Debt-ridden Pakistan has offered a USD 50 million new credit line to Sri Lanka to boost cooperation in defence and security sectors. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the new credit line during his two-day visit to the island nation that concluded on Wednesday, according to a joint communique issued by the foreign ministries of the two countries.
"Both sides expressed satisfaction at the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to Defence Dialogue has further provided an opportunity to expand security sector relations. Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a new USD 50 million defence credit line facility," the communique said.
The two sides stressed the need for a stronger partnership for supporting and coordinating with each other in dealing with matters related to security, terrorism, organised crime and drug and narcotics trafficking as well as intelligence-sharing, it said.
Thank you Prime Minister @PresRajapaksa and the people of Sri Lanka for a warm welcome and gracious hospitality. 🇱🇰is a special friend and strong partner. I agree that the cooperative ties between our two nations are poised to grow and strengthen.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 24, 2021
Khan, who is the first head of state to visit Sri Lanka since the COVID-19 pandemic, met his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his visit in which they discussed areas of common interest like tourism, agriculture and trade ties.
Pakistan also announced to provide Rs 52 million for the promotion of sports in Sri Lanka, according to the communique. Pakistan also announced 100 scholarships in the field of medicines (MBBS and BDS) as part of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme, the Dawn reported.
Cash-strapped Pakistan's economic woes have worsened due to the Coronavirus pandemic and Khan's government is arranging finances from world bodies, including the International Monetary Fund, to tide over the crisis.
Meanwhile, Pakistan PM's Special Assistant for Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill revealed some figures on Twitter in an attempt to compare the cost of former PM Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s trips to Sri Lanka. According to The News International, Nawaz visited Sri Lanka in 2016, while PM Khan made his maiden visit to Sri Lanka this week for two days since assuming the office in 2018. His last visit to Sri Lanka was in 1986 when he was the captain of the Pakistan cricket team.
Dr Gill said PM Khan spent less than Nawaz on his tour. Nawaz’s trip cost the national exchequer $276,266, according to Dr Gill, while he said the cost of PM Khan’s trip was only $34,800. Compared to the 2016 tour, this tour had more work, events and benefit, Dr Gill said. Dr Gill shared a picture of the two premiers with details of their trip costs to make his comparison, The News International report said.
وزیراعظم عمران خان نے ایک بار پھر سادگی کفایت شعاری کی اعلی ترین مثال قائم کر دی۔نواز شریف مفرور نے 2016 میں سری لنکا کا دورہ 274,000.00 میں کیا۔عمران خان نے سری لنکا کا دورہ صرف 34,000 ڈالر میں کیا-2016 کے دورے کی نسبت اس دورے میں زیادہ کام ہوا زیادہ events ہوئے۔زیادہ فائدہ ہوا pic.twitter.com/hEbyEbsLVC— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) February 25, 2021
(With PTI inputs)