Prachanda’s International Relations: Did he win trust of all?

Yuba Nath Lamsal
January 5th, 2024

Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ completed his first year in office. This is his third term as prime minister. Prachanda often said that he would make his third term memorable and historic as he could not perform well in the past two tenures as Prime Minister because he lacked experience in public office.

In an address to the nation on the competition of his first year in power, Prime Minister Prachanda outlined the achievements and activities over the last one year. However, I focus on what he did and where he failed in the conduct of foreign policy and international relations over the last one year.

He has listed his visit to India, China, United Arab Emirates, the United States and Italy as his achievements on foreign policy front. Prachanda visited India at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi from May 31 to June 3, 2023. This is a general phenomenon for every prime minister of Nepal to begin foreign visit from India. Prachanda was not an exception. Right after he came to power in December 2022, he had publicly announced that his first foreign trip would be India. For this he even avoided Doha trip as he had been invited to attend the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha of Qatar in March. This conference was important as Nepal was taking over the chair of this group. But Prachanda consciously avoided this meeting simply to make sure that his first priority was India. Even if he had embarked his foreign trip from Qatar, India would not have taken otherwise as Qatar visit was not a bilateral trip but multilateral or UN meeting. As goes the saying ‘once beaten twice shy’ Prachanda was extra sensitive this time because he has a bitter experience of the past. In his first tenure as Prime Minister in 2008, Prachanda kicked off his foreign trip from China. His visit to China was not bilateral but was only to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympic Game. It did annoy Indian establishment and he paid its price as he had to exit from power in nine months. He was thus extra conscious not to annoy India at any cost this time.

During his India visit, some agreements were reached between the two countries. However, some of the pressing issues remained unresolved. No progress was made on border disputes in various points including the Kalapani area. The language in the joint statement was vague and ambiguous.


Prachanda’s visit to the United States was not a bilateral visit. It was a trip to address the United Nations headquarters which is situated in New York of the United States. Prime Minister Prachanda addressed the UN General Assembly meeting which was an annual ritual every prime minister does annually.


It was agreed during his New Delhi sojourn that India would purchase 10,000 megawatt electricity from Nepal. This is definitely a good gesture. Nepal has good potentials for generating hydro-electricity and several hydel-plants are already under construction in private sector. The private sector will be further encouraged to invest in Nepal’s hydro-power development if India opens up its market for Nepal’s electricity. Nepal has surplus electricity even now during the rainy season. Both the countries will benefit from this agreement. Nepal will benefit from exporting energy which will contribute to reducing trade deficit with India. India will, to some extent, address the problem of energy deficit. This is a win-win situation for both the countries.

Prachanda’s visit to the United States was not a bilateral visit. It was a trip to address the United Nations headquarters which is situated in New York of the United States. Prime Minister Prachanda addressed the UN General Assembly meeting which was an annual ritual every prime minister does annually. In the address too, he spoke of the general matters. He visited China en route to Nepal, where he spent five days meeting with Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping. A joint statement was issued at the end of the meeting which highlighted some of the points agreed between the two countries. China wanted Nepal to expedite the projects under the Belt and Road Project Initiative upon which agreement had been singed six years ago. But Prachanda was a little hesitated to go ahead with the BRI projects for geopolitical reason as he did not want to annoy India and United States. India and United States are critical of the BRI and want Nepal not to go along with it.

Nepal has been caught in the geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China on the one hand and between India and China on the other. These three powers are competing to enlarge their sphere of influence in Nepal. India and US have common interest and are together against China and want to fail Beijing in Nepal. Nepal already has ratified the US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s project after much hue and cries in parliament and on the street. The MCC and BRI are being viewed as rival projects with strategic scope. Beijing definitely did not want MCC to go ahead instead it wanted BRI project to take a full shape in Nepal. While Nepal implemented MCC project, it is still not forthcoming about the BRI projects.

Prime Minister Prachanda flew to China from the United States. Nepal and China share border and China is a global power. It would have been better diplomatically if Prime Minister Prachanda had flown to Beijing from Nepal instead of coming back from China’s rival country. There is a meaning and message in diplomacy. Although Beijing did not spell out its displeasure, China was definitely not happy with it.  Prachanda could not give positive message to China. Moreover, his hesitation to go ahead with BRI project was viewed by Beijing as being pressured from China’s geopolitical rival.

India and US always view communist parties and leaders of Nepal and suspect them of being close to China. Nepali Congress is believed to have been traditional friend of US and India. It is said that China prefer communist parties in Nepal more than other forces because of ideological similarity. Prachanda’s move was to appease all international powers simultaneously but it turned out to be just the other way around.


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