International Seminar on Historical, Economic, Military and Cultural Links between Pakistan and Sri Lanka

International Seminar on Historical, Economic, Military and Cultural Links between Pakistan and Sri Lanka

The High Commission of Pakistan in collaboration with Society of Civilizations Pakistan (SOC) organized an International Seminar on Pakistan and Sri Lanka Historical, Economic, Military and Cultural Links in Colombo, yesterday.

The Leader of Sri Lankan Muslim Congress and Minister for Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage Rauff Hakeem was the Chief Guest on the occasion.

Several Prominent scholars from the two countries participated in the seminar and shared their in-depth analysis on the subject. The panelist included Ven Prof Gallelle Sumanasiri Thero, Vice Chancellor, Buddhist and Pali University, Ven. Prof Vimalarante Thero, Head, Dept of Economic, University of Colombo, Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies, Colombo, Dr Abdul Basit, Patron SOC, Mr Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan Sipra the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan and Dr. Muhammad Tahir Saleem, Life Member SOC. Papers were also read on behalf of Lt. Gen. (R) Ayaz Ahmad, Life Member SOC, Muhammad Aslam Khokhar, and Dr. Tanvir Anjum.

While speaking on the occasion the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, Maj. Gen. (R) Qasim Qureshi said that the diplomatic relationship between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is not based on any strategic compulsion but on an association of choice. The High Commissioner recalled that during the 1971 war between Pakistan and India, Pakistan had the special need to have flights between East Pakistan and West Pakistan, while the over flights were forbidden over India. So, despite all the pressure the Indian government put on Sri Lanka, they allowed the Pakistani aircrafts to land at Colombo and go over to Dhaka; This is something Pakistan never forgot” he added.

In his Presidential addressed, Minister for Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, Mr. Rauff Hekeeem said “Sri Lankans have maintained their bilateral relations with Pakistan even by risking their lives”.  Emphasizing his affection and special relationship with Pakistan, he said that he had cut short his visit to Indonesia, to ensure that he attend this event on the invitation of the High Commission of Pakistan.

He said that the Government of Pakistan has always extended friendly assurance and support to Sri Lanka. He acknowledged the invaluable contribution of the outgoing High Commissioner of Pakistan Maj Gen Qureshi, to strengthening diplomatic ties and added that HE Qureshi was always forthcoming and supportive during the challenging times that Sri Lankans were facing in the last two years.

While reading the paper on behalf of Lt. Gen. (R) Ayaz Ahmad, Major (R) Tariq Hayat Malik said that the military relationship between the two countries developed on strategic and conceptual understanding and agreement as well as hard core military cooperation. He added that the Government of Pakistan provided hardware as well as training to the Sri Lankan armed forces during the conflict with LTTE which proved decisive in eliminating of terrorism from Sri Lanka.

Director of the Institute of Policy Studies Sri Lanka Dr. Saman Kelegama implored Sri Lanka to further diversify its exports to Pakistan in order to gain maximum benefit from the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries. Dr. Kelegama noted that even though Pakistan had allowed Sri Lanka to export 156 goods without any tariff, Sri Lanka exports only 35 goods out of tariff free goods. However, he noted that the bilateral trade between the two countries had expanded over the last decade with the FTA signed in 2002, which came in to effect from 2005.

While recognizing the significance of political and military relations, all the scholars underscored the need to further enhance cooperation between the two friendly countries in the spheres of economy, culture, education, tourism, public diplomacy and disaster management.

Two Memorandum of Understanding were also singed between the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka and the Preston University of Pakistan as well as the Society of Civilization, for promoting educational researches, cultural links and international conferences. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Chief guest, High Commissioner and other dignitaries.

A large number of parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic corps, people from different walks of society, media organizations and officials of the High Commission of Pakistan attended the seminar.

 

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Press Section, Pakistan High Commission Colombo

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