Introduction by Foreign Minister Samaraweera to Guest Lecture by the Prime Minister of Pakistan
Guest Lecture by the Prime Minister of Pakistan at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute 5th January 2016
Introduction by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera MP
His Excellency Nawaz Sharif,
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a rare honour and great pleasure for me, as the Chairman of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, to be able to welcome and introduce our distinguished speaker tonight. H.E. Nawaz Sharif is one of Pakistan’s most respected leaders and a senior South Asian statesman. He has proved himself fearless and resilient whether in power, in opposition or in exile, so much so that he is known in his homeland as the ‘Lion of Punjab’.
Your presence today in Sri Lanka, on the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena, is an affirmation of the special friendship of our two countries. Sri Lanka’s ties with Pakistan span over six decades and our relationship has always been characterized by friendship, respect and excellent cooperation.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is visiting Sri Lanka at a very propitious moment. Most Sri Lankans are preparing to celebrate the first anniversary of the Rainbow Revolution, which ushered in the Sirisena presidency one year ago on the 8th of January. Over the last year Sri Lanka has embarked on a new political trajectory of democracy and good governance. And similarly, Prime Minister Sharif changed the political trajectory of Pakistan two years ago.
Today, with the renewal of democracy, both our countries are moving towards a democratic and prosperous future. Thus we must now further strengthen and widen the bonds between our two nations.
Close engagement between our peoples dates back several millennia. Indeed historical records reveal that an ancient Indian Ocean trade route connected the Banbhore Port in Pakistan and the Manthai port in Sri Lanka.
And today, we again look forward to the help and guidance of our friend and neighbour in our new battle to win the peace and make Sri Lanka a stable, economically prosperous country – just as Pakistan helped Sri Lanka in its fight against terrorism for three decades.
Ladies and gentleman,
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was born in Lahore, studied law and was a great asset to his family business from an early age. He entered politics though the Pakistan Muslim League, and since then has held the Cabinet portfolios of Finance Minister and as well as other ministries.
He first became the Prime Minister of Pakistan in November 1990, remaining in office for 3 years. His second time holding that distinguished office was between February 1997 and October 1999.
He is today a senior statesman whose resilience in the face of adversity can be an inspiration to all politicians in the region. Prime Minister Sharif has displayed confidence and bravery through challenging times. After returning to Pakistan from exile in 2007, he said, “We want democracy and nothing else. I am here to play my role and also to make an effort to rid the country of dictatorship.” He also created history when he was elected the 27th Prime Minister of Pakistan for the third time in June 2013.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now have the great honour of inviting His Excellency Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, to address this august audience.