India Intelligence Report

   India Promises Help to Nepal

  • Rs. 100 crore (USD 21 million) urgent grant

  • Resumption of arms aid if asked

  • Nepal wants India’s help to deal with terrorists

Reinstated Nepal Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss economic and military aid and calibrate response to the threat from Maoist terrorists choking the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the country.

India announced an immediate Rs 100 crore (USD 21 million) grant to address urgent requirements and work on more comprehensive package based on long-term objectives which will be announced before Koirala’s return on Friday. New Delhi also said it will resume military aid to Katmandu, suspended after King Gnanendra dismissed the democratically-elected government last year and seized absolute power, if asked. India guaranteed to continue ongoing development projects and even provisionally accepted Nepal’s wish list projects valued at Rs 7,500 crore (USD 1.6 billion) in the next five years. India supports 137 health, energy, education and infrastructure projects in Nepal.

Koirala, who heads an interim government, was warmly welcomed by Singh at the airport discussed the issue of Maoist terrorist extensively with Singh but seemed a bit cagey about discussing the role of King Gnanendra saying that it is up to the people of Nepal to decide. India’s position is that as a sovereign nation, Nepal must decide its own course but is also worried about hasty extra-Constitutional decisions made under the threat of the terrorists that can have long-term social, military, economic, and security impact to the sub-continent.

A Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said "We support the peace efforts but Maoists must abandon violence and accept the discipline of multi party democracy." That is diplomatic speak saying that negotiating under terrorism is not a viable or acceptable solution. India wants the terrorists to give up violence and participate in the democratic process and economic rebuilding of Nepal. Naturally, wont to its violent methods, the Maoist terrorists do not like it. The Maoist leadership, Pachanda downwards, eloquently warns the SPA of "Indian expansionism" as a means to block any Indian participation to broker peace. Cognizant of this mindset and not to allow the terrorists to grant them space to whip up anti-Indian feeling, India has so far given no indication of proactively pushing the Maoists towards that goal. Instead, it has unfortunately relied on its communist allies led by Sitaram to influence the terrorists to negotiate with the SPA and also give up arms. Yechury has been partially successful—he has convinced them to negotiate but has not been able to convince them to disarm.

This approach has also had an unfortunate side-affect. The Yechury initiative has “emboldened” the terrorists to think that the Indian communists would support them unconditionally and will manage the Indian Government from influencing the outcome. This is an area where the Koirala delegation has expressed strong interest for proactive Indian participation. Some members of the visiting Nepalese delegation want India to influence the Maoist terrorists to disarm.

Delegation members acknowledge that the peace is tenuous and a lot is hinged on how the issue of the King will be negotiated. While the King’s powers have been vastly reduced by the reinstated Parliament, it is unknown if those actions and measures are Constitutional. The unpopular Gnanendra is not challenging these decisions in the Supreme Court fearing that it will galvanize the terrorists to seek a violent end to the monarchy. However, Nepal faces critical decisions to ensure that it has an infallible and credible system to create a substitute system to the lineage based Royal order. An agreement on this score is what is straining the relationship between the SPA and the terrorists and Nepalese Government wants Indian participation to ensure a true democracy, and not a Maoist coup, rules Nepal.

There appears widespread acceptance that the monarchy, especially the current one and his line, should go. However, the Nepalese Government is very concerned with extra-judicial methods employed by the terrorists to extort, intimidate, and murder as means of control. The political class in Nepal is absolutely adamant that the Maoist terrorists must be first disarmed for any meaningful and credible participation in the political mainstream. This would also mean that they should give up their ludicrous demand on a merger with the Nepalese Army with an obvious intention to legitimize their existence and also develop influence of the Army from inside.

To achieve normalcy in Nepal, India must:

  • Create a comprehensive long-term economic, military, and diplomatic package

  • Help the Nepal Government develop diplomatic consensus to disarm the terrorists. This may involve international peacekeeping drawn from other democratic countries in Asia.

  • India must pursue the Yechury initiative with caution. While third-track diplomacy can be used to create negotiating space, it should not become the de facto methodology of dealing with the situation. A communist inspired peace brokering will affect the Naxal movement at home which is more violent and harmful to long-term security of India that any other threat.