Pakistan received a major lash back from Sri Lanka in an interesting turn of events. Earlier Sri Lanka’s Speaker Mahinda Abeywardena addressed a political gathering a week ago informing that Pak’s PM Imran Khan would address the Parliament during his two-day visit starting February 22. The address was scheduled for February 24. However, the Sri Lankan Parliament on Thursday has cancelled the planned address of Prime Minister Imran Khan during his upcoming visit.
As per sources, many speculate this as a move by the Sri Lankan government to maintain cordial ties with India. It was being speculated that Khan would raise the Kashmir issue during his speech which would upset the Modi govt. Imran Khan is scheduled to travel to Colombo on a two-day trip from February 22. Khan will also meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and attend an investors’ conference.
Imran’s speech was added at the request of the Pakistan government. According to the island country’s media reports, Sri Lanka has cited different reasons for the cancellation of Khan’s address. One prominent daily quoted Secretary Jayanath Colombage as having said that Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena had requested for cancellation on the pretext of COVID-19. However, unnamed sources cited there were elements within the Sri Lankan government, who did not want the speech to take place as they feared that doing so could further harm ties with India.
Another speculation doing the rounds is that the Sri Lankan government was concerned about Khan speaking about the rights of Muslims in Sri Lanka, who have faced abuses at the hands of the Buddhist majority, rising anti-Muslim sentiments, and biased government actions.