— By Birat Krishna Thapa
Nepal has been able to curb the external influence of terror organizations according to a report titled ‘Country Reports on Terrorism 2019’ released by the Bureau of Counter Terrorism of the United States Department State Publication.
Last year’s report on Country Reports on Terrorism 2018 had stated that terrorist organization Indian Mujahideen (IM) “expanded its area of operations into Nepal, which is now the biggest hub for IM operatives”.
It further stated that “it is evident that there is a presence of IM operatives in Nepal and due to the open border with India, they (IM) have been able to operate with ease. Nepal is now their transit hub for coordinated attacks against India and it will be Nepal’s duty to keep a check on all such activities”.
The report released this year, however, has removed Nepal from the list of any active terror organizational links and activities.
The 2019 report states, “Nepal appears to be largely infertile soil for terrorism propagated by international terrorist organizations. A more significant threat is non-Nepali international terrorist groups using Nepal as a transit or staging point or soft target.”
Under the tenure of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sarbendra Khanal, Nepal had managed to curb terrorist links and its border security. The report reads, “Nepal is a signatory of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism.” Nepal also sends two to three police officers as delegates to the annual regional Counter Terrorism seminar hosted by the Interpol.
However, the report also states, “Due to the open border with India and insufficient security protocols at the country’s sole international airport in Kathmandu, Nepal could be used as a transit or staging point for international terrorists.”
The report further highlights that there is an urgent need for Nepal to utilize “strategic communications to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment or rehabilitate former terrorists”. The Government of Nepal “does not view terrorism, specifically ‘extremist’ ideology originating from conflict or instability in the Middle East as a significant threat in Nepal”, reads the report.
“Nepal does not employ strategic communications to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment. There is no government or civil society program in Nepal to counter terrorist recruitment or rehabilitate former terrorists. The government generally does not view terrorism, specifically “extremist” ideology originating from conflict or instability in the Middle East, as a significant threat in Nepal.”
Border security is challenging as Nepal shares its border with neighboring India where numerous terrorist outfits are active, according to the Counter Terrorism report. Increasing surveillance and strategic communications are known key indicators that Nepal should work on in order to continue securing its borders.
Thapa is the co-founder of Literary Aisle and Executive Director of Soul of Healing Trust.