Pakistani premier visits Sri Lanka as Colombo balances Indian ties

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will today conclude a working visit to Sri Lanka. Close partners in trade and defence,

SputnikAlexei DruzhininKremlin via REUTERS

Photo: Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will today conclude a working visit to Sri Lanka.

Close partners in trade and defence, the two developed strong relations during Sri Lanka’s civil war when Pakistan served as a critical arms supplier to Colombo. Shortly before Khan’s arrival in Colombo, however, Sri Lanka’s government discarded plans for Khan to address parliament amid concerns over the speech’s reception in India, the island’s largest trading partner.

Khan will likely use today’s meetings to suggest that Sri Lankan officials accept Pakistani support in upcoming UN discussions regarding Colombo’s actions during the Sri Lankan civil war. Nevertheless, the two parties are unlikely to agree on such arrangements today. Explicit support might come with a rider that Colombo adopt Islamabad’s position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which would heighten tensions with India.

Going forward, expect Pakistan to continue strengthening regional relationships by extending direct economic aid and diplomatic overtures to smaller states like Sri Lanka as it seeks to balance against India and manage its rising indebtedness to China.

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