July 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Major General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne says defense diplomacy and cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan had been growing from strength to strength through mutual trust built on political, economic, cultural and educational relationships between the two countries.
Defense Secretary Major General Gunaratne expressed these views delivering the keynote address as the Chief Guest at the ‘Centenary Medals’ awarding ceremony held today (July 22) at the Defense Services Command & Staff College (DSCSC) at Batalanda in Makola in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the Pakistan Command and Staff College (PCSC) in Quetta, Pakistan.
The ceremony was held under the auspices of Pakistan High Commission to award the Centenary Medal to 37 Sri Lankan military officers who had graduated from the prestigious military institution.
Referring to Pakistan’s contribution in Sri Lanka’s humanitarian operations during the war, Major General Gunaratne said bilateral relations between two nations, when Sri Lanka was engulfed in a brutal war with the now defunct LTTE, were strong.
He said Sri Lanka would never forget the support extended by Pakistan when the country was fighting to end the decade’s long war against terrorism and also when unsubstantiated human rights allegations were levelled against the country.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed”, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said “Being Sri Lankans, we will never forget the support extended by Pakistan during our hard times”.
He also said Pakistan and Sri Lanka were maintaining a very healthy, cordial relationship since the evolution of Pakistan to date.
Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne said the event marked a milestone on bilateral relationship between two countries and also extended his gratitude on behalf of the award recipients and Sri Lankan Government towards the Pakistani Government, Pakistani armed forces and the High Commission officials for organizing the event.
High Commissioner of Pakistan, Major General (Retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak, pinned the venerated medal to the graduate officers, which included the Secretary Defense of Major General (Retd) Gunaratne.
Speaking at the occasion, which commemorated the completion of 100 glorious academic years of the Command & Staff College, Quetta, the High Commissioner hailed the everlasting friendly ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and renewed the commitment to continue working closely in all fields to boost mutual cooperation.
The Defense Secretary noted that Sri Lankan military officers were offered the opportunity to be a part of the PCSC’s legacy in 1960. “Since then, fellow Sri Lankan alumni of the Staff College had contributed immensely in ending the terrorism scourge that prevailed in the country,” he said.
He also said, Sri Lanka was reciprocating to a greater extent by providing a number of vacancies for Pakistani military annually and intended to offer more opportunities for Pakistani military officers with the establishment of the National Defense College in Sri Lanka in next year.
Among the Sri Lankan graduates from the PCSC, 10 officers are still serving in the ranks while 27 have been retired from the military service.
Incidentally, Pakistani High Commissioner Maj. Gen. Khattak was in the directing staff at the PCSC in 2000, when Maj. Gen. Gunaratne was following his staff course.
Acting Chief of Defense Staff and Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, Commandant of Batalanda DSCSC, Maj. Gen. Prabath Dematapitiya and several senior military officials were also present at the occasion.