Nepali EPG side on horns of dilemma

  • nepal-india 1950 treaty
  • Seeks suggestion whether to amend pact or replace it with a new one
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 3, 2017-

After four meetings and hours-long deliberations in the last one year, the Nepali side of the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG), formed to review treaties and relations between Nepal and India, is still not sure whether to amend the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty or replace it with a new one.

The EPG has four members each from Nepal and India.

The Nepali side of the EPG on Wednesday organised a consultation session with former diplomats, officials and members of the business community among others and sought to know what would be the best way to go when it comes to Nepal-India 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty.

Rajan Bhattarari, an EPG member, read out the provisions of the treaty and called for suggestions from participants whether Nepal should seek an amendment or make a pitch for replacing the treaty with a new one.

Nepal has long been seeking a review of the 1950 Treaty, saying it is not in the line of principle of equality. The EPG was conceptualised with a view to making recommendations whether it should be abrogated, amended or replaced with a new one.

Historically, the 1950 Treaty has been one of the most contentious issues in Nepal-India relations, with critics often arguing that the treaty boxes Nepal as India’s subservient neighbour.

And the concern stems also from Article 5, which reads: “The government of Nepal shall be free to import, from or through the territory of India, arms, ammunition or warlike material and equipment necessary for the security of Nepal and the procedure for giving effect to this arrangement shall be worked out by the two governments acting in consultation”.

Though the Nepali leadership has put “unequalness” as the main reason for seeking a review, New Delhi refuses to buy what it often calls “popular Nepali gripe.”

But the Indian side also at times has raised the “unequalness” issue, saying Nepal does not give “equal treatment to Indian citizens”.

Article 6 of the treaty reads: “Each government undertakes, in token of the neighbourly friendship between India and Nepal, to give to the nationals of the other, in its territory, national treatment with regard to participation in industrial and economic development of such territory and to the grant of concessions and contracts relating to such development.”“The India-Nepal treaty is unequal in its treatment of Indian citizens in Nepal, which India has never complained about,” a Times of India report on August

4, 2014 quoted Jayant Prasad, former Indian ambassador to Nepal, as saying.

Prasad is a member of the EPG from the Indian side.

Advocate Surendra Mahato said the Nepali side needs to do authentic research on how many Nepalis are currently living in India and how much remittance they are sending back home. “Similarly we have to do research on Indian nationals working in Nepal. The relations should be looked through the eyes of the people and the state,” he added.

Former minister for foreign affairs Upendra Yadav said the treaty should be replaced with a new one while putting core concerns of Nepal and India at the centre in the changed context. The new treaty should address major concerns of both sides and it should be reciprocal, he said, adding that India’s major concern is a long open border, which sometimes gives rise to security issues, which Nepal should address.

Other speakers alsocalled for replacing the treaty with a new one.   

Published: 03-08-2017 07:09

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