Islamabad: President of the Socialist Republic of Srilanka HE Mahinda Rajapaksha will be visiting Pakistan on a state visit from 10-12 of February, 2012, at the invitation of Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari. says a press release received here today from Colombo.
During his three day visit, President Rajapaksha will meet President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Discussions will be held between the two sides for strengthening political, defense, cultural, tourism, media, economic, business and trade relations while forging strong bonds between the two nations. A number of bilateral agreements are also expected to be signed between the two sides.
The visit is aimed at enhancing bilateral ties between the people of the two countries which date back to the days of the Buddhist civilization and have been marked by a shared interest in regional peace and stability and the fight against militancy.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1948, the two countries have consistently maintained close, cordial and mutually supportive relationship.
The Srilankan delegation will include Srilankan Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Monitoring member of the Srilankan parliament, Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President of Srilanka, Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary, Karunatillake Amunugama, and President’s Spokesman and International Media Advisor Mr Bandula Jayasekara, beside other Senior officials.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka besides being located in the South Asian region are members of various regional and international bodies like UN, commonwealth, NAM and SAARC. The relationship between Pakistan and Srilanka is based on mutual trust and commonality of interest in maintaining regional peace, security and stability.
Pakistan has always supported the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Both countries have shared common perceptions on almost all regional and international issue and work together on all these forums.
The last high level meeting between the leader of Pakistan and Srilanka took place on the sidelines of the 17th SAARC summit in Maldives where Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani held bilateral talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In November 2010, the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, and a team of high-powered delegation visited Srilanka on a state visit at the invitation of the President of Srilanka. The visit marked opening of new chapter in the Pakistan- Srilanka relations.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will also visit Taxila Museum and Buddhist heritage site in Taxila which dates back to the Gandraha period and contains the ruins of the Gandraha city of Taxila which was an important Buddhist centre. The ruins of Taxila contain buildings and Buddhist stupas located over a large area.
Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in South Asia and Sri Lanka was the first country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan. The level of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka significantly increased as a result of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Under FTA, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have agreed to offer preferential market access to each others’ exports by way of granting tariff concessions.
Sri Lanka enjoys duty free market access on 206 products in the Pakistani market, while Pakistan, gained duty free access on 102 products in the Sri Lankan market. The aim of the Free Trade Agreement is to reduce barriers, to facilitate exchange so that trade can grow as a result of specialization, division of labour, and most importantly via comparative advantage.
The two brotherly countries have also signed the Bilateral Investment treaty in December 1997, which came into force in January 2000 after ratification. In addition a memorandum of understanding between Board of Investment Pakistan and Board of Investment Sri Lanka has also been signed in February 2007 for strengthening of cooperation in all the sectors of investment of both countries.
This MoU provides support to the enterprises on both sides and encourages them to invest in both countries. The two Boards of Investment also practice sharing of information on investment polices and projects and encourage exchange of expertise.
The two countries, upholding their friendship and brotherhood, have been helpful to each other during difficult times. The formation of the parliamentarians Friendship Associations in the national parliaments of the two countries is another manifestation of cordiality at all levels of governments.
The Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentarians Friendship Association, a multiparty caucus, was established in Colombo in November 2007. On similar lines, a Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group has been established in the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have a comprehensive and mutually beneficial training collaboration for Army, Navy and Air Force. Over a period of time, strong bond of commitment and mutual understanding has been reached between both the friendly armed forces. In future too, both the brotherly countries are expected to work more closely in the field of defence to boost peace efforts in the region.
A Cultural Agreement between Pakistan and Sri Lanka provides the basis for meaningful cooperation in the fields of folklore, music, dance, painting, exhibition, calligraphy etc. The latest Cultural Exchange programme was signed between the government of Pakistan and the Government of Sri Lanka in March 2006 during the visit of President Rajapaksa to Pakistan covering the period from 2007-2011. This programme provides for promotion of cultural, scientific, media and educational relations between the two countries.
Besides other areas of cooperation, the Cultural Cooperation Exchange programme provides for joint production of documentary films on topics of national and historical interests, and organization of film exhibitions.
Pakistan donated a number of relics of Lord Buddha discovered from Buddhist establishments near Taxila to the Srilankan people. In 1959 the relics of Lord Buddha were presented to the Government of Sri Lanka. The iconic relic of ‘Fasting Buddha’ was exhibited in Sri Lanka in 2006, making it only the second country in the world (after Japan) to receive the relic.
In 2011, the Government and the people of Pakistan as a token of friendship and respect, established Pakistan Pavilion at the Sri Dalada International Museum of World Buddhism Kandy. The Pakistan Pavilion was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksha. This pavilion offers excellent opportunity for the visitors to access information about the Buddhist heritage sites in Pakistan.
In June 2011, on the occasion of the 2600 year of the enlightenment of Lord Budha, Sacred Relics of the Lord Buddha were sent by the Government of Pakistan to Sri Lanka to display high quality cultural assets from the Gandraha region of Pakistan. These relics consisted of the collection of Peshawar and Taxila Museums of Pakistan and included the Sacred Bone Relics of Buddha, Kanishka Relic Casket from Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri, stone reliquary in stupa shape and a golden casket.
During the 17 day exposition of the Sacred Relics in Sri Lanka which was declared open by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, millions of people paid homage to these Sacred Relics including Prime Minister DM Jayaratne, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, several Parliamentarians and other prominent personalities.
The Government of Pakistan extends 6 specialized Higher Education scholarships every year in the fields of medicine, engineering, dentistry and pharmacy to assist Sri Lankan students to pursue quality education. In addition, short-term professional courses in diplomacy, postal services, railways, and banking are regularly offered.
In addition every year, Government of Pakistan extends ‘Jinnah Scholarship’ to 150-200 deserving Sri Lankan students to facilitate continuation of their studies beyond O/Level and A/Level. The Pakistani Government is awarding the Jinnah Educational Scholarships since 2005 and so far 680 Sri Lankan students have benefited from this scheme.
In 2011, the Pakistan government sponsored construction of a three-storied state-of-the-art school building in Sri Lanka’s Gampaha district to support the education sector developmental drive of Sri Lankan government. The 3 storied building included all the modern facilities including a library, a fully equipped home science laboratory, computer laboratory, and class rooms.
For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326