Ahead of Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to India, Nepal today made it clear that the issue of Constitution amendment was an internal matter even as it said that both countries need to “introspect” on past issues like the “blockade”.
Visiting Nepalese Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat also assured full cooperation to India on security issues and said Nepal will not allow its soil to be used against India.
He said all bilateral problems need to be conveyed only through diplomatic channels.
Mahat stressed that Nepal wants to see tangible results on ground and for this faster implementation of Indian projects was necessary besides complete market access.
“I think the coming visit of Nepalese Prime Minister will be very fruitful and we will start a new chapter of our relationship,” Mahat said speaking to reporters here before leaving for Nepal.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, commonly known as ‘Prachanda’ is coming here on a four-day visit this week, in his first overseas trip after taking over office last month.
Nepal’s ties with India had strained after a months-long border blockade last year by the ethnic minority protesters over the new Constitution, which they claim is discriminatory to their interest. The Oli government had accused India of imposing an “unofficial blockade” on the landlocked nation to support the Madhesi demand of more political representation.
“Our Constitution is basically very inclusive but of course there is scope for improvement as there is no Constitution in the world which is perfect,” he said.
Admitting that there are “some grievances”, he said the new government is working on it.
“We have had several round of discussions with various stakeholders. We are taking it very seriously but it is a subject which the Nepal parliament, Nepal government and Nepal people will decide. It is our internal process. Whatever is good for Nepalese, we will decide.
“Whatever change that needs to be amended is completely internal Nepali process and based on demand and aspiration of the people of Nepal, we will keep on improving our Constitution,” he said.
Asked about the new government’s expectation from India, the Foreign Minister said he would rather talk about building relationships based on trust, friendship and cooperation.
“That is what this visit is all about,” he said noting that besides his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, he met with Water Minister Uma Bharati, Power Minister Piyush Goyal. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, BJP leader Ram Madhav and Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi.
Even after supply of goods from India was normalised, the bilateral ties continued to reel under strain after former Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli accused India of toppling his government and creating political instability in his country, a charge that was categorically denied by India.
Asked about past tensions, the Nepalese Foreign Minister said both countries need to “introspect”.
“Our aim is to move forward and not look back. Whatever happened, we cannot get anything out of it. We want to see that in future there should not be any misunderstanding and something which would harm our relationship, harm our people.
“We want to move forward and we should introspect where problems came and what went wrong,” he said.
Mahat said like the previous government, their objective is to promote national interest.
“But we differ fundamentally as far as approach and process is concerned. Sometime your set the right goal, right objective but you may not reach the goal if you adopt a wrong approach. We want to to have right kind of process and approach,” he said.
He also said Nepal will air its problem through diplomatic channel.
“We do not want to make it a subject of public finger pointing. Whatever problem we have, whatever we want to achieve, we will work through diplomatic channel,” he said, stressing that India should do the same.
“Best thing to do is air concerns and views through diplomatic channels. That is the best way to do, he said.
Rejecting reports that that Chinese President Xi Jinping, has cancelled his proposed trip to Nepal, Mahat said Nepal wants to have good relations with India and China.
“The date for Xi’s visit has not been finalised so the question of cancellation does not arise. We expect a high profile visit from China. Indian President will also visit Nepal. We want to have a good relationship with both neighbours,” he said.
Noting that there are several areas of cooperation, including social and economic, between India and Nepal, Mahat said his government wants to see all this and the projects move fast.
“We want to see tangible results on ground. Just having high level meetings will not result into a tangible thing on the ground. We need to work at different levels.
There is a joint commission, at minister level, secretary level, technical level. They should meet on a regular basis and only then the major projects will move fast,” he said.
He cited the example of roads and the Pancheshwar project.
“We would like to see it move fast. Similarly, there are areas where we want to see full market access. Because we have power trade agreement but unless we have market access, investment will not take place. Big Indian investor will not be able to find financing if there is lack of market access. We covered all these areas in our discussion,” he said.
The Foreign Minister said the Indian government is very sympathetic and appreciative of what was discussed.
On security issues, he said India and Nepal need to work together.
“Joint mechanism should be there so that no terrorist or illegal activity is there. We will not let our land be used against any neighbour. That is for sure,” he said.