King Prithivi Narayan Shah : The Conflict Of Interests Between The Two Neighbors

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After defeating the incumbent prime minister, KP Oli is in the process of forming a new government in Nepal. He faces daunting challenges -- both old and new -- in the days ahead.

Let us start with the old challenges. National interest drives the foreign policy of each country. Both India and China prefer a seamlessly friendly government in Nepal, which is not possible given the strategic contest and territorial conflict between them.

King Prithivi Narayan Shah understood the conflict of interests between the two neighbors, characterized his newly unified kingdom as a yam between two large boulders, and counselled his courtiers to keep both neighbors at arm 's length. Over time, Nepali rulers forgot the unifier 's counsel. Nepal fought two wars with Tibet-China and two with British India.

Following the loss of the second war with its southern neighbor, Nepal was forced to cede one-third of its territory, most of it fertile plains, and much of its sovereign freedom under the Sugauli Treaty of 1815. Jang Bahadur Rana restored some of the lost land by helping the British quell the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, but the rest of the land and much of sovereignty remain irritrievable up to this day.

China did not pay much attention to Nepal until in grew economically and strategically into a global power. Since the turn of the new century, Beijing has begun to take interest in Nepali politics, complicating Kathmandu 's foreign relations with its immediate neighbors.

Lord Palmerston

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