When Prime Minister Narendra Modi met PM Sushil Koirala in Singha Durbar, the seat of government, he had a message for him on the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
Nepal has often spoken of the ‘unequal’ nature of the treaty and both sides have often agreed to review it. But nothing has come out of it.
“You can do exactly what you want with this treaty. You can remove it, you can change it. Come up with a proposal and I will accept it,” Modi told Koirala, giving him a blank cheque, according to top diplomatic sources privy to the conversation.
Modi added, “Papers don’t make this relationship.”
The treaty, which provides for reciprocal rights to citizens of one country in another, was signed when a despotic unpopular regime was in its final leg in Nepal. Left forces have alleged that the treaty, by providing for India’s special security interests in Nepal, curtailed national sovereignty.
Indian side however believes that if the treaty is unequal at all, it is so in favour of Nepal — because Indians don’t enjoy the same rights as Nepalis do in India and the security related provisions are non-operational anyway.
But India has agreed to Nepal’s demand for change and asked Kathmandu to come up with specifics. Modi has now thrown the ball entirely in Nepal’s court.