IRS |Institute of Regional Studies

Islamabad

Contemporary Regional Developments in Nepal

14th March - 3rd April
  • Bulk cargo facility agreement likely to be signed during PM Oli's India visit. According to a source, India has expressed readiness to sign the agreement that would open doors to import the bulk cargo from third countries directly to Biratnagar, Bhairawaha and Nepalgunj through railways. This kind of facility is currently available only at Birgunj customs. Both the countries had been holding discussions regarding the issue for a long time. Bulk cargo includes fertilizers, sugar, soybean, salt, piña, raw plastic materials among others.
    The bulk cargo items brought from third countries via Kolkata, Haldiya and Vishakapatnam port are imported to Nepal only through Birgunj border point at the present.
    Business persons have been demanding bulk cargo facility at other border points arguing that with just one border point with the facility they had to increase their investment on the raw materials resulting in decline in the competitive competence of Nepali products. Citing lack of railway infrastructure, India has been saying that it was difficult to provide bulk cargo facility at other border points. Earlier in 2012, Nepal India Inter Government Committee had agreed to expand the bulk cargo facility at Biratnagar and Bhairawaha border points. The agreement, however, was not implemented as the letter of exchange was not issued.
    (Khatmando Post: 3 April, 2018)
  • Next Door Nepal: Another chink in the wall
    K P Oli perhaps tried to emulate at home what Narendra Modi did at the time of his swearing in as prime minister four years ago, but he was not as successful. Oli invited all the former prime ministers, like Modi invited all heads of government from the SAARC region, to join him during his “briefing” to the heads of diplomatic missions and senior diplomats based in Nepal. But no one except Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal, both from his party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), joined him. Even Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist Centre, the coalition partner in the Oli-led government, chose not to attend. The idea behind this unprecedented approach was to display that Oli had the backing of all leaders, cutting across party lines, when he spoke to the international community. After bringing state investigative agencies and departments under him directly, Oli appears determined to become increasingly powerful at home and abroad. He also seems to be in hurry to secure the long-pending unification of the UML and Nepal Communist Party-Maoist Centre to form the proposed Communist Party of Nepal prior to his Delhi visit scheduled from April 6. Having secured three-fourths support during the confidence vote in Parliament, the two Left parties’ unification would have projected him as a powerful leader in Delhi, which had caused enough hardship to Nepal and the government through a blockade and non-cooperation, ultimately leading to the downfall of the government that Oli headed last time.
    (April2, 2018 Indian Express)
  • Nepal PM may seek India’s support over stalled Saarc summit
    Nepal PM K P Oli may seek India’s support for reviving the stalled Saarc summit process, according to diplomatic sources. While it is not part of the main agenda for talks between Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, sources said the Nepal PM is keen to move ahead with Saarc and is likely to discuss the possibility of holding the summit later this year in Islamabad. Indian officials though said that while they were aware of countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives expressing support for Saarc summit in Islamabad, there was no formal proposal to host the event any time soon. The summit cannot be held if India decides to boycott it. Nepal is the current Chair of Saarc and is keen, as a senior diplomat here said, to pass on that responsibility to Pakistan. The 19th summit scheduled in 2016 in Islamabad could not take place due to India’s decision to boycott the event after the terror attack on an army camp in Uri, which left 19 Indian soldiers dead.
    (Times of India, April 2, 2018)
  • Nepal chief justice sacked for faking date of birth
    Nepal’s divisive Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli was sacked Wednesday for faking his date of birth in order to remain in office longer. The controversy over Parajuli’s date of birth has been brewing for months after he charged a prominent activist and Nepal’s largest newspaper with contempt of court for raising concerns about his multiple birthdays. Nepal’s first female president wins second term A judicial council concluded that Parajuli should have retired seven months ago when he turned 65, the age of retirement for official positions in Nepal. “He has been removed from the post after the age of retirement was found to have been crossed last August in our investigation,” the council’s secretary Nripdhoj Niraula told AFP. The decision came just moments before Parajuli administered the oath of office to Nepal’s President Bidya Bhandari, who was reelected for a second term on Tuesday. He administered the oath nonetheless. It is not clear if Bhandari will have to be sworn in again.
    (Express tribune: 15 March 2018)
7th March - 13th March
  • Presidential election underway: Incumbent President Bidya Devi Bhandari is facing Nepali Congress leader Kumari Laxmi Rai for the post of the head of the state. The early prediction indicates President Bhandari will be re-elected with an overwhelming majority since her nomination is backed by the ruling left alliance, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and other fringe parties. Technically, a total of 334 members of the federal parliament, comprising 275 members of the House of Representatives, 59 of the National Assembly, and 550 members of Provincial Assemblies can vote in Tuesday’s election. But three nominees of the National Assembly will be out from the voting process because their appointments have been challenged at the Supreme Court. House of Representative member Resham Chaudhary, who is in police custody in connection to the 2015 Tikapur carnage, will not be voting as well. Ditto for Rajib Gurung aka Deepak Manange who has is on the run after he was convicted in an attempted murder case.
    (Khatmando Post: 13.3.2018)
28th February - 06th March
  • Pakistan PM’s visit to Nepal: The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement that PM Abbasi’s visit comes in line with his country’s pro-active efforts to engage with neighbours. The foreign ministries of Nepal and Pakistan officially announced the visit on Sunday. Diplomatic sources said the sole purpose of the visit was to take forward the stalled Saarc process, with Pakistan seeking to host the deferred summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation at the earliest in consultation with Nepal, the current chair of the regional grouping. According to the Pakistani statement, Abbasi will congratulate Nepal’s leadership on the successful conclusion of its democratic process, resulting in the formation of a new government. “Prime minister [Abbasi] will congratulate newly elected Prime Minister of Nepal Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli. During his visit, the prime minister will also call on the President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari.” “Nepal is an important regional country and a close friend,” the statement reads. “Our ties with Nepal are characterised by cordiality, mutual respect and commonality of interests. Our support to each other at bilateral and multilateral fora has remained indispensable for both the sides.”
    (Khatmandu post ,05.03.2018)
  • Nepal and Pakistan agree to revive Saarc
    (Khatmado post, 6.3.2018)

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