Nepal’s embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has said that misunderstandings with India have been resolved and that the two countries should move forward looking at the future, asserting that neighbours share both love and problems. In a recent interview to BBC Hindi Service, Oli accepted the fact that once, there were misunderstandings between the two neighbours. However, he did not elaborate on those issues.
Oli, in a televised address to the nation last month, said that the outstanding issues relating to the border issue with India will be resolved through diplomatic channels on the basis of historical accords, maps and factual documents. He told BBC: Yes, there were misunderstandings at one time, but now those misunderstandings are gone. We should not be stuck in past misunderstandings but move forward looking at the future.
We have to pursue a positive relationship, the 69-year-old Nepal Prime Minister, now heading a minority government, said. Nepal’s Opposition alliance has approached the Supreme Court against the “unconstitutional" move of President Bidya Devi Bhandari to dissolve the House of Representatives and fresh elections on the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli.
Nepal has a unique relationship with India, unlike with any other country, Oli said. Neighbours share both love and problems. Don’t people in Chile or Argentina have a problem? he asked.
Ties between India and Nepal came under severe strain after Nepal last year published the new political map that showed three Indian territories – Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh – as part of Nepal. After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act" and cautioning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
India said that Nepal’s action violated an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks. The bilateral exchanges that had stalled due to the bitter boundary dispute were reset in the later part of 2020 with a series of high-level visits, as New Delhi emphasised that it sees itself as the Himalayan nation’s “foremost friend" and development partner.
Then Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali visited New Delhi in January this year and held wide-ranging talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar covering the entire expanse of bilateral ties. Gyawali said both the countries have a common commitment to resolve the issue. “We have the common commitment to resolve it. The sanctity and security of the border is extremely important for expanding the overall developmental cooperation… We both have realised the urgency (to resolve the border issue)," he had said.
Gyawali was the senior-most political leader from Nepal to visit India after relations nosedived following the boundary row. On the issue of COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Oli said that India should help in a different way than other countries in controlling and ending the spread of the contagion.
Nepal and India have open borders, he said, adding that India should pay special attention to help Nepal in some places. Oli said that if the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled in India and not in Nepal, it would have no meaning as the virus would ultimately spread.
He thanked India for providing the vaccine for the first time and other healthcare supplies, but regretted that Nepal did not get as much help as it needed from India. There were high expectations from India, he said, adding that he would like to make a request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In view of these times and our friendly relations, India should extend full cooperation to Nepal. That doesn’t mean I haven’t got help from India. At this time, Nepal needs vaccinations, for which Nepal will and is urging both its neighbours and all countries. Whoever provides us vaccines, be it India, China, the US or the UK, it is fine to receive vaccines. It is not necessary to politicise it and we thank both our neighbours very much, Oli said.
On one hand China has given us 1.8 million (18 lakh) vaccines and on the other India has given 2.1 million (21 lakh) vaccines. We have the help of both. We are also getting medical equipment from both. So, thank you both, the Prime Minister added. Nepal’s COVID-19 caseload crossed the 6-lakh mark on Sunday as 3,479 more peopl were infected with the virus.