Traditionally, ambassadors bridge cultural and economic gaps, strengthen ties with the country they represent and shun making any kind of political comments in public. The basic job of ambassadors is to get their government’s message across. All diplomats should respect the integrity and sovereignty of the country where they are posted. They must possess the ability to comment on negative situations in a tactful manner, to refrain from speaking negatively in public about anyone or anything, and to draw discreet attention to something that is considered wrong or to highlight it through anecdotes.
However, some envoys have been politically active in this country for the wrong reasons. They apparently lack diplomatic etiquette. For example, the Indian ambassador met the prime minister of Nepal thrice even before presenting his credentials. He has not only been making political comments in public, he has gone to the extent of proposing who the president of this country should be and why the Maoists should head the next government. The Indian ambassador’s meeting with different political leaders certainly suggests that he is making a fool out of himself instead of underestimating the government and leaders of this country. No doubt, the Indian factor in setting the political course is evident. But that does not mean the Indian ambassador should set the political course of this country. Similarly, the Chinese ambassador has expressed at a public gathering his resentment against Nepal’s handling of Tibetan protestors. The high-pitched tone of his voice suggested that Nepal should resort to excessive force to clamp down on the peaceful demonstrators. Such political interference points at establishing a wrong precedent which directly affects the political course of this country.
Ambassadors do need public gatherings to express their opinions on issues related to the countries they represent. But they cannot make any comments on the political issues of this country. That Nepal is wedged between the two Asian economic giants needs no elaboration. Nepal needs the support of both India and China for its development. But the ambassadors must realize that they cannot decide the political course of this country though they enjoy every right to discuss such issues in private. The question that arises pertains to how and why ambassadors are breaching diplomatic protocol. Such primitive diplomatic etiquette makes us feel that they are trying to patronize us.
Ambassadors must demonstrate elements of trust and cooperation, which are a precious asset that merits careful conservation instead of making comments in public on sensitive political issues. Let us hope ambassadors cultivate the habit of showing less trivial behavior.