General Rana’s Political and Undiplomatic Statement

Update: The Nepali Army today issued a press statement claiming that comments attributed to him are false and that he didn’t give any formal interview to any news outlets during his trip to India last week.

“The news reports published in a few media outlets in the past few days that Chief of the Army Mr Rana gave interview commenting upon the security of Nepal and neighboring countries and issues related to that are inaccurate and misleading. As Chief of the Army Mr Rana, during the week-long visit, didn’t give any types of formal interview to the media those comments, it seems, those comments have been disseminated out of context.

“Nepali Army is a professional and apolitical organization that, while remaining within constitutional authority, respects civil supremacy. There is no possibility of Nepali Army or the leadership of the Nepali Army passing comments of such irresponsible nature. It is to let all know that the military leadership hasn’t made such comments.”

UWB note: The Nepal Army statement, worded in Nepali, is a very badly written note with confusing sentence structure- as if it were a work of a liar who unexpectedly found himself/herself in a police interrogation room. If Mr Rana didn’t give any formal interview, were his comments published in the Times of India informally provided to the reporter? The Nepali Army statement seems to be implying that as it states Rana didn’t give any FORMAL interview to any news outlet and that news reports and commentaries seem to have come out of context (so what was the context?). Nepali Army may still be apolitical, professional and under civilian control as claimed in the Army statement but we refused to believe that the same can be said to the army leadership- namely Gaurav Rana. He should come clean.

Was it merely a slip of the tongue or our Army chief actually wanted to show how childish he can be when it comes to dealing with international issues? Was he intending to appease the Indians (if yes, he failed to do so) and hurt our relationship with the Chinese? If he fancies working as a political/strategic commentator for Indian newspapers, he should first resign from the post of the Chief of the Army Staff and cross over to India. Also, you can’t be a spokesperson (a bad one) of the Indian Army while still holding the top position at the Nepali Army.

On 4th October, at the end of his six-day trip to India (he came back on 5th), General Gaurav Rana told the Times of India in Chandigarh, India: China is too pre-occupied with the Tibetan issue. And, then there is Xinjiang region facing the separatist movement. The PLA cannot afford to enter India, or for that matter Nepal. Whether it’s the mighty Himalayas or the Indo-Gangetic plains, they have no reasons to make incursions into India. There are no provocations. In all military agreements, there are problems when you draw lines of control on maps using a pen. Whenever there is a violation, either country then blames it on the thickness of the drawn line. So there are no signs of any concern for India. According to the paper, Rana also said that Indian Army is capable of giving strong response to China in case of an attack or war. He, however, said India lacked political will to do so. Why do we care if Indians are capable of giving a strong response to China in case of an attack or war? It is one thing to wish for peace between two giant neighbors another to pit one against the other. Rana certainly harmed Nepal’s relationship with China with his childish statement and if he was was trying to appease the Indians he failed in that too. “An officiating Army chief should not be making a political comment like this,” Ashok Mehta, retired major general of the Indian Army and Nepal expert told the Kathmandu Post. “He acted like he was visiting here in the capacity of the prime minister.” According to the Post, Mehta said Rana’s comment has undermined security sensitivity [India]. “If he has not been misquoted, he has said that the incursion of the PLA into the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh is a common occurrence, which is an unauthorised and undiplomatic comments for an Army chief to make.” Here’s the full Times of India report: CHANDIGARH: Dismissing the recent reports of 640 sq km incursion in Ladakh by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Nepal’s chief of army staff Gaurav Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana on Thursday said China cannot afford to enter India even as he sought to stick to his country’s non-alignment policy for not offering military support to either country in case of a war. “China is too pre-occupied with the Tibetan issue. And, then there is Xinjiang region facing the separatist movement. The PLA cannot afford to enter India, or for that matter Nepal. Whether it’s the mighty Himalayas or the Indo-Gangetic plains, they have no reasons to make incursions into India. There are no provocations,” Rana told TOI in an exclusive interview in Chandigarh. Rana held the alleged incursion of the Red Army into Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh as a common occurrence. “In all military agreements, there are problems when you draw lines of control on maps using a pen. Whenever there is a violation, either country then blames it on the thickness of the drawn line. So there are no signs of any concern for India,” he said. Chinese troops had apparently made inroads up to 10km into Daulat Beg Oldi sector of eastern Ladakh in April and 20km into Chaglagam area of Arunachal Pradesh in August this year. Rana, who is on a six-day visit to India, also said that Indian Army is capable of giving strong response to China in case of an attack or war. He, however, said India lacked political will to do so. Rana, who had visited China for a similar 10-day visit to strengthen military ties in July this year, said Nepal’s relations with India were “incomparable”. “Right from India’s Independence in 1947 when we had sent 5-7 Nepal Army battalions to Hyderabad for the unification process, we have had healthy cooperation with India. Tsunami was other big example. But then we have our foreign policy of non-alignment which ensures no military support to any country in an eventuality related to a conflict,” the India-educated chief said. His visit has included the series of joint Indo-Nepal military exercises Surya Kiran, which initially started at platoon level and were enhanced to battalion level in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand. Surya Kiran is aimed at achieving tactical level understanding and interoperability between troops of both armies.

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