Nepal is a one of the landlocked countries in the world. It has no access to the sea and it needs to deal with its neighboring countries for many issues. Geopolitically Nepal has drawn much more attention for its natural beauty of the Himalayas and landlocked reality that make it to compromise with its neighbors for its own economic and strategic interests. Determinants and the capability to reverse those to geo-strategy influence one's foreign policy. Having the Himalayas, river belts and strategic boundary and road links, Nepal has some positive and influential determinants. They can formulate effective foreign policy by using the realities properly as it is strategically, politically and economically important in this region especially to China and India. Stability and effective control of this land is geopolitically influential for two great power neighbors.
Here we look on the factors that determine Nepal foreign policy and managing its foreign relations with its neighboring countries and in the international arena.
Determinants that impact on Foreign Policy
Determinants mean natural realities, which are permanently given to a state. These factors can’t be changed and influence the country’s policy forever. What Nepal had on the eve of their origination are the ones that Nepal has today. While its geographic factors effect on international relations, they are called Geo-Politics. Here we discuss about the determinants and how they impact on geo-politics and foreign policy.
Size: The size of a state and population influences foreign policy. It is determined by power and it depends on population, territory, national resources and military capability. In terms of these standards, Nepal is a small country. It is said that, the leaders and people of small countries aren't prone to take greater role in international game. Because of small-size population compared to that of India-China, Nepal have little participation in international affairs. For landlocked reality and geographic position, they have to compromise with their neighbors specially two giants. Nepal feels insecure and tends to seek protection. This perception is derived from their permanent small size which often leads them to accommodate with India and China. Nepal has contributed in UN peacekeeping mission over 50 years but the security and military power are low comparing to immediate neighbors. Lack of sufficient territory and military strength, Nepal can’t pursue an influential foreign relation with their neighbors.
Territorial Depth: Territorial depth often leads to how you behave in foreign affairs. It is quite difficult to annex a country which territorial depth is huge. For vast of territorial depth, the then USSR (Russia) could survive from German occupation. But if one has small land, they always fear of being persecuted or faced threat from their rivals or powerful neighbors. Presence of two powerful neighbors-India and China points to that risk though Nepal, till date, maintains good relationships with its neighbors. But this geopolitical marginality often leads Nepal to compromise with it interests to super powers'. But if Nepal maintains peaceful relationship with them not compromising with its sovereignty, not allowing its land for any anti-Indian or anti-Chinese activities, then this buffer state as it doesn't ignore its neighbors' influence, may sustain without risks and fear. This is a great challenge for Nepal while formulating foreign policy.
Geographic Location: Foreign policy of Nepal is influenced by its permanent geographic position. It is situated in the pivot of the Himalayas. According to Department of Survey, It shares a 1590-kilometer-long border with India and 1414-kilometer-long border with China.1 Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Bihar of India are adjacent to Nepal. So, Stability in these regions is some way dependent on the security of Nepal. That's why India always try to secure their possession over Nepal. Understanding Nepal's strategic importance India signed a treaty of peace and friendship in 1950 and in 1978 they agreed to sign a trade and transit treaty that has given Nepal trade opportunity despite landlocked country.
So, India is an important factor in Nepal foreign policy. They don’t want Nepal to be slipped from their hands. India always demands Nepal should take decision that favors Indian interest which pointed by Nehru “Nepal is geographically almost a part of India”. This type of statement loosens the relationship between these two as Nepalese people found it paternalistic. So, if Nepal needs to operate an independent policy then it must assure India in the security question. Geopolitical reality is not changeable. Nepal must free its territory from any anti-Indian forces that may hamper Indian security and that may lead India to intervene directly on Nepal which can undermine Nepal sovereignty. So, Indian security sensitivity must be considered while formulating foreign policy.