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Sri Lanka: Why should Imran Khan address Parliament?

The lame reasons given by the Speaker for requesting to cancel the Prime Minister Khan's speech are paradoxical.

Editorial

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka next week. This is his first visit to Sri Lanka since assuming office as Prime Minister of Pakistan, which is crucial for diplomatic cooperation between the two countries. During the Prime Minister's official visit, he is scheduled to address the Parliament of Sri Lanka. It is usually the diplomatic tradition for a Head of State to address the Parliament on his first visit to Sri Lanka. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan

In March 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Parliament of Sri Lanka. Former Pakistani Prime Ministers Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan in 1963 and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1975 addressed the Sri Lankan Parliament during their official visits. As part of that diplomatic tradition, Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to address the house of legislators. 

But the Speaker of Parliament has suddenly written a letter to the Foreign Ministry requesting that Prime Minister Khan's parliamentary speech be cancelled. This request of the Speaker is unusual and surprising. Reports from some Indian media outlets reveal that they are pleased to see the Speaker's astonishing request.  

The Speaker pointed out that the reason for his request was that the number of reporting staff for the duties of Parliament was limited due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.  We feel that this is a request that should not be made by the Speaker. The lame reasons given by the Speaker for requesting to cancel the Prime Minister Khan's speech are paradoxical. The reasons given by the Speaker were that due to the Covid-19 pandemic only half of the staff of Parliament are called for its functions and the Members of Parliament were unable to arrange seats as per the health recommendations.  In a world where technology is so advanced and at a time when even cabinet meetings in Sri Lanka are held using video technology the Speaker is unable to find a suitable methodology for Prime Minister Khan's parliamentary speech. This is an extremely unfortunate situation. 

Pakistan is not only a traditional friend of Sri Lanka but a country that stands with Sri Lanka when many countries do not support us.  In particular, Pakistan has sincerely supported the Sri Lankan governments in stabilizing the lives of its people, while some countries have tried to interfere in Sri Lanka's internal affairs using various tactics. Decades ago, when there was a food shortage in Sri Lanka, Pakistan came forward to save the people of Sri Lanka from starvation Isn’t it important for a leader of such nation to be given the opportunity to address the house? 

We believe that the leader of such a friendly country has a number of important ideas to present to the people of this country by addressing the Parliament of this country. We also feel that it is the ethical and moral duty of the government of Sri Lanka to give him the opportunity to do so. Because it is proof to the world that Sri Lanka as a friendly country is protecting its longstanding diplomatic traditions and defending non-aligned principles. Enemies disguised as friends can be appeased by offending honest friends. But the long-term damage caused by hurting a true friend is extremely serious.

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