A newspaper is reporting that two centuries of Gurkha service in
Britain's armed forces could be threatened, after Nepalese MPs backed an
end to the recruitment of Gurkhas abroad.
report setting the Himalayan state's foreign policy, said the
recruitment of Gurkhas to fight in foreign armies should be ended.
to the Daily Telegraph, its authors complained that since Britain
granted retired Gurkha troops the right to remain in the United Kingdom,
the amount of income Nepal earns from the arrangement has declined.
Those who support a ban say the recruitment of poor young men to fight other country's wars hurts Nepal's national image.
ban would break a bond which dates back to 1815 when the East India
Company's officers defeated a Gurkha Army in the Anglo-Nepal but admired
their warrior skills and spirit.
Their heroics in battle with
the British and British Indian Armies soon inspired fear around the
world. When Hitler prepared for the Second World War, he sought to
sabotage Britain's Gurkha recruitment by offering lavish gifts to
Nepal's Rana royal rulers.
They have since then fought in most of
Britain's major conflicts, including Afghanistan where a number of
Gurkha troops have lost their lives.
Today there are still 3,800
Gurkhas serving in British forces around the world, while more than
30,000 serve in the Indian Army. Singapore and Brunei have their own
Potential recruits are put through gruelling
physical endurance tests, in which they must be able to run up mountains
carrying packs weighing 77 lbs. Nepal's parliamentarians now want to
end the relationship and use their talents at home.
Bishwakarma, chairman of Nepal's Parliamentary International Relations
and Human Rights Committee, last night told the Daily Telegraph he
wanted the recruitment to end but not until the country could offer the
men alternative jobs which matched its pay.
"We should have that
target that one day we should be able to employ all these youths. Then
we will have to stop this recruitment," he said. "Our youths are
compelled to go abroad because of our lack of opportunities in our own
country," he added.
Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday
sought to allay fears of any imminent ruling on the issue and stressed
the committee's report had simply been distributed throughout
"The government has not said anything about this. There is no need to panic," said spokesman A.B Thapar.
defence attaché in Kathmandu, Col Andrew Mills, who oversees Gurkha
recruitment and welfare in the country, said the current arrangement
contributes so much to the Nepal economy that he doubts there will be
"We bring a lot of benefits without which the place
would grind to a standstill. I pay directly into Nepal, not including
remittances, £87 million a year and that is very closely matched by the
Department for International Development. The net swag is eight per cent
of Nepal's GDP.
No sane government would stop that, there are no jobs here," he said.
video from BFBS
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