States and Armies are inextricably linked. In fact, the army is an institution that predates the creation of modern states. Historical account indicates that the army, emerged along with the establishment of organised human communities, mainly with two important needs; 1) Acquiring territories and resources, 2) To provide protection from other hostile communities. In short, armies were created with a purpose of, forming and strengthening communities, and protecting territorial integrity of a political community.
The Army has been an integral part of formation of modern states, and Nepal is not an exception. Unification of Nepal led by Prithivi Narayan Shah, marked the beginning of “formation” of modern Nepal, and army’s role was an integral part of that drive. After the unification of territories, constructing a national identity, under a defined system of governance, which unites all the citizens and ensures political stability and viability was one of the major challenges. Nepalese army stood firm in their resolve to maintain the stability and relentlessly supported the transformation/development of Nepal from ‘nation formation’ to ‘nation building’. While our country have seen a lot of transformation in our journey from Monarchy to Federalism, Army’s place and role has always remained respectable and stable. In an ever changing course of nation building, Nepalese Army has always stood strong to, preserve core values and vital interests critical to the nation-state from external and internal challenges.
The institutional history of NA establishes a direct link between modern Nepal and its national territory as invading independent principalities and conquering territories through fortified armed strength was considered as a common practice. The “unification” of Baise Chaubise independent kingdoms and tribal territories that gave birth to the national territory of Nepal during the second half of the 18th century can be considered as the foundation of the Nation Building. The expansion campaign led by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, from his small kingdom of Gorkha, located in the hills of central Nepal, was not possible without a strong and motivated army. Since the unification itself, NA have, in the highest spirit of nationalism, stepped forward to face all challenges posed to the nation and have been a pillar of support to the people who look up to them in times of crisis. The capability of the nation to maintain its most significant pillar of security, has contributed significantly to the progress of nation building.
Nepalese Army have been a symbol of unity and from its establishment have cultivated the spirit of United Nepal, like no other organ of the state. Army in particular have maintained their ethos that has proved to be a solid composition for Nation Building and National Integration. From National security to building of roads, schools, public health facilities, vocational facilities, sporting facilities and provisioning essential supplies, the army has been at the forefront of nation building.
Amongst some of the most important contributions to the task of nation building, has been the untiring efforts of the NA in connecting the far flung areas of the country with the national mainstream. Some examples are, contribution of NA in 105km Kanti Rajpath, 20km Kharipati to Nagarkot road, 105km Trisuli Somdang road, 88 Km long Katari to Okhaldhunga Road, 86 Km long Salyan – Musikot road, 232 Km long Surkhet – Jumla road and so on. Areas which were considered distant and desolate are very much a part of the network of roads created by NA. Working in the most difficult and harshest of conditions, the efforts put in by these dedicated men of the NA have linked the hearts of the people of the country through thousands of kilometers of roads paved and maintained despite life threatening conditions.
The Army has also taken responsibility to construct the 81.8 km Nijgadh to Kathmandu fast track, which is expected to connect Kathmandu to Terai and to the most anticipated International Airport of Nepal. The fast tract project and other ongoing projects like the 107 km Chhinchu to Jajarkot road, 112 km Jajarkot to Dolpa road, 31 km Devsthal to Chourjahari road, 145 Km Musikot to Burtibang road, and the 91 km Nagma to Gamgadhi road that requires a great deal of focus, resources and disciplined human resource to execute the task that will help structure the infrastructure of the country in both rural and urban areas can be an example of how army can contribute in nation building and development.
Domestic contribution aside, Nepal Army has proudly represented Nepal in UN led international peace keeping missions around the globe since 1958 and remains 5th largest contributor of human resource globally. Their devotion to duty and excellence in executing their responsibility have been widely acclaimed. Contribution of the Army in maintaining international peace and security has contributed in maintaining stable and resolute image of Nepal in international arena.
Contribution of the Nepalese military to the nation building process is dependent on its quality of leadership. Therefore, a conscious push is needed to attract the right kind of talent and human resource to the Armed forces. The military by itself is also in a process of transformation and development along with the rest of the nation. The relationship between officers and other ranks should adjust to change in the socio-economic scenario of the country. The growing levels of education and increasing awareness call for dynamic qualities of leadership and overall management. It will be difficult for the military institution to achieve its goal, in any role, if the leadership is weak. A motivated visionary leadership will be able to help NA achieve its mission in every role.
Nepalese Army has always played a pivotal role in the process of Nation Building. NA must emerge as a national symbol that represents the nation’s unique characteristic which is “Unity in Diversity” in order to successfully achieves its goals and mission. The military virtues of sacrifice, loyalty and discipline have always remained and must serve as objects of admiration for the rest of the nation.”