KATHMANDU, Jan 31: Arguing that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant has no link with America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, Prime Minister KP Oli has pointed out the need to endorse the MCC agreement through parliament at the earliest possible.
Prime Minister Oli’s remark comes in the wake of a section of senior leaders within his ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) remaining stubbornly opposed to the idea.
Addressing a central committee meeting of the NCP that began in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Oli said the fact that MCC agreements are implemented even in Latin American countries suggests that it does not have any link to the Indo-Pacific Strategy. A section of senior leaders of the NCP disputes this.
“In fact, there is no issue here that merits much debate. This is a grant. Nepal has received Rs 55 billion in aid and there are no strings attached that undermine or infringe upon Nepal’s interests. And it is not linked to anything else,” said Oli, while taking strong exception to the controversy kicked up by a section of the party’s senior leaders.
“What we have signed is related only to the agreement itself. The project must be completed in five years. And if we fail to do this, the grant amount freezes automatically. The project will grind to a halt where it has reached by then and come to an end. The agreement also comes to an end,” he cautioned.
Clarifying that the MCC does not have any link with the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Prime Minister Oli said the US has reached MCC agreements with as many as 49 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. “It is pointless to link it with the Indo-Pacific Strategy because Latin America is not an issue that can be linked with the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Prime Minister Oli urged party leaders not to run after the interests that various countries may have. “If we do so we cannot establish our international relations. There may be countries with different political ideologies, political systems, social and economic systems and different regional and global interests. But we do not run after these interests of others,” he further said.
Oli argued that it is in the best interest of Nepal to pursue a policy of receiving aid, grant or loan, on the basis of national needs and priorities and mobilize these for the benefit of the country. “So, we do not go after whatever interests other countries may have. There is no point analysing what interests they may have,” he argued.
Stressing the need to endorse the agreement at the earliest possible through parliament, the prime minister said the agreement does not infringe upon the sovereignty of Nepal. Instead, the conditionalities attached include various good provisions such as transparency, rule of law, democratic governance, corruption control and aid effectiveness. “There are no provisions that could put us at a disadvantage, infringe upon our sovereignty and independence or cause any adverse impact on our development endeavors,” he further said, while asking the party’s leaders to take note of the clarifications given recently by the US embassy in Kathmandu.
Prime Minister Oli, who devoted most of his speech to explaining how Nepal was able to secure the MCC grant and how it is not against Nepal’s national interests, said there has been an agreement to utilize the MCC grant to build a 400 KV power transmission line along the Lapsiphedi-Ratmate (Nuwakot), Ratmate-Hetauda, Ratmate-Damauli, Damauli-Butwal and Butwal -Indian border sections.
Similarly, part of the MCC grant shall be utilized to upgrade 100 kilometers of road from Chandrauta of Kapilvastu to Lamahi and other parts of Dang and Banke districts. While Rs 400 million shall be used for the transmission line project, around 52 million shall be for the road upgrade.
‘Indo-Pacific Strategy unveiled to encircle and weaken China’
A political paper jointly presented by NCP Chairmen Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Oli has stated that the Indo-Pacific Strategy that the US has advanced lately is an attempt to encircle and weaken China. But the paper lauds China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as its strategy to enhance connectivity and economic cooperation among countries.
“The US has been developing new strategies in order to maintain its superpower status and global hegemony. In this context, a military strategy in the form of an Indo-Pacific Strategy has been advanced to spread its influence in the areas surrounding Indian Ocean and encircle and weaken China, which is emerging as the number one economic power,” reads the political paper presented for discussions.
The paper states that Nepal should not be part of any external military alliance or military strategy. “Nepal cannot accept any economic or political assistance that comes by way of military strategy. But Nepal always stands ready to forge partnerships in economic aid and development work with other countries including the US on the basis of mutual benefit while keeping Nepal’s national interests at the center,” the paper reads.
On BRI, the political paper argues that China has pursued this project as its strategy for spreading its connectivity and economic cooperation across the world. “Nepal has made itself part of the connectivity and cooperation by signing the BRI,” the paper adds. The CC meeting shall continue on Thursday as well.
‘Initiative to remove Indian army personnel from Nepali soil has already begun’
The political paper presented by the chairpersons duo speaks of an initiative to remove Indian army personnel stationed inside Nepali territory at Kalapani. “An initiative to remove the Indian army from Nepali territory and retrieve such territory has been already started,” the paper also says.
It says that Nepal had already started political and diplomatic negotiations to correct the political map released by India in early October. The new Indian political map incorporates some territories belonging to Nepal.
The political paper also mentions that Nepal’s western border stretches up to Limpiyadhura as Kali River defines the boundary between Nepal and India. “Our party and the government have already clarified that what is east of the Mahakali River that originates from Lipiyadhura as per the Sugauli Treaty is Nepal’s territory and territories lying to the West of the River is India,” it states further.
Areas such as Nabi, Gunji, Gabyang and Kuti that are now placed on the Indian side of the border belong in Nepal as per that Treaty reached between Nepal and the East India Company in 1816 AD. The Treaty shows that the territories that lie to the West of the Mahakali belong to India.