2. The proper boundary therefore depends on identifying the Kali to its source, which requires studying the rivercourse itself and the archives that go back to the East India Company archives of 1820s.
3. It is noteworthy that while the Panchayat autocracy in Nepal was silent about the triangle in the northwest, the elected governments under democracy post-1990 have not let go of the”‘Kalapani agenda”.
4. India seems to have “inaugurated” the "link road" amidst the Covid-19 crisis and when Kathmandu was in political chaos in order to create facts on the ground, a fait accompli, in the belief that Nepal could not do much else besides vent profusely and send notes of protest.
5. After waiting for New Delhi to respond diplomatically, under mounting pressure from within his party & outside, Prime Minister Oli finally upped the ante: on May 18 the cabinet approved the new national map, firmly including the Kalapani-Limpiyadhura-Lipu Lek triangle.
6. However, reference in the Indian response to resolution of outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue provides a window; the reference is to a bilateral mechanism headed by foreign secretaries of the two countries, which is to discuss outstanding boundary issues.
7. Thus, Kathmandu is today in the unique and awkward position of simultaneously standing up to both Beijing and New Delhi, having placed its position on Lipu Lek unequivocally before each government.
8. The clear reference to China by the Indian Army Chief frustrates Kathmandu’s efforts to have separate lines of communication with the two powers. Did Gen. Naravane not know of the agreement signed by Modi and Xi on Lipu Lek when he implicated China?
9. At this crisis-ridden moment, it is unlikely that a dramatic resolution will emerge. De-escalation is required, and as the country which made the first move, India must agree to maintain status quo at the Limpiyadhura strip by halting further work on the ‘link road’.
10. An additional goodwill gesture – which had even seemed possible till lately – would be for New Delhi to evacuate its Kalapani military post from Nepali land to an area firmly within Indian territory.
11. Further, Kathmandu and New Delhi should not allow a further hardening of positions on Limpiyadhura, while delinking this matter from the myriad other issues that make up the layered and textured relationship between the two countries.
12/12. As the dust settles, Nepal & India can finally sit down and study the maps and historical commitments. The time saved through de-escalation can be used to go back to the archives & consult experts on the ‘main flow’ of rivers as they reach up to the headwaters.
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