Sri Lanka-Pakistan ties on a new footing following Imran Khan’s visit

By P.K.Balachandran

The two-day visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Sri Lanka, which concluded on Wednesday, has put Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations on a higher footing. Besides the traditional defense and security ties, which will be enhanced, the relationship may acquire a strong economic basis, and Pakistan may become a factor in Lankan Muslim politics.

Imran’s intercession on the issue of the burial of the COVID-19 dead, might result in government’s lifting the ban on it, thus bringing the curtains down on the bitter conflict between the State and the Muslims, for whom burial is a mandated Islamic practice.

It is clear that from now on, Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations will have a major trade and investment component as both countries have pledged to increase two-way trade from the current US$ 460 million to US$ 1 billion. For the first time, Sri Lanka has been invited to join the China-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to reach out to growing markets in Central Asia.

The China-factor in this matter was evident when Imran descried CPEC as the “flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative”, President Xi Jinping’s pet scheme with a global reach.

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