India has alerted Nepal of a suspected plot to murder some prominent Nepali politicians by terrorists ahead of SAARC summit scheduled for November 27-28 in Kathmandu. The alert was communicated in a confidential letter to the Nepal Government, according to a section of Nepal media. Delhi claimed that its report was based on highly reliable intelligence agencies.
It said terrorists of Al-Qaida-Indian Mujahideen might have plotted also to hijack some high ranking officials of Indian embassy in Kathmandu and Indian and Nepali aircraft from Nepal.
Security experts in Nepal, however, expressed doubt. They claimed that the alert might be a plot of Delhi itself to create panic ahead of the SAARC summit. It might be a ploy of India to secure security management of Nepal airport by raising alarm, an attempt India made in the past as well.
Delhi’s alert follows China’s move
The Indian alert came following China provided Rs 100 million security equipment to Nepal for the security of delegates arriving Nepal for the SAARC summit. The equipment including metal detectors, scanners, CCTV and 10 luxury vehicles were handed over to a Nepali delegation visiting China recently. In quiet diplomacy Chinese vice premier Wan Yang told Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala during his visit to China in June last that his country was ready to provide logistical support to organize the mega event of SAARC.
Mooted by President Ziaur Rahman, SAARC was floated with seven members: Bangladesh, Indian Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutaan. Afghanistan was later given the membership at the behest of India. China along with Australia, USA, European Union, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Mauritius and Myanmar hold the observer status in the India dominated 8-member SAARC. China’s renewed effort for full membership – hectic lobbying since early this year with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka – set off alarm bells in Delhi. India is the only member that has strongly opposed China’s bid. Delhi blocked the fresh thrust by China to join SAARC but it has been lobbying for giving observer status to Turkey and Russia. India feels its importance would be eclipsed with entry of China in SAARC.
At the 13th SAARC Summit held in Dhaka, Nepali team led by the then King Gyanendra Shah had strongly supported for the Chinese entry in the South Asian regional body with an ‘Observer status’. That had annoyed Delhi. Soon it took revenge on Gyenendra. India compelled Nepal’s subservient political parties to sign the most humiliating and anti-national 12-point agreement that eventually did away with the centuries old institution of Monarchy in Nepal. What action Delhi is contemplating against Sushil Koirala for accepting the Chinese donation of security equipment worth 100 million rupee ignoring India is not yet known.
Reforms are must: SAARC FMs
SAARC charter provides that any decision or admission of new member to the Association required consensus of members and bars dealing with contentious bilateral issues. This rendered the regional body to a mere talking shop. Longstanding disputes, especially between India and other member countries remained unresolved retarding meaningful cooperation among the member countries which was the objective of the Association. Comprised of South Asian countries which accounts for the largest poor population, SAARC talks of lofty goals, adopts high-sounding resolutions, ringing declarations and little by way of achievement. Yet increased international interest in SAARC with more countries wanting to become observers and observers aspiring to full membership is surprising and flattering. Perhaps, this is because of South Asia’s rising geopolitical importance.
SAARC foreign ministers met in Maldives in February last felt the urgency for reforms. India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid stressed the need for institutional reforms to make the Association meaningful. Supporting him Maldives President Abdulla Yameen said SAARC has to widen its areas of cooperation to match the expectations of the peoples in the region. The members agree on reform but differ on the desired outcome. Barring India, all others, especially Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka want China in as a countervailing force to India.
Bilateral issues harming SAARC
SAARC may be neither India-centric nor India-driven but is, but the member countries believe it is India-dominated. With China on board, these countries assume that the balance of power would shift in their favour. Indians argue that inclusion of China would make SAARC a ground for conflict rooted in complexities of the rivalry between the two rising powers India and China.
It also argued that China is an authoritarian state, not a democracy. The latter argument does not stand. Mover of SAARC was Bangladesh’s military ruler President Ziaur Rahman; and, at the inception, SAARC had two dictatorships (Bangladesh and Pakistan), two monarchies (Bhutan and Nepal), and authoritarian Maldives, India and Sri Lanka.
The Indians also cite strategic and security concerns, including China being Pakistan’s all-weather friend and its policy of encircling India. Regardless of merit, these need to be reckoned with because such thinking cannot be wished away. Those rooting for China point out that given its growing economic, trade, political, security and strategic interests in South Asia, its admission in SAARC would benefit the region. India should ignore irrelevancies such as SAARC being a democratic order and China is East Asian (not South Asian), and arrive at a decision based not on fear and anxiety but on the strength and confidence of a rising power.
Source: Weekly Holiday