Pakistan PM Imran Khan's visit fails to win hearts of Lankan Buddhists

Pak PM Imran Khan tried his best to sweeten the deal during his Sri Lanka visit from the offer of extension to CPEC to LoC for defence sector. However, he may not have succeeded in winning the hearts of the Buddhist community.

It was not just fear of Khan launching a tirade against India that forced the Lankan authorities to cancel the Pak PM’s proposed address at the Parliament. There were apprehensions that he could even target the Buddhist majority in the country from the floor.

This fear has a background. Few years back Amir Zubair Siddiqui was a Pakistani diplomat who was allegedly sent to Sri Lanka to plan and implement terror attacks on sensitive defence installations. Siddiqui also patronised terrorists in Sri Lanka involved in Easter Sunday killings. Nine Pakistani nationals were arrested in connection with the bombings that killed over 250 innocent people.

The terrorists in Lanka have links with drug cartels operating from Pakistan. The drug mafias in Pakistan have been using Lanka as a route to export drugs to Europe through sea routes. The money generated from the drug smuggling was used to fund the terror activities in Sri Lanka, as per reports.

The role of Pak state actors in the Easter Bombings cannot be ruled out given the level of sophistication of attack.

The hatred for Buddhists and Sri Lankan among hardline Pakistanis is not the recent phenomenon. The deadly terror attack on the Sri Lanka’s national cricket team in Lahore in 2009 is still fresh in memory. Sri Lankan cricketers had a narrow escape after three Pakistani terrorists fired a rocket and threw a grenade at the bus in which the players were travelling. Five Sri Lankan players including Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were injured in the attack. They had to be evacuated from the stadium by helicopter and taken to a nearby air base.

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Pakistan is also allegedly using Sri Lanka to foment terror activities in the Southern part of India. The Islamic State in collusion with Pakistani establishment wants to establish sleeper cells in the Southern states. Sri Lanka is an ideal route for Pakistan to transfer radical ideology and weapons.

Moreover, the terrorist activities can hurt Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, which is one of the largest sources of getting foreign currency. Even just one attack of 2019 had undone a decade of Sri Lanka tourism growth. Hotel bookings and holiday trips were cancelled by tourists overnight. As against the expected revenue of $ 5 billion from tourism in 2019, the country earned $ 4.4 billion.



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