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Bhutan no longer to be guided by India on foreign affairs

Amit Baruah

Under new treaty, the country can take its own decisions on external relations


  • Bhutan now does not need "approval" to buy arms, ammunition
  • Clause in new treaty mentions extradition

    NEW DELHI: Bhutan is no longer treaty-bound to be guided by India's advice with regard to its external relations, the text of an updated "India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty," made public by New Delhi, reveals. The new accord, signed in February, replaces the treaty of August 1949.

    Article 2 of the 1949 Treaty said: "The Government of India undertakes no interference in the internal administration of Bhutan. On its part, the Government of Bhutan agrees to be guided by the advice of the Government of India in regard to its external relations."

    The new Article 2 of the updated Treaty, however, has dropped the provision. According to it, Bhutan and India "shall cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests." Neither Government would allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the "national security and interest of the other."

    The updated Treaty also does not require Bhutan to take the "assistance and approval" of India, as laid down in the 1949 accord, for the import of arms, ammunition and machinery.

    A clause in the 1949 Treaty read, "The Government of India agrees that the Government of Bhutan shall be free to import with the assistance and approval of the Government of India, from or through India into Bhutan, whatever arms, ammunition, machinery, warlike material or stores may be required or desired for the strength and welfare of Bhutan ... as long as the Government of India is satisfied that the intentions of the Government of Bhutan are friendly and there is no danger to India from such importations."

    The amended clause in the new Treaty, however, stated: "The Government of India agrees that the Government of Bhutan shall be free to import, from or through India into Bhutan, whatever arms, ammunition, machinery, warlike material or stores as may be required or desired for the strength and welfare of Bhutan ... as long as the Government of India is satisfied that the intentions of the Government of Bhutan are friendly and there is no danger to India from such importations."

    Importantly, the updated Treaty has a new clause that deals with extradition.

    This is critical given that anti-India rebels had, previously, set up training camps in Bhutan, which had to be cleared by military action.

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