Pitching the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a connectivity booster, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Colombo on a two-day go to starting on Tuesday, stated Pakistan would discover “ways and means to enhance trade and connectivity” with Sri Lanka.
“Pakistan is part of the One Belt and Road initiative of China, and CPEC is one of its flagship programmes. And it means connectivity,” he stated hours after his arrival. The CPEC, Mr. Khan stated, would assist improve Sri Lanka’s connectivity “right up to Central Asia”, whereas commerce ties would carry Pakistan and Sri Lanka “closer together”.
Mr. Khan is the primary head of presidency to go to Sri Lanka because the pandemic struck the world. He held a one-on-one bilateral assembly with counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday night, and is scheduled to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday.
Mr. Khan may also lead the delegation-level talks, masking “all areas of cooperation” between the 2 international locations, together with commerce and funding, well being and schooling, agriculture, science and know-how, defence and safety, and tradition and tourism, the Pakistani mission right here stated.
“Several MoUs” in these areas had been signed on Tuesday, in accordance to a tweet from Prime Minister Rajapaksa.
Mr. Rajapaksa, who acquired the visiting chief on the Bandaranaike International Airport — he was accorded a red-carpet welcome with a 19-gun salute — stated Mr. Khan’s go to, regardless of the pandemic, symbolised the “deep affinity” that he and his authorities had for Sri Lanka.
“I admire your courage and the great leadership that is evident in crucial decisions you have taken at times of crises,” Mr. Rajapaksa stated, likening Mr. Khan’s political management to his time as captain of the Pakistani cricket staff.
“Your people-centric governance agenda goes hand in hand with my own government’s approach towards empowering the grassroots level communities and underprivileged,” Mr. Rajapaksa stated, including that bilateral ties had develop into an “all-weather” friendship.
Batting for Buddhism
In addition to commerce cooperation, Mr. Khan invoked cricket and Buddhism, matters that almost all Sri Lankans share a deep reference to.
He recommended the Sri Lankan cricket staff for rising as a world-class staff from the subcontinent, and spoke of Buddhist heritage linking the 2 international locations, inviting Sri Lanka’s Buddhists to “one of the greatest Buddhist heritage” websites on the earth.
Meanwhile, members of Sri Lanka’s minority Muslim neighborhood held an indication on Tuesday, urging the federal government to reverse its obligatory cremations coverage for COVID-19 victims. Carrying a mock coffin, they denounced the federal government’s coverage imposing cremations, in a protest close to the Presidential Secretariat, aimed toward drawing Mr. Khan’s consideration.
Weeks earlier than his arrival, Mr. Khan had welcomed — on Twitter — an announcement made by Prime Minister Rajapaksa in Parliament that burials can be permitted. However, Colombo backtracked a day later, sparking renewed concern amongst Sri Lanka’s Muslims. Mr. Khan didn’t refer to the difficulty in his speech on Tuesday.
The Sri Lankan authorities, which had earlier stated Mr. Khan would handle Parliament, cancelled the programme nearer to his arrival, citing “scheduling issues” and security considerations linked to the pandemic.