In a significant move, Nepal’s parliament on Sunday finally ratified the long-awaited $500 million-dollar Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact. The MCC agreement, signed in 2017, aims to modernize Nepal’s energy and transportation sectors with the hope of helping more than 23 million Nepalis.
The MCC Nepal Compact was signed between the governments of the USA and Nepal in September 2015. According to the provisions contained in this agreement, before the arrangement could come into force, it was required to receive the approval of the Nepalese Parliament.
KP Sharma Oli haggled with the agreement
However, with KP Sharma Oli as Nepal’s Prime Minister, China seemed to be in charge of Nepal’s political affairs. The paper dragon crossed all limits of diplomatic decency and interfered deeply in the internal affairs of the Nepal Communist Party, which was in power at the time. China was reducing Nepal into a client country and looking to swallow it with its debt trap.
As a result, the agreement was never ratified by the parliament. However, with Sher Bahadur Debua at the centre, things have started to change.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP)—three partners in the Deuba’s government, agreed to vote in favour of the compact with an “interpretative declaration”.
Pakistan Army is leaning towards Washington
While China has been swiftly cut to size by the Himalayan nation — anger is simmering in Islamabad as well against Beijing. Reportedly, the army, which controls Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strings is now looking to lean onto Washington, after Beijing seemingly reconsidered its plans of investing additional money in the crisis-ridden state.
An NYT op-ed recently revealed how the Pakistani Army allowed the television news channels to openly run bulletins, smashing the Pak PM for declining to attend Biden’s Summit for Democracy.
The publication noted, “The journalist lamented that, with that move, the prime minister had “put Pakistan openly in China’s lap.” He alleged that Beijing’s loans had “entrapped” Islamabad, and he even called for an “audit” of the pros and cons of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which has brought billions of dollars in debt-driven energy and infrastructure investment to Pakistan.”
China hesitates in giving funds; irks Pakistan Army
It is pertinent to note that last year, China for the first time showed any reluctance to approve credit for an infrastructure project in Pakistan. Beijing had second thoughts for the $6 billion railway sector project which is under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Chinese authorities have been wary of Pakistan’s ability to service its debt. The concerns have also been reflected in Pakistan’s media circles. Unlike Imran Khan’s hyper-nationalism of admiring China’s autocracy, the Pakistani army is looking for a sustainable way to keep its finances intact. China, for the time being, looks like a shaky partner for Islamabad.
Moreover, amid the growing economic woes and international isolation forcing over-reliance on China, Pakistani officials are ready to scrap the CPEC, if the US offers a similar deal.
As reported by TFI, it is very likely that the United States, in a murmured tone, informed Pakistan of its keenness to help Islamabad with infrastructure development. Even if Washington does not unleash a CPEC-like project in Pakistan, what Islamabad desperately needs right now is a bailout. It needs a constant flow of billions of dollars to keep its economy afloat, and no country other than the United States has the resources to do so.
While the Pakistani Army will have to do a lot more to win Washington’s approval as the former has been supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan, it looks almost certain that the Pakistan-China love affair is heading towards a bitter end. Meanwhile, New Delhi will be happier that it has once again cleaned its neighbourhood without much fuss and that China will have to devise its sinister plans from scratch.