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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech to Sri Lankan Parliament canceled ahead of visit




Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scheduled address to the Sri Lankan Parliament on his next visit to the island country has been canceled.

Khan is expected to travel to Colombo for a two-day trip starting February 22, the Dawn reported on Thursday.

In addition to his meetings with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his participation in an investor conference, he was due to address the Sri Lankan Parliament on February 24.

The speech in Parliament is said to have been included in Khan’s itinerary at the request of the Pakistani government. However, it was later canceled, according to Sri Lankan media. Sri Lankan media reports give various reasons for the cancellation of Khan’s speech.

The Sri Lankan daily Express quoted Foreign Minister Jayanath Colombage as saying that President Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena had requested the cancellation on the pretext of Covid-19.

However, the same newspaper quoted anonymous sources as saying that there were elements in the Sri Lankan government, who did not want the speech to take place because they feared it would further damage ties with India, which have already been strained after the cancellation. an agreement on the eastern container terminal of the port of Colombo.

Khan was expected to raise the Kashmir issue during his speech, which could have upset Delhi. Likewise, giving the Pakistani prime minister the opportunity, according to a media report, could have been implied as giving Khan parity to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

But, another ongoing speculation is that the Sri Lankan government was concerned about Khan talking about the rights of Muslims in Sri Lanka, who have been abused by the Buddhist majority, anti-Muslim sentiments. growth and biased government actions.

In addition, the Sri Lankan government had made its mandatory cremation rule for those who died of Covid-19 applicable to Muslims in the country. 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. “We welcome the assurance of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa given today to the Sri Lankan Parliament, allowing Muslims to bury those who died of Covid-19,” he tweeted.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri could not be reached for comment.

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