Is this Selfie between two PM’s a sign of better times between Bhutan and Nepal ?
Bhutan and Nepal have never been the best of friends especially after the Bhutanese refugees crisis .
But this picture perhaps a first of its kind between the Nepalese PM Prachanda and Tshering Tobgay maybe an indication that both the countries are looking beyond the crisis which has created a rift between both these himalayan countries.
In a Facebook post the PM of Bhutan posted this picture and said 'Selfie op with the 'Prachanda' of Nepal, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal onboard our flight to Goa to take part in the BRICS-BIMTSEC Outreach Summit. It was a pleasure to interact informally with the entire Nepalese delegation, and especially with their leader.'
This indeed was a rare photo op between the leaders of the two countries who have had their share of strained relations .
A major issue confronting both nations is the presence of Bhutanese refugees, residing in seven UNHCR camps in eastern Nepal. Estimates of their numbers vary from 85,000 to 107,000. While most refugees claim Bhutanese nationality, Bhutan claims that they are "voluntary emigrants" who forfeited their citizenship rights, denying their refugee status. Most of the refugees are Lhotshampa – Nepali-speaking Hindus of Nepalese descent who had settled in Bhutan.Several insurgent groups, including those with Maoist affiliations, have arisen from the refugee camps, whom Bhutanese security forces blamed for a series of bombings in Bhutan before the 2008 parliamentary elections.
The growth of trade between the two nations has been affected by the refugee crisis. In 2008-09, Bhutan's exports to Nepal stood at Rs. 300 million, while Nepal's exports to Bhutan amounted to Rs. 200 million which is peanuts compared to Bhutan's trade with India which stands at USD 985 million (INR 61.60 billion).