Terrorist modules backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have intensified their activities in Nepal against India.
ISI has been using Nepal’s soil for terrorist activities against India for a long time. However, sources said this has been intensified in the wake of the ongoing border issue with China and Nepal. “In fact, Pakistan is using Nepal as one of its fronts against India. The ISI is mixing with the Nepalese Army in their efforts,” a source said.
Sources said the security establishment has noticed an increase in the presence of these ISI-backed groups along India-Nepal borders. This is to be noted that under the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, citizens of both the countries enjoy free passage across the 1,850-km long unfenced border through designated locations.
Some time back, the Nepal Police had arrested several Pakistani nationals allegedly staying illegally in Nepal and having links with Pakistan-based terrorist groups. Many of them are found to be part of the counterfeit currency racket. Sources said there are four routes which are being used to sneak counterfeit Indian currency notes to India: Karachi-Doha-Kathmandu, Pakistan-Oman-Kathmandu, Bangkok-Kathmandu and Singapore-Kathmandu.
Nepal has for years been a haven for ISI operations. Radicals and jihadis from India have been escaping into Nepal.
On the other hand, ISI-sponsored terrorists have been sneaking into India via Nepal through the open borders. Pakistan has also been misusing its diplomatic missions in Nepal for pushing its anti-India agenda, including trafficking of fake currency notes.
Notably, about 97% of the Muslim community of Nepal live in the Terai region, while the other 3% are located mainly in Kathmandu and the western hills. According to a 2017 report, quoting Khorshid Alam, head of Nepal’s Islamic Society, some 100,000 Nepalese got converted to Islam over past 15 years and the number is expected to rise.
Even as Pakistan’s ISI has intensified its action against India, vested interests close to China, are working to create a divide between India and Nepal on several issues, including border. However, despite that, the bilateral trade between the countries is going on as usual. The bilateral trade is intact and in fact growing despite the “trouble” in the relations.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the bilateral trade between the two countries in May surpassed $300 million despite lockdown. The two countries have extensive trade relations.
“Trade and supplies are going on without any hindrance between the countries, including at the Kakarbhitta-Panitanki border. Despite the present challenging times of Covid-19, India has facilitated continuous and smooth flow of trade and supply of essential goods to Nepal,” he added.
According to official figures, India is the largest trading partner of Nepal. In 2018-19, the bilateral trade reached $8.27 billion. Nepal’s exports to India stood at $508 million that year, while India’s exports to Nepal were $7.76 billion.
Indian firms are among the largest investors in Nepal, accounting for more than 30% of the total approved foreign direct investments. There are about 150 Indian ventures operating in Nepal engaged in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port, education and telecom), power sector and tourism industries. Some large Indian investors include ITC, Dabur India, Hindustan Unilever, State Bank of India, Manipal Group, Tata Power etc.