The totalitarian communist state of North Korea, condemned as one of the "axis of evil countries" by American President George W Bush, has a new ally in the former kingdom of Nepal under the influence of its reigning Maoist party.
Although the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) parted ways with other communist parties in South Asia to end its armed insurgency and join the government, it will celebrate with pomp the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who stands accused of being one of the most despotic leaders and whose attempts to arm his country with nuclear weapons had being regarded with concern by the world.
Among other allegations, the reclusive North Korean leader is also accused of having ordered the 1983 bombing in the then Burmese capital of Rangoon, which killed 17 visiting South Korean officials, and the 1987 blast on Korean Air Flight 858 that killed all 115 people aboard.
The 66th birthday of North Korea's "great leader" on February 16, the April 15 birth anniversary of his father Kim Il-sung, whose mantle he inherited, and the founding of the "democratic people's republic of North Korea" on September 9 will now be officially celebrated in Nepal this year, thanks to the Maoists who head the powerful information and communications ministry as well as other major portfolios in the cabinet.
A committee has been formed to supervise the celebrations under the leadership of Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara.
The panel includes Foreign Affairs Minister Sahana Pradhan who belongs to the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, Land Reforms and Management Minister Jagat Bahadur Bogoti of the United Left Front party, and Suresh Ale Magar, Maoist MP who had been arrested in India and handed over to Nepal police during the fag-end of the Maoist "People's War".
Nepal's official media, now controlled by the Maoists, reported Mahara as saying that Nepalis should not forget the revolution started by North Korea against imperialism. Mahara is also the spokesman of the Girija Prasad Koirala government.
The Maoist minister was reported as saying that it was "highly appropriate" for Nepal to celebrate the three occasions as a symbol of anti-imperialist drive.
Nepal will adopt North Korean celebrations while axing its own past tradition of honouring the birth anniversary next month of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the forefather of present King Gyanendra, who is also regarded by many as the unifier of Nepal that was in the past divided into feuding principalities.
Since King Gyanendra's army-backed government ended in April 2006, mobs vandalised the statues of Prithvi Narayan and other dead kings in the capital and outer districts.
While the Maoists, who forced the parliament to declare the kingdom of Nepal a republic ahead of the April election, have been waging a war against the royal family, holding it responsible for the oppression and exploitation of people, they continue to revere dead communist leaders now condemned by history as despots.
Stalin's photographs continues to grace Maoist mass meets while Chinese chairman Mao Zedong continues to be one of their preceptors.