The blood-shed continues in Nepal. Despite the tough statements from the U.S., the U.K. and India, King Gyanendra of Nepal seems to be in no mood to seek truce with his own countrymen. One wonders how long this suicidal road would be.

The TMV readers may be wondering why I keep returning to Nepal in these columns when equally suicidal confrontations are still raging elsewhere in the world.

Not many realise the importance of Nepal as a buffer zone between two giants now emerging as economic super powers in this region – China and India. An unstable Nepal is likely to add to the growing turmoil in South Asia.

It is a grim situation in this beautiful, and once tranquil and peaceful land. The Independent of London, under the heading, “Nepal: The battle for the roof of the world”, says that “after weeks of demonstrations, violence is escalating in the troubled mountain kingdom as protesters – rejecting the King’s offer of democracy – are shot down in the streets.”

Britain is heavily involved in Nepal because of its colonial history in neighbouring India. Gurkhas – world’s most fierce and loyal soldiers – are still recruited from Nepal for the British Army.

China has studiously refused to get involved, despite overtures from King Gyanendra for it to fill the void when Britain, India and the United States suspended arms supplies.

Nepal, a country of central Asia in the Himalayan Mountains between India and southwest China, was a site of a flourishing civilization by the 4th century A.D. , the region was later divided into principalities, one of which, Gurkha, became dominant in the 18th century. Gurkha’s expansion into northern India led to border wars with Great Britain. A 1923 treaty affirmed Nepal’s full sovereignty, and a constitutional monarchy was established in 1951. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city. Population: 27,000,000. This country had been a mountaineers/trekkers delight with its world renowned peaks, including the Mt. Everest.

SWARAAJ CHAUHAN, International Columnist
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