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Book Review:

On Foreign Policy

The book highlights different aspects of Nepalese foreign policy

Nepal's Foreign Policy: Issues and Options

Published by : Institute of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

Price: Undisclosed

Pages: 115

By KESHAB POUDEL

Although Nepal is a small land-locked country, it has immense problems in dealing with foreign relation issues. Sandwiched between two great powers of Asia, handling foreign policy is always a complicated task for Nepal.

Despite such strategic importance of the country, only few people talk about the importance of Nepalese foreign policy and its constraints.

In cooperation with Friedrech-Ebert-Stiftung, Institute of Foreign Affairs organized national seminar on August 20-21 to discuss the issues and options of the Nepal's foreign policy. Based on report proceedings of the National seminar, the book highlights different aspects of Nepalese foreign policy.

Foreign policy needs a strong and broad national consensus as it is the basis to protect national interest and sovereignty. That diplomacy is said to be successful that promotes national interest.

In a country where questions related to foreign policy are hardly debated and discussed, there is naturally confusion and contradiction on policy matters. After the restoration of democracy, Nepal has seen frequent changes in its foreign policy.

After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the first elected goevernment of Nepali Congress preached that democracy and human rights are the top agenda of foreign policy. It did not last long as a small nation Nepal could not protect its national interest by preaching such rhetoric.

At a time when the country's foreign policy is in confusion regarding its appraoch to achieve the goal, the debate and discussion of experts helped to identify issues and options.

The article contributed by professor Krishna Khanal discussed a review: Prospects of consensus and Reorientation. In his paper Khanal evaluated different aspects of the foreign policy and commitment of all major political parties.

Professor Khanal also discussed the evolution Nepal's foreign policy talking about non-aligned movement and regional cooperation SAARC as historic perspective, Khanal discussed foreign policy of King Prithvi Narayan Shah to Rana regime and the democratic Nepal within the context of 1950 treaty of peace and friendship with India.

Professor Lok Raj Baral in his article Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal: Quest for New Confidence Building Measures discussed the refugee problem. Former Royal Nepalese ambassdor to India (also accredited to Bhutan), Dr. Baral explained the Nepal-Bhutan relations and status of refugees. According to Dr. Baral, it is Nepal's fault to accept Bhutanese as refugees during the time of their arrival and argued that Nepal should have done more homework before accepting them as refugees. "The manner and spontaneity with which Bhutanese were received in Nepal could have been done on the basis of cool and calculated approaches to the issue instead of hugging them in competitive manners," Dr. Baral says in his article.

Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada in his article Globalization Cooperation and National Prorities discussed about the role of the country in the context of globalization. Dr. Khatiwada discussed role of integrated regional and international trade and difficulties to the country.

He suggested that Nepal needs to review overall policy matters and geographical reality before joining the gloable trade organizations. "Nepal's linkage with the global market is possible only with her easy acess to the sea. Therefore, her priority would be the development of transport infrastructure and transit facilitation among the SAARC countries where India is a major player by the size of her economy and central location," said Khatiwada in his article.

Prabhakar SJB Rana in his article Nepal's pursuit of economic diplomacy stresses the need to change the tradional concept on Nepalese diplomacy and shift it with a greater emphasis on economic diplomacy.

"There is a remarkable shift-particularly in the last two decades-from state control to market oriented economy brought about principally by the collapse of the colonial empires and the emergence of independent states in Asia and Africa known as third World," says Rana.

In an other paper Nepal's Economic Diplomacy Challenges and Prospects, Phanindra Subba argues the need to review the challenges of diplomacy. He argues that economic diplomacy has been an important component of Nepal's total foreign policy ever since her emergence as modern state more than two centuries ago.

The concept of economic diplomacy is not new for Nepal as she has pursued an activist trade policy and her foreign policy was focussed on her trading interest during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. "The thrust of Nepal's economic diplomacy was then directed primarily towards achieving, consolidating and safeguarding her position as the only entreport in the trans-Himalayn Trade routes," says Subba.

The seminar held after a long time to discuss and identify the thrusts of Nepalese foreign policy, however, failed to appropriately address the more pressing demands of the changing geo-politics.

SPOTLIGHT The National Newsmagazine, Vol. 19, February 17, 2000.

 
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