As the old saying goes, experience is the best teacher and that more one is subjected to delicate and susceptible tests over time, he or she is bound to bag successes more so if such tests belong to the domain of diplomacy then the one concerned subjected to such tests as stated earlier masters the art of diplomacy, including the dos and don’ts in the conduct of international relations more so in the standard behaviors that guide the ties in between the two neighboring countries, which later allows him or her to converse with the other side keeping heads high and answer the queries in a more discreet way that keeps the questionnaire guessing as to how to take the most sensitive answers just received?
Such answers usually possess double meaning and are vague in its real meaning that forces one to pull the hairs for being unable to get the exact clue to what has been said by the concerned diplomat or the authority in question.
Nepal PM Oli has mastered this art not by attending to the school of international studies but instead the post that he carries with him over these years, with interruption though, in a repeated manner has made him more like a seasoned diplomat who could handle any situation and face any awkward question with proper care and give a befitting reply that satisfies the questionnaire.
Nepal PM Oli’s statement in Delhi that “we never had any differences over our bilateral ties…and even we have had any misunderstanding then those too have by now vanished”.
Such meaning loaded statement can only come from a seasoned player who understands better on how ties with immediate neighbors need to be handled without causing any further damage to the strained relations as they are at the moment with Nepal-India ties.
Problems remain yet PM Oli managed to sound his hosts that there was nothing to panic.
Oli in saying so in Delhi has proved himself that he can win over easily the Indian PM Modi who by fluke of a chance has assumed this post or else he was more suitable and comfortable with the profession that his august father had initiated and continued for decades on the sidelines of a railway station as PM Modi has himself beamingly said several times in the past.
This scribe found PM Oli presenting himself in Delhi as a smart diplomat who understands well on how to win the hearts of his own people back home and entertain the hosts in Delhi.
The absence of the word China in Oli’s statements did miracle in many more ways than one. First, the absence must have assured his Delhi hosts that, at least internally, even if Oli visits China soon, nothing as such dangerous would happen in Nepal-India relations so happily nursed this time by PM Modi and his coercive babus who in effect control Modi in the conduct of his foreign policy.
Secondly, Oli gave the impression that though he was a Nepali national but was made for India and that he has yet not forgotten the debt of the Medanta Hospital treatment in the not so distant past.
The Indian authorities took Oli as a normal Nepali PM visiting Delhi but failed to capture the inner minds of the Oli who has changed himself after the fresh economic blockade imposed on Nepal.
All that Oli did in Delhi was to keep a calm posture all along in his dealings with the hosts without disturbing the minds of the Delhi babus for he knew that mental disturbance remained in store for them when he lands soon in Beijing and meets the Chinese President Xi Jinping and inks several agreements with China or receives assurances that the previously agreed agenda(s) shall be completed on time. China perhaps understands better Nepali haste.
Barring SD Muni, the self declared Nepal expert who possesses a special hatred for Nepal and its people, suspected the credentials of Nepal PM Oli for having a visible China tilt after the blockade and suggested his own government to act in a manner that does away with Oli’s nationalist credentials and distances him far from China. Source Twitter.
SD Muni read the inner minds of Nepal PM Oli as regards his China tilt but did not acknowledge that such a tilt, if any, was by default and was the making of the Indian regime itself. (Professor Muni also talked with the Rajya Sabha TV together with disruptive and most arrogant Ambassador SS Mukherjee and a Nepali media man Parsuram Kafley).
Whether Oli sold the nation to India at a dirt cheap price or extracted benefits is not known but yet what could be guessed in advance is that PM Oli, should he so desire and his cabinet colleagues support him in his develop Nepal mission, then he can extract huge benefits for Nepal by keeping both the immediate neighbors at a comfortable distance by adopting to what he has recently spelt out: “balanced relations”. But what is this balanced relation? Is it maintaining equidistance or equi-proximity? Will PM Oli or his foreign ministry officers make it a point to further explain the notion of balanced policy? Or does it mean that after visiting India, it should be China that balances the relations with the immediate neighbors? Who knows how this balanced policy shall be brought into practice in Nepal’s dealing with the Dragon and the elephant in the Oli era?
All said and done, PM Oli’s political acumen and his diplomatic strength await yet another crucial test while he confronts the Chinese heavy weight President Xi Jinping.
April 8, 2018.