HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The Nepali Army is considering sending its troops to restive Iraq to become a part of the ‘stationary force’ under the United Nations, a highly placed source said.
The UN had asked Nepal to commit around 222 personnel –– including 35 personnel for mobile units –– for deployment in Iraq around four months ago.
The Nepali Army, however, had previously remained undecided after it was unable to ascertain whether the request came from the UN or western invading force –– the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as some NATO members, especially Australia, had been actively lobbying for the cause.
Although the army is certain to agree to send troops to Iraq, it is very unlikely that it will contribute troops to mobile units, keeping in mind the safety of its personnel.
The development comes just weeks after Nepali Army chief Chhatra Man Singh Gurung discussed the army’s possible involvement in UN peacekeeping missions, including in the United Nations Assisstance Mission in Iraq, with UN Under Secretary-General for Department of Political Affairs B Lynn Pascoe in New York.
“The army is now clear that its troops will be deployed under the UN,” the source said. “We are working out the details.”
Ramindra Chhetri, the army spokesperson, confirmed that the UN had made the request, but refrained from commenting further.
“We are in touch with the UN through official channels–– Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence,” a senior army officer said. “We are positive about the request, but it will be premature to give a timeline.”
However, the government is yet to have its say on the issue. “We have been approached from different quarters, but we are yet to decide,” said Dhananjaya Jha, Middle East and Europe-America Division chief at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nepal, which began contributing troops to UN peacekeeping missions from 1958, currently has a quota of 5,000 personnel for deployment in UN peacekeeping missions. Currently, around 4,200 Nepali security personnel, including those from Nepal Police and Armed Police, are deployed in various parts of the world.