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India open to treaty review

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India open to treaty review







NEW DELHI, May 1 - Indian government officials have once again said that India is ready to review the Peace and Friendship Treaty signed with Nepal in 1950.

"They [Maoists] have spoken about replacing it or changing it in order to bring the relationship to a new and higher level,'' Indian Foreign Secretary Shiva Shankar Menon said here in New Delhi, Tuesday. ``We will be happy to work with Nepal to that end.''


The question of reviewing the 1950 treaty -- signed between the two countries just before the end of 104 years of Rana oligarchy -- has gained currency once again after the Maoists emerged from the April 10 election as the largest party. The Maoists, like many other parties in the past, have demanded a review of the treaty to reflect present-day realities.


Though a review of the treaty has been raised by politicians time and again, none of them has done adequate homework to actually effect a review. Even Maoist Chairman Prachanda has so far failed to speak clearly about unequal provisions in the accord.


In 2001, during a foreign secretary-level meeting, a committee was formed to make a detailed study of the treaty. Though the committee held two rounds of talks in the succeeding years, the process lost steam due to failure on Nepal's part to propose the contents of a review.


Former Indian ambassador to Nepal, Deb Mukherjee, said India was prepared then to hold discussions on all three alternatives--giving continuity to the treaty, scrapping it altogether, or reaching agreement on a fresh treaty. "I have found that the Indian side is ready to discuss all possible alternatives even this time," Mukherjee said.


"What are the contradictions in the treaty?" asked the former Indian ambassador to Nepal. "In my view the treaty is not unequal. If it is unequal it should be reviewed." The former envoy urged all political parties in Nepal, including CPN (Maoist), to look at the treaty in a realistic manner.


Nepal has been arguing that reciprocal arrangements under the treaty to grant the nationals of the one country in the territories of the other "the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, among others, is impractical for a geographically small and resource-poor country like Nepal. The treaty also makes it mandatory to have mutual consultations while making 'import of arms, ammunition, or warlike material and equipment necessary for the security of Nepal.'


"Whether the Nepali side is benefited by the treaty is something to be analyzed by the Nepal Government," said Mukherjee. "It is not necessary to make this an issue of politics or controversy."


Meanwhile, the CPI(M), a coalition partner in the UPA government, has backed the demand for renegotiating the Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty and said there should be no treaty which is unequal.


Speaking at a press conference organized after the party's politburo meeting in Kolkata on Tuesday, the party's general secretary, Prakash Karat, said the treaty should be reviewed if there are any areas which need to be renegotiated.


"Yes, I think that demand has to be considered. Earlier also when the Indo-Nepal treaty was reviewed we had a detailed position," he said, when asked about his party's stance on the demand of the CPN (Maoist) to scrap certain provisions of the 1950 treaty. "We have always said that big countries or small countries, it does not mean we should have a treaty that is unequal."


Then Prime Minister Mohan SJB Rana on behalf of the Nepal Government and Indian ambassador to Nepal Chandreshwor Narayan Singh on behalf of the Indian government inked the accord in the twilight of the Rana regime. The treaty contains a total 10 articles.




Posted on: 2008-04-30 19:36:08 (Server Time

Source : Ekantipur

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