Nepal can mediate between India and Pakistan: Kathmandu

A Nepal government source reposed faith on the potential of the SAARC in addressing regional issues

Nepal is a neutral country and can play a mediating role between India and Pakistan if necessary, a powerful government source said here on Saturday, delinking concerns about terrorism from the question of revival of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“Dialogue is a must in resolving differences and if necessary Nepal can mediate as we are independent, peace loving, friendly and neutral in the region. We love truth and facts and can be instrumental in finding a better solution,” said the highly placed source who also urged India and Pakistan to invest in direct channels of communication.

In this context, he reposed faith on the potential of the SAARC in addressing regional issues arguing that it would be better for the region to revive the SAARC, and in every meeting with India, Nepal has raised this issue. “There is no relation between SAARC and terrorism. Terrorism is a universal threat but we maintain there is no relationship between terrorism and the (future of) SAARC,” he said. The regional group has been stuck without the summit level meeting as India continues to blame Pakistan for promoting cross-border terrorism.

Kalapani issue

The Nepal government source also pointed out the need for dialogue between India and Nepal to deal with the border dispute in the Kalapani region in Uttarakhand. “We believe that together we can resolve any problem on the basis of facts, evidences, truth and address the issues that truth indicates,” said the official declaring that Nepal had “the courage to accept the truth.”

The official’s comments further added to the sentiments expressed by Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali who hinted to a group of visiting Indian journalists here on Friday that the example of India-Bangladesh border resolution could be attempted to firm up India-Nepal border as well. Nepal has invited all the SAARC heads of government for the April 2-4 Sagarmatha Sambaad along with 150 global guests to discuss climate change and the future of the region. Mr. Gyawali had welcomed the possibility of holding an “informal SAARC summit” on the sideline of the Sagarmatha Sambaad.

The high official also expressed concern about the future of the Nepali-speaking citizens of Assam who were left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the State. He argued that the Nepali speaking people of Assam had been living in the region for more than a century and Kathmandu considered them to be Indian nationals.

“The Nepalis who are in India (Assam) are not just Nepalis but are also of local origin. They are Nepali-speaking Indians. Not all Nepali speaking people are Nepali (citizens). There should not be any confusion on that. There were comments from Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah which showed that there will be no negative impact on them,” said the high official.

Editorial | Inclusion over exclusion: on Assam NRC

He also reminded that Nepal lost tracts of land to the colonial Indian State because of the 1815 Treaty of Sugauli. Nepal lost land both on the eastern and the western fronts, he argued, because of the agreement which defined the boundaries of the royal Nepali kingdom, the predecessor of the currently democratic country.

“However, Assam was never a part of Nepal. It was the house of the Nepalis and they became Indians. I think we can resolve this issue by dialogue if any problem arises,” he said arguing for fair treatment of the Nepalis of Assam who were excluded from the NRC exercise.

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