Statement by External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, on developments in Nepal
Suo Moto Statement by External Affairs Minister Shri Natwar Singh on developments in Nepal
Mr. Chairman, Sir,
There has been a broad national consensus on our foreign policy since independence. This consensus has enabled our country to play an influential and effective role in world affairs. Our Government shall continue to nurture this precious legacy and build upon it as we face a rapidly transforming international environment.
As the Hon’ble Members are aware, the UPA Government has laid great stress on our relations with our neighbours. Hence, I would like to take the House into confidence and make a statement on recent developments in the neighbourhood, specifically developments in Nepal and my recent visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As close friends and neighbours, India and Nepal share a unique relationship of friendship and cooperation underpinned by ties of language, culture and kinship. It is inevitable that developments in one country affect the other. We are committed to supporting all efforts aimed at restoring political stability and economic prosperity in Nepal.
Hence India is deeply concerned at the recent developments in Nepal following the dismissal of the multiparty government by His Majesty King Gyanendra on 1 February. An emergency has been imposed in that country, fundamental rights have been suspended and several political leaders, journalists, human rights activists and intellectuals have been detained. Some leaders have crossed over into India.
Media censorship continues. Telecom services have been curtailed. Indian television news channels are not being carried by Nepalese cable service providers. M/s United Telecom Ltd., an Indian joint venture company providing telephone services has not been allowed to operate since the imposition of the emergency.
The prolonged Maoist-sponsored bandh since 12 February has disrupted normal life causing enormous hardships to the people of Nepal. It also affected industrial activity. It was called off only on 26 February. Political parties have decided to launch a joint agitation against the actions of the King from 8 March.
The developments in Nepal constitute a serious setback to democracy and bring the monarchy and mainstream political parties in direct confrontation with each other. This can only benefit the forces that not only wish to undermine democracy in Nepal but the institution of monarchy as well. As a result, the task of both India and Nepal to address their shared security concerns has become difficult and complicated. We continue to believe that the principles of multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy, enshrined in the country’s constitution will be adhered to in order to ensure political stability in the country.
The Government of India responded promptly and unambiguously to the developments in Nepal. We have in a fraternal spirit called for the early restoration of multiparty democracy, immediate release of political leaders and lifting of restrictions on their constitutional rights and removal of media censorship. We have stressed the need and importance of forging a national consensus between the two constitutional forces, namely political parties and constitutional monarchy, to effectively deal with the political and economic challenges facing the country. Our views have been conveyed by our Ambassador to H.M. the King of Nepal.
Following the developments in Nepal, we recalled our Ambassador in Kathmandu to New Delhi for consultations. He has since returned to Kathmandu and will reiterate our views to the Nepalese leadership.
We are also in touch with other countries, to exchange views and share assessments in order to evolve a coordinated response of the international community to the developments in Nepal.
In view of the current disturbed conditions in Nepal, the question of military supplies to Nepal is under constant review.
India is concerned that a further deterioration of the situation in Nepal will result in spill-over effects across the open border, particularly in the neighbouring States. We have taken steps to strengthen security in border areas. The Sashastra Seema Bal which is responsible for guarding India-Nepal border has been asked to step up vigilance and patrolling along the border.
Source: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi