Imran to visit Lanka from 23rd

Published February 20, 2021
The Foreign Office on Friday announced Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Sri Lanka. — Photo courtesy Imran Khan Instagram/File
The Foreign Office on Friday announced Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Sri Lanka. — Photo courtesy Imran Khan Instagram/File

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday announced Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Sri Lanka that has been hit by a controversy over the cancellation of his planned speech to the country’s parliament.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said that Mr Khan would visit Sri Lanka from Feb 23 to 24 on the invitation of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He would be accompanied on the trip by some federal ministers and senior officials.

This will be Mr Khan’s first visit to Sri Lanka after assuming the office of prime minister.

Giving details of the premier’s programme, the FO statement said that Mr Khan would be meeting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during the visit.

Bilateral talks would cover issues of trade and investment, health and education, agriculture and science and technology, defence and security, and culture and tourism. Key regional and international issues would also be discussed, the FO said.

“During the visit, the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliame­n­tary Friendship Associa­tion will be announced to further promote parliamentary exchanges bet­ween the two countries,” the statement said.

Mr Khan will also participate in a joint ‘Trade and Investment Conference’.

A number of memorandums of understanding to enhance bilateral cooperation will also be signed during the visit.

However, there was no mention of the speech to the Sri Lankan parliament.

The Sri Lankan government, while cancelling the event, officially stated that this was being done because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, diplomatic sources and Sri Lankan media say that it was done out of concerns that Mr Khan could speak about the situation in occupied Kashmir, which could further damage Colombo’s already troubled relations with New Delhi.

Another speculation doing the rounds is that the Sri Lankan government is worried that Mr Khan in his speech could make a reference to the plight of Sri Lankan Muslims, who have been facing abuses and discrimination in the Buddhist-dominated country.

Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri at the weekly media briefing had said that the elements of the visit would be decided according to “the Covid-19-related health and safety protocols”.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2021

Opinion

Winds of change?
Updated 10 Apr 2021

Winds of change?

Could the new cabinet fuel a renewed effort by the government to delve deeper into the real afflictions of governance?
Troubled waters ahead
Updated 09 Apr 2021

Troubled waters ahead

Rising inflation and depleting political capital are the most obvious reasons.

Editorial

10 Apr 2021

Greater tax burden

THE FBR’s tax target of Rs6tr for the next year under the IMF-mandated fiscal adjustment policies will increase ...
UK travel ban
Updated 10 Apr 2021

UK travel ban

Pakistan continued to allow passengers to arrive without quarantine requirements.
10 Apr 2021

IS in Mozambique

IT was not too long ago when the dreaded shock troops of the self-declared Islamic State group were rampaging ...
09 Apr 2021

Improving ties with Russia

RUSSIAN Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov struck the right tone during his visit to Pakistan. In a press conference...
Forces’ criticism bill
Updated 09 Apr 2021

Forces’ criticism bill

No one is above criticism, including the senior leadership of our security apparatus.
09 Apr 2021

ODI series triumph

WEDNESDAY’S victory over South Africa at Centurion has brought Pakistan a much-awaited overseas ODI series ...