KATHMANDU, April 6: Nepal and India have reached an understanding to revise the provisions deemed ‘unequal’ for a sovereign country in the 1950 Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty.
The third Nepal-India Eminent Persons Group (EPG) meeting, which kicked off in Kathmandu on Wednesday, reached the understanding, said a member of the panel. The treaty has remained controversial as it fails to treat Nepal as a sovereign nation.
“Both sides have reached a conclusion that the treaty is unequal and have thus reached an understanding to revise it to suit the current scenario by scraping some of the provisions that fail to honor the sovereignty of a nation,” said the member, requesting anonymity.
Former foreign affairs minister Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, former chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Surya Nath Upadhyay, former minister Nilambar Acharya and lawmaker Rajan Bhattarai are among the members of the EPG from the Nepali side.
Likewise, former Indian ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad, Professor Mahendra P Lama, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party Vice Chairman Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and professor BC Upreti are representing the Indian side in the committee.
Putting forth its views at the onset of the meeting, the Nepali side had proposed scrapping some of the unequal provisions in the treaty which was signed when the Rana regime in Nepal was at a faltering stage and China was gaining hold of Tibet. Most of the political parties in Nepal have been demanding that the treaty be scrapped, denouncing that almost all the provisions and articles of the treaty are unequal and unfair toward Nepal.
The then prime minister Mohan Shumsher Rana from Nepal’s side and Indian ambassador to Nepal Chandreshwor P N Singh from the Indian side had signed the 10-point treaty.
As per the Article 5 of the treaty, Nepal needs to consult with India before buying military weapons. Some other provisions in the treaty have been fiercely criticized in Nepal since long.
Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, who heads the Nepali team of the EPG, said various six agenda items were discussed during the bilateral talks on Wednesday. The issues discussed included the 1950 treaty, open border, border security, trade, and transit and water resources.
“We mainly discussed the 1950 treaty extensively during the meeting. However, we are yet to hold discussion on the issues in detail,” said Thapa.
The Indian side is expected to come up with their views in detail on Thursday about the revision of the treaty.
The first meeting of the EPG held in Kathmandu in July last year had put forth the 1950 treaty as agenda of the bilateral meeting. The meeting had decided to review all the treaties and provisions between the two countries signed so far.
The Nepali side had put forth the issue of the 1950 treaty even during the second meeting of the EPG held in India last October. The third meeting of Nepal-India EPG had been put off twice in the recent past.
An agreement on establishing the EPG was reached in 2011 and the two countries agreed to prepare its terms of reference in 2014, when Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was in Kathmandu to attend a meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission.