Kathmandu, March 6
Pakistani Prime Minister Sahid Khaqan Abbasi has returned home after spending 20 hours in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. During his visit, the Prime Minister met President Bhandari, Prime Minister Oli and Maoist Chairman Prachanda; he did not meet Nepali Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba nor the Madhesh-based leaders.
Abbasi’s itinerary reflects his priorities when it comes to ties with Nepal. Sources close to the Prime Minister say that Abbasi came to Nepal to congratulate Oli on his alliance’s historic win in the recent elections. But neither was the visit planned in advance, nor did Oli invite him to Kathmandu. So why did he come to Nepal at this moment in time?
Abbasi knows that the Oli government was not formed as per the wishes of the Indian establishment. Although the new government is not ‘anti-Indian’, India would have liked to someone else take charge as Prime Minister. A former foreign minister says, “The visit’s main objective was to do the ground work to prepare a China-Pakistan-Nepal axis in the future.”
According to leaders of the Left Alliance, Abbasi did not utter the word ‘axis’, but hinted towards it. During his meeting with Oli Abbasi is learnt to have stressed on Nepal’s participation in China’s One Belt One Road initiative. A source told Onlinekhabar, “The Pakistani Prime Minister told Oli that Nepal should also reap benefits from OBOR.”
During talks with top government officials, Abbasi is learnt to have expressed dissatisfaction over India’s singling out of Islamabad as the promoter of terrorism in the region. Abbasi said that Pakistan itself had been at war with terrorism. He is also learnt to have talked about rejuvenating the Saarc process and holding its summit meeting in Pakistan in the near future.
A UML leader who was present during the Abbasi-Oli meeting said that the Pakistani Prime Minister’s visit should not be linked to Nepal’s ties with other countries. “The prospect of a stable government in Nepal is a welcome for the world. This visit should be viewed in this context,” he added.
Published on March 6th, Tuesday, 2018 7:12 PM