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President Bhandari in Delhi, but Nepal 'eyeing China' of concern

ANI  |  New Delhi [India] 

Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari may have commenced her five-day visit, but her country's frequent hobnobbing with has dominated headlines and attracted New Delhi's concerned attention.

In a first, and have started a 10-day joint military exercise 'Sagarmatha Friendship 2017'. This newly found military bonding will last till April 25. Indian diplomatic and security experts have reasons to be wary of the Dragon's interest in Nepal, which has remained more or less dependent on for most of its needs.

This issue is likely to figure in delegation-level talks today.

The Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a.ka. Prachanda, visited within six weeks after assuming power and signed many treaties with He also visited but no treaties were signed between two countries.

Chinese Xi Jinping's visit was scheduled in October 2016 during former Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli's regime, but was called-off owing to the changed political scenario in

Relations between and became strained when Oli started looking towards

During his tenure, Oli supported China's policy of One Belt and One Road' (OBOR) and also signed a treaty, but Prachanda has kept a mum over it. Since was not happy with Nepal's association in OBOR projects, so holds responsible for Prachanda's 'cold response' to OBOR.

As a matter of fact, sees Prachanda with suspicion over the former's proximity with This was evident through an opinionated piece published in Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece 'Global Times'. The newspaper advised Prachanda to tender an explanation on his growing proximity with

Prachanda organised Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's visit in Novemeber 2016 to repair the damage. Pranab, as a foreign minister in 2005-06, had played an important role in bringing Nepalese Maoists into the mainstream.

However, Nepal-joint military exercise has many dimensions, and should be wary of them.

In the past, has been conducting joint military exercise with and United States of America (USA). is a new entrant in Nepal's military diplomacy.

For understanding China's real interest in Nepal, one needs to understand the landlocked Nepal's politics and demography.

has witnessed political turmoil since 2001 with the infamous Royal massacre.

Though there is a democratically government in Nepal, but its ideology is Leftist, akin to the Chinese political ideology and opposite to the Right wing ideology of Narendra Modi government.

is surrounded by to the north and to the south, east and west. This makes its border porous and most favoured destination for terrorists.

Though the aim of joint Nepal-military exercise is to combat terrorism, but is not likely to take note of its friend Pakistan's nurturing of terror infrastructure in

A Wikileaks report revealed in 2011 that ISI had made a hub of anti-terror activities. Pakistan founded Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF), and Kathmandu was made its base. Most wanted underworld don Dawood Ibrahim has a very strong presence in

JKIF, says the Wikileaks cable dated July 8, 1997, was controlled from Pakistan by ISI and Tiger Memon, who is the prime accused in 1993 Mumbai blast case and a close associate of Dawood.

Bidhya Devi was scheduled to visit in May 2016, but it was postponed due to political instability in created by Madhesi movement. Since many Madhesis are of Indian origin, so suspected that was fomenting trouble in Himalayan Country. This thinking strained bilateral relations. When the trade was hit during Madhesi movement, then Nepalese Prime Minister Oli joined hands with and started importing goods, including petroleum products, from Beijing. was not happy with its age-old friend's proximity with its age-old foe. After the exit of Oli, relations between and are becoming normal.

However, with China's military diplomacy in Nepal, it will be interesting to watch how long and relations will remain 'friendly'.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 18 2017. 12:42 IST