Imran, Xi throw weight behind Oli to tackle India

Imran Khan has proposed a 12-noon phone call to KP Sharma Oli on 2 July (12:45 PM Nepal Time, 12:30 PM IST) to discuss India, said sources

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan will extend his support to his Nepali counterpart KP Sharma Oli who is now isolated within the ruling Nepal Communist Party. Blaming India for the rebellion within the communist cadre isn’t helping his cause, sources said.

Oli had on 28 June accused his rivals in the party of trying to oust him. In the same breath, he had alleged there was a nexus between some politicians in Nepal and India that was conspiring to topple him for publishing the country’s new map that depicts Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepalese territory.

However, this accusation apparently backfired on Oli. Rivals in the communist party like Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ demanded he quit as a leader of the party and government. They had previously given him an option to retain one of the two posts.

As Oli struggles to stay in power, Imran Khan has reached out to him. According to officials in Islamabad, the Pakistani premier had sent a formal communication to the Nepalese foreign ministry to schedule a phone call from Khan to Oli.

Imran Khan has proposed a 12-noon phone call on 2 July (12:45 PM Nepal Time, 12:30 PM IST). Sources said it was obvious that India would be at the centre of the talks.

Meanwhile, the Khan government has accused India of engineering the terrorist attack at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi. This coincides with Oli’s accusation that India is destablising his government.

President of China Xi Jinping is muddying the waters too. Whereas China is locked in a standoff with India in the Ladakh region, Xi is banking on the two prime ministers whose weak economies are now subservient to Chinese interests. “China is their common link,” a source in the MEA who specialises in Nepal affairs said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oli has been reducing to an object of ridicule in his country where an effort to whip up nationalistic sentiments against India by redrawing Nepal’s map got no takers in the domestic circuit. He then switched his target to attack colleagues in the ruling party, imputing motives to rival communists who want to see him go.

While for India, Prachanda proved no better deal during the UPA years in New Delhi, Oli is even more tilted towards China. In the past, Beijing did help him cling on to his position. India believes China is behind the cartographic adventure of Oli.

At the same time, Oli is a better deal for Pakistan, as Prachanda is wary of Islamism. Sources in Islamabad said Imran Khan has not taken too kindly to Dahal’s allegation that Oli was trying to adopt the “Pakistani model” of roping in the army to solve a political crisis. Oli, on the other hand, has no compunctions about an entente with any force till the time it helps him secure his chair, a source said.

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