Nepal wants to review a military deal allowing the British army to enlist its citizens – before the UK is able to recruit Gurkha women for the first time.
Reports suggest the first Gurkha women could begin their training in the British army next year, but it isn’t clear how many the UK is seeking to enlist.
The British army has been enlisting Gurkhas, a tribe from Nepal’s Himalayan foothills known for their fierce combat abilities, since 1815.
Britain and India were able to share and recruit Gurkhas after an agreement between New Delhi, London and Kathmandu following India’s independence from colonial rule in 1947.
Plans to recruit Gurkha women were first announced in 2007, but issues such as recruitment and selection standards needed to be settled.
Now, Nepal wants the 72-year-old tripartite deal to be renegotiated because it does not allow Kathmandu to play any role in the recruitment process of Gurkhas by foreign armies.
The country’s foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said: “(Some) provisions of that agreement have become irrelevant now.
“Therefore, we have told Britain that we should review it… make bilateral arrangements.
“We should define the presence of the government of Nepal in the (recruitment) process.”
Mr Gyawali said a new agreement should also address Gurkha grievances such as pensions and other benefits, which retired servicemen say are not at par with their British counterparts.
Nepal, a natural buffer between China and India, is one of the world’s 10 poorest countries and remittances from Nepalis working abroad, including the Gurkhas, account for more than a quarter of its GDP.
Currently, there are about 3,000 Nepalis in the Brigade of Gurkhas who have fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.