Prachanda pledges Panchsheel ties with India, ChinaAugust 23rd, 2008 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Aug 23 (IANS) Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda says his government’s priority would be to protect the republic’s sovereignty and bring lasting peace and to foster friendly ties with neighbouring countries, including India and China.In a 15-minute message telecast by the state television agency that in the past used to refer to the Maoists as terrorists, the new prime minister outlined the focus of the government that was sworn in Friday, saying it would follow the Panchsheel principles with Nepal’s neighbours.
Panchsheel or the five principles of peaceful co-existence were formulated in the 1950s and in 1954 resulted in a pact between India and China. They include mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.
The pledge comes even as there are growing allegations in Nepal about India’s negligence being responsible for the breach of a barrage in south Nepal that rendered over 75,000 people homeless.
There are also accusations of India encroaching on Nepali territory and interfering in Nepal’s internal matters, including the recent elections.
Before coming to power, the Maoists had pledged they would review all unequal treaties with India and take the initiative to have them scrapped or reviewed.
Urging the international community, especially the neighbouring countries, to provide “moral and physical” support during the “historic transition”, the Maoist chief said his government wanted friendly relations with its neighbours.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, as Prachanda was previously known, led the guerrilla People’s Liberation Army that waged a 10-year civil war that resulted in the killing of over 13,000 people. He appealed to the security forces, the arch enemy of the former rebels in the past, asking them to put the past bitterness behind.
“I appeal to the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and National Investigation Department Armed Police Force to forget the bitterness of the past and extend support for national unity,” the revolutionary leader said.
“There will be no prejudice on our side.”
Acknowledging that the people had high expectations of the new government, Prachanda said the first priority was protecting national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
“If Nepal does not exist, then there is no meaning for anything else including the republic,” he said.
He also emphasised the importance of strengthening national unity by creating equality among Nepal’s mountain, hill and plain communities.
The new prime minister has also promised democracy, press freedom, rule of law and protection of human rights.
Prachanda, whose party fought a “People’s War” to install a pro-people constitution, said his government’s main task would be to draft a new constitution within two years and take the ongoing peace process to its logical conclusion.
Once anti-capitalism, the Maoists are now wooing the business community to bring about an economic transformation of Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world.
“Our attention will be concentrated on addressing socio-economic issues such as poverty and unemployment,” he said in the address. “We will work to bring about modern industrial economy for which private-public-partnership model will be followed.”
Prachanda also said the new government would encourage foreign investment in priority sectors, which included agriculture, tourism, water resources and infrastructure.