Pakistan–Sri Lanka relations

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Pakistani-Sri Lankan relations
Map indicating locations of Pakistan and Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka

Pakistan–Sri Lanka relations refer to bilateral relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. both countries are in the South Asia region. The earliest proper diplomatic and trade contacts between Pakistan and Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) date back as early as 1948. In the past, Pakistan assisted the Government of Sri Lanka in supplying High-Tech military equipment to the Sri Lankan army in the civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.[1] The relationship also fosters on strong mutual Sino-Pakistan and Sino-Sri Lankan relationship, as China maintains strong mutual interest in the economic and military development of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also members of SAARC.Relations which are generally warm have gone into strong tie recently.[2]

There is a Pakistani embassy located in Colombo[3] and a Sri Lankan embassy situated in Islamabad.[4]


The relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka date back to the formative years of the two countries. The two countries laid the foundation of their friendship in 1948 when Prime Minister of Sri Lanka DS Senanayake visited Pakistan.[5]

Diplomatic Relations[edit]

Sri Lanka avoided joining the boycott of the 19th SAARC summit that was scheduled to be held in November 2016 in Islamabad, Pakistan. However a media release by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs which said it regrets that the prevailing environment in the region was not conducive for holding the SAARC summit was false interpreted by Indian media as not attending the summit. But the Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera debunked the claims saying that General Provisions of the Charter of SAARC results in the summit being cancelled even if one country does not attend thus there was no summit for Sri Lanka to attend and Sri lanka will attend the summit whenever it will be held. [6][7][8]

Economic Relations[edit]

Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in South Asia.[9] Sri Lanka was the first country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan, which became operational from June 12, 2005. 4,000 items can be imported to Pakistan from Sri Lanka.[10] Bilateral trade between the 2 countries was US$400 million in early 2010, and is expected to increase to US$2 billion by 2012.[11] In November 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari mulled a 250 million dollar export credit line that Pakistan would extend to Sri Lanka. Trade between the two countries reached $500 million by the end of 2010[12]

On February 12, 2012, A credit line for US$200 million was one of three Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The MoUs were signed during President Mahinda Rajapksa’s official visit to Pakistan, on the invitation of President Asif Ali Zardari.[13]

Recently, the Sri Lankan Airlines has expressed an interest in expanding its operations in multiple cities in Pakistan and has also invited the Pakistan International Airlines to operate more flights to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Airlines chief marketing officer GT Jeyaseelan remarked that "Sri Lanka and Pakistan are two close, friendly neighbours," and that he looked forward to enhancing cooperation between the two airlines.[14]

Trade and Investment[edit]

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Pakistan Pakistan Exports $322 million $442 million $341 million $411 million $306 million $332 million $304 million
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Exports $59.4 million $70.7 million $95.3 million $74.3 million $74.8 million $77.7 million $66.3 million
Total trade $381.4 million $512.7 million $436.3 million $485.3 million $380.8 million $409.7 million $370.3 million
Note: All values are in U.S. dollars. Source: OEC.[15][16]

Security Relations[edit]

Pakistani JF-17 Thunder fighter jet
Baktar-Shikan Anti tank missile of Sri Lanka Army

Sri Lanka started buying arms and ammunition from Pakistan in a big way from 1999. The total purchases until December 2007 were worth $50 million while there has been a sudden jump in the quantity of merchandise ordered in 2009 and the amount has been tripled.[17] With India reluctant to sign a Defense Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka and unwilling to supply it with the kind of weapons it is looking for, Colombo has turned increasingly to Pakistan. There are segments of opinion in Sri Lanka that are in fact in favor of the government finalizing a defense cooperation agreement with Islamabad.[18]

In May 2000, President Musharraf of Pakistan supplied millions of dollars of much-needed weapons to the Sri Lankan government, when separatist Tamil Tiger rebels were about to recapture their former capital of Jaffna.[19] In August 2006, suspected LTTE rebels attempted to assassinate Pakistan's ambassador to Sri Lanka, Bashir Wali Mohamed, with a claymore mine in Colombo. Mohamed was not hurt but seven others died.[20] In May 2008, Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka of the Sri Lanka Army held talks with his Pakistan Army counterparts regarding the sale of military equipment, weapons and ammunition. The supplies of 22 Al-Khalid MBTs to the Sri Lanka Army was finalized during these talks in a deal worth over US$100 million.[21]

In April 2009, Sri Lanka requested $25 million worth of 81 mm, 120 mm and 130 mm mortar ammunition to be delivered within a month.[22] During a state visit by President Asif Ali Zardari to Sri Lanka in Nov 2010, Sri Lanka evinced interest in purchase of Pakistani al-Khalid Main Battle Tanks, light weapons and ammunition, and the Sino-Pak joint venture product JF-17 Thunder aircraft.[23]

In January 16, 2018, Pakistani Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Sri Lanka on a two-day official visit on the invitation from his counterpart.[24]


Pakistan has also offered to train Sri Lankan spies for intelligence gathering purposes[25] Apart from traditional military assistance to Sri Lanka, Pakistan has also offered to train Sri Lanka Police and State Intelligence Service (SIS) officers.[11]

Nuclear Energy Deal[edit]

Sri Lanka has also shown interest in signing a nuclear deal with Pakistan, snubbing a similar offer from India. The snub is thought to come in the wake of India's vote against Sri Lanka on the Tamil issue at the United Nations Human Rights Council.[26] In April, 2015 Sri Lanka signed a nuclear energy deal with Pakistan.[27]

Growing ties[edit]

Shortly after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka, Islamabad congratulated Sri Lanka and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussein A. Bhaila of Sri Lanka called Pakistan a true friend saying:

"The government and the people of Sri Lanka have considered Pakistan as a true friend of Sri Lanka, which has always stood by it in times of need..."[28]


In January 2018, A sudden shortage of fertilizer in Sri Lanka, President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena requested Pakistan to solve the crisis. Despite Pakistan ban on fertilizer export last year, Pakistan agreed to send 41,000 metric tons of fertilizer immediately. Following concerns raised about the scarcity of fertilizer in Sri Lanka, the President of Sri Lanka had contacted Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi requesting assistance to find a long-lasting solution to the crisis. Islamabad informed him that it would take steps to export more than 75,000 metric tons of fertilizer to Colombo in the future. Later, President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena expressed his gratitude towards the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the Government of Pakistan for timely provision of fertilizer to Sri Lanka to curb the shortage.[29]

Pakistan is to establish a modern dairy farm in Polonnaruwa District in North Central Sri Lanka which is the home district of the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Pakistan is among three countries in the Asia and Pacific region which are the world’s top dairy producers. A high level Pakistani dairy experts team will be visiting Polonnaruwa District to carry out a feasibility study.[30][31]


In June 2011, Pakistan presented the Government of Sri Lanka with a number of Buddhist relics from Pakistan's past.[32] A former Pakistan High Commissioner, Seema Ilahi Baloch, also sponsored the construction of a school in Gampala District.[33]


Pakistan has offered scholarships to Sri Lankan students to pursue the subjects of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and engineering. The scholarships are granted under the Pakistan Technical Assistance Programme (PTAP).


In 2011, the Government of Sri Lanka gave medicines and staff to Punjab.[34][35] A group of 12 doctors from Sri Lanka came to Lahore to assist.[36][37][38] Pakistan thanked Sri Lanka for its assistance in containing an outbreak of dengue fever in the country last year.[39]


Shahid Afridi batting against Sri Lanka in the ICC World Twenty20 Final at Lord's in England.

In 2017 October Sri Lanka Cricket team became the first major international team to arrived in Pakistan after terrorist attack 2009 [40][41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ De Silva, K. M. (1995). Regional powers and small state security: India and Sri Lanka, 1977-1990. Woodrow Wilson Center Press.
  2. ^
  3. ^ The High Commission for Pakistan Colombo, Sri Lanka
  4. ^ High Commission of Sri Lanka in Pakistan
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Sri Lanka's participation in the 19th SAARC Summit scheduled for November 2016 in Islamabad". Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  7. ^ "SAARC summit: Sri Lanka joins India, 3 others in boycott; Pakistan isolated". Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Sri Lanka Did Not Pull Out Of SAARC Summit, Foreign Minister Says". Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  9. ^ Pak 2nd Trading partner of Lanka in SAARC Pakistan Board of Investment
  10. ^ Sri Lanka gets more duty-free access to Pakistan Lanka Business Online - April 2, 2009
  11. ^ a b Pakistan offers credit facility to Sri Lanka, Dawn Business, 11/Jan/2011
  12. ^ Pakistan-Sri Lanka trade to reach US $ 500 m Sri Lanka Daily News - November 30, 2010
  13. ^
  14. ^ "SriLankan Airlines wants more routes in Pakistan". Express Tribune. 7 July 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Sri Lanka’s SOS to Pakistan for urgent arms supplies Thaindian - April 2, 2008
  18. ^ Had enough? Tigers turn on Pakistan Asia Times - August 16, 2006
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ LTTE TARGETS ISI STATION CHIEF IN COLOMBO South Asia Analysis Group - August 15, 2006
  21. ^ "'Pak played key role in Lanka's victory over Tamil Tigers'". Indian Express. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  22. ^ "Sri Lanka's SOS to Pakistan for urgent arms supplies - Thaindian News". 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  23. ^ [2] Archived December 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^
  25. ^ Pak. to train SL spies Daily Mirror - January 11, 2011
  26. ^ "Tit-for-tat: Sri Lanka considers nuclear deal with Pakistan". The Express Tribune. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  27. ^
  28. ^ [3][dead link]
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ Pakistan envoy hands over relics to S. Lankan monks Dawn - June 18, 2011
  33. ^ Pakistan aid for school building Sri Lanka Daily News - July 2, 2011
  34. ^ "Sril Lanka's Help." Dawn Accessed 12 September 2011
  35. ^ "Sri Lankan Government Comes in Action." Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine Daily 11 September 2011. Accessed 12 September 2011.
  36. ^ "Sri Lankan Doctors Come to Lahore." Asian Accessed 15 September 2011.
  37. ^ "Sri Lankan doctors to assist government in dengue control." Pakistan 15 September 2011 Accessed 15 September 2011.
  38. ^ "Pakistan opt against DRS use in Sri Lanka and England Tests." 12 September 2011Accessed 12 May 2013.
  39. ^
  40. ^ "Lahore readies itself for that international feeling". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  41. ^ [4] The Hindu - October 29, 2017

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