Nepal has refused to participate in the inaugural joint military exercise of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries scheduled to be held in Pune, Maharashtra. Nepal’s withdrawal comes in wake of stringent criticism from ruling and opposition parties in the country.
The BIMSTEC military drill saying it is beyond the agenda of BIMSTEC. It also goes against a country’s history of following a policy of keeping an equal distance from its neighbours, without ever being part of a regional bloc militarily. Experts believe that non-participation of Nepal in such ‘military drill’ certainly seems like political call and comes at a time when Nepal-China relations are on an upward trajectory and BIMSTEC connectivity seen as counter to China’s BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).
The first BIMSTEC field training exercise will be conducted at Foreign Training Node at Aundh in Pune, Maharashtra from September 10 and 16, 2018. Armies of BIMSTEC members including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Nepal were to participate in it. The theme of exercise includes counter-terrorism in semi-urban terrain and cordon and search. The main aim of this military exercise is to promote strategic alignment among the member-states and to share best practices in the area of counter-terrorism.