. Rampant corruption and economic insecurity have emerged as major national concerns. The political landscape is marred by a lack of adherence to democratic principles, constitutional protection, and proper state management based on constitutional guidelines. Moreover, there are pressing challenges related to the protection and preservation of national history, traditions, culture, religion, language, education, and social values. The nation grapples with foreign influence and passive interventions that compromise established good practices in state affairs and national values. Additionally, the risk of transforming from a young nation to an old one with projected liabilities looms large, further exacerbating the precarious situation. 

All these added together develop a threat to national existence which is not yet perceived by the establishments. Nepal can learn the priority of existence from Israel. 

Completion of NSP 

There is a pressing need to review the existing law, policies, and rules and regulations related to every aspect of the National Security Policy (NSP), so that it can be implemented. An unimplementable NSP is just a dumb piece of paper as it is now. That is why we need to reform, refine, modify, and add new inputs to complete the NSP. 

To fortify national security and streamline decision-making processes, it is also imperative to empower the National Security Council (NSC) with executive authority in critical matters of national interest. This would involve appointing the National Security Advisor (NSA) as the member secretary of the NSC, thereby making them the primary security advisor to the executive head. To ensure the prominence of the NSA’s role, a protocol should be established designating them as a senior minister. 

Furthermore, the NSA would be entrusted with the responsibility of leading the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which would serve as an oversight body for the coordination and implementation of the NSP across various ministries and departments. 

Balanced foreign policy 

To salvage the nation from single-country dependency and dominance, it is crucial to cultivate amicable relations with larger neighbors while safeguarding national interests. Simultaneously, seizing the opportunity presented by UN peace efforts is essential. 

Aggressive participation and diplomatic engagement at the UN headquarters can provide the nation with leverage, allowing it to articulate and protect its interests on the global stage. 

We must also adopt specific and separate policies for our neighbors, and country-specific policies with the rest of the world based on the non-aligned policy.

‘Reengineering’ the state system 

Nepal’s state management system has gone beyond the point of being reformed and restructured. Trying to reform and restructure the system cannot bring the country back on track. Before things turn worse, we must ‘reengineer’ the state management system to bring the nation back on a proper track. Sooner we realize this need and take action, the better it will be for the nation. 

Potent deterrence 

Nepal must develop a potent deterrence capability in areas of core security—effective strike back and counter terrorist capability (Special Force, Rangers, Anti terrorist force), and develop effective intelligence, legal system, laws and order capability, public awareness, and response mechanism. Through credible deterrence capability, we can win the confidence of our neighbors by assuring them that no harm will ever come from Nepal’s soil to their national interest. Thus it is crucial for Nepal to build credible deterrence armor and diplomatic armor to earn the trust of our neighbors.  

New dimension on security thinking 

The Himalayan/Trans-Himalayan region and South Asia as a whole is a volatile geography of the world. India, a rising global military and economic power, harbors enmity with China, another super power and economic power, and they have gone to war in the past. The pre-existing negativity and historical enmity between India and Pakistan have become a festering non-healing problem, and they have fought several wars in the past. The border disputes of India with China and Pakistan have become a non-resolvable chronic problem and border skirmishes and stalemates have become a regular feature. These issues have made the region volatile, thus making South Asia an unsecure region. 

To resolve acute security problems for good, some bigger initiative is required to bring India and China closer, so that they can work together to achieve their  national aspirations and other greater interests. The national aspiration of India is to become a super power and become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The national aspiration of China is to expand its economic power unresisted world over, become secured from containment efforts of the US and the Western powers, and take Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connectivity to India’s market through Nepal. 

China and India are the second and fifth largest economies and third and fourth powerful countries by military strength rankings in the world. Therefore, their aspiration is not unjust. 

In the 21st century, economic considerations are poised to take precedence over defense and other geopolitical issues. The prioritization of economic interests is seen as a deterrent to engaging in warfare, as nations recognize the interconnectedness of global economies. Defense and economy are expected to be complementary rather than conflicting priorities. 

A significant shift in global dynamics could occur if China and India collaborate and align their interests, potentially becoming the largest economy and military power globally. This alliance could expedite the realization of the Asian Century, where Asia, driven by the economic and military prowess of China and India, could exert substantial influence and even dictate global affairs. 

In this envisioned new world order, India’s aspiration to become a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) may find greater feasibility by aligning with China, rather than relying on the support of the US. Given Russia’s proximity to both China and India, such alignment could provide India with increased leverage in achieving its national aspirations on the global stage. 

China and India 

Nepal has the best of the relationship with both its neighbors, India and China. Like a small lynchpin could couple two big machines to generate heavy power, Nepal can play a role and act as a lynchpin between India and China to bring them closer and ally them together for bigger economic and national interests. Nepal could take initiative for a 50 years of Tri-party ‘Peace and Friendship Agreement’ between India-Nepal-China; and if it happens, it will bring a strategic paradigm shift in the global history. In this scenario, India and China will be at the center stage of making global decisions. 

The problem between India and Pakistan will become a none-issue because of the China factor, and the enmity between them will die down. This will make the volatile Himalayan region and the whole of South Asia safe, establishing a stable regional peace. This will expedite the “21st Century becoming Asian Century”. Nepal as well as all of the South Asian nations will benefit and prosper from the unfathomable economic development. 

The catch point 

Hypothetically, the US and Western powers would neither allow China and India to align and cooperate, nor would they let the two nations go to war. If China and India were to align and cooperate, they together would become the world’s first economy and military power, and would dictate the global term which would be against the interest of the West. And if they were to go to war, both being nuclear states, it may trigger a greater war if not world war. The possible use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons cannot be denied—which again the West will not allow this to happen. 

Because of their geo-politics and domestic political compulsion, India and China by themselves cannot take such initiative on their own, despite knowing its great benefit. Therefore, some acceptable third party is required to take such an initiative. Nepal is best suited for this role. 


Nepal should take initiatives like ‘Track One and a Half Diplomacy’ and ‘Track II Diplomacy’ followed by ‘Track I initiative’ in sideline meetings in opportune time. For this, some acceptable group of people or the most acceptable trusted individual by both the countries would be suitable. Political parties may create such groups of people. Regarding an individual of credible national stature, no one would be better and suitable than the erstwhile king Gyanendra Shah. The establishment can nominate him giving such a mandate, or he himself can take such an initiative. 


If the above hypothesis could be proved wrong by making the tri-party agreement happen, which is feasible and very tempting—the game is won. Therefore, Nepal has to think big and act big and try to make it happen. Maybe Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, in their first thought, could be reluctant to make it happen. On this, they may have to take risks in their domestic politics, but also have the opportunity to make history.