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* Pakistan's brotherly and time tested relationship with Sri Lanka is of choice not compulsion: Envoy
Sun, Mar 23, 2014, 08:27 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 23, Colombo: The High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, Major General (Retd) Qasim Qureshi said that the brotherly and time tested relationship between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is one of choice not compulsion, as it is based on trust and mutual respect, and its strength lies in multifaceted engagement in many fields such as trade, defense, science, culture and education.

The High Commissioner said this in his message on the occasion of the National Day of Pakistan today.

The High Commission and the Pakistani community based in Sri Lanka celebrated the event with traditional fervor and resolve to make Pakistan a strong, vibrant, progressive and democratic Islamic welfare state.

Qureshi said that Pakistan has a new democratically elected government in power since May 2013, which has two main priorities of reviving economy and elimination of terrorism.

He said that the Pakistani government is actively engaged with all neighboring countries in an effort to create a peaceful neighborhood, at the same time intensifying economic engagement with all friendly countries.

Speaking on Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations, he said that both sides have intensified political engagement and undertaken substantive measures to further deepen and broaden the economic relationship including refining the Free Trade Agreement, expanding the portfolio of trade able items and encouraging bilateral investment.

He noted that the Government of Pakistan is engaged in Sri Lanka's social sector development. Some of the projects being sponsored include construction of schools, clean drinking water supply projects, livelihood generation, setting up computer training centers, upgrading hospitals in rural areas and providing scholarships to needy children.

"This year, we will assist in the resettlement of IDPs as well," he added.

While underlining the significant milestones achieved by Sri Lanka he mentioned that successful holding of CHOGM was a resounding diplomatic achievement. He emphasized that the process of resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs by the Sri Lankan government is progressing well. At the same time, much has been achieved in the economic domain.

The High Commissioner reiterated that Pakistan supports the point of view that Sri Lanka should be assisted in its internal process as well as given time, to deal with the enormous challenges arising out of its long struggle against terrorism.

The High Commissioner conveyed warm regards and best wishes from the government and people of Pakistan to the government and people of Sri Lanka.

Qureshi also hoisted the national flag of Pakistan during the ceremony attended by a large number of participants from various walks of life including members of the Sri Lanka Pakistan Friendship Association, prominent Sri Lankan personalities and the Pakistani community based in Sri Lanka. Later, the messages of the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan were read out to the participants.

The National Day of Pakistan is celebrated every year on the 23rd March to commemorate the most outstanding achievement of the Muslims of South Asia who passed the historic "Pakistan Resolution" on this day at Lahore in 1940 which culminated in creation of Pakistan after 7 years.

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