Border Security Issues not Top Priority

Border Security Issues not Top Priority

Kamal Pariyar

KATHMANDU, Aug 1:Even though the officials of both governments claim that security convergence and prospective mutual benefits would justify security cooperation agreements, no real preparations have been made so far to deal with serious security issues even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s visit to Nepal fast approaches.

At several bilateral meetings held earlier, both countries reviewed the security issues and highlighted the need to effectively tackle security threats, but with dismal results, Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, a former director general of the Department of Survey and a researcher on border issues, told Republica. 

Nepal and India share about 1,880 km of open border with 87 border outposts (BOP) guarded by the Armed Police Force (APF) and 466 BOPs guarded by India´s Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). 

Apart from crimes such as trafficking of illegal arms and drugs, smuggling of fake Indian currency to Nepal and trafficking of Nepali women to India through the porous border, India has frequently criticized Nepal, alleging [Pakistan] Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) activities and the hiding of India´s most wanted terrorists in Nepal as well as the running of Madrasas (Muslim religious schools) in bordering areas, Shrestha added.

“Nepal and India do have enough in common for mutually strengthening security, especially concerning the more serious issues and stakes, but these issues are not in the priority list of either government during the Modi visit,” Shrestha said adding that Nepal should at least put forth these issues during the visit. 

Though India wants an extradition treaty, Nepal has not signed one due to some technical reasons. India´s most wanted Abdul Karim Tunda and co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen Yasin Bhatkal, who is on the US terrorist list, among others, were arrested by Nepal Police and allegedly informally handed over to India. Similarly, many engaged in organized crime and Indian fake currency smugglers were also arrested in Nepal and Indian criminals have abducted Nepalese industrialists to India for ransom. 

Former home secretary Umesh Mainali said, “Despite power projects being top priority for the Modi visit, security issues cannot be neglected any longer.” So Nepal should be able to draw attention at high-level meetings to issues that have been pending for years, he added .

India is likely to broadly touch upon the issues of Indo-Nepal security and raise the extradition treaty as in the past but Nepal is not likely to address these issues, according to security experts. There have not been enough talks among government stakeholders and political parties, they said. 

If issues and challenges related to border security are emphasized at bilateral meetings, the mechanisms formed to regulate crime and manage the border will fall into place in future, he said adding that unfortunately this scenario is almost impossible. 

India has already come up with preliminary steps for regulation of the border and ensuring of security but it has done so in its own interest, Shrestha said, stressing the need for short- and mid-term regulatory programs including cctv monitoring and an id-card system for movements in the border areas, with border fencing as a long term program. 

However, Home Secretary Surya Silwal said the government is not satisfied with the arguments of security experts. “We are very much aware and worried about the challenges of border security and its consequences,” he said. 

Citing a recent statement by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Secretary Silwal said, “As Minister Swaraj said, we have minutely discussed the issues and plan to resolve the problems starting from political level and forming a strong mechanism among the two countries.”

Because of time constraints, the issues might not get highlighted but they are hopeful they will be discussed properly, he added.

Republica Daily, Published August 2. 2014

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