Apr 03, Islamabad: Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain has decorated Sri Lanka's former High Commissioner to Pakistan General (Retd) Srilal Weerasooriya with the Sitara-i-Pakistan award.
The former Army Commander of Sri Lanka was honored for his services to Pakistan at an investiture ceremony held at the Aiwan-i-Sadr in Islamabad on the occasion of Pakistan Day on Sunday, 23 March.
The ceremony was attended by members of the Chairman of Senate, Speaker of National Assembly, Federal Ministers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Services Chiefs, Ambassadors and other notables.
The Sitara-i-Pakistan is awarded to General Weerasooriya in recognition of his efforts for strengthening relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
After a 35-year military career, General Weerasooriya served as the High Commissioner to Pakistan from 2000 to 2006.
The Sitara-i-Pakistan award was conferred on General Weerasooriya in recognition of his true friendship with Pakistan, his outstanding and meritorious services in deepening Pakistan-Sri Lanka friendship and cooperative ties.
The citation read out at the investiture ceremony, inter alia states, that "during [General Weerasooriya's] ambassadorial assignment, he played a key role in strengthening and deepening Pakistan-Sri Lanka friendly cooperative ties, including the signing of a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries." Significantly, this was the first Free Trade Agreement ever entered into by Pakistan.
The association of General Weerasooriya with Pakistan began in 1963 when he was enrolled as a Gentleman Cadet at the Pakistan Military Academy and it continues to date, with the effect of fostering strong commercial and diplomatic ties between the two nations.
The President of Pakistan confers civil awards on non-Pakistanis for eminence and outstanding services to Pakistan in significant fields. Awards to non-Pakistanis are proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and are approved by the President of Pakistan.