Pakistan-Nepal relations go back to early 1950s. Pakistan came into being in August 1947 and within 5 years it developed friendly relations with Nepal. Initial contacts between the two countries began in 1952 at Colombo Plan meetings and then at Bandung Conference in 1955. Subsequently, Pakistan.s Foreign Minister Hamid-ul-Haq Chaudry participated in the coronation ceremony of the late King Mahendra in 1956. The formal diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in March 1960. The very next year (late) King Mahendra visited Pakistan. President Ayub Khan paid a return visit to Kathmandu in 1963 and it was during this visit that the two countries decided to establish diplomatic missions in each other.s capital. Since then various high level visits have taken place. From Nepal the late King Mahendra, late King Birendra, former Crown Prince Dipendra, Prime Ministers Nagendra Prasad Rijal, Surya Bahdur Thapa, Marich Man Singh, Girja Parsad Koirala and Sher Bhadur Deuba visited Pakistan on different occasions. From Pakistan.s side Presidents Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Fazl-e-Elahi Chaudhry, Zia-ul-Haq, Pervez Musharraf and Prime Ministers Muhammad Khan Junejo, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, Shaukat Aziz and recently Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani visited Kathmandu. Besides, there have been a number of ministerial and senior of! cial level visits between the two countries.
A History of Pakistan Nepal Relations
Similar Interests and Policies Both Pakistan and Nepal adhere to the recognized principles of inter-state relations, namely, mutual respect for independence and sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and abstention from the use of force, or threat of use of force, in international relations. Deeply attached as they are to these principles, Pakistan and Nepal not only observe these strictly themselves, but would also like to see the entire international community follow them in good faith.
Cooperation on Regional Issues
There is a long history of political coordination between Pakistan and Nepal on regional and international issues. From Kampuchea to Afghanistan and from Palestine to the Iran/Iraq war, the two nations always had identical views. The two countries have also been supporting each other.s position on major political issues. Pakistan supported Nepal.s admission into the United Nations (1955) and subsequently its candidature for the non permanent seat in the UN Security Council (1968). Pakistan was also a supporter for Nepal.s Peace Zone proposal. In fact Pakistan was the ! rst country which offered warm support declaring that this proposal was a valuable contribution to the cause of peace in the region. In May 1976, the joint communiqué issued after Pakistan.s Prime Minister Zul! qar Ali Bhutto.s visit to Beijing publicly supported this Nepalese proposal. Nepal supported Pakistan.s 1974.s proposal to establish a nuclear weapon free zone in South Asia and always voted in its favour in the United Nations. Nepal also supported Pakistan.s membership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Both the countries also favoured the proposal that the Indian Ocean should be declared a zone of peace.
At the United Nations and other international forums Pakistan and Nepal have been coordinating their positions and supporting each other’s candidatures. Pakistani and Nepali leaders always meet on the sidelines of international conferences. The latest such examples are meetings between President Asif Ali Zardari and the then Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda in New York on the side lines of the UN General Assembly session in 2008 and between Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal in Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt) on the side lines of the NAM Summit in 2009 and in Thimpu (Bhutan) on the side lines of the SAARC Summit in 2010. In addition to the meetings between the leadership, both the countries have also established a mechanism for regular bilateral consultations at Foreign Secretary level on regional and international issues of mutual interest. The last such consultations were held in June 2009 at Kathmandu when Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir visited Nepal. On this occasion both countries also agreed on a road map to comprehensively upgrade their relationship in all areas of common interest. In June 2010 the Nepalese Home Minister Bhim Bahadur Rawal visited Islamabad to attend the SAARC Home / Interior Ministers’ Meeting and also held a bilateral meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik and discussed issues of mutual interest.
There are various areas of economic cooperation between Pakistan and Nepal such as trade, joint ventures, establishment of Joint Economic Commission, and technical assistance.
The trade relations between the two countries date back to October 1962 when a Nepalese delegation visited Pakistan and signed an agreement on mutual trade. As a follow up effort to promote trade relations, Pakistan’s Commerce Secretary visited Kathmandu in May 1965. Subsequently Nepalese Commerce Minister (Mr. Nagendra Prasad Rijal) and Planning Commission Chief visited Pakistan in 1966 and 1969 respectively. At that time Nepalese exports to Pakistan included timber, oil seeds and medical herbs while it used to import pharmaceutical products, textiles, sports goods etc. from Pakistan. In the late 1970s both countries felt a need to revise the trade agreement of 1962. Accordingly, Pakistan’s Commerce Minister (Mr. Zahid Sarfaraz) visited Nepal in 1979 to negotiate a new trade agreement. Subsequently, a new trade agreement was signed in July 1982. Since then, the trade delegations have been visiting each other’s country. Nepalese businessmen have been attending the annual trade fare in Karachi every year. However, the trade between the two countries is not commensurate with the existing potential and they need to double their efforts on this count. Pakistan has been importing tea, pashmina, medical herbs, etc. from Nepal and exporting textile products, surgical instruments, and leather and sports goods to it. In 2009 a thirty-seven member delegation from Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry visited Kathmandu from 26 to 29 January to participate in an IT matchmaking event. Recently a Made in Pakistan Products Exhibition was held in Kathmandu from 19 to 23 May 2010. More than 80 businessmen from Pakistan participated in this 5 day trade fair which showcased Pakistani furniture, fabric, leather products, handicrafts, footwear, etc. An average of 25,000 people visited the exhibition every day. Subsequently Pakistani businessmen also participated in Dashain Bazar (22-27 September 2010) and SAARC Trade Fair (15-19 December 2010) at Kathmandu.
(ii) Joint Ventures
The invitation for joint ventures was ! rst extended to Pakistani industrialists by the then Nepalese Foreign Minister Mr. K. N. Bista during his visit to Pakistan in January 1966. Since then it remained on the agenda of various high level bilateral meetings. As of now, the best example of joint ventures between the two nations is the Himalayan Bank Limited which was established in 1993 by the distinguished businessmen of Nepal in partnership with Habib Bank Limited, one of the largest and oldest commercial banks of Pakistan. Himalayan Bank is the ! rst commercial bank of Nepal with maximum shareholding by the Nepalese private sector. Besides commercial activities, it also offers industrial and merchant banking. As of now it has more than 30 branches all over Nepal.
(iii) Joint Economic Commission
An agreement was signed by the Finance Ministers of the two countries in 1983 to set up a Joint Economic Commission. According to this agreement both the governments concurred to take all necessary measures to strengthen and promote economic and technical cooperation between the two countries for mutual bene! t in the ! elds of economy, trade, industry, agriculture, education, science and technology, communications, culture and tourism. The commission co-chaired by the Finance Minister of Nepal and Economic Affairs Minister of Pakistan held its rst meeting at Kathmandu in 1983 and second at Islamabad in 1984. In the last 25 years, the commission has held only ve meetings but its efforts have resulted in signing of various bilateral agreements in the elds of agriculture, air services, trade, avoidance of double taxation, culture and tourism. The Nepalese Finance Minster is expected to lead a delegation to Islamabad shortly for the next session of the Joint Economic Commission.
(iv) Technical Assistance
Under the Cultural Agreement of 1970, the Government of Pakistan has been providing educational facilities, training and scholarships to Nepalese students in the eld of banking, agriculture, commerce, medicine, engineering, pharmacy etc. Prior to 1970 ninety seven Nepalese pilots and aeronautical engineers were trained by Pakistan under the Colombo plan. Currently, several scholarships are offered every year to Nepalese students for study in Pakistan.s professional colleges in addition to the training in banking sector and courses in mass media communication. As a sincere friend, Pakistan has been assisting Nepal in many ways. The Pakistani Mission in Kathmandu has been donating medical equipment, including ambulances to different hospitals in Nepal. Besides it has donated computer equipment to a number of institutions, stitching and knitting machines to various organizations, and books to certain libraries. However, the most important donation from Pakistan was 50-bed Bharatpur Eye Hospital in Chitwan which was built about 21 years ago and is catering for the needs of about 1.5 million people. In addition to all sorts of cooperation mentioned above, the two countries have also been providing emergency relief assistance to each other in case of natural disasters. Nepal sent a consignment of relief goods when northern parts of Pakistan were hit by earthquake in October 2005 and donated Rs. 10 million for ood victims of Pakistan in 2010. Similarly Pakistan provided medicine for the ood affected people of Nepal in recent years.
The cordiality and spirit of friendship at the political level is also re ected in the defence ties. The two countries enjoy excellent relations in the defence ! eld and a number of Nepal army of! cers are trained in Pakistan.s defence institutions. A Pakistan army of! cer has also joined Staff College course in Nepal in 2010.
PIA has been ying between Pakistan and Nepal since early 1960s. These ights were disrupted during Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971. Subsequently an air accord was signed in June 1976 between the airlines of Pakistan and Nepal. In the 1980s, both the Nepalese Airline and PIA used to operate between Karachi and Kathmandu. However presently it is only Pakistan International Airlines that operates 4 times a week between Pakistan and Nepal (three times between Karachi and Kathmandu and once between Kathmandu and Islamabad).
Role in Regional Cooperation
Both Pakistan and Nepal have been playing an active role in SAARC which is, in fact, a re ection of their shared desire to promote peace and progress in South Asia. Nepal hosts the SAARC Secretariat as well as SAARC Regional Centres for Information and Tuberculosis & HIV/AIDS. Pakistan plays host to SAARC Regional Centres for Energy and Human Resource Development.