Issue Brief on “India is uncomfortable with Imran Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka”

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Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan undertook a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka, on the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mahinda Rajapaksa, on 23-24 February, 2021. It was the first visit of any head of state since the formation of a new government in Sri Lanka. In meetings held with Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, views were exchanged on matters of bilateral and regional importance. PM Khan also met with Sri Lankan president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and tweeted that “We exchanged views on how to give farmers more for their produce and get cheaper food & fruits to the population by using technology to eliminate middlemen. We also discussed other dimensions of our extensive ties to strengthen political and trade ties for our mutual benefit.”[1]

Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka is considered as a part of Islamabad’s proactive diplomatic efforts to engage South Asian countries amid the worsening of their ties with its arch-rival India over Kashmir issue. Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui, a former Pakistani diplomat, observes that official visit of Khan has its own importance, it takes place at a time when relations between Sri Lanka and New India are strained, and most notably, New Delhi is seeking to isolate Pakistan in international arena.[2] During the visit a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed to enhance bilateral cooperation on tourism, the Boards of Investment and cooperation in the field of education. The two leaders also focused on strengthening ties in the areas of trade and investment, health, agriculture, science and technology, security and culture through enhancing connectivity.[3]

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