Nepal Parliament moves to approve new map

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Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali

NEW DELHI: Nepal lawmakers Tuesday “unanimously endorsed” a proposal for considering a Constitution Amendment Bill meant to validate Nepal’s controversial new map which includes territory in India’s Uttarakhand state. The approval for consideration of the Bill by the House of Representatives is significant as the K P Oli government doesn’t have majority in what is the lower house.
With all political parties having committed support though, the government tabled the Bill in the House Tuesday for discussion. The Bill seeks to validate the new map of Nepal by revising the map in the national emblem.
The amendment process is not yet complete though. The Members still have 72 hours to suggest amendments. A constitutional amendment has to be approved by 2/3rd majority in both Houses. The final voting may also take a few days. The ruling Nepal Communist Party has full majority in the other House or National Assembly.
Nepal’s decision to release a new map which shows areas in India’s Pithoragarh district as its own has come as a blow to bilateral ties. The Oli government’s decision to quickly legitimise it with approval from Parliament is also likely to queer Nepal’s own pitch for early dialogue with India on the boundary issue.
Indian government sources here said the endorsement by Nepal’s lawmakers wasn’t going to change the fact that Nepal’s change of map was a unilateral act not backed by any historical fact or evidence.
While Nepal has been seeking dialogue between the foreign secretaries on the Kalapani boundary dispute since November last year, diplomatic sources said Tuesday there was no indication yet from India for talks on the issue.
As reported by ToI on May 25, Nepal is ready even for dialogue through a video call but India has not yielded. The government said earlier in a statement that an environment of trust and confidence had to be created for dialogue.
Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali said Tuesday, while again calling for talks, that India had to consider the “historical evidence” that Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and the strategic Lipulekh Pass belonged to Nepal. He reiterated Nepal’s position that Limpiyadhura was the source of the Kali river which acted as Nepal’s western border.
“Once India agrees to historical facts and evidence, then there will no border issue with India. We do not have any interest in placing land that belongs to others in our map. We don’t want to acquire additional land. We are just looking for our land that was squeezed or trimmed after the Sugauli Treaty,” said Gyawali in Parliament.
The foreign minister also claimed that a map released by India in November also showed Limpiyadhura as the origin of the Kali river. “As soon as they agree to this fact, we will be able to resolve the dispute. We understand India has some difficulties in accepting this fact but this is the truth,” he added.
India though has maintained that the source of the river is to the south of Limpiyadhura.
According to local media reports, Gyawali also expresses surprise that India was discussing the border issue with China while declining talks with Kathmandu. “We are a little bit confused. If eyeball-to-eyeball talks can take place with China, why not with us” he was quoted as having said.

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