Sunday, June 16, 2019

UK did not accept proposal: PM Oli

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today said that the joint communiqué – issued after the meeting between Nepali him and his British counterpart Theresa May – did not spell revision of Nepal-India-UK Tripartite Agreement on Gurkha recruitment as the British side did not accept the proposal.
Saying that he has proposed the British government to revise the 1947 tripartite agreement (TPA) among Nepal, Britain and India about the recruitment of Gurkha soldiers in Indian and British armies, Prime Minister Oli, informed that the British government, however, did not consider the proposal, and it did not even include the issue in the joint communiqué.
Talking to journalists at a press meet upon his arrival from three-country Europe visit today organised at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Oli said that he had proposed revision of the TPA and replace it with a new agreement between Nepal and the UK. “But the British side did not accept it.”
The joint communiqué only includes issues that are easily acceptable to both sides, according to diplomatic norms. Though, foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and other government officials – earlier – claimed that Nepal’s proposal to revise the treaty was one of the biggest achievements of PM’s Europe trip, it was not included in the joint communiqué.
The joint communiqué released at the end of Oli’s UK visit reads that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal acknowledged the long and distinguished service of Gurkhas in the British Army. The two sides recognised Gurkhas as a vital link in strengthening bilateral relations. Going forward, both sides agreed to continue discussion on Gurkha matters.
Oli, during his talks with May, claimed that he has proposed a new bilateral agreement – encompassing recruitment, retirement, and post-retirement situation of Gurkhas, in line with the changed context – replacing the old TPA signed after India became independent from the UK in 1947.
The two governments decided to split Gurkha regiments between the British and Indian armies as it quit India. “The TPA has now become very old, and it cannot guide and control our present needs,” he said, adding that it is obvious, not impulsive, that Nepal seek a revision. “It is not that the agreement should always remain tripartite, we can also go for bilateral agreement.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oli has been forced to raise the issue with Britain as the former British Gurkhas have been staging protests in both Nepal and the UK demanding pay, pension, and other facilities equal to British nationals. The Gurkha veterans have demanded that besides providing equal pension, the British government should compensate the entire amount – that comes around Rs 1.2 trillion apart from the regular pension of around Rs 36 billion every year – which former and serving Gurkhas did not receive over the years due to discrimination against them in terms of pay, pension and other facilities.
The Ex British Gurkha said that they would continue their protest unless the government made concrete efforts towards addressing their demands by forming a high-level dialogue team in line with the ‘Report of the technical committee on Gurkha veterans’ prepared by a tripartite committee. The report has documented the discrimination faced by British Gurkhas over the years. It was submitted to both the governments on 22 March, 2018.
The Parliamentary International Relations Committee – in the second week of March – had also directed a high-level talks team of the government to hold dialogue with the British government in line with the report.
Coordinator of Gurkha Satyagraha United Struggle Committee Krishna Bahadur Rai said that their struggle will continue until the Nepal government – keeping Gurkha veterans in the loop – formally writes to the British government seeking formation of the high-level talks team to implement the ‘Report of the technical committee on Gurkha veterans’, which the British government has accepted but is waiting formal invitation for a bilateral talks.
The Ex Gurkhas have given Nepal government an ultimatum that it should form a talks team by July 1. “Otherwise, we will start a decisive protest against both the governments,” Rai said.

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