Tibet was a good market for Nepali traders and Nepal had good ties with Tibet. With marriage of Nepali princess Bhrikuti with King Tsroang Chong Gympo of Tibet, diplomatic and official relations became cordial. Following that many Nepali merchants and officials also married Tibetan girls. Eventually, Tibet and Nepal had both people-to-people and government-to-government ties.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s unification campaign was focused on Kathmandu but it seemed like a powerful state to win over. To weaken it, he blockaded the Kathmandu Valley. This affected East India Company’s trade with Tibet (and China) because their trade was carried out via Kathmandu.
After Dalai Lama fled to India, Chinese security operation started in Tibet in 1971 and some Khampas started to settle down in the adjoining areas of the Himalayan border on the northern region of Nepal. They started to operate anti-China activities from Nepali territory, which was against foreign policy of Nepal. So Nepal launched military operations against Khampas. Many of them were killed, others fled and some surrendered. This episode is known as ‘Khampa Disarming Mission’ in Nepal’s military history.
It was May 2016. Scholars from Taiwan, China, Nepal and India were presenting their views at a three-day seminar on Nepal-India-China relation in Kathmandu. Professor Mahendra P Lama and former Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood were two of the presenters while I was a participant. In his presentation Sood was critical of what he called ‘Mahendra model of nationalism.’