PM Imran Khan will be accompanied by a high-powered business and investment delegation

PM Imran Khan will be accompanied by a high-powered business and investment delegation

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan is scheduled to undertake an official visit to Sri Lanka on 23-24 February 2021 on the invitation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

During his visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend bilateral meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, while several other high-level engagements are planned, including a Business and Investment Forum, as well as a sports diplomacy initiative.

Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan Prime Ministers will together preside over an event to sign several mutually beneficial bilateral Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on 23 February following their official talks at the Temple Trees.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his maiden official visit this year outside the country will be accompanied by a high-powered business and investment delegation that will consist of business leaders in Pakistan, mainly from the sectors of textile and apparel, pharmaceuticals, agro-food commodities, sports goods, gems and jewellery, auto parts, ICT, construction material and surgical equipment.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Secretary Foreign Affairs Sohail Mehmood and senior officials of the Pakistan Government.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan will be the first head of state to visit Sri Lanka since the Covid-19 outbreak last year.

Meanwhile, the planned address to Parliament by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan next week has been cancelled. Foreign media reported saying it was apparently because of concerns that he could rake up the Kashmir issue.

It is the Pakistan government’s stated policy to raise the Kashmir issue at international forums, especially since the Indian government scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019. Pakistan even raised the Kashmir issue during a virtual meeting of SAARC leaders convened by India last year to discuss ways to counter the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaker Mahinda Abeywardena had told leaders of political parties last week that Khan would address the Parliament during his two-day visit beginning February 22. The foreign leader's address was scheduled for February 24.

The sergeant-at-arms of Parliament, Narendra Fernando, was quoted saying that foreign minister Gunawardena had informed officials that Khan’s proposed visit to the Parliament complex “will not take place”. 

Officials cited Covid-19-related restrictions as the reason for the move, while the Indian media reported that the Sri Lankan government had done a re-think following discussions on the implications of Khan raising the Kashmir issue in his speech.