“Nepal should not always agree to what India says because it may have its own view and perspective,” said Rajan. “I do not see any reason behind India’s displeasure because the BIMSTEC joint military exercise was not a policy decision either.”
After criticism from several quarters, Nepal decided to pull out of the joint military exercise but participate as an observer.
Nihar Nayak, a research fellow at IDSA, India’s defence and foreign policy think tank, said it was meaningless to prop up the issue if Nepal declined to participate because the proposal for the military exercise was unofficial.
“If this was an official proposal, it should be tabled at the Secretariat and circulated through the BIMSTEC secretary general,” Nayak said. “As a sovereign country, Nepal and its Army do not have to follow what Indian prime minister proposes.”
Rajan, the former ambassador, added that it is an age-old Indian media trend to focus on the negative news when Nepal takes any decision opposing India. “Thailand has also skipped the military drill,” Rajan said. “Does it mean that Thailand is anti-India too?”