By Our Reporter
The two-day official visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to Nepal has signaled the importance of Nepal in South Asian politics.
Pakistani Prime Minister Abbasi arrived in Kathmandu on Monday to congratulate Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on being elected the Prime Minister of Nepal. Pak Prime Minister Abbasi has been the first head of the government who visited Nepal to congratulate a new Prime Minister of Nepal personally.
Earlier, Sushma Swaraj, the Indian External Affairs Minister, had visited Nepal to congratulate Oli after the Oli-led left alliance swept the parliamentary election paving a way for his election to the post of Prime Minister.
Obviously, Swaraj’s Nepal visit weeks before Oli’s election to the top executive post had hinted that India wants to improve its relations with Oli, who had boldly tackled the Indian blockade of 2015/16 during his first stint as PM and earned an image of an anti-Indian and pro Chinese Nepali leader. When the Nepali people voted in favour of his party, the CPN-UML and its alliance the CPN-Maoist Centre, India had no option but to show its readiness to work with Oli.
Now, after Oli’s election to the post Prime Minister, his Pakistani counterpart visited Nepal to congratulate him, which shows that Pakistan also wants to work closely with Oli, especially to give a new lease of life to the SAARC, whose activities and even summit have been stalled due to India-Pakistan dispute.
It was also reflected during the meeting held between PM Oli and Pakistani PM Abbasi on Monday evening.
In the meeting held at the Yak and Yeti Hotel for about an hour, the two leaders exchanged views on political and economic matters, and issues related to enhancing bilateral cooperation in the fields of investment, trade, tourism, agriculture, and human resources development were discussed. The two leaders agreed to hold regularly the meetings of bilateral mechanisms. They also exchanged views on revitalising the SAARC process in the spirit of the Charter.
According to Chetan Adhikari, press coordinator of PM KP Sharma Oli, both the prime ministers agreed to make SAARC more effective. Premier Oli said that if there was any misunderstanding among the SAARC countries, then it should be sorted out through mutual consultations.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Abbasi said he was ready to host the 19th SAARC Summit which had been halted for two years. PM Oli replied that he would reach a conclusion on the issue after holding consultations with other members of the SAARC.
During the meeting, Pakistani Prime Minister Abbasi extended an invitation to Premier Oli to visit Pakistan. In response, Premier Oli said he would visit Pakistan at a suitable time.
Finance Minister Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada, the PM’s principal political advisor Bishnu Rimal, Chief Secretary Lokdarshan Regmi and Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi were present during the meeting held between the two prime ministers.
The Pakistani Embassy in Kathmandu had termed the visit was part of Pakistan’s pro-active and outreach efforts to engage with regional countries, and Pakistan has taken the visit as an opportunity to further expand and strengthen bilateral relations across all areas of mutual interest, including trade, education, tourism, defence and people to people contact.
Following the bilateral meeting, PM Oli hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting dignitary.
The Pakistani Prime Minister also called on President Bidya Bhandari on Tuesday. He also met CPN-Maoist Center chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, a ‘Guard of Honour’ was presented to the visiting Pakistani PM at the Tundikhel Open Grounds. He is the first foreign head of government to receive the ‘Guard of Honour’ at Tundikhel. Earlier, it used to be presented at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada had received Pakistani Prime Minister Abbasi at the Tribhuvan International Airport while PM Oli welcomed him at Tundikhel.
PM Abbasi left for Islamabad on Tuesday.
Pakistani Prime Minister’s visit a significant gesture
By Our Reporter