Pakistan keen on promoting people to people contacts - Envoy | Sunday Observer

Pakistan keen on promoting people to people contacts - Envoy

18 July, 2021

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Maj.Gen (Rtd) Muhammad Saad Khattak told at a press conference this week that his country is interested in establishing people to people contact between Lankans and Pakistanis.

The envoy, who visited the northern and the Eastern province recently said that the purpose of his visit was to establish such relations and enable both parties to know each other’s cultures, traditions and customs which would lead to better understanding between them.

He said out that his government has been giving thousands of scholarships to Sri Lankan students for studies in various subjects, including medicine, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

Sri Lankan students do go to Pakistan to study, but unfortunately the takes were not up to expectation due to lack of awareness among the people in Sri Lanka. He urged the media to play an effective role in attracting Lankan students to avail themselves of the educational facilities and services available in Pakistan free-of-charge.

The High Commissioner drew attention to the fact that Pakistan is a treasure house of Buddhist archaeological sites, and that there are many sites beyond Swat. But there is more to Pakistan than its Buddhist sites, he said.

There are mountains, lakes, deserts, and beaches, all in one country. Sri Lanka-Pakistan tourism is an area that is yet to be exploited.

Recently, he recalled that a group of Buddhist prelates visited Pakistan and saw for themselves the rich Buddhist heritage in the country.

The High Commissioner who met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa recently said that he apprised the Prime Minister regarding various initiatives undertaken by Government of Pakistan to promote religious tourism, especially the recent high-level visit of the Most Ven. Buddhist prelates visit and the production of a documentary in collaboration with Sri Lankan film producer to highlight the grandeur of Gandhara heritage in Pakistan.

The Prime Minister was also briefed on the higher education opportunities available to Sri Lankan students under the recently announced round of Allama Iqbal Scholarships, offered by the Government of Pakistan across all fields of study. The High Commissioner said the importance of enhanced collaboration between the two brotherly countries for the upliftment of the people.

He said that Pakistan is committed to providing continued support to Sri Lanka. Dwelling on Pakistan-Sri Lanka bilateral relations, the High Commissioner said Pakistan would stand steadfast in its friendly relations with Sri Lanka in its ups and downs in all facets of life.

Following the visit of Pakistan Premier Imran Khan’s visit to the island recently, the two countries have opened new areas of cooperation to promote bilateral relations to new heights. The High Commissioner recalled that trade and investment were important areas discussed when the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, visited Colombo in April this year.

As per the wishes of the Prime Minister, Pakistan is now guided by geo-economics rather more than geo-strategy and is interested in forging economic ties with other countries.

According to the Stimson Centre, bilateral Trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka grew only marginally from US$ 180 million in 2004 to US$ 460 million in 2018. The removal of harmful trade barriers could take the bilateral trade up to US$ 2.7 billion, the Center said.

In February 2021, Commerce Secretaries from both sides agreed to revive the Joint Working Groups (JWGs) to address technical impediments to bilateral trade and effectively implement the FTA. The Envoy also said that a high-level delegation from the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan is to visit Sri Lanka in two weeks’ time for discussions with the heads of Sri Lankan Commerce and Industry aimed at boosting bilateral economic ties.

He also said that the export of Ceylon tea to Pakistan has dropped due to lack of competiveness among the Lankan tea traders.

“Tea and coffee depends on the taste of these beverages and it is up to the marketing personnel to change the quality as well as their sales strategies”, he added.

The Envoy was introduced to newsmen by press counsellor Kalsoom Jilani in the presence of the Deputy Chief of Mission Tanwir Ahamed and Ayesh Abu Bakr Fahad, second secretary political affairs were also present at the press briefing. (Pix by Ashraff. A. Samad)