'Next elected govt in Nepal to take a decision on Agnipath scheme'

by IANS |

Kathmandu, Sep 15 (IANS) Nepals Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said the new elected government to be installed after the November 20 polls will take a decision on India's Agnipath scheme of short-term recruitment into the armed forces.

Speaking at a regular press briefing, Ministry spokesperson Sewa Lamsal said that there was no possibility of taking a decision about the scheme anytime soon.

The remarks came a day after Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande said New Delhi may be forced to withdraw vacancies for enlisting soldiers from Nepal under the new scheme in the ongoing cycle if the Himalayan nation does not take a decision in time.

Pande, while addressing a function in New Delhi, said that he has got the sense that a new government to be formed in Nepal after the elections will take a decision on the Agnipath scheme.

This issue has been put on hold by the government of Nepal until the elections are held.

There will be no talks and dialogue on the Agnipath scheme before the polls, Lamsal added.

"What we communicated to the Indian side is that the new government will take the decision on the Agnipath scheme. This is not going to be discussed or settled now. But the Indian officials might communicate and clarify their position. Now with the consultation of all political parties, the new government in Nepal will take the decision," he while in response to General Pande's remarks.

The Indian Army chief had visited Kathmandu earlier this month during which he held talks with his Nepalese counterpart, General Prabhu Ram Shamra about the Agnipath scheme.

With Nepal's decision, the proposed recruitment rallies stopped in Butwal and Dharan on August 25 and September 1, respectively.

The Nepal government is in a dilemma whether to allow youths to join the Indian Army under the short service scheme.

Ahead of the recruitment date, Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka discussed the matter with Indian Ambassador Naveen Srivastava and communicated that Nepal will make a position on the scheme once wider political consultations are held.

But no political consultants have been arranged so far, a senior government official said.

"Whether to allow Nepali youths to be recruited under the Agnipath scheme requires a national consensus so there is no possibility of taking the decision in an immediate effect," said Lamsal.

The Indian Army will induct a total of 40,000 Agniveers in two batches after the recruitment and selection process across India is complete.

In Nepal, it plans to train around 25,000 youths starting in December and 15,000 in February 2023, according to media reports.

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