Islamabad, Pakistan – June21, 2017: Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that the topic of the event was of great relevance and interest for the region. Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s mutual long relationship is sustained by cultural heritage, economies, and common stand on international issues, he stated. “We are grateful for the unconditional and steadfast support we received from Pakistan. It is a matter of deep satisfaction that I was able to raise Sri Lanka’s voice with Pakistan. They have stood by us through thick and thin,” he said.
He was speaking at an event organized by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and Global Village Space (GVS). The topic of the talk was “Sri Lanka’s Struggle for Peace and its Lessons for Pakistan and the Region.” The event was chaired by Lt. Gen. (retd) Asif Yasin Malik. He said Pakistan has a lot to learn about peace-building from Sri Lanka, and there is a lot of parallel between the situations in the two countries vis-à-vis terrorism.
In her introductory remarks, former Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Excelenncy Seema Baloch stated that the Sri Lankan Government took decisive action against terrorism. Following its success, Sri Lanka began to open its routes and increasingly integrate with the international community. “His Excellency is a leader of the masses,” she stated while introducing Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Speaking on the issue of human rights, she called out the international community for its double standards. “In some cases we describe the lives of others as collateral damage and in other cases we emphasize it as civilian casualty.”
In his comments, Excellency Rajapaksa said there is no distinction between terrorists, mirroring the good vs. bad Taliban debate in Pakistan. He said that terrorism is against the spirit of humanity and no country can prosper if people are compelled to live their lives under fear. In the case of Sri Lanka, armed forces provided unrelenting support, backed by actual and concrete actions on part of the government. It was a difficult task, one that could not be possible without public buy-in. Successful anti-terrorism operations depends as much on internal factors as they do on external factors. Public education and support is necessary to thwart any sympathy or help for the enemy. There is no room for hypocrisy or double-dealing, he stressed.
In his concluding remarks, Ex-President Rajapaksa stressed that we must learn from one another, be productive and provide practical solutions. He further stressed on the need for more such dialogues and platforms to better understand the menace of terrorism and employ measures to combat it and achieve peace in the region.
About Mahinda Rajapaska
Excellency Mahinda Rajapaska is a career diplomat with over 35 years of experience in Sri Lankan politics. He served as the sixth President of Sri Lanka between 2005 and 2015. A lawyer by training, Rajapaksa started his parliamentary career in 1970. He also served as Prime Minister between 2004 and his election as President in 2005. He was sworn in for his first six-year term as President on November 19, 2005. He was re-elected for a second term on January 27, 2010.