PM Khan urges SL to join CPEC
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his speech yesterday (23), urged his trade delegation to find ways and means for Sri Lanka to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is Pakistan's flagship connectivity project.
At Temple Trees, Premier Khan said Pakistan, being part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China, would want to see how trade and connectivity with Sri Lanka could be enhanced, joining CPEC, which is a flagship project of Pakistan under the BRI.
He said he would want to see Sri Lanka connect to Central Asia through CPEC. "I discussed with Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa on how to enhance trade ties, where Sri Lanka can benefit from Pakistani connectivity to Central Asia," he said.
We will get together and come closer, as we have also shared a common problem of terrorism, he added.
Prime Minister Khan compared Sri Lanka's 30 years of war to Pakistan's worst kind of terrorism for 10 years, where they lost nearly 70,000 people, but he was happy that Pakistan played a role in resolving terrorism in Sri Lanka.
“Terrorism did not let countries see tourism, development and investments and that is what happened in Pakistan. Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan had a common problem of terrorism and today we have another problem that is COVID-19,” he added.
He stressed that Sri Lanka, which depends on tourism, had been hard hit and developed countries can now help the developing world, especially those poor countries that were hard hit due to COVID-19. Poor countries suffered the most from COVID-19, he said.
He compared the US COVID-19 stimulus package of US$ 3,000 billion for a population of 330 million, whereas for Pakistan it was only US$ 8 billion for 230 million people. “It’s 70 per cent of the US population and COVID-19 exposed this discrepancy,” he added.
Underlining the discrepancy, Prime Minister Khan said organisations such as the United Nations should come forward to look after the countries that have taken a beating because of COVID-19.
He also said Pakistan will want to engage in the Buddhist trail, connecting Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as they have recently discovered one of the oldest 40-foot sleeping Buddha statues in the Buddhist heritage sites in the old Gandhara civilisation in the North of Pakistan.
He also invited Sri Lankans to visit Buddhist heritage sites, whilst inviting Prime Minister Rajapaksa too to visit the country.