Well, it appears so
When the Indian prime minister met Nepal’s King Gyanendra in Jakarta last week, it looked as if the iciness that had crept in bilateral relations since February’s palace coup had finally ended: Nepal would get the much-needed military assistance, in return for a firm commitment to a quick return to constitutional rule. Or so it seemed.
But even as Dr Manmohan Singh’s decision to resume military aid began to run into rough weather with his Leftist coalition partners, reports appeared that the Nepalese authorities had, in the dead of the night, taken former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba into custody on corruption charges. As far as the sense of timing goes, this is as bad as it gets.
Beyond just poor judgement though, the timing of Deuba’s arrest means one or both of the following: first, there are elements within Gyanendra’s regime that are keen to scuttle any rapprochement with India; and second, Gyanendra himself is playing a very different game — one that is extremely risky for himself and for his country.
With this latest development, the ball is firmly back in the king’s court. He must come out unambiguously in favour of a quick, time-bound return to constitutional rule. It is absurd for his anti-corruption watchdogs to target political corruption when the state itself is being challenged by Maoist rebels.
Gyanendra does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. India must now insist on advance delivery by Gyanendra — including the release all politicians from prison and lifting of the civil emergency in Kathmandu and key cities — before it resumes military assistance. Those diplomatic hard-hitters must be called in immediately.