The Kathmandu Post, March 05, 2018
Kathmandu-Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan is arriving in Kathmandu on Monday, on a two-day official visit to “an important regional country and a close friend” of the Islamic republic.
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
If Nepal commits to the process, the Pakistani side will start consultations with member states to hold the 19th Summit in Islamabad. The 19th Saarc Summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November 2016 was postponed after Bangladesh and India refused to attend it citing the situation there.
Abbasi will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tehmina Janjua and Spokesperson and Director General (South Asia & Saarc) Mohammad Faisal, among other top officials. An advance team of officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry and security agencies arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday to lay the ground for the PM’s visit.
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.”
Abbasi will land in Kathmandu on Monday afternoon by a charted flight before taking the guard of honour at the Nepal Army pavilion. Earlier the tradition of bestowing the guard of honour to the visiting head of the state or government was carried out at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Abbasi will interact with political leaders at the dinner hosted by PM Oli as he will have no other official engagements and meetings with party leaders, according to sources.
“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.”