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Sri Lanka cancels Imran Khan’s planned speech to parliament




Colombo / Islamabad, Feb. 18 (PTI) Sri Lanka canceled Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khans’ planned speech to his parliament during his next visit to Colombo, media reported. Parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando, said he informed parliament that the visit of Pakistani prime ministers to Sri Lanka will proceed as planned, the Colombo Gazette website reported on Wednesday, but the foreign ministry had informed parliament officials that his proposed visit to parliamentary complex would not take place. arrives in Sri Lanka on February 22 for a two-day official visit. Khan, who will be the first head of state to visit the country since the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to meet with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dinesh Gunawardena during the visit. It is said that the speech in Parliament was included in Khan’s itinerary at the request of the Pakistani government. However, it was subsequently canceled and Sri Lankan media gave various reasons for the cancellation of Khan’s speech, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported Thursday, which was scheduled for February 24. According to the Sri Lankan daily Express, Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage said President Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena called for Khan’s speech to be canceled, citing the COVID-19 newspaper, and Dawn citing Sri Lankan media reports according to which there were elements within the Sri Lankan government, who did not want the speech to take place as they feared it could continue to damage ties with India, which were already strained after the cancellation of an agreement on the eastern container terminal of the port of Colombo, the Dawn newspaper said. Khan was expected to raise the Kashmir issue during his speech, which could have upset Delhi. mentionned. Tensions between India and Pakistan intensified after New Delhi repealed the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to remove the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and branched off into two territories of the Union in 2019. Pakistan attempted to internationalize the Kashmir issue, but India claimed that the repeal of Section 370 was its “internal matter”. Another speculation circulating is that the Sri Lankan government was concerned that Khan was talking about the rights of Muslims in Sri Lanka, who have been abused by the Buddhist majority, with rising anti-Muslim sentiments. and biased government actions. The government had imposed a mandatory cremation rule for those dying from COVID-19, angering the country’s Muslim community. The government, however, earlier this month exempted Muslims from cremation and allowed them to bury their dead after a global outcry over the issue. Khan praised the Sri Lankan government’s decision. The visit of Pakistani prime ministers, scheduled a month after the three-day visit of Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankars, to Colombo, will coincide with the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where a new resolution on Sri Lanka will probably be adopted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 2015. PTI NSA AKJNSA

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