We do not cultivate relations with one country at the expense of relations with another. In today’s interconnected world, engagements are not a zerosum game. So, the insinuation about Nepal acting under other countries’ pressure is totally baseless and does not hold ground,” Nilamber Acharya, Nepal’s ambassador to India, told TOI when asked if China had a role to play in the flaring up of the old Kalapani issue.
The Kalapani issue “is an irritant that needs to be resolved soon…The question of boundary is strongly associated with people’s emotions. First, it is our responsibility that we address the irritant of bilateral relations in a timely and appropriate manner and, secondly, we should ensure that a particular issue does not bulge out to spoil the wider spectrum of neighbourly relations,” Acharya said in an email interview.
Acharya, who has served as Nepal’s law and justice minister and also as envoy to Sri Lanka, said, “Nepal has been consistently emphasising on resolution of the outstanding boundary issue through friendly talks and, in fact, as recently as in December last year, Kathmandu approached New Delhi to set up dates for a meeting of foreign secretaries mandated to talk on this issue.”
But the date could not be fixed and the issue remained, he said. Acharya said a major segment of Nepal-India boundary alignment has been agreed and strip maps have been jointly prepared.
“In this context, resolution of the small remaining portions would not be difficult if we were pre pared to tackle the issue. Nepal’s claim over Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura is known to the Indian side. These areas lie east of Kali river and hence belong to Nepal as per the Treaty of Sugauli. Majority of our boundary alignment is settled. Let’s find settlement on the remaining two small segments and declare complete resolution of the Nepal-India boundary. When that happens, a longstanding irritant of Nepal-India bilateral relations would be left behind once and for all,” he said.
On India and Nepal’s traditional ‘roti-beti’ ties and the impact the border dispute would have on them, the ambassador said, “Nepal-India relations are not confined to one particular issue or particular area. Scope and depth of these relations are immense and the traditional cultural proximity as well as the adherence to the sacrosanct principles of sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit provide solid foundation to these relations.”
Reacting to PM Oli’s recent remarks on Ayodhya, where he had claimed that the real birthplace of Lord Ram was in Nepal, Acharya said, “Our foreign ministry has clarified that the Prime Minister was simply stating the importance of further study and research on the vast cultural geography represented by the Ramayana. His remarks, made at a programme organised to mark the birth anniversary of the poet Bhanubhakta Acharya, who had translated the Ramayana into Nepali language, were not linked to any political subject. There is no need to engage in the game of exaggeration.”