Promoting and Further Strengthening Nepal-Pakistan Friendship and Cooperation – Telegraph Nepal

Prof. Dr. Mohan P. Lohani

Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal-Pakistan relations have remained close, cordial, cooperative and friendly ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in March 1960.

Nepal, now secular under the constitution of 2015, was then a Hindu Kingdom while Pakistan embraced and continues to do so Islam as a state religion.

Religion has never stood in the way of friendship based on amity, goodwill and cooperation between the two countries.

Despite geographical distance separating the two countries and one of the factors impeding fruitful economic cooperation, including mutually beneficial trade relations, Nepal and Pakistan have worked together in regional forums like SAARC and multilateral forums like UN and other international organizations to achieve common goals and objectives related to peace, prosperity through international cooperation for development and regional stability.

Membership of Nonaligned Movement (NAM) has enabled both countries to pursue an independent policy and judge each international issue on its merit.

Pakistan today is a nuclear power. This writer, however, recalls his UN assignment as Deputy Permanent Representative in the mid-seventies of the last century when Pakistan had tabled a resolution declaring South Asia as a nuclear weapon free zone, supported by all South Asian countries with the exception of India and Bhutan.

Nepal opened up to the world outside after the overthrow of century-old family rule in 1951.

It attended the Afro-Asian Bandung Conference in April 1955, the same year in August established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and was formally admitted to the UN in December the same year.

Nepal has ever since continued its policy of diversifying external relations and has so far established diplomatic relations with more than 150 countries, including Pakistan.

Pakistan has consistently reaffirmed its support for Nepal’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful development.

Both are convinced that good understanding at the political level needs to be reinforced by mutually beneficial economic cooperation.

Nepal-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) at the level of finance ministers was set up in 1983 with a view to promoting economic cooperation between the two countries.

JEC has ever since held several meetings alternately in Islamabad and Kathmandu.

The 6th meeting of JEC held in Islamabad in August 2013, apart from reviewing the implementation of decisions of the 5th session, discussed and deliberated on a wide range of economic issues and activities such as trade, tourism, energy, agriculture, health, education, culture and civil aviation.

While , over the years, every effort has been made to strengthen, expand and promote the trade relations between the two countries, it has been realized that a great deal remains to be done to rectify the trade imbalance.

It will be pertinent to quote late Dr. YP Pant, an eminent economist and former finance minister of Nepal, who stated in an article published in The EconomicWeekly of December 1962: ‘It is possible to visualize large-scale industrial aid from Pakistan along with trade supplies in future. According to present indications, such aid may take the form of joint Nepal-Pakistan ventures for the establishment of new industries.

The type of manufacturing industries in which Pakistan is willing to invest and for which she will offer technical collaboration will have to be specified through negotiations.’ It is encouraging to note that investment from Pakistan has been made in joint ventures in textile, hotels and banking industries in Nepal. There is tremendous scope for partnership between the private sectors of Nepal and Pakistan.

A few words about SAARC before concluding this paper need to be brought to the attention of both well- wishers and critics of this regional organization which was launched with a great deal of fanfare in Dhaka, Bangladesh in December 1985.

It was hoped that the Dhaka summit would inaugurate a new era of cooperation lending to peace, prosperity and stability for the well being of the people in the region.  Despite setbacks from time to time, SAARC was moving forward with new decisions, programs of action and declarations.

Nepal hosted the 18th SAARC summit in November 2014 which took some important decisions, in particular cooperation in the energy sector.

It was announced at this summit that Pakistan would host the 19th summit in November 2016 .

The summit has been stalled for more than five years due to bilateral tensions between India and Pakistan, the two influential members of SAARC.

Pakistan has expressed its readiness to host the 19th summit for which it has made excellent preparations.

There is a consensus that SAARC should be revitalized in the interest of regional peace, progress and prosperity.

SAARC which has completed 36 years of its existence cannot be allowed to remain in a state of limbo for so long.

ASEAN established in 1967 and composed of 10 South East Asian countries has embarked upon and successfully implemented programs of cooperation marked by the spirit of partnership and mutual benefit.

Nepal as current chair of SAARC has spared no pains to revive and resume the stalled summit through dialogue and consultations with other members of the Association.

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Thanks to the distinguished Professor Dr. Lohani for the valuable article on Nepal-Pakistan relations: Ed. Upadhyaya.

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