India-Nepal to sign new defense pact
India and Nepal are set to agree on a defense agreement known as the Indo-Nepal Defense Cooperation Framework. According to sources, the treaty is meant to supplement the existing Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950, and also insure Indo-Nepal relations, especially marked by close defense ties, against any fallout from the simmering tensions in Nepal.
There have been worries as to whether the treaty of 1950 would survive the increasingly unpredictable political situation in Nepal, which is why India wants to cement its defense ties with Nepal through a separate agreement.
The defense agreement is also intended to provide a reassuring brace to the Nepal Army by way of specifically deepening the direct defense relationship between the two countries. The earlier supply of defense material from India to Nepal and the recruitment of Nepalese Gorkhas into the Indian Army had been interrupted because of the civil conflict between the Maoists and the Nepal Army.
This is now clearly set to change with India taking note of the growing Chinese military aid to the Himalayan country and its worryingly increasing influence in Nepal. Sources have also indicated that besides the fresh defense treaty, India is also separately moving towards again supplying the Nepal Army with weaponry such as the INSAS rifles, mortars, howitzers and Armored Personnel Carriers and is also assisting in setting up airstrips, besides increased seats for Nepal Army officer cadets at Indian military training institutions.
Both India and Nepal have been working together on the Defense Cooperation Framework this month and significant progress was made in the run-up to the visit of the Nepal Army chief, General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, to India ten days back, during which he given the honorary rank of General of the Indian Army.
Chinese military aid to Nepal has been creeping upwards, with China recently announcing a package worth Nepalese Rs 100 million. While this amount is supposed to be for non-lethal supplies, coupled with recent reports indicating planned Chinese training for the Nepal army, it has caused concern in India.