Islamabad, February 18: The Sri Lankan Parliament has cancelled the planned address of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during his upcoming visit to the country.
According to an ANI report from Dawn, Sri Lanka’s Daily Express quoted Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage as saying that Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena had requested the cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the newspaper also cited unnamed sources saying that some officials within the Sri Lankan government did not want the speech to happen, as they feared that it could harm ties with India, which have already been strained after the cancellation of a deal over the East Container
Terminal in Colombo port.
There are also speculations that the Sri Lankan government was concerned about Khan speaking about the rights of the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka, reported Dawn. There had earlier been an outcry from the Muslim community in opposition to the Sri Lankan government’s decision to make cremation compulsory for those who died from Covid-19. This decision was reversed by the government after the protests.
Khan’s speech at the Sri Lankan parliament had been included in the PM’s itinerary on the Pakistan government’s request. The Pakistan PM is scheduled to travel to Colombo on a two-day trip from February 22, and was scheduled to address the Sri Lankan parliament on February 24. He will also meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and
attend an investors’ conference, according to ANI.
Congratulations to Gotabaya Rajapaksa on victory in Sri Lankan Presidential elections. Pakistan looks forward to working closely with him & with Sri Lanka, for further deepening & broadening our brotherly ties & close cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity of our people.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 17, 2019
(Medha Nidhi S)
Updates from ANI