22 August 2017: India and China may be on the brink of a perilous repetition of “1962” amid the Doklam military build-up but expectation in India is that Nepal would temporarily forget its very own border dispute with the world’s largest democracy. In other words, the mountain republic is expected to play the understanding neighbour as it prepares to send its once “incompetent” prime minister to India on a state visit.
The website of The Times of India, the largest media and entertainment group in India, has referred to its “informed sources” to claim that Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba would refrain from making any mention of Lipulekh.
Lipulekh is, according to Wikipedia, “a disputed Himalayan pass controlled by India but also claimed by Nepal[near their tripoint with Chinese trading town of Taklakot (Purang) in Tibet”. Nepalese leaders, however, claim it is theirs.
Sher Bahadur Deuba will not bring up the Lipulekh dispute during his one on one with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi because he would not want to “exacerbate” the tensions in Doklam plateau, Times said today.
When Mr Modi visited China in May 2015, he signed a joint statement with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang which made a mention of the disputed chunk of land. Nepal at the time complained that the two giants did so without securing Nepal’s consent. Whereas the statement was a tool to warm-up relationship between the two neighbours, many Nepalese intellectuals and nationalist political leaders regarded it as a gross violation of Nepal’s sovereignty because Lipulekh was part and parcel of Nepal, they said. Hence, they argued, their country should have been consulted in the matter prior to the joint declaration.
“While Nepal is concerned about the military stalemate in Doklam area, which is claimed by both China and Bhutan, Deuba is unlikely to exacerbate the situation any further by bringing up the specifics of Nepal’s own border dispute with India during his meetings here, informed sources suggested,” Times of India said today.
Earlier in the month, Times claimed that China was “tapping into Nepal’s insecurities by reaching out to its mission here on the Doklam issue and by portraying India as the aggressor”.
Nepal’s former ambassador to China, Mahesh Maskey, appeared to have similar suggestion in a recent interview with The Kathmandu Post when he asserted that Mr Deuba’s India visit would not be the correct time to put pressure on India on resolving its border dispute with Nepal. “Using the conflict between India and China as footing to resolve the Lipulekh and Kalapani issue is remiss. We have to wait until the environment and the timing is right,” he said in an interview with journalists Mukul Humagain and Sanjeev Giri.