Amidst the rapidly disintegrating political situation in Nepal
and failing peace talks between government and Maoist rebel representatives,
most Nepalese media coverage of the tragic events in the U.S. has
centered around "facts," compassion, and direct implications for
Nepal. Thus far, prominent events have been the United States' formal
request to Nepal to provide any information it may have regarding
the attacks and the line which formed at the American Embassy in
Kathmandu where Nepalese gathered to express their condolences.
Ironically to an uninformed bystander, the queu outside the American
embassy would not be an unusual sight as people have been known
to spend the night queuing outside the U.S. Consular office to try
their luck for a coveted US entry visa. As Nepali Times,
an English language newspaper, points out, there are thousands of
Nepalese legally or illegally living in New York and it is very
possible that some may have been among the victims.
As the U.S. finalizes its plans for retaliation and India and
Pakistan become involved, Nepal will have to play its diplomacy
cards carefully. Interestingly, on 15 September Nepal
News, reported an $18.7 million U.S. grant to Nepal to support
private sector hydropower development. Could this be an "advance"
to ensure Nepal's allegiance as America sets out on its quest for
Calls for revenge, condolences, disbelief, shock, and anger are
all part of Nepal's very recent history and on a symbolic level
the slaughter of the Nepalese Royal family resembles the carnage
at the World Trade Center. Though the country had transitioned to
a constitutional monarchy a decade ago, the King remained an almost
sacred symbol of continuity which transcended the bleak political
and socio-economic realities prevailing in the country. On 1 June,
this continuity was shattered and Nepalese at home and abroad woke
up to a harsh, frightening and vulnerable reality.
As World Trade Center crumbled on 11 September, terror and feelings
of vulnerability escalated in ways that are perhaps not so different
from the tragedies of a far away Himalayan Kingdom.
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