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Nepal Army Senior Officers Corrupt: Indian Ambassador to American Officials

In a meeting with American officials on 11 March, 2006 in Kathmandu the then Indian Ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherjee had asserted that corruption in the then Royal Nepal Army (now Nepal Army) was high and the senior commanders were “content to acquire arms on the black or gray market” because that was profitable arrangement for them than the government to government deal. “Senior officers were enriching themselves with funds set aside for procurement,” Mukherjee told the US officials. “They had told the Chinese to up their invoices for small arms by 30 percent.” The Indian ambassador said that the situation in the RNA was bad in view of poor leadership, poor training and low morale. Even foreign countries provided up to ten times more ammunition than provided previously, the army would not be able to defeat the insurgency.  Mukherjee claimed that the corruption factor explained why the RNA leadership had not been overly concerned about India, the UK and the US cutting off arms shipments.

[Then Army Chief Pyar Jung Thapa had acknowledged an acute shortage of ammunition during his meeting with the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Donald Camp, in March 2006.]
– Phanindra Dahal

Here’s the full text of the US diplomatic cable: Continue reading Nepal Army Senior Officers Corrupt: Indian Ambassador to American Officials


Tracking the Indian Ambassador in Nepal: Jayant Prasad

Jayant Prasad Indian Ambassador in Nepal
The new Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Jayant Prasad, presented his letter of credentials to President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on 26 August.

Ambassadors are the most visible faces of Indian diplomacy in Nepal and they are not always thought to be pursuing diplomacy. Some, like the current ambassador Jayant Prasad’s immediate predecessor Rakesh Sood, was widely believed to be one of the worst examples of Indian intervention and failed diplomacy in Nepal. While in India (or in their Ministry of External Affairs) these people are normal employees, diplomats who don’t attract much attention unless they are involved in major scandal or become foreign secretary. But as soon as they land in Kathmandu with the coveted portfolio of the Indian ambassador for Nepal they become celebrities. Media extensively covers the Indian Ambassadors movements and decisions in Nepal and give high priority to anything that is related to an Indian envoy. That is largely because the Indian ambassadors “implement” the enormously influential Indian policy in Nepal- some by diplomatically and some by offensively interventionist ways.  Rarely in the world ambassadors get to hobnob with prime ministers and top leaders of a host country like the Indian ambassadors do with the Nepali leadership. Because of all these factors, we at UWB have decided to keep track of the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu as far as possible. Here are some headlines  that give enough idea about the arrival of the current ambassador and his activities in the first week since he assumed office in August 26.

Continue reading Tracking the Indian Ambassador in Nepal: Jayant Prasad

American Cablegate: US-Indian Cooperation And Military Assistance to Nepal

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID: 03KATHMANDU280
Created: 2003-02-14 05:05
Released: 2011-03-15 00:12
Origin: Embassy Kathmandu

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2013

REF: A. A. 02 NEW DELHI 6938 B. B. NEW DELHI 267 C. C. NEW DELHI 641


¶1. (C) Summary: US security assistance to Nepal has brought the ancillary advantage to the US of providing a new arena for fruitful US-Indian dialogue and collaboration. Top Indian diplomats in Kathmandu clearly appreciate not only US support for common US-Indian security objectives in Nepal, but also the unprecedented frequency and candor of our bilateral discussions of Nepal-related issues. Indian military intelligence officers in Kathmandu, however, are openly and persistently uncomfortable with US sales of lethal equipment — and M16s in particular — to the Royal Nepal Army. The following describes a recent discussion with Indian civilian and military officers that provides some insights into varied Indian attitudes toward US security policy here. Embassy Kathmandu remains convinced that US and UK arms sales to Nepal — although modest in quantity and basic in technology — have played a disproportionately influential role in persuading Maoist leaders to agree to a cease-fire and negotiations with the Government of Nepal (GON). We believe our security assistance policy remains valid, and that it offers a continuing opportunity to reinforce growing US-Indian mil-mil cooperation and engender greater bilateral confidence. Positive Indian involvement clearly is key to any longer-term resolution of Nepal’s political and security problems, so it is important that US diplomacy with India accelerate along with our security assistance to this beleaguered kingdom. End summary.

¶2. (C) DCM and DATT met on February 4 with their Indian counterparts to discuss issues raised by the Indian Ambassador concerning US sales of M16 rifles to Nepal. Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran had asked Ambassador Malinowski several days earlier what plans the US had for providing assault rifles to the Royal Nepal Army (RNA). He needed to know how many rifles the US plans eventually to provide, he explained, because he could not justify India’s continuing to supply INSAS rifles if the US were planning to meet Nepal’s needs in this regard. Although Ambassador Malinowski, the DCM and our DATT meet frequently with their Indian counterparts, and have developed unprecedented transparency in their discussions of such formerly sensitive issues as security assistance, this was the first time the DCM and DATT had participated in a joint meeting at the Indian Embassy.

¶3. (C) DCM and DATT began the discussion by explaining the complexity of the US security assistance process, emphasizing that none of the money appropriated in FY 02 for security assistance for Nepal has yet been spent on any military hardware or training. So far, they explained, the USG has committed only to selling the RNA — using GON funds — two orders each of 5000 M16s. The remaining 2000 rifles of the first order (which was submitted by the RNA in May 2002) should be delivered in the next month or two, but the delivery date of the second 5000 is still uncertain. Although the Nepali press persists in reporting that the US eventually with provide 55,000 rifles, this has not been agreed. The DCM pointed out that the US has committed also to providing night vision devices, pilot protective gear, and communication equipment, but these non-lethal items have not been manufactured yet and might take a year or two to deliver. In contrast, the DATT and DCM pointed out, the Government of India (GOI) has been providing Nepal with an accelerating stream of rifles and other military equipment. In our view, India’s leading role in providing military assistance to Nepal is consistent with its proximity, long history of assistance, and strong strategic interest in the security of the Himalayan region. The DCM underscored that the US appreciates India’s leading role, encourages it, and has no competing long-term military objectives here.

¶4. (C) The Indian DCM, Ashok Kumar, agreed readily with the DCM’s characterization of the speed and volume of Indian security assistance to Nepal. He asserted proudly that the more encouraging military situation on the ground in the RNA’s fight with the Maoists was due completely to Indian assistance. Kumar took pointed exception to the DATT’s reference to GOI “”objections”” to US sales of M16s to Nepal. The GOI, he stressed, has no “”objections;”” it has only “”concerns.”” The GOI, he explained, is meeting the RNA’s every request for lethal equipment. It would thus make more sense, he argued, for the US to let India provide arms and concentrate instead on such equipment as night vision devices and helicopters where the US has the comparative advantage. If, however, the US intends to provide rifles, the GOI could not ask Indian taxpayers to subsidize the continuing supply to Nepal of more arms than it could effectively utilize. The DCM explained (again) that the sale of M16s was based on a PACOM assessment in April 2002 of Nepal’s most urgent military needs. If India is planning to fill those needs in the near term, the USG is prepared to revise the profile of its out-year assistance to take account of changing requirements after we meet our current obligations. The Indians refused firmly to provide specific numbers on how many INSAS rifles the GOI planned to provide. Kumar asserted that “”numbers are not important,”” and that he had no interest in getting into “”a numbers game””.

¶5. (C) The DCM and DATT countered by explaining that the USG is not pushing M16s on the Nepali Government. After our current FMF appropriation was approved in mid-2002, we asked the RNA leadership how it wanted to prioritize the use of that money — within the parameters set by the PACOM assessment. The RNA was emphatic in reiterating its request that the lion’s share of the appropriation be spent on M16s, along with some non-lethal equipment and training. The RNA was familiar with the M16 from international peacekeeping operations, knew it to be a reliable weapon, and felt that its induction into RNA ranks would be a major morale-booster. The ammunition for the M16A2, moreover, is not available in the region and is difficult to obtain on the South Asian black market, so M16s would be less problematic than Indian-manufactured weapons if they were to fall into the hands of the Maoists or Indian extremists. The DCM and DATT reiterated that the US has made no commitment to supplying all the RNA’s needs for a modern combat rifle or any other arms. We see our modest M16 sales only as a supplement to the rifles being supplied by India. With the RNA expanding rapidly toward 70,000 soldiers, its need for rifles is greater than either of our governments is likely to meet in the short term. The RNA’s decision to standardize on a few weapons from different sources was not unusual or unreasonable; in fact, this is something India itself is doing (with its purchases of specialized rifles from the US and Israel.)

¶6. (C) The DATT asked how the GOI proposed that the USG should approach the M16 issue with Nepal. After a pause with no answer from the Indians, the DATT asked whether they would want us to inform the RNA that after the current order for M16s is filled, Nepal should turn all its arms to India? Kumar again avoided giving a recommendation. He was, however, quick and categorical in rejecting the DATT’s proposal, stating that the Indian supply relationship should not become a subject for US-Nepal dialogue. Clearly, he said, the issue of arms purchases was one the Nepal Government would have to decide for itself. India would have to resolve its own assistance issues by talking directly to the Nepalis.

¶7. (C) In conclusion the DCM pointed out that the US values its strengthening military-to-military relationship with India and has no desire to complicate it with our security assistance to Nepal. On the contrary, our two governments recognize our common interests in helping Nepal to defeat its Maoist threat. The growing frequency and candor of our discussions of Nepal-related security issues are an important benefit of our improved cooperation. Nepal thus is becoming a theater for bilateral strategic cooperation rather than of competition. The Indian DCM had no final comment to offer on M16 sales and made no explicit recommendation. He concluded on a positive note by saying that we should continue our dialogue.

¶8. (S/NF) Comment: Our frequent discussions with our Indian diplomatic colleagues here in Kathmandu are inconsistent in tone. Ambassador Shyam Saran is an unusually able professional who is comfortable sharing his well-informed political and security analyses of Nepal with our Ambassador and official visitors. We find that we agree in large measure with his views, including his profound skepticism about the motives of the Maoists and his emphasis on the importance of the legal political parties supporting the government. Saran has raised questions about US arms supplies to Nepal, but without complaints or threats. DCM Kumar, an often abrasive diplomat whose pursuit of Indian interests borders on chauvinism, has become more collegial and less plaintive as we have engaged him more frequently in discussions of US security policy in Nepal. Only Defense Attache George Mathai, a long-time Gurkha officer, continues to press our DATT to minimize lethal sales to Nepal, obviously delivering prepared talking points without the benefit of supporting information.

¶9. (C) On February 11 our DATT was told that the Indian Embassy had placed a hold on the delivery of additional INSAS rifles, although the Embassy had not informed the GON yet of that. According to the DATT’s source, the GON planned eventually to transfer the Indian-made rifles to the Nepalese Armed Police, and the Embassy did not want them to recommend that more rifles be diverted from Indian forces for the subsidiary purpose. AMB Saran has confirmed this freeze on further INSAS sales, assuring us that this step was taken not in response to US arms sales, but because he believed the GON was not being candid with the GOI regarding its need for and intended use of Indian-made rifles.

¶10. Conclusions we tentatively have drawn from the discussion summarized above and numerous others like it are the following:

— (C) The GOI, like the USG, is attempting to be responsive to Nepali requests for modern combat rifles as an urgent priority. What is frustrating to the Indians is that the Nepalis have never requested India to meet their complete needs for rifles, and have indicated a preference for the M16 as their front-line weapon. For many reasons — diplomatic, economic, military and psychological — the GOI would like the RNA to be totally dependent on it for arms, although the GOI is itself moving toward some foreign military sourcing for small arms.

— (C) Indian analysts are increasingly persuaded that the Maoist movement in Nepal poses a security threat to India. Their dilemma is that they have wider and deeper interests in a secure Nepal than any other nation, but their influence in the Kingdom is constrained by a long history of bilateral tension and suspicion. Objective observers increasingly acknowledge that US security assistance and diplomatic support in Nepal are helpful for the realization of Indian objectives here during this time of turmoil.

— (C) Indian attitudes toward US security assistance to Nepal are complex. On the one hand, they are pleased by the growing transparency and collegiality of our bilateral dialogue on Nepal. On the other hand, some GOI elements here apparently are having difficulty coming to terms with growing US and UK military activism in Nepal as a conspicuous dilution of the dominance in military assistance that India has long enjoyed and defended. — (C) Given the tensions already present in Indo-Nepal relations, Indian diplomats here want assiduously to avoid complicating those relations by allowing them to become tripartite — with the US openly becoming an interlocutor in the shaping of the Indo-Nepal security relationship. We suspect that the reported decision of the GOI to hold up INSAS deliveries is another attempt by India to remind Nepal of the extent to which it is beholden to India without explicitly mentioning US arms sales.

— (S/NF) At least in Kathmandu, Indian concern about US arms sales to Nepal appears to vary significantly between its civilian and military representatives. Indian diplomats understand the importance to India of enhanced US-Indian defense collaboration, and do not want to jeopardize that, and their own dialogue with us, over so small an issue. Indian military intelligence officers, on the other hand, appear to be more focused on traditional relations and local military equations, and have been more willing to signal their discomfort about our potential competition.

¶11. (C) Comment. The best information we have seen on Maoist thinking indicates that the US and UK’s announced policy of military assistance to the GON, coupled with the first deliveries of our M16 and British-purchased helicopters, has been a major consideration in persuading the Maoist leadership to opt for a cease-fire and political negotiations. The GON has made it clear that, despite eventual peace talks, US steadfastness in providing military support — and M16s in particular — will be an important factor in keeping the Maoists at the negotiating table. Obviously, the positive exercise of Indian military aid and political influence is absolutely key to a final resolution of Nepal’s complex political and security problems. Embassy applauds efforts in New Delhi and Washington (see, for example, Delhi’s useful cable, reftel) to strengthen our constructive dialogue with India on Nepal, and intends to redouble our efforts here to build on our new strategic relationship with India as we press forward with our arms assistance to Nepal.

[US Ambassador to Kathmandu, Nepal- Michale E. Malinowski]
Cable originally leaked by Wikileaks.

American Cablegate- NEPAL: Indian Ambassador Reports Advances In Bilateral Security Cooperation

Reference ID- 03KATHMANDU1870
Created- 2003-09-25 10:10
Released- 2011-03-15 00:12
Classification- SECRET//NOFORN
Origin- Embassy Kathmandu





E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2013


——- SUMMARY ——–

¶1. (S/NF) According to Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran, bilateral consultations between Indian and Nepali security and intelligence officers in Kathmandu on Sept 22-23 proceeded “”exceptionally well”” as a first step in institutionalizing security assistance and information exchange between the two governments. The GOI believes it can provide most of Nepal’s requirements for conventional military equipment, according to Saran, and looks to the USG to provide “”high-tech”” equipment. New initiatives include regularizing contacts between the two countries’ respective border security units and GOI training on how to counter urban terrorism. While both Ambassadors agreed that their efforts to promote a reconciliation between the political parties and the Palace had not so far proven successful, Saran reported that the Government of Nepal (GON) is considering holding phased national and local elections in 2004. End summary.


¶2. (C) On September 24 Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran called on the Ambassador to brief him on progress achieved during bilateral consultations between Indian and Nepali security and intelligence officials in Kathmandu Sept. 22-23 (Ref A). The initial round of talks went “”exceptionally well,”” Saran reported, characterizing them as the “”most serious and cooperative”” discussions on security, military, and intelligence topics ever between the two neighbors. The next round is expected to be held in New Delhi in November.

¶3. (S/NF) Saran said the talks focused on three topics. First, the discussions helped clarify new Government of Nepal (GON) requests for equipment, which included among other items mine-protected vehicles (MPVs), jeeps, and INSAS rifles. Saran said the GOI would try to be responsive to the new GON requests and may attempt to transfer some MPVs currently in Jharkand to Nepal. (Those vehicles would have to undergo some kind of refurbishment.) Second, since recent Royal Nepal Army (RNA) successes in the field increase the danger of the Maoists modifying their tactics and diverting their attacks to urban environments, the GOI offered to provide training on how to counter urban terrorism, Saran reported. Third, the two governments have agreed to revitalize intelligence exchanges, especially regarding cross-border movement of suspected terrorists. The smooth exchange of information had been hampered in the past because the RNA, which is primarily responsible for border security in Nepal, had no institutional links with the IB, which is responsible for border security in India. The talks addressed how to institutionalize the relationship between the two forces, including setting up formal channels of communication (with secure “”hotlines””) at IB offices in Siliguri, Patna and Lucknow. Communications will be supplemented by regular meetings between representatives of the two security forces at additional local venues as well. Saran added that the GOI plans to increase the number of border security force units along the border with Nepal from 14 to 34.

¶4. (C) After Nepal’s Dashain-Tihar holidays in October, the two governments will pursue conclusion of extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties, Saran said. Talks on this subject over the past few days had gone well, he reported, with many earlier hurdles, including the sticky topic of how to treat third-country nationals, resolved, he reported. Extradition of one’s own nationals remains a sensitive topic, however. In the past, Saran explained, the GOI had regularly turned over suspected Maoists to the GON without a formal treaty–earning criticism from human rights groups and INGOs such as ICRC in the process. The wife of Maoist Central Committee member Bam Dev Chhetri, whom the GOI had handed over in September 2002 (and who was subsequently released by the GON during the ceasefire), has filed a case against the GOI, he noted. An extradition treaty with Nepal would give the GOI a firm legal basis for such transfers in the future.


¶5. (C) By having the GON prioritize its security needs, the GOI will be better able to provide assistance, Saran continued. While the GOI has no objection per se to the USG providing M-16 rifles to the RNA, the GOI believes that it is in a better position to provide conventional weapons like rifles to the Nepali military, and that the USG should offer “”high-tech”” equipment and assistance. Ambassador Malinowski replied that while final funding levels remain unknown, the USG is reviewing the possibility of providing refurbished Bell helicopters to the RNA. Saran noted that the GOI may provide a few Indian helicopters as well.


¶6. (C) Both Ambassadors agreed that their joint efforts, along with the British Ambassador, to promote a reconciliation between the political parties and the Palace (Ref B) had not so far proven fruitful. The fragile consensus between the political parties is already beginning to unravel, both noted, with the Nepali Congress hinting it will insist that revival of Parliament precede formation of an all-party government and the Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist (UML) hinting it will insist on the exact opposite. Nonetheless, the Ambassadors concurred that the GON will have to reach out to the political parties. Saran reported that he understands that the King may decide to meet the parties to enlist their support and is also considering a possible Cabinet expansion. For now, the GON intends to concentrate on elections, including the possibility of holding staggered local elections next spring, followed by national elections, conducted in phases, beginning in November 2004.


American Cablegate: US Ambassador Relays Concerns About Activities Of Indian Intelligence Agents [In Nepal]

Reference ID: 03KATHMANDU2366

Created: 2003-12-04 02:02
Released: 2011-03-15 00:12
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Origin: Embassy Kathmandu

Wikileaks notice: This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2013



¶1. (S/NF) On December 3 the Ambassador raised with Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran reports that intelligence agents assigned to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu have been characterizing USG policy and motives in Nepal as malevolently aimed at undermining Nepal’s sovereignty. The Ambassador told Saran that the reports had been passed to us by several Nepali political sources, who claimed to have had such conversations in the recent past with Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agents based at the Indian Embassy. He also briefed Saran about unsubstantiated reports suggesting that some Nepali Maoist women may have received training at a security facility in Dehra Dun in northern India (Ref A). Noting that Nepalis, both within the government and in the opposition, sometimes attempt to play off Indian and American interests, he stressed that the information passed on by these sources had not been verified. He noted that the reports predated the meeting between Nepali Maoists and Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist General Secretary Madhav Nepal in Lucknow (Ref B)–an event that has SIPDIS set Nepali nationalists teeth on edge against India. The Ambassador emphasized that he was communicating these concerns to Saran as a friend and ally.

¶2. (S/NF) Ambassador Saran thanked him and expressed concern, describing the reports as “”unfortunate”” and not an accurate reflection of official GOI policy–a point confirmed in his recent policy discussions in New Delhi (see para 3). The GOI is committed to ensuring Nepal’s stability, he said, adding that he has obtained unprecedented levels of development and security assistance for the kingdom. Nonetheless, sometimes people in different branches of the GOI “”go off on their own,”” he acknowledged, and promised to look into the reports.

¶3. (S/NF) In a separate meeting on November 30, Saran briefed the Ambassador on the just-concluded policy deliberations in New Delhi. He stressed that his interlocutors had expressed concern about possible spill-over of the insurgency onto Indian territory. According to Saran, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes told him that “”the fight against the Maoists is also India’s fight.”” Saran noted, however, that certain quarters within the GOI had argued that India should maintain contact with the Maoists in order to influence them and to keep open communication channels in the event of a worst-case scenario in which the Maoists ultimately gain power.

¶4. (S/NF) We cannot discount the possibility that our Nepali sources, many of whom resent India’s influence in their country, may have their own motives in conveying to us reports of Indian double-dealing. We have always found Saran professional, collegial, and cooperative, and believe that he does not sanction–and may probably not be aware of–all of RAW’s activities in Nepal. His acknowledgement that some in the GOI “”go off on their own”” and that some advocate maintaining contact and influence with the Maoists is his first admission to us that some elements within his Embassy may be working at cross-purposes to official GOI policy.


See on Wikileaks

American Cablegate: CRUNCH TIME IN NEPAL?

Reference ID: 06KATHMANDU2587
Created: 2006-09-22 11:11
Released: 2011-03-15 00:12
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Origin: Embassy Kathmandu




E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2017


Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).


¶1. (C) On June 15, Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee confirmed to the Ambassador that the Government of India had taken a tougher line on Maoist abuses. Mukherjee’s recent visit to New Delhi had coincided with the visit of Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal. According to Mukherjee, who sat in on a June 6 meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and MK Nepal, the Foreign Minister had expressed concern that the law and order situation in Nepal continued to deteriorate and Maoist abuses had gone unpunished. Moreover, Foreign Minister Mukherjee had been categorical in his discussion with MK Nepal that the Maoists should not be integrated into the Nepal Army. Ambassador Mukherjee asserted that the GOI would not tolerate continued attempts by the Maoist splinter Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (“”People’s Terai Liberation Front””) (JTMM) to derail the Constituent Assembly election. He agreed that the Maoists had not showed a true commitment to joining the political mainstream.

Indian Foreign Minister Concerned About Maoist Intentions
——————————————— ————

¶2. (C) Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee told the Ambassador on June 15 that senior Indian officials had voiced concern about ongoing Maoist abuses during Mukherjee’s recent consultations in New Delhi. Similarly, in a meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee and Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) General Secretary Madav Kumar Nepal on June 6, the Foreign Minister SIPDIS had confirmed that the leadership of the Government of India (GOI) was increasingly concerned with the deteriorating security situation in Nepal. Maoist abuses needed to be punished. Foreign Minister Mukherjee had told MK Nepal that the seven parties in the governing coalition needed to stay united and take clear steps to prepare for free and fair elections in November. This was the only way, FM Mukherjee had opined, to keep the Maoists in the political process. The Foreign Minister had also made it clear to MK Nepal that the GON should not – under any circumstances – integrate Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army.

Home Minister Will Stay On

¶3. (C) Foreign Minister Mukherjee had hinted to MK Nepal during their meeting, according to Ambassador Mukherjee, that Home Minister Sitaula needed to do more to address the country’s security situation. The Indian Ambassador speculated that Sitaula had dodged a bullet because the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) had retracted its demand for his resignation. Mukherjee acknowledged to the Ambassador that Sitaula was a big part of the problem; unfortunately, he noted, Sitaula would probably stay on as Home Minister.

JTMM Activity Won’t Be Tolerated

¶4. (C) Mukherjee agreed with the Ambassador that the Government of Nepal had to take concrete steps to include marginalized groups in the political process. He also noted that the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (“”People’s Terai Liberation Front””) (JTMM) should be brought into discussions and convinced to declare a “”revolutionary cease-fire”” to save face. Mukherjee told the Ambassador that the GOI would do “”everything in its power”” to address the situation if the JTMM tried to derail the Constituent Assembly election. Mukherjee felt that Maoist acts of violence would be the single most destabilizing factor leading up to the election. He asserted that the U.S. should stand firm in its decision

KATHMANDU 00001197 002 OF 002

not to communicate with the Maoists, as doing so would only reward bad behavior.

Maoists Not Invited to New Delhi

¶5. (S/NF) When asked by the Ambassador whether the Maoists had been invited back to New Delhi for consultations, Ambassador Mukherjee said that officials in New Delhi had refused the informal requests for a visit they had received from Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka Prachanda). According to Mukherjee, Dahal’s go-betweens were told by the Indian Embassy that it was not the time for a visit to New Delhi because the Maoists had continued to break their commitments to the peace process. The Maoists had reportedly lamented the fact that they had “”lost their former channels”” of communication to New Delhi. In response, GOI officials had made it clear that, since the Maoists had entered into the Interim Government, the intelligence community was no longer their conduit. “”We are the conduit now,”” Ambassador Mukherjee noted, referring to his embassy.


¶6. (C) The Indian Ambassador continues privately to express much more pessimism about Maoist actions and intentions than in the past (reftel). Mukherjee shared our analysis that the Maoists continue to seek total state power — even if he is not prepared to say so publicly. Foreign Minister Mukherjee’s recent push for CPN-UML leader MK Nepal to maintain seven-party unity and enforce law and order was useful and timely. According to the Indian political counselor, Prime Minister Monmohan Singh was even blunter with MK Nepal, warning him to be wary of the Maoists and urging him to work with Prime Minister Koirala. We hope that a two-pronged message from India and the U.S. could help push the GON to address the current security situation and move quickly toward a November Constituent Assembly election while maintaining guard against Maoist machinations.




On Wikileaks

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Reasons to Come Home

reasons to come home:  kathmandu post sunday 13 feb 2011

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

I came back to Kathmandu last week after completing my two year tenure in Delhi. “Welcome back to darkness,” some of my friends said.

Load shedding is not a new phenomenon in Kathmandu. But the continued and unacceptably long hours of power cuts have fueled further frustration. Not to mention the ‘deadlocked’ politics and lack of developmental activities. I was mildly surprised to learn that some of my friends preferred to see me in Delhi (meaning anywhere out of Nepal) than in Kathmandu.

This familiar love-hate relationship with the homeland—can’t live with it, can’t live without it. You may run away from home to escape problems but you cannot live away from it for long. You may want to earn a degree or work abroad for a few years but you do not want to die there. The desire to return becomes so strong that at one point it overwhelms you. You will start feeling uncomfortable even with the relatively comfortable life there.

People want to share their happiness with their own. In a foreign land, however many good friends they may have, they can’t communicate their excitement with foreigners as easily as they can with their friends, relatives and neighbours back home. Even if they do, foreigners won’t understand them. They also want to show off their progress—not to their newly acquired foreign friends but to their folks back home. “A Nepali won’t feel validated without showing off his colour television set to his neighbour in Nepal despite earning millions of rupees in Japan,” a senior journalist colleague once told me.

That’s true because there are many other millionaires in developed societies where personal achievements aren’t taken as the significant step they would be considered in Nepal. This is true with any other nationality too. For some it could be the other way around. I have come across many Westerners who have decided to spend their life in third world countries like Nepal and India because they get ‘royal treatment’ and ‘attention’ here. They can’t get the same level of importance in their native society because there are so many other people just like them.

Another very important reason for people to return to their homelands is their desire to do something for their society. After gaining knowledge or amassing wealth, they want to come back to serve their motherland.

My case is slightly different. I do have a strong desire to serve my society and uplift the quality of my profession, but I didn’t go out of Nepal to study or seek employment. And I didn’t come back to show off or share my happiness and progress with my family. In fact, my significant other is still in Delhi studying, among others, econometrics. While in Delhi I was working for a Kathmandu-based company, this newspaper and its Nepali-language sister publication, as fulltime staff. Very few Nepalis work for Nepali companies from outside of Nepal because of the nation’s frail economy.

But Delhi is no New York or Tokyo. This is the capital city of a country where tens of thousands of unfortunate Nepalis toil day and night for meagre earnings. During my stay in the city and trips to other parts of India, I didn’t meet a single Nepali who was very happy or proud to be where he was. And Nepalis are everywhere. From Jammu to Kanyakumari, Mumbai to Shillong, Lucknow to Hyderabad. In all these places I saw Nepalis working at dhabas and shops. Not a good sight. I overheard them talking loudly in Nepali about their difficult life. Not a good sound. All of my attempts to track a Nepali who has done a great deal of ‘progress’ (apart from Udit Narayan and Manisha Koirala) resulted in encounters with momo sellers or small-time liquor sellers in Delhi. I have realised that Nepalis do not go to India to seek success. They go there to sustain their lives. India is not a land of opportunity for us, but a temporary escape from our reality.

But India is not to be blamed for our misfortune. The problem lies with us, not with them. If you are poor and divided, others will look down upon you.

Instead, I feel, India is doing us a favour by allowing us to enter its boundaries without asking. Of course, it does so because of its own compulsions and to safeguard its own strategic interests.

Despite all the hype and hoopla about India being a constitutionally secular country, in my understanding, this is not the case. India can’t become a secular country because it is not just a country. It’s a continent in itself and, more than that, it’s a civilisation. This civilisation is different from that of, say, the Chinese or the West or Muslims. It’s the Hindu civilisation. You don’t have to be a Huntington to understand why a nation that has the second largest Muslim population in the world fought twice with Pakistan and is fencing its frontiers with Bangladesh with barbed wires but is so keen on keeping the border with Nepal open. Jawaharlal Nehru once said something about the Himalayas being India’s final frontier and Hindu nationalists in India continue to believe even today that Nepal is part of what they call the Bharat Barsha.

My understanding is that India has no problem with Nepal as long as it remains a predominantly Hindu society. All the rhetoric that comes out of Delhi that Nepal is ‘tilting’ towards China or becoming ‘a hotbed for anti-India activities’ is lame. This happens despite knowing that Nepal can never be as close to China as it is with India because of civilisational differences with its northern neighbour.

This article was first published in today’s Kathmandu Post. Nepali versionof the same was published in Saturday (12 Feb) edition of Kantipur.

Kashmir and Indian Democracy

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

A Nepali perspective on a South Asian problem: “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India,” declared Arundhati Roy in New Delhi last week. “It is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this.”

Kashmir and Indian Democracy Kathmandu Post
Kathmandu Post. Click to enlarge

By saying so the Booker-prize winning author of The God of Small Things created a tsunami that instantly swept through India—from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The ripples were the biggest in the Capital, the power centre of India. The ruling Congress party asked Roy to withdraw her statement. Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party demanded that she be charged with sedition for questioning India’s authority over Kashmir. The government, through its law minister, said her comments were “most unfortunate” because the freedom of speech “can’t violate the patriotic sentiments of the people.”

Whether India has authority over Kashmir has been a hotly debated issue since 1947. But what the world agrees on, by and large, is that India is a democracy that provides a relatively greater degree of freedom to its citizens. Including, happily, to Roy, who was born in Shillong, Meghalaya, to Keralite Syrian Christian and women’s rights activist Mara Roy, and a Bengali father, a tea planter by profession; Roy now lives in New Delhi. At the same time, rights violations and stiff restrictions on civil liberties have become part of daily life in certain parts of India, almost as a price to keep the Indian union intact and its democracy safe from the ultra-left. That is the reason people like Roy believe India is increasingly becoming a police state.

Every democracy has its flaws. The Indian democracy is no exception. But with strict enforcement of laws like the Right To Information (RTI) Act the Indian democracy has empowered its people like never before. One hallmark of Indian democracy is its crowd culture wherein the collective wisdom of the leadership or the mass outmaneuvers any wickedness of an individual or a small group that may be looking to exploit loopholes—legal or otherwise. There are many instances of flawed decisions of the courts which were later changed to reflect the popular sentiment or public uproar that demanded a more humane and just approach. Despite the controversies surrounding it and despite being branded by opposing parties as a government tool to harass them, public-interest organisations like the anti-graft body of Central Bureau of Investigation are functional. They command public respect and trust. The culture where politically connected and influential people can easily get their work done is still prevalent in India. But thanks to laws like the RTI, the poor and the socially marginalised believe they are also heard by the system. Despite the hysterical nationalistic sentiments and appalling corporate control over some influential media, the public discourse is still open, fearless and impactful because there are too many media outlets in India to be manipulated by governments or business groups or political parties. It is the pluralistic Indian society and its democractic culture that allow vibrant discussions on sensitive issues like the Indian authority over Kashmir. Vague issues like national security are often used as an excuse by Indian authorities and agencies to subvert just voices inside the country and in its neighborhood. But as long as there is stable democracy in India, just causes will find their way to success. Continue reading Kashmir and Indian Democracy

An Experience of Crossing the Nepal-India Border

A kid and his mother: India bound- expecting to a earn living that Nepal, their country, couldn't provide. At the bus stand in Banbasa, Indian town bordering far west Nepal
India bound- expecting to earn a living that Nepal, their country, couldn't provide. At the bus stand in Banbasa, Indian town bordering far west Nepal

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

The border between Nepal and India is so open, smooth and easy to cross that it doesn’t even feel like an international border separating two countries that once fought under different rulers. There is not much difference between the landscapes, bazaars and people on the two sides of the border. There’s no language problem; Nepalis understand Hindi and many shop owners on the Indian side of the border speak fluent Nepali. For many Nepalis who travel to India for work or religious purposes, crossing into India is like going to offices or temples in Nepal. Tens of thousands of Nepalis and Indians cross the border each day to do business, get education and treatment, visit relatives and seek divine blessings.

crossing the line kathmandu post p6.Oct26.2010
Kathmandu Post. 26.10.2010 (click to enlarge)

That’s one version of the story. A feel-good version that epitomises the best of the relationship between Nepal and India. Unfortunately that’s not the only version of the Indo-Nepal border crossing story. That’s not the only truth. If you are poor, illiterate and badly dressed, crossing the border becomes a harrowing experience. The policemen on both sides of the border who are supposed to facilitate the crossing suddenly become a bunch of thugs who harass travellers and extort their hard earned money. The scene at some border crossing points at times is so horrific that you may want to compare them with rape.

The Banbasa (India)-Mahendranagar (Nepal) border crossing point is one of the busiest and probably the most notorious of the transit points between two countries. India has two separate checkpoints within the distance of about 100 metres. If you are entering Nepal your luggage will be searched by Indian policemen first. Then you are allowed to cross the bridge over the Mahakali River. The structure is actually the barrage (Indians call it Sarda barrage as a canal with the same name originates from here. The inequality in Indo-Nepal relationships is aptly reflected on the sizes of the canals that go towards respective countries from the Mahakali River. The canal on the Nepali side is about a tenth the size of the Sarda canal that flows into India.) Soon after crossing the bridge will come another checkpoint operated by Seema Surakshya Bal (SSB), India’s border security force along the border with Nepal. This controversial check post came into existence a few years ago almost overnight provoking much anger from the Nepali population. Continue reading An Experience of Crossing the Nepal-India Border

Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Alleged Maoist-‘Chinese’ Phone Conversation

Writing on the front pages of Kantipur and The  Kathmandu Post, the editors of the papers today say that a high-ranking official from a foreign diplomatic mission (Indian mission) in Kathmandu had called them on Friday night to inquire if they were interested in publishing the alleged Mahara conversation with a man with Chinese accent. Kantipur editor writes that they, along with about a dozen other Nepali editors, were having regular informal discussions with the Chinese ambassador in Baluwatar when the call from the diplomat came to the Post editor. “We have a recorded telephone conversation, can you publish it?” said the diplomat.

“What’s that about?”
“You will know once you listen to it,” was the reply to Upadhyay.

Later we learned from other sources that the conversation was between Maoist leader KB Mahara and a man alleged to be Chinese. But it was not clear who that “Chinese” was and the telephone numbers on which the conversation took place. It was also not clear how that was recorded. The caller only wanted to know if we could publish that conversation today. (continue reading Kantipur editor’s account in Nepali below)

By Akhilesh Upadhyay
Editor, The Kathmandu Post (on the front page, today)

Not everyday do newspapers feel the need to explain to their readers why they did what they did. Many of you may have wondered—some have aloud to our ears—why the Kathmandu Post on Saturday did not carry a news item which has otherwise received great prominence in some papers. This demands an explanation. The issues at hand are of utmost gravity. The story in question is about the allegation that China was all set to make a huge cash infusion to the Maoist party to influence the outcome of the sixth round of prime ministerial election slated for Sunday.

According to the news carried in some newspapers and TV networks on Friday night and Saturday morning, China had assured the Maoist leadership of Rs. 500 million. The money, the news suggests, would be enough to garner support of 50 non-Maoist lawmakers whose backing in turn would be enough to elect UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the prime minister. The story obviously implicates China in high-stake horse trading. Naturally then, some ran the story with a caveat: Authenticity of the leaked audio tape of the conversation between Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara and “a Chinese official”, on which the story rests, could not be independently established. Continue reading Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Alleged Maoist-‘Chinese’ Phone Conversation